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36 Hours in Washington, DC

I had the recent pleasure/challenge of hosting some college friends for the weekend in DC. I saw challenge because after living here for over a decade (what!) there are a lot of places I like to eat, drink, and hang out. So narrowing it down to a top handful was very difficult. One caveat here will be I didn’t opt for any of the very, very expensive restaurants in DC that are making some of the top nationwide lists right now (like Pineapple and Pearls).

36 Hours in DC

Hotel: The Line

The Line is a new, trendy hotel in Adams Morgan. It has a great bar and restaurant and is close to all the other bars and restaurants Adams Morgan has to offer. If you’d rather be downtown closer to the museums and the Mall, opt for The Conrad or the J.W. Marriott.

Dinner: A Stephen Starr restaurant

Stephen Starr has two restaurants in DC: Le Diplomate and St. Anselm. Le Dip opened first, serves French cuisine, has the best baguette in DC, and is always buzzing. You’ll get a feel for the vibrancy of DC life, and possibly see a local or national celebrity. And if you’re into dogs, there are always a ton hanging out on the 14th St side patio.

St. Anselm opened in the newer redevelopment known as Union Market. It does not feel like DC at all (in a good way), but has some of the best food in the city. Don’t skip the biscuits and pimento cheese.

Second Meal: A Jose Andres restaurant

Jose Andres has several restaurants in the Chinatown/Penn Quarter area of the city. They’re centrally located to many other attractions so can be a great choice if your time in DC is limited. Zaytinya, his Greek concept, is my favorite. But you’ve also got China Chilcano, Oyamel, and Jaleo within a few blocks. And of course Minibar if you’re looking for a very special occasion meal. No matter which one you choose, you’re also supporting Jose, an incredible humanitarian and all around good human.

My friends’ favorite: Tortino

Tortino is small, cozy neighborhood restaurant on the bottom floor of a row house on 11th St NW between M and N. It is my go-to spot in DC right now and you’ll truly feel at home here, rather than on the DC scene. They have a special risotto each night that is always worth trying and half-priced bottles of wine on Tuesday nights.

Logan Circle, a few blocks from Tortino and Le Diplomate

Local Coffee Shop: Eaton Hotel at 12 and K NW

You’ll see many Compass Coffee locations, another local choice, but the coffee shop at the Eaton Hotel on K St is my favorite. Their Assam tea is fantastic and you can almost always find a seat.

Being a Tourist: Arlington Cemetery and the Obama Portraits at the Portrait Gallery

Depending on the weather, how much time you have, and how much walking you like to do, either head out to Arlington National Cemetery to see the Kennedy graves and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier or to the Portrait Gallery to check out the Obama portraits. The Portrait Gallery atrium is also a wonderful place to relax with a coffee in any kind of weather. Bonus, the Portrait Gallery is open until 7pm, later than most other museums in DC.

Arriving from the Airport

There are three airports that service the DC area: Washington-Reagan National Airport (DCA), Dulles (IAD), and Baltimore-Washington International (BWI). DCA is the closest to downtown and will be about a $25 cab ride depending on where you’re going. Dulles/BWI will be closer to $60-100 depending on if you cab or uber. From Dulles, you can take a shuttle bus to the Silver Line metro but I probably wouldn’t. Same for the shuttle option from BWI that takes you to the Amtrak rail station. If you’ve packed lightly those options are fine, but if you’ve got luggage the cab option is much easier.

Ready to Go?


Restaurants/Coffee Shops


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Waoh great!

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