the wonderful world of veena.

09 April 2014

veena's version of things to see and do in dc.

A few weeks ago I flew up to DC to spend a weekend with some friends. My friend Shalini currently lives there but is moving to Paris at the end of May, so I made it a goal to see her before she left. Along with her, Dylan has been there since last summer, Stan has been there since who-knows-when, and I have been telling Haygood for years that I will get up there to see him. So it finally all worked out, and I headed up there for 3 days [that turned in to 4 since it snowed and my flight got cancelled!].

We had a jam-packed weekend full of mostly eating and drinking, so I thought I would share with you my thoughts on the places we went to in case you find yourself in our nation's capital in the near future.

to drink:

Jackpot was a great low-key bar in the heart of Chinatown. It's in a basement and is hard to miss, but if you find it, you won't be disappointed. I'm a big fan of simple, low-key places, and this one certainly fit the bill. There are very few decorations, some large-screen televisions, about 10 tables, some chairs in the corner, and a long bar that runs the length of the room, but it manages to feel cozy. They have a ton of bars on tap as well as a large collection of whiskey, and although they only have popcorn by way of food available, I think they're cool if you bring in your own food [bonus: there's a taco place just next door that looked good]. We went on a Friday, and they had a Happy Hour that ran from 5-8pm with $5 well drinks as well as beer specials. Oh, and the bartender is pretty cute. That never hurts.

The Saloon was one of our stops on Saturday night, and we had a blast. They have a strict 'No Standing' policy, but we got there just in time to nab some seats at the bar, and we had a great time getting to know the owner/bartender while enjoying our drinks. He is this hilarious, super snarky man in his mid-60s, and he kept us entertained - and on the tips of our toes - while we were there.

The Gibson was a very cool speakeasy we went to on Saturday night with Dylan and some of his friends. Because of the setup, we ended up in a private room, which was pretty cool. The Gibson offers all kinds of old-timey cocktails, and if you're unsure of what to order, the servers are pretty helpful with suggestions once they find out what you like to drink. The prices were pretty reasonable, and I'd have to say that probably my only complaint was that the service took ages. Because the rooms are so split up, you don't actually realize how busy they are and how many people there are, and with only 2 or 3 servers - that I could see - it took a long time for our orders to be filled. But otherwise, it's definitely worth the visit. Side note: make a reservation, particularly if it's a Friday or Saturday night. I don't know if it's required, but it's definitely advisable.

to eat [and drink, too]:

The Big Board was our dinner stop on Friday night. Stan, one of my classmates from grad school, works helps out there a few nights a week, so we went there for dinner so that we would be able to spend some time with him. Stan recommended the burgers, so I went with The Big Apple, since it was the one with bacon. And it was delicious. We ordered some fries for the table, and they were pretty great, too. Dylan and Shalini both had great things to say about their burgers, and Stan's special-order salad looked pretty scrumptious. The building itself isn't particularly noteworthy, but they have a tv in the corner that displays the real-time prices of the beers on tap as though they are stocks. It's quite interesting. And the food was more than enough to entice us.

Bandolero was where Shalini and I grabbed brunch on Saturday. One of my favourite things about DC is that most places serve brunch until 4pm, so we slept in and lazed about on Saturday morning before departing for Georgetown in search of food. One of the positives to showing up at 3pm for "brunch" is that there isn't much of a wait to get a table. We were seated immediately, and since it was a beautiful day, we took a table right next to the window with its awnings thrown open, so we could people watch with gusto while enjoying our strawberry mimosas - genius and delicious - and our food. We got some chips and salsa to begin, and I had the miniature pork tacos, which were awesome. Shalini had something that was pork and cheese that looked great, but I was pretty stuffed after my tacos. Had we gotten there earlier, we probably would have taken advantage of the bottomless mimosas, which was a great deal. But since we were a bit on the late side, we each just stuck with one drink each and stuffed our faces with the yummy food.

Kafe Leopold was a delicious brunch stop in Cady's Alley in Georgetown where we ate on Sunday. Again we slept in and lazed about and went for brunch only around 2pm. There was a bit of a wait for a table in the main section, but then we found out there was an attached "lounge" that had available seating, so we opted for that. Shalini had a warm cider that she said was just ok, but my salmon Bloody Mary was fantastic and comes highly recommended. We decided to split two dishes, but I can't find their exact names on the website since they were on the brunch menu. There was salmon, and there were hash browns, and there were grits. I can't remember in which combination, but both dishes were pretty good. Hands down, though, the highlights were the Bloody Mary and the apfelstrudel that we had for dessert. Yum.

other things to do:

DC is a great city with no shortage of museums, memorials, and various other tourist attractions. I had previously visited the Smithsonian galleries, the Presidential memorials, and the Holocaust Museum on trips with my parents in 1998 and with Caitlin, Shelley, and Emily during our Spring Break 2004 road trip, so I didn't get back to any of them on this visit. I do, however, highly recommend seeing them if you have the time and have never done so before. My personal recommendation is the Holocaust Museum, but make sure you have the whole day to spend in there and carry a packet of tissues. It's a beautiful museum and memorial, and it is definitely worth a visit.

getting around:

The DC Metro! It's an easy, cheap way to move around the city. With the multiple lines going in all directions, most places are easily accessible to a Metro station, and the ones that aren't, you can get to by bus. SmartCards can be purchased at all Metro stations and can be used on the trains and on the buses. The fares work like the Underground in London -- buses are a standard fare no matter what, and the trains take money off your card based on your starting and end points. I bought a card and put $20 on it, and it lasted me for the 3 days that I was in town. And as far as I know, the cards don't expire [the fares might deplete, though], so I can keep it and use it the next time I'm in DC, just as I do with my London Oyster Card. Trains run until 1am on weeknights, I think, and until 3am on the weekends. They run a little less frequently on the weekends, but the entire system is automated, so when you arrive on the platform you can see how long the wait is until your next train. The entire system is very well labeled and laid out, so it's easy to determine how to get where you want to go, and if you have any questions, there are station attendants who can help you.

Cabs are obviously an option as well, but the only time I experienced cabs in DC was with my parents 16 years ago, so I'm definitely not qualified to discuss the pros and cons of them. Mostly for me, they're more expensive than the public transportation, and since there is an underground subway that leads from the Metro station to the lower basement of Shalini's building, we didn't have any safety issues when going home late at night / in the wee hours of the morning.

I'm sorry I don't have any pictures from any of the places -- unfortunately I was lazy on that front and didn't take any :( So you'll just have to use your imagination or, better yet, go visit them yourself!

Happy travels.

No comments:

Post a Comment