Washington, D.C., Essentials

From kite flying to salsa dancing, the District of Columbia has great entertainment, shopping and activities for everyone.
By: Renee Tannenbaum
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Food and Drink: Best Places to...


Eastern MarketSeventh Street and North Carolina Avenue SE, Washington, D.C. 
This store is complete with indoor market, farmers market and flea market. Make sure you stop by the great cheese counter for a sample, or try the crab cakes at Market Lunch.

Grand Mart International Food6326 Arlington Blvd., Falls Church, Va. 
It’s a Korean supermarket, but it also has foods from all over the world such as Latino and African. It also sells fresh produce.

Harris Teeterseveral locations 
I’ve heard the social scene at the North Glebe Road location at 600 North Glebe Road, Arlington, Va., is not bad either. Lots of young Arlington singles stroll through the aisles.

Whole Foods Marketseveral locations 
The produce selection is often worth the higher prices, but you could go elsewhere for household staples.


Morton’s1050 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.
Located near the K Street district, this famous steakhouse caters to lobbyists with powerful appetites.

The Caucus Room401 Ninth St. NW, Washington, D.C.
Nonpartisan power dining. Like all these establishments, it’s best to call a few days ahead for a reservation when Congress is in session.

The Palm1225 19th Street NW, Washington, D.C.
Classic steak and seafood. Colorful caricatures decorate the walls. Desserts are plenty large to share. Here you’ll find more of the political people who help run campaigns than people who make policy.

Note: Any place frequented by President Barack Obama will be a hot spot.

Charlie Palmer Steak101 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 
American beef, American wine and American power politicians. Located near the Capitol Hill, the Hall of States, C-Span, the National Governor’s Association and many other corporate offices.

The Capital Grille601 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.
Happy hour is an especially good time for elbow-rubbing at this centrally located spot, and the food is genuinely good.

The Monocle107 D St. NE, Washington, D.C.
Lunch is definitely the time to go if you want to dine with members of Congress. While the food is not the main attraction here, it is within walking distance from the Senate office buildings.

Old Ebbitt Grill675 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C.
Washington’s historic saloon is popular in part because it is one of the few restaurants open late. Its bustling bar is a place to see and be seen. Because of its proximity to the White House, you’ll find more administration people here than members of Congress.


Georgia Brown’s950 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C.
Low-country cuisine. Live jazz accompanies Sunday brunch, a rather generous breakfast buffet followed by a full lunch featuring a selection traditional Southern entrées. Rest assured, you will NOT leave hungry.

Dukem1118 U St. NW, Washington D.C.
Live traditional Ethiopian music nightly at this favorite Ethiopian restaurant.

2 Amys3715 Macomb St. NW, Washington D.C.
One of only a handful of pizza places in the United States certified by the Verace Pizza Napoletana Association, this is the place to go for an authentic Neapolitan pie.

Ben’s Chili Bowl1213 U St. NW, Washington D.C.
A Washington landmark since the 1950s serving its famous half-smoke topped with chili. Certain fuel to keep the night going.


Java Shack2507 N. Franklin Road, Arlington, Va. 
This eco-conscious, dog-friendly coffeehouse has a nice garden patio in the summer.

Mayorga Coffee Roasters8040 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, Md. 
Check out Moorenko’s Ice Cream Café next door after your coffee.

Patisserie Poupon1645 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 
Nothing improves a coffee experience like delicious French pastries to go with it.

Entertainment: Best Places to...


Smithsonian Museums and Galleries 
Air and Space, American History, Natural History, Asian Art, African Art: They are all free, and many have live music.

Take Five!8th and F streets NW, Washington, D.C. 
This free concert offers live jazz every third Thursday evening in the indoor courtyard cafe of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

National Symphony Orchestra Labor Day ConcertU.S. Capitol Building, West Lawn, Washington, D.C.
Enjoy this free annual outdoor concert on the Capitol Building’s lawn.

Shakespeare Free for All16th Street and Colorado Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 
The Shakespeare Theater Company gives free performances each summer at the Carter Barron Amphitheatre, an outdoor, open-air theater in Rock Creek Park. Get there early and bring a picnic.


Clarendon Grill1101 N. Highland St., Arlington, Va. 
Salsa lessons are on Monday nights followed by open dancing. The cover is only $5. The party is for all dance levels, so the pressure’s off.

The International Club of D.C.
The dance club offers a range of activities from fencing lessons and Scotch tastings to cruises on the Potomac, organized to bring together a diverse crowd with multicultural interests.

Tryst2459 18th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 
Coffee, exotic teas, snacks and desserts sweeten the heart of Adams Morgan. The living room setting is conducive to casual chatting with the person on the next sofa. The name says it all.


Busboys and Poets2021 14th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 
It’s more than a bookstore. It’s also a bar and a meeting place.

Comet5037 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 
The pizza joint in Chevy Chase has ping-pong tables in the back. It’s old- fashioned rec room fun!

