Review: “Busboys and Poets”: Friends I’d like to know better

I had the great fortune this weekend to have my other half Tom treat me to the opportunity to create a glass christmas ornament blown by my own mouth from molten glass at DC Glassworks in Hyattsville.

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John about to show how well he can blow into 5 foot long steel pipe!

Hyattsville struck me as becoming very Takoma Park-esque.   That impression was firmed up when I looked at the website for the incorporated community of Hyattsville which made a point of how their city council had just recently passed the first “Human Rights Acts” in Prince George’s County establishing the legal privileges of gay and lesbian people.  Pretty cool, eh?  Here’s what Hyattsville council had to say on their community website:

During the City Council Meeting of Monday, December 2nd, the Council voted unanimously to add a Human Rights Act to the municipal ordinances.

Council Member Patrick Paschall, Ward 3, sponsor of the Act, said, “This is a clear message to the community that LGBT people are fully welcome in Hyattsville.  It is also a signal to our legislators at the State and County levels: we want to see the full range of LGBT protections enshrined in state law that all other protected classes receive.” 

We ended up having lunch at a restaurant, Busboys and Poets, located right on Route 1 in Hyattsville

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Just like Tom and I, you’re probably wondering about that name, eh?   The menu as well as web site explains that:

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“The name Busboys and Poets refers to American poet Langston Hughes, who worked as a busboy at the Wardman Park Hotel in the 1920s, prior to gaining recognition as a poet.”

FYI – Langston Huges is also widely regarded, while closeted, to have been a gay man

I was even more surprised to find out afterwards that the Hyattsville location for “Busboys and Poets” is just one of four and that it has some interesting roots:

“Busboys and Poets is a community gathering place. First established in 2005, Busboys and Poets was created by owner Anas “Andy” Shallal, an Iraqi-American artist, activist and restaurateur. After opening the flagship location at 14th and V Streets, NW (Washington, DC), the neighboring residents and the progressive community embraced Busboys, especially activists opposed to the Iraq War. Busboys and Poets is now located in four distinctive neighborhoods in the Washington Metropolitan area and is a community resource for artists, activists, writers, thinkers and dreamers.”

The first impression walking into the Busboys and Poets was that this place was a BIG “L” shape and that it was busy and crowded with all types of people on a Saturday afternoon.

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Interior of Busboys and Poets

It’s an amazingly visually interesting space to be in (reminding me of Baltimore’s old Louis’ Bookstore on Charles Street but on steroids and 10 times as big)

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Wall Art at Busboys and Poets

There’s a large bar with a huge colorful wall mural behind it…

wall mural at "Busboys and Poets"

wall mural at “Busboys and Poets”

Gee Louize!  Even the tall ceilings were interesting with very artsy take off on lighting fixture plaster work:

Busyboys ad Poets ceilings

Busyboys ad Poets ceilings

And if all this wasn’t enough, it’s also a book store (as well as venue for poetry reading and musicians!)

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The menu?  Well the menu is big and varied and with options for both vegetarians and vegans.   It took us some time to wade thru.   It’s affordable (though Tom vetched that his very special mint tea in a pot cost almost $4).   After a great deal of pondering, Tom decided to try a “Mediterrean” burger with a combo of lamb and ground beef ($12).   After confirming that the veggie burgers were “made here” and not re-cycled Boca Burgers, John went with a veggie burger  ($10) and went with our waiter’s suggestion to go with the Sweet Potato fries (other side options included fresh fruit, “made here” kettle chips or a side salad).

The  Lamb/Beef Burger

The Lamb/Beef Burger

Tom’s “mediterrean” was a winner!   As a budding connoisseur of lamb, he asserted that this rated at or near the top of the list (clearly a “Thumbs Up!”).    It arrived with the kettle chips he asked for (I stole a couple and they were darn good too;  He also volunteered a smidgen of his burger and I can testify from on the experience of my own mouth that it was VERY good)

The Veggie Burger with Sweet Potato fries

The Veggie Burger with Sweet Potato fries

John’s veggie burger was good and seemed definitely “made here”; it was also a tad on the dry side and not any where as good as the veggie burger at Glory Days.  The sweet potato fries, recommended by our waiter and with the addition of lots of ketchup, were VERY good!

We were momentarily tempted by the thought of dessert but decided we were full and passed on that opportunity (there were though almost a dozen desserts to pick from and they included vegan friendly delights!)

I (ahem…) decided to use the men’s room on the way out; when I came back, I told Tom:  “You have to use the men’s room!”   He thought I was asking when I was really saying “Go check out the men’s room!”   Well, he did and when he came back he was surprised as me by the 5 foot long sink that had river stones scattered along it.   Now if that isn’t a culture counter, other worldly conscious raising sink that’s stylish and contemporary, I don’t know what is! <Wink>   (I only wish that I had been bold enough to take a photo in the men’s room to document this!)

In any case, both Tom and I were quite impressed and we’ll be tempted to come back here to “Busboys and Poets” just to try more of things on the menu that we didn’t try!   (Besides there’s a very cool pet store right across the street , the BIG BAD WOOF, with “essentials for the socially conscious pet” where I got some very high test cat nip for my cats from!)

Facts:   Busboys and Poets, Hyattsville, 5331 Baltimore Avenue; 
301-779-2787 (ARTS); Open 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch & dinner (open to 12 midnight on Friday and Saturday); full bar, lots of interesting vegan and vegetarian menu options; adjacent off street free parking; there are two other locations in downtown DC and one in Shirlington in NoVa.

Busboys and Poets on Urbanspoon

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