Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Travel Dining Itineraries: Washington DC

Washington DC Capitol
Photo credit: Nicholas Raymond: 

The Mr. and I are about to visit friends in DC, so this dining itinerary from my brother Adam is quite timely. As a kid when I visited DC, I was always wowed by its ethnic food. It's the first place I ever tried Ethiopian or Thai. Now DC is chock full of of hip restaurants. Looking forward to some good food with good friends.Thanks for the scoop, little brother!
  • Virtue Feed & Grain - Old Town Alexandria - Set in a former feed store, this relative newcomer to Old Town offers your standard gastropub fare, a fancy burger, a chicken liver dish, a variety of other organ meats served a variety of ways and lame options for the less adventurous. Food was eh, but the restaurant has a great beer menu and inventive cocktails made with beer. The upstairs bar is a great place to get a drink after dinner downstairs or elsewhere in town. 
  • PX - Old Town Alexandria - Same owners as above, but this is their take on the pervasive speakeasy. Only a blue light outside an unmarked door let's you know you're at the right place. Reservations are required. I had one, but we missed it by a few minutes and were politely dismissed from the doorstep. It made Esquire's list of top bars, so I assume it's worth the trouble of finding it. 
  • Birch & Barley - Logan Circle - After combing through the incredible beer catalog, more than 500 strong, I almost forgot I was there to eat. The food menu offers a variety of well-crafted, unique, meat-centric dishes to accompany your carefully selected craft beer. I didn't make it, but the upstairs bar, ChurchKey, is also very popular. Apparently, it has the longest bar in DC, not that I really care. Walkable, but not exactly close to the nearest Metro station.
  • Pearl Dive Oyster Palace - Logan Circle - Incredibly popular and critically-lauded seafood restaurant set among a burgeoning hipster neighborhood. They don't take reservations, so expect to wait unless you go at an odd time of day. No wait necessary for a 4 PM lunch at the bar. Same issue as above regarding the distance to the Metro.
  • Black Jack - Logan Circle - However, if there is a wait at Pearl Dive and you're ill-prepared to battle the sea of skinny jeans outside the restaurant, head upstairs to this bar. A throwback to the days when the person serving you drinks was a bartender, not a mixologist. Fortunately, the night I went, nary a sullen hipster was found among the boisterous crowd. Yuppies, on the other hand, are widespread in this popular late-night bar.  
  • Graffiato - Chinatown/U Street Corridor - Mike Isabella of Top Chef fame's much-anticipated restaurant specializing in pizza and other Italian specialties that any momma's boy who grew up in Jersey might have enjoyed. Again, Antico is better all-around. I didn't tell him that, though, when I ran into him downstairs.  
  • The Gibson - U Street Corridor - Yet another reservations required, difficult to find, pretentious (surprising, because the clientele wasn't all that impressive) cocktail lounge in a major city. I made it to this one on time, but a rude waitstaff put me in a sour mood. Despite all this, the cocktails, which are expensive, are imaginative and mix ingredients I could hardly pronounce in an impressively delicious manner. Put it on your list if you're in the mood for rude bartenders and an air of pretension. 



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