jueves 6  de  junio 2024
TRAVEL

Washington DC, combine monuments and good food

The Capital city's restaurant scene grows to compete with the best in the Nation

Por JESÚS HERNÁNDEZ

WASHINGTON DC.- Gastronomy is a fundamental element for visitors to discover the culture and traditions of a destination, and we want to guide you throughout Washington DC to give you the tool to experience some of the most popular eateries while you enjoy iconic places in the Capital city.

Some people are not aware that DC is a foodie destination. But DC's restaurant scene grows to compete with New York, Miami, and Los Angeles with over 20 Michelin-star restaurants, multiple food halls and a diversity of international foods.

Since we stayed at the JW Marriott Hotel, we wanted to try the breakfast they offer. Avenue Grill, located in the lower floor, features classic American fare, highlighting locally and sustainably sourced ingredients. And yes, they have a Full Breakfast Buffet, with made to order tasty omelets and other related dishes, as well as a la carte breakfast menu options.

There is no doubt that Washington DC has received special attention from the Federal government, and you must keep in mind that the capital city of the United States of America is a monumental city.

After visiting the must-see National Gallery of Arts, we had lunch at the Pavilion Café, right across from the museum, at the Sculpture Garden.

This place, surrounded by modern pieces of art and a replica of Paris´ Art Nouveau subway entryway, makes you feel the French city spirit while sipping your glass of wine.

The Pavilion Café serves freshly made salads, soups, flatbreads, and sandwiches, with indoor and outdoor seating. Don’t´ miss the house-made Classic Lorraine quiche: Bacon, ham, cheese, caramelized onions, and served with fresh fruits.

After walking along the National Mall and heading down to the Potomac River, where you find gorgeous monuments from the Washington´s and Lincoln´s to the imposing Greco-Roman mausoleum of Thomas Jefferson, we ended up at The Wharf shopping district, where in addition to seafood market there are restaurants, gift shops and residential buildings.

We stopped at Falafel Inc., where youngsters get together for lunch and dinner, and tried an authentic quick-service falafel sandwich in a pita with salad, tahini, hummus, and a touch of Harissa chili paste.

For dinner, we visited The Grill at The Wharf, an upscale restaurant that has a wide variety of very well-presented dishes, from seafood to meats and pastas, and an impressive selection of wine.

Try the mussels, made in a white wine, blue cheese, and chipotle sauce. You will end up drinking the sauce as if it were soup.

Second day

The following morning, we had breakfast at Tatte Bakery & Café and tried the phenomenal Coconut Mixed Berry Frangipane Tart someone told me about. It’s all about a rich coconut almond flavored custard with raspberry and blackberry filling and finished with toasted coconut.

You might want to try the House Breakfast Plate: Two eggs your style, applewood bacon, and potato fritters with tomato jam & mint parmesan. Served with house made sourdough and sausage if you prefer.

After breakfast, we headed to The White House, the official residence and workplace of the President of the United States. You can visit the most famous building in the Nation if you request a pass on-line WhiteHouse.gov a few weeks before the date you plan your visit.

For lunch we decided to try one of the many food trucks that line up along the National Mall. Here you find a wide array of food to offer visitors and downtown workers alike. From pizza, ice cream and hot dogs to sandwiches, wraps, Philly cheese steak, burgers, fried chicken, and ribs.

We opted for shawarma, the tasty wrap sandwich from the Middle East, filled with lamb, chicken, or beef. Pick your favorite and find a bench or join the crowds walking the Mall.

You cross the street, and you arrive at Capitol Hill, the outstanding building where Democracy takes place and Congress meets to write the laws of our nation.

This is another must see national monument you can visit if you request a pass ahead of time from your local US Representative.

After a long visit to Capitol Hill and walking around stunning buildings like the Library of Congress and the Supreme Court, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner.

Washingtonians claim, “no trip to DC is complete without a stop at Ben's Chili Bowl on U Street NW,” so we decided to visit this legendary eatery to try Ben's Famous Chili Half Smoke, voted Washington's signature dish.

