While president of the United States from January 2009 to January 2017, Barack Obama enjoyed eating at a diverse range of restaurants. The former president and his family were widely regarded as adventurous eaters willing to visit restaurants from the low to the high end of the scale.
Barack and Michelle Obama, along with their young daughters Malia and Sasha, especially gravitated towards independent, historic, and future-leaning restaurants. Here are just seven restaurants that served the Obamas during his time in office:
Bun Cha Huong Lien, Hanoi: The former president’s most memorable meal likely took place outside of the United States. In 2016, with just months left in his second term as president, Obama shared a simple meal of noodles and beer with Anthony Bourdain, the celebrity chef who died earlier this year. They sat on plastic chairs just like everyone else. Although diners around them appeared oblivious at the time, restaurant owners have since enclosed the table, chair, and uneaten portions of Obama’s and Bourdain’s food in glass.
Alan Wong’s, Honolulu: This restaurant has the impressive distinction of having served President Obama six times. The Asian fusion spot restaurant serves short ribs braised in soy that appears to be a favorite meal of his. Obama typically wasn’t on official government business when he dined here. He and his family often took winter vacations to Hawaii and dropped in on Alan Wong’s while there.
Roscoe’s House of Chicken & Waffles, Los Angeles: Although the president ate here just one time, restaurant owners have since named the meal he ordered the Obama Special. It used to go by the simple name of #9 Country Boy Combo and includes three chicken wings and the diner’s choice of French fries, potato salad, or one waffle.
Z & Y Restaurant, San Francisco: Z & Y Restaurant has been recognized by everyone from the Michelin Guide, which made it a 2018 Bib Gourmand pick, to President Barack Obama, who ordered takeout from the restaurant during a visit to San Francisco in 2015
Snow City Café, Anchorage: Obama didn’t actually sit down to eat a meal at this Alaskan café. Instead, he ordered all of the cinnamon rolls that the restaurant had available to hand out to his staff and the reporters traveling with him at the time. For good measure, Obama also ordered several sampler boxes of other sweets from the bakery display case.
Carbone’s Restaurant, Manhattan: Obama’s daughters were just 10 and 7 years old when he took office. Like any good dad, he liked to take his daughters out alone occasionally and just enjoy the time together. He famously did this at Carbone’s in July of 2015. The Italian-American restaurant features waiters in red tuxedos and tunes from the original Rat Pack playing in every room. It’s reported that dad and daughters were big fans of the veal parmesan, meatballs, lobster ravioli, and crab cakes.
Shake Shack, Washington, D.C.: Along with Vice President Joe Biden, Obama hopped behind the counter at the Shake Shack to take an impromptu photo with the staff. The visit from Obama and Biden was especially appreciated for the improved reputation it brought to the Shake Shack chain of restaurants. Earlier in the week, a major league baseball manager claimed to have gotten food poisoning at a different location.
Now that Obama is no longer president, he can expand his palate and travel to even more diverse restaurants around the world.