Big Escapes: Washington, DC’s Many Surprises
As of September 2021, masks are mandatory for almost all indoor activities in the District of Columbia. A growing number of hospitality companies, especially bars and restaurants, are choosing to impose a vaccine requirement for admission to their facilities. The latest city updates can be found here.
In the minds of many Americans, the District of Columbia is less a city than a physical representation of the country’s polarizing political battles. But the real Washington, DC, isn’t the one portrayed in the news. Local people don’t start from scratch when a new political regime does, nor can they be portrayed with any semblance of precision through the chaos of a single dark day.
DC is a lively and breathing place with a vibrant and diverse population. Its people, who are not represented in congressional systems, are a fundamental part of a thriving cultural scene.
The best of DC is experienced not only by visiting the many wonderful monuments and museums here, but by the sensory delights of its world-class restaurants and bars, as well as its vibrant local art scene. Washington is a collection of dozens of neighborhoods with distinct personalities, and that, and in many ways, offers a true representation of the country as a whole.
The Jefferson, a historic hotel, reopened in July after closing at the start of the pandemic. The DC icon opened in 1895 and maintains a reputation as a boutique, luxury property in the heart of the city; walk straight down 16th Street for a few minutes and you’ll come across the White House. The hotel is known for its classic style and decor, as well as for its tailored hospitality. Jefferson’s main bar, Quill, offers excellent cocktails as well as understated hospitality. Both are must-haves considering the political who’s who of frequent visitors.
A more recent option is Riggs Washington DC, which opened just before the pandemic to go into immediate hibernation. Located in Penn Quarter, the property was once home to the historic Riggs National Bank and has now been revitalized to showcase the best of its ancient architectural splendor alongside a colorful and at times quirky artistic style with a healthy touch of Art Deco – mini bank safes serve as minibars; Pocket books of Keats poetry await you at your bedside table, which you can read on your velvet armchairs.
Another new property is the Conrad Washington DC, which debuted in March 2019. The property is an anchor of CityCenterDC, a mixed-use development, and its only hotel, welcoming visitors with an expansive atrium dominated by a huge white pendant, the light of which changes from bright white to dark yellow to reflect the time of day.
Nestled next to the National Mall is the Mandarin Oriental Washington DC, offering easy access to major sights and Capitol Hill. Rooms at the rear of the property offer direct views of the Tidal Basin and Jefferson Memorial, serving as surreal perches and provoking envy during spring cherry blossom season. A large spa and indoor pool with lounge seating offer resort-style amenities not commonly found in the city.
From fine dining to food halls, DC has more than enough to satisfy any palate. For the first, it would be wise to start at Masseria, a Michelin-starred restaurant by chef Nicholas Stefanelli serving sublime Italian cuisine focused on the Puglia region, and for the second, you would be just as wise to start next door at Union MarchÃ©, filled with dozens of exceptional vendors spanning the culinary spectrum.
One of the best wine bars in town is the charming France-focused La Jambe Ã Shaw, where French wine and cheese are served with fine cocktails made from ingredients made only in France or Washington. Shaw is home to a vast collection of the city’s hippest destinations, from the Espita Mezcaleria, one of the nation’s most prominent mezcal bars, with Oaxacan food to match, to the Columbia Room, a cocktail program. and a team that deserves its recognition among the very best. When it comes to whiskey, look no further than Jack Rose Dining Saloon, whose huge selection of prestige bottlings would make most auction houses blush. Next to the space is its new sister restaurant, the Imperial.
Maketto, a cafe, restaurant and retail space by chef Erik Bruner-Yang is worth a stop at any time of the day. Another neighborhood gem that will comfortably accompany you from coffee to cocktail is the Royal, in LeDeroit Park. Sister Lulu’s Wine Garden offers a friendly setting akin to a wine-filled evening in a friend’s house and garden, with southwest-influenced cuisine like platters of rib tacos and fried bread. .
Silver Lyan is new to the city’s cocktail scene, the highly anticipated US debut for Ryan Chetiyawardana and Mr. Lyan’s team, with boundary-pushing libations designed to surprise; and Allegory DC, which combines its cocktail program with its Alice in Wonderland mural and dÃ©cor, cropped through the prism of social justice.
In the New Wharf District, stop at Nara-Ya, where colorful sushi platters and Japanese fare are served alongside unlimited sake and Japanese whiskey, as well as Moon Rabbit, where chef Kevin Tien serves dishes. Worthy tastes such as the lemongrass pork blade, with ground pork diy served with scallion pancakes, lettuce wraps and sauces. While it may seem more suited to global emergency relief, DC remains the epicenter of the JosÃ© AndrÃ©s restaurant empire nonetheless, and any stops among its key establishments are recommended.
The best way to get acquainted with the city’s 19 free Smithsonian museums, galleries, and other destinations is to check out its official website. The site lists current opening hours and admission information, and provides links to scheduled entry passes if needed.
For visitors looking for a new perspective, visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened in 2016. From there, stroll through the National Mall and see its destinations flagship Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial, plus the many other worthy sites in between and along the way – or head straight down the street to the White House Lawn, and beyond, what has been dubbed in DC as Black Lives Matter Plaza.
The wharf, along the southwestern waterfront, and Navy Yard, home to the national park, have been transformed in recent years into destination-worthy spots, while Georgetown’s streets and waterfront still draw attention. a crowd for good reason. For a nature getaway beyond the city, consider Great Falls Park for a hike and views of the Potomac River and its rapids.
This writer has been hosted by Riggs Washington DC and the Mandarin Oriental Washington DC