We had the most amazing visit with my brother and sister-in-law from Oklahoma this past week. It was the first time they’ve visited DC together since I first moved here back in 2011, and I was so excited to show them around this city I love so much.
I didn’t snap that many photos while they were here, but I thought I’d give you guys a rundown of all the delicious places we went during their stay. They were here for almost a full week, so we were able to take them to many of our favorite bars and restaurants around town, plus a few new spots we’ve been dying to try.
DC Food Guide: How to Eat Like a Local
If you’ve got guests coming into town, or are planning to visit DC sometime soon be sure to bookmark or pin this DC food guide. Your taste buds will thank you.
Since they arrived right around lunch time on Saturday, brunch at Convivial seemed like a no brainer. This is one of our favorite brunches in town, and it didn’t disappoint. Tom was able to confirm that the Convivial’s fried chicken and waffle is still his favorite in the city.
As usual, DC weather was not cooperating with storms and high humidity on Saturday. We scrapped our plans for sightseeing in lieu of a little day drinking. The obvious next step was to head around the corner for French wine at La Jambe. Every time we’ve tried to visit this place in the past, the crowds were too crazy. Luckily, DC is always a little slower over a holiday weekend so we were able to get prime seats at the bar. Our bartender was awesome and we sampled our way through some great wines. I’ll have one of our favorites in the next Wine Wednesday!
Ivy & Coney
My sister-in-law hails from Chicago, so after having a few high-brow drinks at La Jambe, we hopped across the street for cash-only brews at Chicago and Detroit themed bar Ivy & Coney. This was once one of our favorite haunts back when we lived downtown, and it was the perfect spot to wait out a monsoon.
We were lucky to score a last-minute Saturday night reservation at ever-popular Rasika. I haven’t been in several years, but it was even better than I remembered. I was thrilled we were able to introduce our visitors to one of the best restaurants in DC. The palak chaat was a crowd pleaser as usual and we also enjoyed the crab pepper masala, lamb vindaloo and red snapper reshad.
Sunday was the day for sightseeing, so we fueled up with a hearty brunch at Bar Pilar. We’ve long loved Bar Pilar for drinks, but this was our first time dining in their upstairs space. To be honest, it wasn’t quite as great as expected. But I’ll still be back for cocktails.
After a visit to the Hirshhorn and a long, sweaty walk through the mall we made a beeline to the Watergate Hotel to cool off. It’s always been tough to find watering holes close to the monuments, so my ears immediately perked up when I heard about the major renovations just completed at this iconic hotel. We popped up to Top of the Gate first for panoramic views of the city, but it was too hot out to stay for long. Instead, we settled in at the bar of the gloriously air-conditioned Kingbird for cocktails and bar nuts. I was enamored by both spaces, and hope to return soon for a lengthier visit.
Pearl Dive Oyster Palace
Since our guests live in a landlocked state, getting plenty of fresh seafood during their stay was a top priority. Pearl Dive is one of our favorite places for consistently delicious and quality fish and oysters in DC. They delivered again with beautiful raw oysters, amazing barbecued shrimp, a refreshing wedge salad and flavorful blackened swordfish with an oh-so-spicy black-eyed pea jambalaya.
For a laid-back lunch, we walked over to our favorite taco joint in the city, Taqueria Habanero. As usual, everything was spicy and delicious. Our favorite taco orders are always the al pastor, lengua and camarones with a mountain of chips and spicy guacamole. We went booze-free on this visit, but the margaritas are excellent as well.
In search of indoor entertainment, we hit up Lyman’s Tavern next door to Habanero for fun and games. Lyman’s is truly one-of-a-kind and a great place to spend a couple of hours. They’ve got cheap beer, free popcorn and a wall of arcade games. What more could you want? We enjoyed many rounds of pinball and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
More seafood! We stopped into Whaley’s for a quick snack before the Nats game on Monday. As I’m not quite the seafood lover that the rest of my family is, I opted for a beautiful summer squash carpaccio.
My counterparts opted more oysters, the chilled corn soup with lump crap and fresh poached shrimp. As always, we enjoyed the fun and scenic space and excellent, cheerful service.
It’s no secret that one of the best places to eat and drink in DC is inside the Washington Nationals stadium. We enjoyed a Nats victory, cold beers and – what else – burgers from Shake Shack. We won’t talk about the fact that my SIL and I waited in line for over four innings to obtain said burgers. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate pre-4th of July than a Nats win and burgers with my siblings.
Hank’s Cocktail Bar
We stayed at home for most of the day on 4th of July, but did make a quick outing to refill our Qualia Coffee stash at and get some snacks at Hank’s Cocktail Bar. I’ve found Hank’s food to be hit or miss in the past, but everything was on point during this visit. The pizza bread, deviled eggs and creamy cucumber salad were standouts.
Cantler’s Riverside Inn
Looking for a change of scenery, we decided to head to Annapolis for lunch before taking our guests to the airport. I’ve been wanting to try Cantler’s Riverside Inn for ages, so I was really excited for an excuse to go. This ended up being one of our best meals of the trip due to the fantastic views, laid-back vibe and delicious fresh seafood. None of us opted to pick crabs, but we still got a great taste of Maryland with crab-stuffed rockfish, a giant steamed seafood platter and more hush puppies than should be legal.
Sorry We Missed You
We definitely covered a lot of ground during a fun visit. However, there were a few places we sadly had to miss out on due to lack of time or restaurant closings. We really would have loved to hit up Ruta del Vino and Little Coco’s with my wine-loving siblings. We also missed out on DC heavy weights Tail Up Goat, the Dabney and All Purpose. I guess they’ll just have to come back soon so we can complete the list!
Are you headed to DC? Want to eat like a local? Contact us for DC foodie itineraries tailored specifically to your preferences and/or dietary restrictions.