Our nation’s capital has long been one of my favorite cities in the United States. Home to the best museums in the country (many of which happen to be free) and incredibly walkable, Washington, D.C. is an easy place to explore whether you have 3 days or 3 weeks. The diversity of the city lends itself to an incredible food scene in the city’s many thriving neighborhoods. Fortunately, I’ve been visiting D.C. pretty regularly since I was in middle school. And it seems that we’ve had more and more family and friends move to the city in the last few years so we have plenty of reasons to go back frequently.
Our most recent trip to the capital was in December (you might remember that we last visited Washington, D.C. almost exactly a year before that). This year’s return trip was quite similar – filled with catching up with friends over great food and drinks on a chilly winter weekend. This was probably one of my favorite trips to the capital, foodwise. We are still talking about our incredible multi-course Thai meal (more on that later).
We arrived late on a Friday night and met our friends Katie and Cullan for dinner at the current “it” restaurant, The Dabney. The restaurant sources mid-Atlantic cuisine from local farmers and you can watch it all being cooked in the open kitchen. The dining room was rustic yet refined, with bare tables and exposed brick walls, and it was beautifully decorated with greenery for Christmas. The menu is mostly made up of small plates, of which the server will encourage you to order 3-4 dishes per person. We found that was entirely excessive – we ordered 2 per person to share and that was more than enough. Everything we ordered was beautifully constructed and delicious. The menu changes frequently and in fact most of what we ate is not listed online, but my favorite dishes were the winter squash and the bourbon brown sugar ice cream sundae! The cocktail menu is also impressive, and we all enjoyed seasonal holiday cocktails with our meal. Reservations required.
What seemed like only a few hours later, we met a group of friends and friends of friends for a filling Italian brunch Saturday morning at Lupo Verde near Logan Circle. The charming two-story restaurant seats just 100 guests and from the decor to the music to the staff, you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported to Italy. You can order the social brunch, if you’d like to share with your friends (which includes four plates and a bottle of prosecco or carafe of mimosas or bloody marys). Or you can order a la carte if your friends (or husband) can’t agree on dishes with you. I had the “uova a piacere” which was two eggs with pancetta bacon and fontina cheese and it was to die for! It almost completely made up for my mistake in not ordering any of the handmade pastas, which several other people ordered and which looked divine.
After brunch, we stopped in for a drink at the subterranean bar 2 Birds 1 Stone. I had read about it in a Travel and Leisure article and wanted to check it out. The bar wasn’t open for the day, but happened to be holding an event for local menswear brand Hugh and Crye, so we were able to check out the bar and have a glass of holiday punch. The bar changes its hand-drawn cocktail menu weekly, updating it with favorite classics and creative originals. The whitewashed walls are welcoming and you’ll feel as if you’re drinking in a friend’s basement!
After cocktails, we went to the National Gallery of Art to visit the new East Building, which recently added 12,250 square feet of new exhibition space and houses the collection of modern and contemporary art. The building includes two towers and a rooftop terrace overlooking Penn Ave. for outdoor sculptures. One of my favorite exhibitions displayed several Calder mobiles of different sizes. I also enjoyed the permanent exhibition of Leo Villareal’s Multiverse, a complex light structure that connects the East and West Galleries.
After leaving the museum, we walked toward the U.S. Capitol to see the Capitol Christmas Tree. Since 1964, the Speaker of the House has annually placed a Christmas tree on the Capitol lawn for the public to admire. The 2016 tree was an enormous Englemann spruce from Payette National Forest, Idaho and was decorated with ornaments by children from Idaho. At this point in the day, the temperature had drastically dropped, so we returned to our friends’ condo to warm up before dinner.
We had one of my favorite meals ever at Thai X-ing which serves authentic Thai food in a small, intimate setting. Five of us ordered the chef’s menu ($40 per person on Friday and Saturday, $30 per person on other days) and were brought about six or seven traditional, home-style dishes to share, including dessert. The menu changes daily, but they always serve the pumpkin curry, which deservedly was included in the Washington Post’s “Top 40 Dishes You Shouldn’t Live Without.” Every single one was unique and delicious. If you’re a vegetarian, Sundays are vegetarian only days. Another great aspect of Thai X-ing is that it is BYOB with only $5 corkage fees so we were able to buy multiple bottles of wine around the corner to enjoy with our dinner. Reservations strongly recommended.
After our incredible dinner, we went to Satellite Room to meet our friends Meryl and Chris for cocktails. Satellite Room serves beer, boozy milkshakes, and burgers in a lively 1960s style atmosphere. Drink and food specials are available daily and breakfast is served all day. It’s definitely a fun place to meet friends for a drink and bite. Open late.
Our final Saturday night stop was the memorable Miracle on Seventh Street Christmas bar (website operates seasonally), which I had been hoping to go to since our trip the year before. The Christmas bar did not disappoint! It took over three bars, which were each decorated from floor to ceiling with festive Christmas decor. It was everything I dreamed of and more! A fun menu of holiday cocktails is available, along with $5 eggnog shots and a menu of small bites. If you want to go next year, you can find more details here. The bar usually opens around Thanksgiving and is open through New Years.
Before heading to the airport to return home on Sunday morning, we stopped at Union Market for a quick lunch of empanadas from DC Empanadas and Belgian waffles from the Saison wafel bar. Both were excellent choices and were served up quickly. The Union Market is a fun and lively market filled with various food stands, sit down restaurants, and boutique shopping. I would love to return and explore it more on a future trip!
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for my next post! PS – Thanks to the places I linked for letting me feature their photos. I have a terrible habit of not taking any photos when I am having fun with friends so didn’t end up with many pictures after the weekend!
The Dabney, 122 Blagden Alley NW
Lupo Verde, 1401 T St NW
2 Birds, 1 Stone, 1800 14th St NW
Thai X-ing, 515 Florida Ave NW
Satellite Room, 2047 9th St NW
Miracle on 7th Street, 1839-1843 Seventh St., NW
National Gallery of Art,
Capitol Christmas Tree, Capitol Lawn