Off the Clock: Andra “AJ” Johnson
February 1, 2023 @ 10:00am
You’re going to go out to eat and drink. You might as well go where the pros eat and drink.
Andra “AJ” Johnson is a self-proclaimed creature of habit. It makes sense. The hospitality professional has nearly two decades of experience working at some of D.C.’s finest spots (Bresca, Le Diplomate and Serenata, among others). And like any seasoned bar and restaurant pro, she’s developed habits based on quality experiences and reliable service. We asked Johnson for five places you might see her when she’s not at Serenata, working on Black Restaurant Week or writing her upcoming book, “White Plates, Black Faces.”
Before a shift
Once I fall into a niche, I kind of just like to stick with it. So, I get bagel sandwiches at Buffalo & Bergen. I do that like, six times a week. I don’t know what it is, but I literally get the same thing every time. They have vegan options, so for someone like me, it’s just phenomenal. When I’m not getting a bagel sandwich, I’ll go to La Tejana for breakfast tacos.
After a shift
I don’t have a whole lot of time to like, go out to dinner because of my job, but the place I spend a lot of time right now is [Cafe] Saint-Ex. They have a really, really great late-night DJ every other Thursday called No Hype with Jamil Hamilton (10 p.m. to close). I’ll also go to Capo Italian Deli’s backroom, in the freezer. They take care of you. Cocktails are good; sandwiches are great.
The rare night off
When I get a chance to get out of work, I always go to [pizzeria] Martha Dear. Always.
Follow AJ Johnson on Instagram at @whiteplatesblackfaces.
Buffalo & Bergen: 1309 5th St. NE, DC; 240 Massachusetts Ave. NW, DC; buffalobergendc.com // @buffalobergendc
Cafe Saint-Ex: 1847 14th St. NW, DC; cafesaint-ex.com // @saint.ex.dc
Capo Italian Deli: 715 Florida Ave. NW, DC; capodeli.com // @capoitaliandeli
La Tejana: 3211 Mt Pleasant St. NW, DC; latejanadc.com // @latejanadc
Martha Dear: 3110 Mt Pleasant St. NW, DC; marthadear.com // @marthadeardc