Recently, I’ve had to do A LOT of traveling to Le Capitol. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that there is always something to do in DC.
If you’re only visiting for a weekend, and especially if this is your first time in DC, you should make time to visit the famous sites and museums. It’s incredibly easy to squeeze them all into one day. Your biggest decision will be whether you want to see the monuments during the day, or at night. Even if you’re not a history buff, you’ll feel proud to be an American after visiting these amazing landmarks.
But aside from what DC is commonly known for (think White House and National Monument), the diversity of people and cultures in this area makes for a plethora of fantastic food and interesting things to experience.
Much like Manhattan in layout (aside from not being an island), DC is entirely made up of neighborhoods, each known for its own gems and go-to spots.
Before I go any further, let me just say that I do not review restaurants for a living, am definitely not qualified to review restaurants for a living and have no official training in the culinary industry. I just like good food. I’m actually quite the picky eater… but the places listed below have made my tummy very happy. :-)
Okay, so where should you go in DC…
Georgetown is a stop that everyone should make at some point in their visit. It has such a quaint, rich feel (maybe it’s all the high-end stores that line the streets) and makes for a beautiful place to take a stroll. Grab coffee at an outdoor café, eat some famous cupcakes or go to Billy Martin’s Tavern for lunch and sit in the JFK booth.
If you enjoy thrifting and shopping at street fairs, than visiting the Eastern Market in Capitol Hill is definitely for you. It is DC’s original (and oldest) food and art market with vendors offering farm-fresh produce, flowers, crafts and original artwork. It was like taking a walk down an international trade show. I was surrounded by handmade Indian pashminas and African necklaces, authentic Alpaca socks and Moroccan trinkets. Buy gifts for your friends or a keep-sake for yourself.
Whether you’re staying in Adam’s Morgan, Foggy Bottom or DuPont Circle, you’re going to need breakfast. Hotel Tabard Inn has a restaurant inside with an amazing brunch on Saturdays and Sundays… promise me you’ll get the freshly fried donuts? If you go during the warmer months, the back patio is open for dining, and makes you feel like your enjoying breakfast in your own urban backyard.
If you have the chance (and the patience), wait in line for a seat at Jimmy T’s Place. It’s one of those greasy spoon places you would probably see Guy Fiori go to on DDD, but it’s actually quite charming. You seat yourself, the food is cooked from scratch, it’s cheap and it’s cash-only. And it’s worth every bite.
Founding Farmers is another good option, for any of your meals. It’s a farm-to-table style restaurant, so everything is super fresh and equally as delicious. The menu has southern-style staples (say that three times fast) like fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits and chicken pot-pies, among traditional items like burgers and homemade maple waffles.
If your palate enjoys flavors from the Middle East, Rasika is your spot for the most amazing, decadent Indian food. Just do yourself a favor and order the Chicken Tikka Masala with a side of Malai Palak and Basmati Rice. Ok, that’s a mouthful, but trust me. You are eating your way through DC after all.
If you’re really adventurous, try authentic Ethiopian food at Dukem. Let me start by saying that Washington D.C. has one of the highest (if not the highest) population of Ethiopian people. So, if you’re going to eat it anywhere, this is your place. I won’t ruin the experience for you, but don’t expect your hands to stay clean ;).
Wash all this delicious food down with a cocktail. Or four. If you like trying new concoctions or prefer a lengthy list of options, go to barmini by José Andrés. It’s technically not a bar, but a “culinary cocktail lab” combining experience, taste and intoxicants. I’m partial to their Moscow Mules, but I’ll drink anything with a little ginger beer in it.
Have any recommendations for places to eat and drink in DC?