Washington, DC. Yet another city that I adore and just know I would love living in. Alex and I have periodically thrown the idea around about living in DC, but for now are content to just visit from time to time. The weather is much better where we live anyway! Recently, we visited Meryl, one of my best friends, and her fiance, Chris. The trip was short, but especially fun because the trip was solely about visiting our friends and having fun in DC. Alex previously lived in DC, and I had visited about 4 times before this trip, so we have pretty much covered the sites. Our agenda included eating, drinking, shopping, and visiting a winery. So if you are looking for some great restaurants and fun bars, this is the post for you.
As soon as we arrived in DC, we headed to Arlington, Virginia and went to Fuego for tequila and artisanal tacos in an authentic Mexican setting. Our server was fantastic and guided us through the menu, recommending his favorite dishes. We also gave him free rein to pick tequilas for the tequila flight and he did a fantastic job, even ordering them according to how we should drink them. The flight comes with sangerita, a tomato juice used to cleanse your palate between tequilas. The tacos actually come in twos, which makes them great for sharing with your dining buddy. We got some yucca and plantains to munch on, along with chips and salsa, and everything was excellent!
Lyon Hall was another great restaurant in the Clarendon area. It is a small, cozy restaurant with French brasserie cuisine and a great patio when the weather is nice. It is one of Meryl’s favorite restaurants, so we were excited to visit! One of the Lyon Hall specialties is their huge pots of mussels in a few various broths for $15 (or $10 during happy hour). We got the DC Brau and polished them off in no time. Lyon Hall also has upscale bar food like burgers, schnitzels, and sausages.
Pizza Paradiso has a few locations in the DC area. We had lunch at the Georgetown location after doing some morning shopping. I am what some might call a pizza fiend, so I generally enjoy most pizza, but this one was beyond delicious. The ingredients were very fresh and had perfectly crispy, thin crust. Pizza Paradiso also has a huge selection of great beers, so it’s a great place to stop for lunch or dinner (or even happy hour) to refuel!
I am not sure Georgetown Cupcake needs any explanation because it is very famous, and for good reason. The line is long, but moves quickly. It is worth waiting for a few minutes to get a box of cupcakes. Peanut butter fudge was my favorite, with pumpkin cheesecake being a close second!
Julia’s Empanadas is a Washington, DC staple, especially after having some cocktails nearby in Dupont Circle. The dough is handmade and baked and filled with ingredients like chicken, chorizo, beef, or spinach. Julia’s Empanadas is a definite must!
SEI: We didn’t go to SEI on our most recent trip to DC, but I wanted to mention it because we enjoyed it so much the last time we visited! If you enjoy sushi, definitely put SEI on your list. The atmosphere is swanky, the decor is all gold and white, and the sushi is exceptional. If you want a dressier restaurant experience, I recommend SEI for sushi.
A great sports bar is Bracket Room. The concept is an upscale “girl-friendly” sports bar with great food and drinks. The atmosphere is very fun! If you are a fan of the Bachelor/Bachelorette series on ABC, you’ll appreciate that Chris Bukowski is a part owner and is seen here a lot. There are 35 TVs so it is a great place to watch a game. We didn’t try any food, but the menu looked great!
If you love beer, go to Churchkey. Churchkey boasts 555 hand-picked labels chosen by Beer Director Greg Engert. There are many obscure beers and small-batch brands, as well as three climate controlled cellars and wealth of knowledge by the bartenders. Churchkey is also located above Birch and Barley, which is reputed to be a great fine dining establishment.
Le Diplomate is a French restaurant, but we just went for drinks. The highlight for me is the decor; you really feel like you are in a European bistro. I can easily imagine myself sipping an afternoon glass of wine or enjoying brunch there during a future visit.
Barcelona is a great wine and tapas bar just down the street from Le Diplomate with a dark and elegant atmosphere. We went inside for a quick drink but I would love to return for a night of tapas and wine! The patio is fabulous and would be great to sit in if the weather was nice. There are also locations in Atlanta and various cities in Connecticut in case you want to try it somewhere nearby.
J. Paul’s is a great place to stop into if you need a break from shopping in Georgetown, like we did. J. Paul’s has bar food that I hear is great, but we just stopped in for a cocktail. The OurG3 was my favorite drink and I am excited to recreate it at home. It had bourbon, ginger liqueur, apple juice, and a rosemary sprig. Yum! One of my favorite things about J. Paul’s was that, like many other DC establishments, the historic touches are kept intact and made part of the decor!
Lucky Bar is another great place to watch sports. Although it has fewer TVs than Bracket Room (only 25-ha!), it is a much larger venue. It has a fun atmosphere and seemed pretty popular. As a bonus, it is located right next to Julia’s Empanadas.
And a few favorites from our last visit to DC…
The Dubliner is an authentic Irish pub that may have been extra fun because we were there the weekend before St. Patty’s Day, but in any case we had a great time there! Also, fun fact: Obama popped into The Dubliner for a beer on St. Patrick’s Day, 2012!
We also loved the Iron Horse Tap Room, a great bar with shuffleboard and skee ball. It was lots of fun and had a great crowd!
No matter what you are looking for, shopping in Georgetown has what you need (click here to see a list of stores in Georgetown). You could spend hours browsing and buying in the many shops. Meryl and I made a beeline for Frye in Georgetown as we were both in the market for some new boots. The store is beautiful and the service was excellent! The store is located in the oldest former firehouse in D.C. It has an installation of 6,000 leather harnesses hanging from the ceiling and has an upstairs with comfy leather seating, coffee, and a wall of Frye classics and former advertisements (the perfect area for an uninterested shopping partner to hang out!). Also, if you’re looking for Frye boots, I highly recommend trying them on in-store, as there is a fairly significant difference in size and fit across styles.
Day trip outside of DC:
If you have time for an afternoon/day trip, Paradise Springs Winery was fantastic! It’s the first winery on the way out to Virginia wine country. The drive is beautiful and when you get there, you can do a tasting for $10 and/or order wine and cheese to have at a table inside or have a picnic outside, depending on the weather. The staff was outstanding-very knowledgeable and attentive. You can also do a tour. The tasting room and the grounds are just gorgeous, so if you have a little extra time, I highly recommend it!
Fuego, 2800 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington, VA 22201
Pizza Paradiso, 3282 M Street NW, Washington DC 20007
Georgetown Cupcake, 3301 M Street NW, Washington DC 20007
Lyon Hall, 3100 Washington Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201
Julia’s Empanadas, various locations, 1221 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036
Sei, 444 7th St NW, Washington, DC 20004
Bracket Room, 1210 N. Garfield St, Arlington, VA 22201
Churchkey, 1337 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20005
Le Diplomate, 1601 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
Barcelona, 1622 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
J. Paul’s, 3218 M St NW, Washington, DC 20007
Lucky Bar, 1221 Connecticut Ave, Washington, DC 20036
The Dubliner, 4 F St NW, Washington, DC 20001
Iron Horse Tap Room, 507 7th St NW, Washington, DC 20004
Frye in Georgetown, 1066 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20007
Paradise Springs Winery, 13219 Yates Ford Rd, Clifton, VA 20124