I spent a wintery few days in Washington DC this February. What I was doing there is of course top secret (meeting with dignitaries, advising the president, making global decisions as per usual) but I still found time to discover some wonderful hideaways in our nation’s capital. There is a buzz around DC these days, not all of it good as my cab driver pointed out. He complained about rising rents and high prices due to the influx of people and renewed interest in living in DC. I saw first-hand the excitement and renovation that was happening and as an outsider I enjoyed the festive atmosphere and hipster haunts.
My friend, who is a member of the Foreign Service, is living there temporarily, studying Vietnamese for her next post. She took me around her neighborhood and I felt like a local. What makes DC so fantastic is it is an international hub, every accent and language is heard on the streets. One person is just arriving from the Cote D’Ivoire and another is studying Vietnamese to go live there. Now is a great time to visit our capital, if you haven’t done so since your 76ers trip in seventh grade I highly recommend it. It’s changed. And you never know who you could run into. Perhaps the woman who claims to be visiting from California, sipping a martini in Bar Dupont, is actually a spy.
This trip I skipped the monuments as a destination but I drove around them by night which was truly magical. Hire a cab, grab a camera and take a nighttime photography tour of our nation’s monuments. Or hire the Old Time Trolley Tours company and get on board their “Monuments by Moonlight Night Tour”.
Museums are everywhere in DC and you can’t go wrong with whatever your choice. My personal favorite is the National Museum of the American Indian . It has fantastic exhibits and the subject is something I am very interested in.
Arrive hungry as the Mitsitam Cafe there is better than most five star restaurants. Serving native cuisine from the Americas you can load your plate with smoked breast of duck with crab apple chutney, roasted poblano salad and quinoa, cedar planked wild salmon or grilled bison loin. Yum.
Dupont Circle Hotel. The bar inside the hotel, Bar Dupont, is a happy hour hotspot and snippets of international conversations can be overheard while enjoying the atmosphere. The hotel is very convenient, close to all the subway lines, and the neighborhood is charming, bursting with nightlife and shopping. The staff is friendly and the rooms are wonderful. Looking out my hotel window, the view was picturesque, with rows of brick townhouses and an occasional snow flurry covering the red roofs.
Glen’s Market. Like a Farmer’s Market with beer. Their slogan “good food from close by” is prevalent throughout the market with signs noting the exact miles an apple or beet traveled to arrive there. This market is so wonderful I became instantly depressed when I realized that there isn’t one in Los Angeles. Need groceries? Glen’s has everything you could need and all locally grown. Need household items? Glen’s has that too. Maybe you are in a hurry and need a deli with prepackaged kale salad or a Garden Grinder sandwich to go? Perhaps it’s the $4 local craft beer on draft or the wine vending machine and cozy bar area that brought you inside? Whatever you need, Glen’s Market has it and I can guarantee that at least twice a day I would be drinking there, I mean shopping there, if it was in my neighborhood.
Ted’s Bulletin. With items on the menu like the “Walk of Shame Breakfast Burrito” and the “Bipartisan Combo Sandwich” you know that the atmosphere will be fun and the food filling. This groovy, 30’s style joint is rockin for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Don’t come here on a diet, even the salads have something naughty in them. The service is excellent and the drinks as whimsical and delicious as the menu. Come with a group or belly up to the bar; Ted’s is located in a great up and coming neighborhood by the U street metro. If there is a wait, meander down the way to the wine bar or any other hip joint for a pre-meal drink.
St. Arnolds on Jefferson. A hole in the wall, dark, basement pub and mussel bar on a beautiful street with townhouses that make you wish you were rich. This is a perfect place to stumble across and come out of the cold for lunch.
When I entered the door at 1:30 p.m. the bar was already packed with locals, cajoling and arguing over who knows what. There are twenty different mussel dishes to choose from and too many beers to count. I ordered their famous Mussels St. Arnold’s with House Beer Sauce, Caramelized Shallots, Garlic, Thyme and Duck Fat. I mean… add a Duvel to that and call it a day. This cozy bar made me feel like I was really on the East Coast and as my parting lunch it seemed fitting. make this a destination for lunch and then take a walk around the homes of the rich and political.
Proper Topper. Everyone needs hats. And if you don’t then you might need candles, gifts, books, cards or nicknacks. This is the place. I love mom and pop shops with cool style and taste. I grabbed a few greeting cards, a travel candle and a book in about five minutes and was on my way. Happy with my purchases. The store made me wish I was unprepared and had forgotten my hat. Alas. Next time, I will return empty headed. So to speak.
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