Washington DC may be best known for its political controversies, historical monuments and K-Street shenanigans, but there’s so much more to this Parisian-inspired city. Yes, its home to Obama and Monica, but over the past decade or so, Washington DC has become a burgeoning culinary, arts, and cultural destination. The architecture is one-of-a-kind (did you know high-rises aren’t allowed in the city) and there are endless things to do outdoors. Whether you’re here for a quick visit or staying for awhile, there is something for everyone in the Nation's Capital. And its the place I used to call home.
Where to crash and get some R&R
Situated right across from the White House, this hotel is the quintessential DC gem nestled in the heart of the city. Built in the 1920’s, this hotel mimics all of the charm that DC has to offer. Rooms are luxurious yet comfortable (beds have Italian linens!) and service is impeccable. The culinary options are a delight and the best thing about the hotel is the “Off The Record” bar.
Location, location, location. Situated right smack in the heart of DC’s Georgetown neighborhood above the Washington Harbor, The Graham Georgetown is one of DC’s finest modern luxury boutique hotels. This fabulous hotel overlooks the historic C&O Canals, and the best of DC shopping, dining, nightlife is a stone’s throw away. The rooms are spacious and the beds are unbelievably comfortable. The massive marble-lined bathrooms are outfitted with relaxing spa showers. Best of all, when the weather is nice (which in DC is never guaranteed) you’ll only have to head right upstairs to the rooftop bar where panoramic views await!
This luxury boutique hotel located just steps from the White House is an ode to Mr. Jefferson himself. Each aspect of the hotel brings a part of Monticello into the hotel in a classic way. This unique hotel pays exceptional attention to detail and the rooms make you feel like a guest in the White House. The hotel’s Petite Spa offers guests amazing treatments using herbs and botanicals grown from the gardens of Monticello. From the parquet flooring in the Plume Lounge and draperies from the original toile patterns of Monticello, The Jefferson has architectural and historic treat not to be missed.
Amidst all of the larger chain hotels that are in Washington DC, The Dupont Circle Hotel is a refreshing, boutique hotel located in a trendy part of the city. You will be situated in the middle of tons of restaurants and retail shops, so you can do most of your browsing on foot. However, if you want to tour the museums and monuments, the Dupont Circle Metro stop is not too far away. The hotel is clean, affordable and offers all the amenities of a boutique hotel. What more could you ask for?
Where to chow down and then unbutton the top button
There’s a special place in my heart for this restaurant, not because, in the eye’s of many, it’s the #1 restaurant in DC and not because Prez. Obama has visited, but more so because the food is absolutely delish. This multi-course restaurant, located on 17th St NW, has a set menu for $135 that will blow your mind (and your wallet!). But it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience of phenomenal food – the brainchild of Chef, Johnny Monis (a former High-School mate of mine).
And Little Serow restaurant, located not too far from Komi, is another culinary gem with Chef Johnny Monis at the helm (I’m not biased I swear). Little Serow is Johnny’s newest restaurant and the fare is mostly northern and northeastern Thai - think peanuts and chilies on steroids. No ressies, only walk-ins, so leave the pretention at the door. The menu posts online every Tuesday and its worth the wait.
Looking for nautical chic? If so, Hank’s Oyster Bar is the place to go. With three locations in the Washington D.C. area (Capitol Hill, Dupont Circle and Old Town) this casual yet lively restaurant serves up delicious oysters, local seafood and slow-cooked meat that are sure to delight any picky palate. Try the Oyster Po-Boy, Lobster Deviled-Eggs and Molasses Briased Short Ribs and for all you skinny bitches looking for local options, their “Resolution Solution” 100 calorie cocktails will keep you boney and beautiful.
Well, let’s just say this place has more history than your grandpa’s overcoat. This historic Oyster bar has been around since 1856 and was a favorite watering-hole of Presidents Cleveland, Roosevelt and Harding, and is still a hotspot for almost every politico in town. The dark, mahogany booths make you want to cuddle up to your dinner guest and share plates. The crab cakes and crab-artichoke dip are a must, but you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu.
Break open the fattest pants you’ve got and visit this place the next time you're in town. Around since the 50’s but made famous when Prez. Obama first visited in 2009, this local favorite has some of the best chili and half-smokes in town. Bill Cosby is a long-time favorite and there’s even a dish named after him. (Yikes.) If you’ve got the stomach for it, this is must while you’re in town.
Just off Capitol Hill in Southeast D.C., Roses Luxury is a great little spot with a lively social scene. Exposed brick and sleek hardwood floors make for a perfect setting for a night out on the town. The dishes are small plates or family style. Exotic dishes range from Vietnamese Pate to Chicken-Fried Oysters. This feel good place feels even better because they donate a portion of the proceeds from every meal to WFP-USA to feed hungry children worldwide. Now if that doesn’t pull at the heartstrings, I don’t know what does.
Where to drink up and get down
Named after the crooner Marvin Gaye himself, Marvin is a favorite in the U Street/Shaw neighborhood where Marvin Gaye grew up. This delightful bistro features an upstairs outdoor beer garden, which serves up over 30 Belgium ales and brews, as well as, a cool and sleek downstairs lounge. Marvin is a surefire hit.
If you love whiskey and beer, you have arrived. If you don’t, it's still a place that’s not to be missed. With endless options of whiskey and beer, you might think that this is a male-only hotspot, but there’s plenty for the female drinkers to as well. Whether you prefer the outside terrace, the Tiki Bar, Saloon or Cellar this place is a fun-filled spot that’s not to be missed.
Located in the trendy area of Adams Morgan (get it? --Madams Organ) this spunky blues bar and soul food restaurant is a nice change from the usual haunts. Their motto “Where the Beautiful People Go to Get Ugly” sums it all up. Live music is played seven nights a week so the celebration never stops!
Ants in your Pants
Where to go when you can't sit still
If you’ve heard of DC then you’ve definitely heard of Georgetown. This historic area by the Potomac, which once was actually a separate city in Colonial times, is a culinary and shopping destination for all. After marching down Wisconsin and M Street (the main drags), there’s nothing better than strolling along the historic C&O Canals and then grabbing a drink, dockside at the Washington Harbor.
Another not-to-miss place in DC is the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum. Not just a place for your 10-year-old to go on a field trip, this museum is really something spectacular and it's for kids of all ages. Where else can you find rockets, missiles and relics from the Wright Brothers? Or find recent aviation artifacts or astronaut food? No one is too cool for this museum. So just do it.
This is pretty self-explanatory so I’m not even going into detail but here’s a list of must-see monuments and historical places to visit in DC: White House, Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, The Washington Monument, Arlington National Cemetery (Kennedy Burial Place).
I Just Bought These Pants
Where to nab the best threads
If you fancy a little shopping, then Georgetown has got it. Home to some of the finest retail shops in the country, your visit would not be complete without a stop into this abundant and chic shopping area. You’ll find the likes of J.Crew, Ralph Lauren, All Saints, Benetton and the list goes on and on. If its culinary shopping you are looking to do, Georgetown is also home to Dean & Deluca, one of DC’s finest gourmet food grocers in the country. It’s a great place to spend the day people watching, eating and spending you money but be sure to wear those comfy shoes.
I tend to steer clear of upscale, shopping boutiques but this one is hard to beat. Located in Cady’s Alley in Georgetown, Relish houses some of the finest luxury designers such as Jil Sander, Marni and Balenciaga. This little boutique is DC’s best-kept secret with pieces that are simple and modern, yet flattering on everyone. And it’s not snooty. I hate snooty.