A Weekend in DC…

Woodley Park Zoo, Washington DC

A few weeks ago we decided that a break from work was in order and a short weekend trip would be the perfect remedy. Tickets to Paris were pricey ($400 more than the usual), Hawai’i was far, we didn’t feel like going back to San Francisco. The answer? Washington DC. The Acela train ride was just 2.5 hours. Left NYC at 8am and in DC by 10:30am. Just enough to make it feel like we were on vacation without committing much time to travel.

A weekend in DC means eating cupcakes at midnight while watching movies in the hotel room. This is the Morning Call, an espresso-chocolate cake with coffee buttercream, chocolate espresso bean and a dusting of espresso powder.

Red Velvet Cupcakery was across the street from the hotel…how could we resist?

It also means a visit to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo to see giant pandas…
…and little lion cubs.

There was a breakfast of Ethiopian food at Das Ethiopian Cuisine

– Chicken Doro Watt (chicken, red pepper sauce, spices, hard boiled egg)
– Beef Kaey Watt (beef cubes simmered in red pepper sauce, flavored with spices)
– Beef Alica (beef cubes prepared in special herbed butter, flavored with spices)
– Beef Segana Gomen (tenderloin cubes spiced and mixed with collard greens)
– Ethiopian Harvest Vegetable Specialty (caulifower, string beans and carrots simmered in stewed tomatoes)

Who knew we’d be craving all this at 11am Sunday morning?Seemingly endless injera rolls. Just the right tang to wake us up for a day of walking around Georgetown and Dupont. We didn’t have time to make it back to Dukem or Etete, but there is always next time.

A stop at Dolcezza Artisanal Gelato for gelato, refreshing avocado shakes…

…and churros! Fresh batch! Get them plain or filled with dulce de leche. I went with the latter, alternating bites with spoonfuls mascarpone gelato.

Post-gelato we perused the shelves of nearby Capital Teas before a…

…very brief attempt to visit Georgetown Cupcakes, but after seeing that line…oh man. Not this time. It started to rain (people still stayed in line!), and we turned into the Dean & Deluca’s across the street to see how the inventory at the DC store differs from the NYC location. I was excited to see many local NYC companies featured at the DC store including Liddabit Sweets Once the rain stopped it was just a 20-minute walk to The Tea Cellar at the Park Hyatt where we spent the afternoon.

For dinner the hostess at Rasika proved to be the rudest person in hospitality that I’ve come across, so we headed to Jaleo where happy hour at the bar was still going and both bartenders and neighboring diners made the evening wonderful and relaxed. A shame we never made it to Rasika, but then again, no restaurant is worth tolerating that “hostess”.

At Jaleo there were Gambas al ajillo, spicy chorizo wrapped in crispy potato, fried squid and alioli, patatas bravas, endives with goat cheese, oranges and almonds, and ensalada rusa – a Spanish salad of potatoes, imported conserved tuna and mayo.

We went to Zaytinya the next day – another restaurant owned by José Andrés, for a late lunch of Salyangoz Kibbeh which featured crispy potato crusted snails, herbed ladolemono, and baby lettuce. The fresh pita, served warm to each table proved ideal for all the saucy dishes we ordered which included the…

Hünkãr Beğendi, a traditional Turkish braised lamb shank, with a rich, silky eggplant-kefalograviera puree. We also shared a few other nibbles like fried squid with a garlic-yogurt sauce and a simple salad by the name of Maroulosalata.

Productive afternoon shopping before dinner at Central Michel Richard where the food is “traditional American with a French flair.” Pierre loved it and so did I. Hanger steak au poivre cooked a perfect medium-rare leaning on the rare side with sweet and serious melt-in-your mouth onion carbonara…

…and a frisee salad with lardons, poached egg. Exactly what I craved. Plus a cocotte of garlicky mashed potatoes and bottle of wine. That is what we call a complete meal.

And of all the free museums in DC, I’m afraid we only made it to one…but it was the one with Julia Child’s kitchen.

Pure coincidence :) With the opening of PAUL Patisserie so close to all the museums we’ll have to make museum visits a greater priority on future trips.

If you’re ever in need of a hotel in DC, I’d recommend Hotel Monaco without hesitation. We try to stay at Kimpton-owned hotels when we travel, racking up points. It’s a chain but all their properties are unique. In San Francisco last year we stayed at the Harbor Court which was literally across the street from the Ferry Building.

The Kimpton prices are fair ($200/night for our DC weekend), service is great, Penn Quarter location is even better, and there’s a free tea + coffee in the mornings, warm cookies in the afternoon, and happy hour in the hotel lobby every evening.

But the best part? This little goldfish named Freddi. All the Kimpton Hotel Monacaos (there’s nine scattered across the country) offer a free pet goldfish for the duration of your stay – just make the request when you check-in. They feed and change the water everyday so there’s no work on your part. Pierre thought it was ridiculous, but I thought it was cute. If anything, it’s a great marketing move.

Thank you again to everyone who pitched in with enthusiastic Washington DC recommendations via email, twitter, and even phone calls. Wouldn’t have found all these places without you :)

Red Velvet Cupcakery
675 E Street Northwest
Washington D.C., DC 20004
(202) 347-7895

Das Ethiopian Cuisine (previously Zed’s)
1201 28th St NW
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 333-4710

Dolcezza Artisanal Gelato
1560 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 333-4646

Capital Teas
1614 Wisconsin Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 337-8327

The Tea Cellar at the Park Hyatt
2400 M Street NW
Washington D.C., DC 20037
(202) 789-1234

Jaleo
480 7th Street NW
Washington D.C., DC 20004
(202) 628-7949

Zaytinya
701 9th Street NW
Washington D.C., DC 20001
(202) 638-0800

Central Michel Richard
1001 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington D.C., DC 20004
(202) 626-0015

PAUL
801 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington D.C., DC 20004

8 Comments
  • K and S
    May 15, 2011

    what a fun-filled weekend!

  • BigAppleNosh
    May 15, 2011

    What a delicious weekend! :)

  • J. Lo
    May 15, 2011

    Mmm, I want to see a picture of the onion carbonara!

  • Kathy YL Chan
    May 15, 2011

    Thanks Kat! ^_^Hi BigAppleNosh – it was indeed! :)Justin – it's that little mound next to the steak (underneath the crispy potatoes :)

  • Stefania
    May 17, 2011

    I think I have found another favourite blogger! Great post thanks. Re the Kimpton range of hotels agree completely we stayed at Kimpton hotels in both LA and NYC when we visited the states last. They are great hotels.

  • Julie
    May 17, 2011

    Great write-up! DC is at the top of a long list of places I hope to visit, and this post will come in handy when I do. I'm glad you walked away from Rasika–I don't know why people sometimes decide to just grin and bear it. The food service industry is still a branch of hospitality!

  • janet
    May 20, 2011

    Ooh thanks for the heads-up about Liddabit @ dean & delucas. Gotta do some snack shopping to get through studying for the bar!

  • Doreva
    June 14, 2011

    I followed some of your suggestions and ate at Dukem & Red Velvet Cupcakery. I also visited the Zoo. Capital Teas now has a new store in Dupont Circle, and I bought some beautiful blooming flower teas there. I would also recommend Founding Farmers – an organic, locally sourced restaurant right near the White House. Great food and drinks – their homemade ginger ale (non-alcoholic) is fantastic!

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