CITY GUIDES | Washington, D.C.

CITY GUIDES | Washington, D.C.

The best possible outcomes in the City of Magnificent Intentions.

January 7, 2019
CITY GUIDES | Washington, D.C.

CITY GUIDES | Washington, D.C.

The best possible outcomes in the City of Magnificent Intentions.

January 7, 2019
Interviews by Cassandra Landry | Art by ChefsFeed

Politics might be one endless chyron-tapeworm in the fusty, forgotten passages of our sanity, but I'll tell you what: The food in the nation's capital is straight FIRE. So there's that. 

Part of our goal with these shiny new City Guides is to show you exactly how to fall in love with a place, straight from food people who have done it. We want to know where they'd blow rent money if there were no repercussions, where they go when they want to people-watch and take a few breaths away from the kitchen. Where the best coffee is, so you're not eyeing the powdered creamer in your hotel room and thinking, I mean, I guess that's basically the same thing, right? 

We try not to forget all the good stuff that fills the hours between meals—the way the light hits a certain street corner, or the walks that make you feel like a part of something bigger. All those the quirks and hidden gems that make any great love story worthwhile.

 This round: Washington, D.C. (and its surrounding environs, if you're fancy).

The Essential

Kevin: I would say going to New Big Wong and getting beef chow fun. That's my go-to after a really long, stressful day at work. Every Christmas Eve, me and my fiancé always get dinner there. It helps me de-stress. Growing up, any time we went to a Chinese restaurant with my family, I'd always get beef chow fun—it's one of my favorite dishes of all time. The beef has to be super tender so it's just a nice clean bite, and grilled in a really hot wok so you kinda smell some of the char. You can tell the scallions were cooked in the wok, but they're not overcooked. 

Tim: There's a huge Vietnamese population in Virginia and a whole bunch of great pho shops. I find comfort in that. There's one called Pho 75, that has two locations. [My go-to order is] a large #1, with tripe and brisket and I think rib-eye? It's got pretty much everything. I end up eating it alone all the time, but it's such a busy shop that you end up sitting with other people at communal tables. 

Cable: I don't have a specific spot here, but when I come back to D.C., I'm craving blue crabs. Going out, getting beers and blue crabs, even if we just go down to the wharf and pick them up and eat them on our patio table outside. That's the greatest thing ever. Just tons of butter, tons of Old Bay, and your fingers hurt and are raw at the end of it because you just went to town on a dozen.

 

Pho 75
Hot Spot
$, Asian, Noodles, Vietnamese, Colonial Village
2 Recommendations

After Hours

Kevin: Reliable Tavern is a cocktail bar that used to be an old hardware store. It looks like a grungy dive bar, but they make the best cocktails. They do classics, and variations on the classics, but they'll ask you all these leading questions like, "Do you want light or dark liquor? Do you want it very citrusy? You want it this and this and this?" Then they'll make a custom cocktail just for you, which I think is awesome. 

Tim: This is a super industry spot: Showtime Lounge. It's tiny, it's cash only, a little bit off the beaten path. It's like you're sitting on benches that were obviously made by the owner, and the bar is something that you would imagine it would be in somebody's home. There's punch lit up by a lava lamp. They play super obscure 70s movies, usually gore or horror or something like that. You go up to the bar and the bartender gives two fucks that you're there. Sometimes people will dance, sometimes people will just sit there, it depends on the night. It's a fun place.

Cable: Showtime! It's so good. Last time I was there, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure was on TV and we just drank shitty beers and shots. They have their Christmas lights up year round. I think we're slowly just keeping them alive, all the service staff in town...it's a few blocks away from my restaurant. Super grimy and fantastic.

 

Touristy, But Worth It

Kevin: I like to walk around the Tidal Basin. It's always nice to see people out on the water, just people running and jogging, the tourists taking in the sights. You're in DC, this is why this is beautiful, this is America. You can see the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln, the reflecting pool. You can see all the monuments and you're kind of reminded how beautiful everything is. 

If you get a chance, you need to go see two museums that are right next to each other: The Holocaust Museum and the new National Museum of African American History and Culture. Going through both for me is a reminder of what our history is, and an example of how we shouldn't be living. There's no way that we, as a country, need to regress in any way. Things need to change for the better. I think both museums remind you of that.

(And, Jerome Grant's food in the African-American History Museum is absolutely banging.)

Tim: The FDR memorial downtown is really good in nice weather. It spans a good amount of walking space, and it's just very powerful. It's right on the Tidal Basin in between the MLK memorial and the Jefferson. I like to end up there because there aren't a ton of tourists and there's a lot of seating, and it just allows you to sit there and fucking think for a second.

There's really only a couple of bridges to get into D.C. and they all have names, but a lot of people don't know that they're all walkable. So you can walk into D.C. from Virginia across these bridges, but they also span some of the most beautiful landscapes. You're mostly crossing the Potomac River, I think some of them span the Anacostia River. You can take a scooter or a bike; I used to run across them just for exercise.

One other secret peaceful place I like to go to is an island in the middle of the Potomac in between Virginia and D.C. called Roosevelt Island. The island is hikeable, but there's also a whole bunch of structures they made for FDR as well. It's really, really sick.

Cable: The Tune Inn. I think was one of the first bars on Capital Hill, and it burnt down and they rebuilt it. It's where all the politicians go to secretly hang out. You can get a chicken fried steak at like three o'clock in the morning, and it's the best. It's really cool. I don't know if it's like, dangerous.

 

Jerome Grant’s Museum-Worthy Oxtail Pepperpot
Watch
01:22

The best things in life are passed down through generations—just like the allspice and cinnamon-scented oxtail of Chef Jerome Grant’s ancestry, currently on offer at Sweet Home Café in The National Museum of African American History and Culture.

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