America, The Road Trip: D.C.

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So, from New York City, we took the Greyhound to D.C., where we would spend the next 48 hours feasting and playing.  The Greyhound is yet another story for another day.

The first time I visited this city was during Spring Break 2004 – we took a family road trip out to visit the capital and my Dad’s last childhood home in Hampton, VA (he was an Air Force brat).  I have loved it ever since.

Selfishly, I was very lucky that Lindsey went to school in D.C. because it gave me a wonderful opportunity to really enjoy the city over a couple of LONG weekends.

When we were mapping out our trip, I knew we would want to spend a (little) more time in The Capitol than other stops along the route because D.C. is never in the way for us.  And (I am as horrified writing this as you are reading this), I don’t know that we will get back here again before we have children.  So I wanted one more chance to just…enjoy the city as adults.

The Food.

Honestly?  I was sent a link to This Feature  in the Washingtonian, and it helped with a lot of our meal planning.  I was especially tickled by the Great Bars feature which also broke out the best happy hours in the city.


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This was one of the restaurants that Lindsey and I didn’t go to when I visited her in D.C. because we ended up at Oyamel for lunch instead and it really wasn’t on my radar at the time.  I made this call because besides the whole Jose Andres thing, Zaytinya has a Mediterranean/Middle Eastern slant and we all know that More is More where my inspiration to cook from Jerusalem is concerned.

This?  This was Very Valuable Market Research.  We stopped by for lunch, because we were conveniently In The Area at the time.

Luke’s Lobster

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We ended up here because Yelp said so and it was our first stop (translation it was 2:00 PM and we were STARVING) before we started our sight-seeing.  I’m sure that had I thought this out a bit more we could have ended up somewhere else, but it really was not the worst to split a tray of lobster, crab and shrimp rolls as well as a few claws.


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We only stopped by this bar because it was next to the boat center, they have a massive patio and it was happy hour.  But please tell me where you could find a prettier view?  You will not miss it if you’re on the waterfront.


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Sometimes the easiest way to enjoy a nice restaurant is via happy hour.  Tucked into an appropriately dim, comfortably appointed basement (translation: underground lair swathed in white and cushions), We feasted on small plates of Crawfish Hushpuppies and BBQ Shrimp over Cornbread while we drank a pint.

Bar Pilar

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We stopped by this establishment for happy hour.  Drinking the odd pint was lovely, but what was especially fascinating was the marinade that the olives had been left in – for a fun twist they had opted to use orange zest instead of lemon and created such a wonderful depth of unexpected flavor.

Chinatown Express

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Facts: We (my parents, Billy and I) accidentally stumbled into this restaurant in the spring of 2004 when we were on our own Great American Road Trip.  When I was interrogating Rachael about her favorite eats in D.C., she threw this down too.

Bless Marcus for following me through Chinatown at 8:00 PM as I looked for a subterranean Chinese restaurant with a man actioning hand-pulled noodles in the window.  And more importantly, Thank God I actually found it.

Ben’s Chili Bowl

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I am very nearly ashamed by how much I loved this meal.  Marcus had a Chili Cheese Dog and Chili Cheese Fries.  I had a bowl of Chili, Coleslaw and a Chocolate Shake (um, and some of those fries!).  We sat at the bar, watched them prep everyone else’s food and just feasted.

The Things.

The Tidal Basin

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I had never seen the Roosevelt and Jefferson Memorials.  Marcus had never seen the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in addition to the other two.  The whole affair is kind of a trek (hence my not making it before), so we made that Our Activity for our first afternoon in the city before we headed out to see the rest of The Mall.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Had Marcus not been with me this trip, I may not have visited (this was my fourth visit), but he had never been so this was Our Most Important Stop in D.C.

You can pre-order tickets online, which is something I recommend considering if you’re going to visit during the busy season.  Otherwise plan on being in line at the museum at least a half-hour prior to opening (but really an hour would be better) in order to make sure you’re able to get tickets.

What are the tickets for?

The permanent collection.  There are rotating exhibits in the basement/on the main floor that you are able to visit at any time, but the permanent collection requires a time-stamped entry ticket.  It is a hard museum to see but it grabs you from the moment you step out of the elevator until the moment you walk out the door once more.

It is important work.

The U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing

This was an accident.  While we were waiting in line for tickets to the Holocaust Museum, a woman declared to the group that she had just grabbed tickets for this tour from the kiosk across the street.  So I sent Marcus, he grabbed a pair and we decided that if it worked out, that would be great and if it didn’t we were right with the world.

Well, it worked out.  And we got to watch money get printed!  Honest to God I had no clue that this was even an opportunity and then, it was.  It’s not a terribly long tour and it really was so cool to see – I would recommend this opportunity to anyone traveling through the city.

The Thompson Boat Center

When I was grilling Linds for things to do that we had not done before, she was able to produce this gem.  For something like $14/hour, you can rent a canoe (or a kayak or whatever) and head out on the Potomac.  The view of the Memorial Bridge, the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument from the water was just stunning and it was such a perfect way to enjoy what was a BEAUTIFUL day.

Had we never visited the city before, I know that our tour would have been very different, so we were very lucky to be able to have some of the adventures that we did!


4 responses to “America, The Road Trip: D.C.

  1. When you start showing the sexy food pictures I stop reading the words and just start strolling to the next frame.

  2. We went to Sequoia for our anniversary when we lived there – it had some amazing shrimp and grits that I would have never thought were “fancy” cuisine. I’m sorry you didn’t get to Amsterdam Falafel. It’s always fun to go – their fries are great, but at least you got to Ben’s.
    The USHMM, yes. It’s essential. Difficult, yes, but I go every time I’m there to light a candle for my best friend’s great uncle and pray. I once went the same day I went to Arlington to visit my great uncle’s grave, and that was a rough day.
    We should have an OKMH trip to DC.

  3. DC. I love your recap. Some of the gems from my law school days have since shuttered, but I should’ve told you to go to El Tamarindo in Adams Morgan (Salvadoran food), and to find some (any!) Ethiopian (DC has a huge Ethiopian population, which you probably know). Glad you got to have this wonderful trip to a place I love so much too.

  4. Reading posts of people visiting D.C. makes me 1) feel unappreciative that I live so close to the nation’s capital and never really go there. 2) See how people explore the city, which I never do. When I’m there I’m in and out. 3) makes me want to try and get to the city more and see everything that it has to offer.

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