Long known as a city short on nightlife and fine restaurants, Washington, D.C., is on the make—just like seemingly everyone in this buzzing town. Today, behind the political blood sports and the partisan chatter that characterize the nation’s capital, Washington is full of cutting-edge art, quirky shopping districts, and great restaurants.
There are pleasures aplenty to enjoy in the revitalized nation’s capital, beginning with the thriving restaurant scene.
Rasika, featuring contemporary Indian cuisine, mimics Spanish-style tapas by playing on rich Indian flavors with a chichi vibe. The chef turns traditional curry dishes into the next top supper model. Rasika is in the Penn Quarter, so be on the lookout for your local Congress member or a huddle of hotshot lobbyists.
Chocolate everything. Why not? You’re on vacation. Co Co. Sala is the epitome of chocolate heaven. The sleek, modern interior (in shades of chocolate and cherry) offers comfy seating from which to indulge. The signature Chocolate & Bubbles Happy Hour offers dishes both savory and sweet, from four-cheese fritters with chipotle chocolate cream sauce to chocolate crème brûlée topped with a toasted marshmallow and graham crumble.
If you want to detox from your chocolate overload, a menu of dishes made with sustainably farmed ingredients is the perfect option. At Founding Farmers, located downtown, you can choose from a selection of creative drinks, handmade pastas, and signature plates like low country shrimp and grits.
Perfect steak? Check. Power dressers? Check. Rubbing elbows with some of Washington’s most powerful people? Check. Clearly, you are dining at BLT Steak House, two blocks from the White House. Some come for the power politics, but most simply come for the finest cuts of steak in town. As you indulge, you may be seated next to a White House senior advisor or the Speaker of the House.
Washington is a big art town, and it all begins with the National Gallery of Art (NGA). The NGA showcases work by impressionist and postimpressionist artists such as Claude Monet, Paul Gauguin, and Amedeo Modigliani, as well as works in other styles and media. Current exhibits include Shock of the News, featuring provocative art that has run in newspapers as political critique.
The next stop on the mall is the National Museum of American History. One of the museum’s most popular permanent exhibits displays inaugural gowns worn by first ladies. Mamie Eisenhower, Jackie Kennedy, and Michelle Obama are among the first ladies included.
Before hitting the night scene, you may want to pick up a special something to wear. Make your way to Mazza Gallerie, a complex with Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, and other stores. If you can’t find anything there, walk a block to Chevy Chase, where Rodeo Drive meets Maryland, with high-end couture shops such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and St. John. If unique and affordable is what you seek, visit the U-Street Corridor, where small boutiques like Ginger Root Design and Lettie Gooch Boutique will put you in touch with the cutting-edge design scene, but also keep enough money in your pocket for the night’s festivities.
You can’t leave Washington without at least one night on the town. Try the new restaurant/concert venue The Hamilton. It’s the ideal place to enjoy eclectic American fare and listen to live music such as jazz, gospel, folk, and bluegrass.
In the mood to jump, jive, and swing your hips? Then head over to the New Vegas Lounge, in Logan Circle, where you can dance to live bands covering James Brown’s iconic song, Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag, as well as other soul, blues, and jazz classics. DW
Co Co. Sala: http://www.cocosala.com
Founding Farmers: http://www.wearefoundingfarmers.com
BLT Steak House: http://www.bltsteak.com