Places to eat/drink/visit in DC in the evening
June 28, 2011 12:27 PM   Subscribe

I'll be in DC for a few days in September-- I'd love some suggestions for things to do close to the conference hotel. Bonus for cocktail places and interesting food!

I'll be in DC for a few days in September, arriving the evening of Sunday September 25 and flying out Wednesday September 28 in the afternoon. My daytimes will be pretty well taken up by conference-ing, but I should be free Sunday evening (land at DCA at 6:30ish) and Tuesday evening, and maybe an hour or two Wednesday, if there's anything I can do between noon (when the conference ends) and 3:30 when the flight leaves.

I've skimmed the previous Asks that seem applicable, but DC is big and a little overwhelming, and my prior experience was a 3-hour-drop-in-for-a-job-interview thing that gave me no real sense of the city or where anything was.

I'm not going to have a car, so I generally would prefer to stay walking-distance or easy-transit from the conference hotel-- the Grand Washington Hyatt on H street. I see that the previously-recommended International Spy Museum is nearby, so, yay! What else in the area is likely to be open and neat to visit after 5pm?

I like cocktails (and wine and beer) and food (all kinds!), and I'd love to have one or two interesting dinners if I can (to make up for eating conference food, sigh). Recommendations for cocktail bars and/or wine bars and/or brew houses, with an extra bonus for those with good food, would be most welcome. Places with unexciting cocktails but great food are also welcome. I see Hank's Oyster Bar was recommended previously, and Dupont Circle looks like a reasonable walk. Dukem was recommended for Ethopian, but I am less sure if that's a reasonable walk from the hotel. I am disappointed that Brickskellar seems to have closed, boo.

I'm not sure if I should try to visit museums and things like that this trip, since I'll be pretty time-limited, and I am likely to be back in DC at least once in the next couple of years (and may be able to tack on a day or two of vacation to a future trip). Thoughts on this issue are also welcome.
posted by Kpele to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I was in town for a brief visit earlier this year - these were two of my favourites.

Capitol City Brewing is right by your hotel, and has great beer on tap. Definitely try the "velvet ale" at the District Chophouse (on 7th).
posted by devbrain at 12:33 PM on June 28, 2011

Take a cab. You'll see the good stuff.

Recommend Room 11.

give us some idea of what you like.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:37 PM on June 28, 2011

Oyamel for cuisine and beverage. The National Portrait Gallery and American Art museum are right there if you want to see a museum or you can do some work in the atrium inside (between them) that is beautiful.
posted by anya32 at 12:40 PM on June 28, 2011 cant miss the's that big park there on the map...the U.S. botanical garden is pretty rad, particularly if you're feeling a bit stressed out. face the capitol building, and it's the building on the right...there's a carboniferous forest in there that is seriously like stepping out of a time machine...
posted by sexyrobot at 12:41 PM on June 28, 2011

Churchkey for a huge variety of great beer. Or its sister restaurant, Birch & Barley, for great beer and food. It's about a 15-minute walk.

My favorite thing about Churchkey is that they offer half-pours of everything on tap, so you can try a lot of different beers without getting wasted.
posted by iwhitney at 12:58 PM on June 28, 2011

It's not a horrible walk to Dupont from your hotel (1.5ish mi), but the red line on the metro is RIGHT THERE and easy and will take you easily to Hank's and/or Dukem. [You can ride to Dupont and walk from there to Dukem, too, if you don't want to change trains]
But, since you're right there-I say Zaytina.
posted by atomicstone at 1:00 PM on June 28, 2011

Sorry for the no links, but every time I switch windows to get them it deletes what I've written...

For good cocktails and fabulous Indian food, Rasika is pretty close to where you are staying. The palak chaat (fried spinach, basically) is not to be missed.

Birch and Barley does artisanal beers (their menu has over 500, I think) and has a solid menu. It's in Logan on 14th. As with anything halfway new and vaguely trendy in DC, the wait can be long depending on when you go.

