News flash: Dining in Washington isn’t all about steakhouses and power lunches. The District of Columbia is now the fourth American city to snag a Michelin guide. From global cuisines that speak to its diverse population to upscale fare worthy of those coveted three stars (not to mention a bevy of beverage options), the nation’s capital has it all. Here’s where to go right now.
Not into waiting in line at Aaron Silverman’s Capitol Hill hotspot Rose’s Luxury in Barracks Row? Reserve a table at Pineapple and Pearls, his all-inclusive masterpiece next door. Revel in 13 courses of food-meets-art, such as shrimp topped with coffee siphon-dispensed red curry sauce, or yogurt-filled fennel spheres served with absinthe and celery, fennel and green-apple juices.French Chef Cedric Maupillier’s double-fried chicken coq au vin at Convivial in Logan Circle is a perfect mashup of his native and adopted homes. His whimsical riffs on French bistro fare are served in “medium-sized” plates, from skate wing with octopus and crab bisque to corned pork belly with fines herbes and lentilles du Puy.
Uptown in Columbia Heights, you’ll be giddy when you get the text saying your table is ready at Bad Saint. The 24-seat spot serves up bold, flavorful Filipino food from Chef Tom Cunanan. Happy diners have inundated Instagram with photos of clams with Chinese sausage and Sichuan peppers, and shrimp and sweet potato fritters (ukoy).
If your tastes are more culinary than couture, skip Georgetown for Union Market, the airy vendor hall that hosts artisans of all sorts just northeast of the train station. Grab a knish and a house-made pineapple cardamom soda at Buffalo & Bergen. Taste estate oils and browse Tunisian olive-wood goods at The Cookery, then up your sous-chef game with a set of hand-forged cutlery from DC Sharp, a Japanese knife boutique. Before you go, slurp fresh, ice-cold Olde Salts with an oyster stout at Rappahannock Oyster Bar, run by Travis and Ryan Croxton. The two cousins operate their grandfather’s Rappahannock Oyster Co., and have revitalized Virginia’s oyster industry.
Want a great drink? Head to Shaw. This neighborhood east of Logan Circle has emerged as one of the city’s hippest boozy enclaves.
Derek Brown’s trio of adjacent spots appeal to fans of Sherry (Mockingbird Hill), American whiskey (Southern Efficiency) and pitcher cocktails and oysters (Eat the Rich). Most anticipated was the recent expansion of craft cocktail bar Columbia Room. Enjoy a seasonal tipple or Champagne tasting in the Tasting Room with its mosaic-tiled back bar, a la carte cocktails in the Spirits room or convivial concoctions in the Punch Garden.
Around the corner at Espita Mezcaleria, Master Mezcalier Josh Phillips is eager to expand your mind and palate with this agave-based Mexican spirit—it’s not all about smoke. Order a flight of Elder Agaves, followed by the Smiling Rabbit cocktail, made with mezcal, Suze, lemon, pineapple and cinnamon.
A few blocks away, ANXO Cidery & Pintxos Bar is the city’s first cidery. Beverage Director Tim Prendergast oversees one of, if not the largest, draft cider collections in the U.S., offering 22 ciders on tap, 30 by the glass and 100 by the bottle.
The newly opened National Museum of African American History & Culture has a striking facade of intricately patterned bronze frames that evokes comparisons to ironwork architecture in Charleston and New Orleans.
Nestled between the Potomac River and the Tidal Basin, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial is massive yet introspective. Four outdoor “rooms” represent his terms as president. Granite walls are etched with quotes, and water features depict major points of his life (chaotic falls for World War II, a still pool for his death).
Across from the National Archives and Navy Memorial, the Cogswell Temperance Fountain was donated by crusader Henry D. Cogswell, who believed that access to clean drinking water would prevent imbibing. Snap a selfie with this relic of Prohibition, or meet there for one of author Garrett Peck’s entertaining Temperance Tours.
4 Hour Getaway
Potables in Purcellville
Escape the city for an afternoon in the Virginia countryside. Start with esoteric, barrel-aged beers like Ortolan Bunting (aged in Armagnac casks) or G/I/A/A IPA (matured in mezcal barrels) at Adroit Theory Brewery. For lunch, nosh on local Angus beef burgers and hand-cut fries at Market Burger Fries & Shakes. Afterward, head to Catoctin Creek Distilling Company, where affable owners Scott and Becky Harris will give you a tour and tasting of their award-winning Roundstone Rye, Watershed Gin and pear brandy.