If I spend a significant time in one place, I always put together a “guide” to that city filled with my personal recommendations of things to eat, and the occasional activity. Mostly eating. I have loved passing along to friends for their travels, and these guides have been so well received that I decided to do a series and share with you all!
Our second stop is Washington, DC. After returning back to this city this last weekend, my love for many of the restaurants here resurfaced and I needed to dig up my word document list of “go tos”. During college, I interned in DC for two summers and moved there upon graduating for a little over two years. DC has an interesting food scene, and it’s exploded over the last couple years! DC friends – if I left out any of your favorites below, please e-mail me/comment and I will include! Missing all of you already! 🙂
Top 3 Favorite All Time Restaurants:
1. The Red Hen (Shaw/Bloomingdale) $$ – One of DC’s rising stars. My boyfriend surprised me on a date here after I wanted to go for forever, and we were kind of blown away by everything we ate. I think the saffron mushroom tagliatelle might have been one of the best things I’ve ever eaten, to this day. Very romantic, little local spot! Indoor exposed brick, need I say more?
2. Dukem (U Street) $$ – I LOVE Ethiopian food, and Dukem is a DC institution. DC actually has one of the largest Ethiopian immigrant populations, so makes sense that we get great Ethiopian food. Enjoying the injera (gluten-free sourdough-like spongy pancake) with their vegetarian options is my favorite way to do Dukem. I took my vegetarian/gluten-free BFF here and we went to town!
3. Teaism (Dupont or Penn Quarter) $ – Anyone will know that I could happily have Teaism every night during the week and be perfectly happy.I’ve gotten close. This place is fantastic for lunch or dinner, and they serve great asian fusion foods. I love their cold salmon bento box with sesame spinach, or their coconut chicken curry. Or their palak paneer! Or their trout with lentils…
Other Dinner Locations:
1. Duke’s Grocery (Dupont Circle) $$ – A new, funky restaurant in a house whose food is modeled after the east London pub scene – they serve everything from burgers to curries. Killer cocktails too! Their menu changes every day, so check Facebook! More indoor exposed brick here, which I love.
2. Bar Charley (Dupont/Admo) $$ – Fun little restaurant in a house at the bottom of Adams Morgan. Serves great food and has great drinks – definitely a “date night” feel although I’ve usually gone with girlfriends. The mulled wine in the winter is to die for!
3. Pho 14 (Adams Morgan) $ – Best pho in DC! Well…maybe tied with Pho 75 in Arlington.
4. Le Diplomate (14th Street) $$$ – This place almost made my top 3 favorites. It is Stephen Starr’s first foray into DC, and he didn’t disappoint. This wonderful (enormous) French cafe-style restaurant serves INCREDIBLE bread to start, their mushroom tart is to die for, and I’ve loved their scallops every time. Reserve in advance.
5. Daikaya (Chinatown) $ – The ramen shop downstairs is FANTASTIC. I would skip the upstairs restaurant.
6. El Rey (U Street) $ – Also a bar, but made entirely out of shipping containers. Trendy spot for margaritas and tacos! Gets rowdy in the evening.
7. Matchbox (Chinatown, Eastern Market, or 14th Street) $$ – DC institution – serves great pizzas. Never disappoints.
8. Red Rocks (Columbia Heights) $$ – Pizza, hipsters and picnic tables.
Brunch Locations (DC has a great brunch scene!):
1. Tryst (Adams Morgan) $ – Snuggle up on couches for nice lunches and breakfasts. This is also a great place to come and do some work – they often have live music.
2. Founding Farmers (Foggy Bottom) $$$ – DC institution for brunch. The food here is fantastic. Book in advance – especially if you will be in DC around move-in times for GW University!
3. Ted’s Bulletin (Eastern Market and 14th St) $$ – Homemade poptarts and brunches that will leave you in a food coma. “Adult” milkshakes. Insane stacks of pancakes. Expect a wait or call ahead!
4. Breakfast counter in the Eastern Market building (Eastern Market) $ – I don’t know if this place actually has a name, but go for a morning to explore the markets and inside the actual building, there will be a long line at one counter for blueberry buckwheat pancakes and eggs. Take your plate and sit outside!
5. Bethesda Bagels (Dupont) $ – The most insanely perfect breakfast sandwiches. Lines out the door! The ultimate hangover cure. My order? Whole wheat everything bagel with egg whites, provolone and turkey bacon.
1. The Rooftop at the W Hotel (next to the White House) $$ – For stunning views of DC, this is the place to go for drinks.
2. Jack Rose (Admo) $ – One of my favorite bars in DC with a great upstairs patio. Standard yuppie crowd, definitely gets busy at night on the weekends. Huge whiskey selection for those who like whiskey!
3. Glen’s Garden Market (Dupont) $ – Pretty much like a local Whole Foods, but they serve wine out of a vending machine!! Makes for a fun date – where the boyfriend and I went on one of our first.
3. The Arsenal at Bluejacket (Navy Yard) $$ – new DC microbrewery in a massive warehouse space on the Waterfront. They make all of their beer in-house, and you can sample! The food is just OK. I did do a pie and beer pairing here once though….
5. Garden District (formerly known as the Standard) (14th Street) $ – BBQ and beer on their outdoor patio – always overflowing with 20-somethings in the warm weather.
6. Sculpture Garden Summer Jazz Fridays $ – Nothing better than in the summer at 5 when you can bring your picnic blankets into the sculpture garden among 1000 other yuppies, drink sangria, watch the sunset and listen to live jazz. You can bring in your own food, but not liquor. Free entrance!
Happy eating in our Capitol!