Opened since 1958, this place continues to draw crowds of locals, tourists, politicians, and even presidents.

Oh yes! It does taste good. It’s a quarter-pound sausage or burger made from an equal blend of pork and beef and grilled to perfection, placed on a softly steamed bun, and topped with mustard, onions, and a whole lot of homemade beef chili.

Third day

Breakfast at Avenue Grill was so good on the first day, we wanted to try it again. Let’s recognize the service: Servers deliver an exceptional customer service. They greet customers with enthusiasm, they know the menu, and they are courteous and soft-spoken. We’re sure JW Marriott Hotel is incredibly happy about this.

And yes, we tried the Full Breakfast Buffet and ordered tasty omelets we enjoyed very much.

Afterwards, we visited the Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River, where 400,000 US Army members from different wars, freed slaves as well as luminaries in science, engineering, medicine, and government are buried in its 639 acres.

At the other side of the graveyard, the US Marines War Memorial impressively stands up with the American flag blowing in the wind. This sculpture was created by artist Felix Weihs de Weldon, based on the picture taken by photographer Joe Rosenthal in 1945, Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph, when the US Marines occupied Iwo Jima in Japan during World War II.

Then we rushed to the Phillips Collection by car, near the Dupont Circle, and we enjoyed several pieces created by Renoir, Van Gogh, Matisse, Monet, Picasso, and Miró, among others.

Let´s mention the amazing interpretation of the lost head of the Spanish painter Goya, created by also Spanish artist Bernardí Roig.

Lunch time was at Taim Mediterranean Kitchen, three blocks from Phillips’ Museum. This is quick-service restaurant where you can order Mediterranean meals, from Greek salad and chicken shawarma bowls to falafel pitas with plenty of sauces, and a pleasant ginger mint lemonade.

While you are in the Dupont Circle area, you can either enjoy the neighborhood, where you can discover dozens of bistros, bars, boutiques, and galleries of art, or go down to the District Winery where you will learn how they make the precious wine with California grapes.

Time for dinner? Of course. You cannot leave DC without trying one of the most popular kitchens in the city: Ethiopian food.

DC is home to the largest concentration of Ethiopians outside of Africa, and we must try some of the typical dishes of the African country at the Ethiopic restaurant, near Stanton Park.

Very friendly servers will guide you through the menu. Try Awaze tibs, a dish made with pieces of beef or lamb, peppers, vegetables, lemon juice and other spices. Tasty.

Ethiopians love spices. The hotter the better. But you might want to order mild or ask to put the hot stuff on the side.

Want to walk after exiting the restaurant? Try 4th Street NE all the way down to Capitol Hill and you will find the beautiful Capitol building lit up at night.

Don’t worry, keep an eye open just in case a crook walks around. You will see plenty of police cars around.

Last day

On our last day, a final walk along the National Mall will give you the opportunity to say bye to the Capital city.

We decided to visit Georgetown, the original DC. This neighborhood, located on the northwest side of the city, is home to the main campus of Georgetown University and other landmarks, including the Old Stone House (1765), the oldest still standing building structure in Washington, D.C.

Besides history and academic campus, Georgetown is home to some of DC’s top shops, tastiest restaurants, and most luxurious hotels, and it's a favorite of visitors and locals alike.

Wisconsin Avenue is the main street here, and we chose to go to Martin’s Tavern, which celebrated 90 years in 2023 and, according to staff and customers, John F. Kennedy, before becoming President in 1961, proposed to Jacqueline Bouvier in Booth #3 (now called The Proposal Booth.)

We had a couple of drinks before heading to the airport.

“Here I was born and here I live. I wouldn't go to another city to live," said Oliver, who attends the bar at the place.

At the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, while waiting to board the airplane, we found Ben’s Chili Bowl station, and, again, we tried the famous Chili Half Smoke.

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