Quick recap: my dad and I went to DC about a month ago for the Cherry Blossom festival and a quick whirlwind history lesson. Our unofficial family motto is “food over fellowship” so needless to say we weren’t popping into a chain restaurant whenever we could find one. Sometimes this results in a lot of hanger as we try to find the right place, but it is almost always worth it to experience something we don’t have at home.
One thing I have heard my dad say on vacations time and time again is “there is nothing near *insert tourist destination here* that resembles a restaurant!” While we were in D.C. this statement was proving to be true. It was mid-afternoon at the National Mall and we were both well past hungry, fearing we would be reduced to eating at the Boston Market inside the Air & Space Museum, when I noticed a sign outside the National Museum of the American Indian advertising native cuisine. We had prioritized other museums, so we may not have even gone inside to uncover this little gem had the sign not been there! The cafe, Mitsitam, was totally worth it, and may have been the best museum food I have ever eaten. If you’re spending a day popping in and out of museums, there really is no other logical food option in the National Mall without venturing out towards Penn Quarter. We went late afternoon, so there were hardly any other patrons there, and the staff was unbelievably friendly and incredibly knowledgeable about the cuisine and the flavors of each region. The owners actually went to reservations to do research for the authenticity of the menu! It’s definitely more expensive than some other cafeteria options may be, but when you aren’t paying for museums it’s hard to complain too much, especially when the flavors are so worth it. I had buffalo chili cheese fries (because I am a child) and fry bread with prickly pear agua fresca, while my dad had the five region sampler (sold by the salmon) and said the octopus salad and tres leches were his favorites. A lot of the food are options you just can’t find up near us, so if that’s the case for you (even if it isn’t) I’d say this is a can’t miss based on location alone.
If you go to DC, there is no reason to not go to Farmers Fishers Bakers. None at all. It has everything Papa Hum loves (fresh seasonal ingredients farm to table style, house-made bread) combined with everything I love (environmentally friendly and sustainable, rustic chic interior design with intimate table settings). Every employee we encountered was knowledgeable, friendly, and genuinely passionate about the restaurant. The location was prime-right on the Washington Harbour in Georgetown, just a quick walk away from the shops of M Street. We ordered the pretzels and kettle corn for appetizers. The pretzels were pretty good, but the kettle corn was absolutely out of this world. I’ve thought about driving down to DC just for that kettle corn about 19 times since I got back. It’s homemade, and you can actually walk over to the kitchen to watch it being made in the whirley pot, and it’s delivered to your table hot and fresh. So good. Seriously my mouth is watering as I write this. For my meal I ordered the roasted vegetable, avocado, and brie sandwich on homemade apple walnut raisin bread, and it was way more delicious than any sandwich has a right to be. By the time the two of us crushed that pot of kettle corn we were way too full for dessert, but the table next to us certainly seemed to be enjoying theirs! The only thing is the secret is definitely out, and you can definitely anticipate quite a long wait without reservations, so definitely plan ahead!
When I’m traveling, I find myself most often snacking on small meals and grab and go style items during the day, and just fueling up on hotel breakfasts and big dinners, because there is always just so much I want to do I wind up constantly moving from one sight to the next. Luckily I found two local places that were perfect for this: Wicked Waffle and GCDC! As someone who has multiple celiac family members, it’s important to note that both of them have gluten free options!
Wicked Waffle is a tiny little place you cannot expect to snag a seat at (although luckily we did grab one of the few outdoor tables thanks to good timing). The waffles are not at all like the waffles you have at the hotel buffet (oof). They are light and crispy, made without butter or syrup, and the perfect sweet tooth craving. I got the strawberry and nutella, my dad got the roasted fuji apples and cinnamon waffle; both were extraordinary. The best part was definitely eating a waffle without that feeling of having a brick in your stomach afterwards!
Shameless snapchat picture from the trip. Follow along @chummer17!
GCDC, or Grilled Cheese DC, is an upscale grilled cheese bar in the shadow of the White House. All the ingredients are fresh and local, and who doesn’t love grilled cheese?! I made my own creation (jalapeños, avocados, pepper jack, and the gcdc sauce on sourdough) and my dad got the mediterranean (feta, mozzarella, roasted red peppers, and artichoke hearts on olive bread). They also have cocktails, wine, and beer available after 4pm, and an evening menu which looks absolutely out of this world-I wish we had the chance to try it!
There were a few other places we ate at while we were there, but they weren’t anything special or noteworthy. Other places I had wanted to try but never got to included District Taco and Olivia Macaron.
What are your strategies for dining on vacation? Sound off in the comment section! Thanks for reading!