Cork is a wine bar with a small plates menu north of Birch and Barley on 14th. Some of the dishes are hit or miss, but the avocado with pistachio oil is potentially life changing and you can get flights.

Both Dukem and Hank's are a bit over a mile from your hotel. Definitely walkable, but also short cab rides.

And I second just walking around the Mall, especially in the evening. The National Sculpture Garden has later hours than a lot of the museums (at least in summer, not sure what their post-Labor Day hours are).
posted by HonoriaGlossop at 1:01 PM on June 28, 2011

All good suggestions, but keep in mind that this is DC in the summer. It's going to be stinking hot -- dress accordingly, and wear comfortable shoes!
posted by GriffX at 1:05 PM on June 28, 2011

The National Museum of Women in the Arts is right there at 13th and New York.
posted by jgirl at 1:13 PM on June 28, 2011

You didn't link the exceptionally recent variation on this aimed at someone staying in the exact same hotel.

If you like cocktails then I particularly reiterate my suggestion about The Passenger, a short walk from your location. Food-wise I also reiterate my suggestions for Againn and Acadiana.
posted by phearlez at 1:53 PM on June 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Not a huge fan of Oyamel. The food is too smoky. I've eaten there a lot due to proximity to work.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:16 PM on June 28, 2011

For pre-dinner cocktails, I like PS 7, located about a block from your hotel. The D.C. location of Fogo de Chao (Brazilian Steakhouse) is about four blocks south. From there, you are right at the middle of the Mall and close to the National Sculpture Garden, which is awesome for evening strolling.
posted by gemmy at 2:19 PM on June 28, 2011

I've enjoyed the National Building Museum (although they're only open until 5pm). It's a lovely cavernous space.

Also the National Postal Museum (ditto about the hours).

Both of them are not quite first-rate museums: the exhibitions are often too focused or near the line of disbelief (the History of Air Conditioning, really?) or highly sponsored (architecture in LEGO). This is fascinating in a city which such great exhibitions (although the hall of stuffed peoples in the Smithsonian Natural History Museum was a good find, probably gone by now).

A favorite bartender of mine used to work at The Passenger.

The Phillips Colelction, at 1600 21st Street NW, is my absolute favorite museum. It's rather focused on Impressionists, Cubists, and Abstract Expressionists (but that's what I like), and the collection is small (but that makes it view-able in a couple hours), but there are some treasures there.
posted by Prince_of_Cups at 2:49 PM on June 28, 2011

My advice is to go to a DC establishment while you're here. Check out the Old Ebbit Grill. If you go there a little after dinner time you can easily get a spot at the bar, and rub shoulders with Congressmen and famous people; its happened to me. They have good food too. Its a short walk from where you are, and is right by the White House and the Mall.
posted by Arbitrage1 at 7:28 PM on June 28, 2011

As noted, your hotel is very close to the National Mall, which is where all the Smithsonian museums are. What you might not know is: they're all free. This means, if you have 45 minutes to kill, you can pop and see a few cool things, and not have to feel like you've got to spend hours to justify the cost of admission.

Also, during the summer, they have extended opening hours, and (at least on certain days) are open until 7:30. Here's the schedule for The National Museum of American History, for example, and here's the schedule for The Air And Space Museum. All the Smithsonian museums are awesome, but the History and Air And Space museums tend to be universal favorites.

Even if you only have half an hour free, you can take a cab the few blocks to the Air & Space Museum and touch an actual moon rock, then see the Wright Brothers airplane. Or you could go to the History museum and see the actual flag that inspired the Star Spangled Banner.

If you had a little more time free (say, two hours), you could also visit the National Archives, and see the original Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. (Seeing them won't take too long, but there can be long queues.)
posted by yankeefog at 4:46 AM on June 29, 2011

Seconding Acadiana, which is practically visible from your hotel. To. Die. For.
posted by mccxxiii at 5:46 AM on June 29, 2011

Yes, as phearlez said, I asked this question like last week, same hotel. Lots and lots of great responses in there.
posted by TomMelee at 6:44 AM on June 29, 2011

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