36 hours (or so) of eating and walking in DC

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I returned from San Francisco on Monday evening and only had time to do laundry and pack again.  It was a short turn-around time, but we have a tight schedule with 3 baseball games and over 10 states to drive through in the next 12 days.

Tuesday 7:00am – YVR – DEN – IAD

Somewhere over Wyoming, I think.

5:30pm – After a long day of travel, we touched down in Washington Dulles airport in the middle of a bad storm.  Even worse, Ben’s baggage did not arrive.  Not finding a direct/easy way of taking transit and not wanting to get caught in the storm, we decided to take a cab.  It turned out to be a comfortable albeit expensive choice.

7:30pm – Check-in to the lovely Sofitel hotel, the hotel felt bad that we lost our luggage so we were upgraded into a luxury room.  Lucky us.

Sofitel Washington DC

8:30pm – Armed with my trusty pre-marked map, we decided to check out a  place nearby for an easy dinner.  My first choice, Graffiato was very busy but had space at the bar, so we happily pulled up a chair.

"mike isabella top chef"
Mike Isabella wasn’t my favourite on Top Chef, but my belief that he made tasty food led me to his door.
Sparkling wine in a can? Sounded so crass but I had to try it. Glad I did, because it was good. Will be looking for this in the stores.
Graffiiato Mike Isabella Top Chef
Baby beets with housemade ricotta and orange.
Graffiato Mike Isabella Top Chef
Goodfellas pizza with meatballs, tomatoes, provolone and chills. The tomato sauce on this pizza was SO good, maybe “the best ever” kind of good.
House pancetta, bourbon mustard and pickled okra – a dish with so much promise was the weakest of the night.
"graffiato mike isabella top chef"
Sweet corn agnolotti with chanterelles, pine nuts and a rich butter sauce – I wanted to lick the bottom of the plate. The buttery sauce combined with the sweet corn was delectable.

Wednesday 9:00am – Off to see the monuments! When I told people we were going to DC, I got a lot of puzzled looks. Like why would I go to DC?Here are some of my reasons why:

2:00pm – A friend told me to check out the Maine Avenue Fish market while in DC.  We realized were close after seeing the Jefferson monument, so we decided it would be a good place for lunch.

So many vendors to choose from, we stopped here for our crab because they were the friendliest and let me try a crab for free.
We ordered a dozen large females which were thrown into a bag, doused in Old Bay spice and shaken.
Oysters caught my eye, so we asked this gentleman to shuck 1/2 dozen for us.
With no tables to be found, we stood in the parking area and slurped these up quickly.
While wandering to find a place to eat our crab, we also saw a sign for crab cakes. Although these don’t look like it, they were very good. All crab, little filling, lots of crunch.
We finally settled at a concrete barrier to eat our lunch on. The eating got messy after this… I’m a Dungeness crab princess so I thought these little ones are more work, and aren’t quite as good, but the Old Bay seasoning was a winner.

5:30pm – The storm from the night before caused a rain out in the baseball game, which meant our tickets were valid for a  double-header.  We decided to show up mid-way through the first game stay for as much of the second as we wanted.

Sun setting on Nationals Park.
Fully loaded nachos from the Club level.
On my “must eat” list for DC, I was told their half smoke chili dog was just as good in stadium as it was at their original location.
Not the most appetizing to look at, this was VERY good. While the chili wasn’t as good as Pink’s (LA), the sausage is what put this over the edge. My only regret? Sharing this instead of having a whole one myself.

Thursday 9:00am – Only 1 day left and so many things still left to explore. We started at the Smithsonian in the American History and Natural History buildings.

12:00pm – DC is known to have great International cuisine.  I had an Ethiopian, Thai and Indian plotted out on my map. Lucky for me, one was a few blocks away from the Mall.

HIgh-end and modern aren’t 2 adjectives you normally use to describe Indian food but that’s how Rasika is usually described.
Seekh Kebab – minced lamb, garam masala and mint chutney.
Chicken Biryani – aromatic chicken, basmati rice and saffron
Garlic naan
Gobhi Mattar- cauliflower, green peas, cumin, ginger

Although all of the food was wonderful, the cauliflower was the standout for its amazing flavour.  What I enjoyed the most about Rasika was that none of the dishes had the greasiness of my local Indian joint. The room and food did lean towards the modern side, although I wouldn’t consider Rasika “high-end”. Either way, it was very good Indian food that I’m glad we went to.

2:30pm – We realized there’s too much in DC to do and not enough time to do it all. Rather than try to rush across the city to check out Georgetown, we decided that we’d stay close and further explore the Mall.

In our efforts to find a washroom in the area, we were wonderfully surprised at the peacefulness of the US Botanical Gardens.  The most amazing thing about all of the sites I visited in DC was the fact it was all free. Accessibility definitely leads to discovery.

7:00pm – Wanting to make the most of our last moments in DC, we went to see the sights at sunset before dinner.

8:30pm – One last meal, so I wanted to make it a good one.  I had a Jose Andres’ restaurant picked out, but decided last moment that I wanted a good Southern meal at Pearl Dive Oyster Palace.  Unfortunately, it was closed for a private function(we learned after the cab had dropped us off). I was tempted to try to convince Ben to go to a very trendy Thai restaurant around the corner, but I wasn’t sure we’d get in AND its set menu is expensive. Somewhat defeated and tired from so much walking, we settled on Birch&Barley.

We were seated outside on the patio, which is a treat for September and waded our way through their selection of over 50 beers on draft and 555 bottled beers.  Our meal wasn’t bad, although there wasn’t enough light to take photos. The most memorable food of the night?  The bread plate with hot biscuits, pretzels and buttery herb buns.

Friday early AM: Off early to get our car and start our road trip which will eventually take us to Boston, I left Washington DC feeling enlightened, inspired and with a happy belly.  If that’s not the point of travel, I don’t know what is.

Graffiato – 707 6th St NW

Maine Ave – 1100 Maine St SW

Ben’s Chili Bowl – multiple locations, I went to the one in Nationals Park

Rasika – 633D St NW

Birch&Barley – 1337 14th St NW

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