Top Golf6625 S. Van Dorn St., Alexandria, Va. 
Just outside the Beltway, this is an entertaining outing for golfers and nongolfers alike. Hit computer-tracked golf balls to targets on a driving range from your personal bay where you are served drinks and bar snacks.

Sticky Rice1224 H St. NE, Washington, D.C. 
Funky, modern decor and funky, modern wait staff, on the funky H Street strip. In addition to classic sushi, the menu offers inventive sushi, ribs and tater tots.


Ice skating at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex627 N. Glebe Road, Arlington, Va. 
The indoor rink is the Washington Capitals’ training arena.

Newseum555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 
There are lots of fun hands-on activities, interactive exhibits and 3-D movies, all about the news world.

Kite flying on the National Mall 
There is a colorful kite festival at the same time as the famous National Cherry Blossom Festival every year, but it’s also a great place to go fly a kite any time the weather permits.

Planetarium5200 Glover Road NW, Washington, D.C. 
Located in the Rock Creek Park Nature Center, on the weekends there are shows especially for children.

Baseball game at the new Nationals Park 
Remarkably, every seat in this beautiful stadium offers a good view, and the Metro takes you right there.


Cakelove Bakery1506 U St. NW, Washington, D.C. 
Ahh, the cupcakes. Make sure you let the butter cream temper before you bite into it. Thankfully they recently opened the Love Cafe across the street so you can have your cake and sit, too.

Shake Your Booty2206 18th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 
The clothes are young and funky, but reasonably priced.

Politics and Prose5015 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 
Local bookstores are a dying breed, and this is one of the few intimate places for book readings by well-known authors from around the country.

Melody Record Shop1623 Connecticut Ave., Washington, D.C. 
A fixture of Dupont Circle since 1977, the record store has a great selection. You can always find something in the value bins at the front.

Nightlife: Best Places to...


Brickskeller Inn1523 22nd St. NW, Washington, D.C.
The drink menu is filled with pages and pages of beers from around the world.

Mackey’s Public House1823 L St. NW, Washington, D.C. 
The Irish brews make this a nice atmosphere for happy hour.

Belga Café514 8th St. SE, Washington, D.C. 
This cafe offers a more sophisticated selection of Belgian food and beers.

Buffalo Billiards1330 19th St., NW, Washington, D.C. 
What more can you ask for? Beer, pool and sports games shown on big screens.

R.F.D.810 Seventh St. NW, Washington, D.C. 
The huge selection of beers is also used in the kitchen for brew-enhanced recipes.


Havana Village1834 Columbia Road NW, Washington, D.C. 
This place has three floors of Cuban music and dancing, as well as a Cuban food and drink menu.

Glen Echo Park7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo, Md. 
People come from miles around to enjoy the contra, square dancing, swing and ballroom dances in the recently restored historic Spanish Ballroom.

Nick’s Night Club642 South Pickett St., Alexandria, Va. 
Live country music and line dancing make this night club a popular spot.


The Diner2453 18th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 
Open 24 hours. Where else can you have champagne and mac ‘n' cheese at 2 a.m.?

Chinatown Express746 Sixth St. NW, Washington, D.C.
Open until 11 p.m., it’s not the cleanest place in the world, but big bowls of noodle soup with roast duck and dumplings make everything worthwhile.

Bistrot du Coin1738 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 
Serves a full menu of French country cooking until 11 p.m. on weekdays and 1 a.m. on weekends. Try the great mussels and beer.

Ben’s Chili Bowl1213 U St. NW, Washington, D.C. 
A Washington landmark since the 1950s, Ben’s serves its famous half-smoke topped with chili. It’s fuel to keep the night going.

Outdoor: Best Places to...


Fletcher’s Boat House4949 Canal Road NW, Washington, D.C. 
Rent a canoe or kayak and glide down the Potomac.

Bike in Rock Creek Park 
They close off parts of Beach Drive on the weekends, alleviating car traffic and making it bicycle-friendly.

Hike the Billy Goat Trail11710 MacArthur Blvd., Potomac, Md.
The trail is a part of Maryland’s Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park. It’s more strenuous than the rest of the trails in this park. Start at the Great Fall Tavern Visitors Center.


Rock Creek Park 
There are dirt paths that run along the creek near Beach Drive which you will share with joggers and horses, but since they are not paved, you will be able to avoid the bicyclists and inline skaters. Watch out for the little gifts that horses leave behind.

Kalorama Park 
This community park between 19th Street, Kalorama Road and Columbia Road is situated near a dog-friendly apartment building, so you’re bound to be in good company.

Doggy Style Bakery, Boutique and Pet Spa1825 18th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 
Offers an alternative to commercial pet products to pamper your pet with health.


Tabaq Bistro1336 U St. NW, Washington, D.C. 
The glass-enclosed roof deck allows you to enjoy views of downtown D.C. year-round.

Old Post Office Pavilion Clock Tower1100 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 
Climb to the top of Washington’s first skyscraper and get a 360-degree view of the city from the tower’s observation deck.

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