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  • Writer's pictureF.W. Hume

D.C. Explore, eat, drink and smoke a cigar

“The only difference between Las Vegas and Washington, D.C. is that at least Vegas has the decency to admit the town is full of hookers and crooks.”

― Glenn Beck

Actually the times when Mr. Beck’s line above was true were long ago. DC seems a surprisingly different city. It is a great bar and restaurant town. It used to be a little old-fashioned but in the past 10 years has become, younger, uber-hip and a lot more accessible than New York for the same kind of things…. A lot of very cool places. DC is a very important test-market city. Before spending to open a chain of stores/restaurants/theatrical show/new product in NYC or on a national scale, a prototype is often launched there. And along with the National Theatre so often having something interesting going on and The Capital Steps We put the MOCK in Democracy preserving our sanity while staring at the bizarre abyss of National Politics, entertainment is always at hand. And if the atmosphere changes radically with administrations, most visitors won’t notice.

But if you have to think about politics while in the District much these days, it is much less painful to make sure you aren’t sober while you do it. Fortunately there’s a whole new area of town full of artisanal distilleries where you can get juiced before starting your visit!

Warning: You probably won’t be able to get to everything on this list in three days. With my customary long-windedness, I have overshared. DC, some places to see, eat, drink and fiddle before the capital is stained orange:

Getting around in DC, where the weather usually seems either really hot or wet—or indeed freezing—is always a challenge. The metro goes way out in the burbs and even quite rural areas in Virginia and Maryland. but sometimes the stops are very far apart. And sometimes you feel like you’d rather walk a long way than go ALL the way down into the metro and the ALL the way back up again on the other end. The DC Metro Is quiet, extensive, safe. And very, very deep as it doubles as a Nuclear Bomb Shelter but Good News. There is another useful option: Washington D.C. Circulator has expanded over the years and become more user-friendly. A group of circular-route frequent busses which is one of the best ways to get around DC. All through the tourist districts/governement/downtown without having to stay massed in a milling crowd of befannypacked zombies. DC’s Bike-share Program is pretty good, the bikes better than those in Paris, not as good as some other places, but they are practical, easy to find and spot stations. Fun way to get around though toiling up capital hill from the Mall or out to the zoo and Adams Morgan can be a challenge on the heavy machines. better around downtown, along the river, even out to Arlington.

And if the weather is nice both cruises and boat rentals on the Potomac are cool

The celebrated D.C. weather, be prepared


For everywhere you go it is a really good idea to buy your tickets in advance online. Some places you can even reserve specific entry-hours so you don’t waste your time standing on line. Throughout the city you stumble on buildings evoking not just the history of the country but of so many countries and organisations from around the world. Most seem to have an embassy, a lobbying office or national headquarters here. And many of them have a museum, public tour or open house day. Wandering from the circles (usually with interesting monuments in their central areas) that break up the long blocks of the grid of central D.C. From Washington Circle up to Dupont and around to Thomas and Logan unearths a few score of them.

My favorite:

Society of the Cincinnati

Larz Anderson House

2118 Massachusetts Avenue

Thomas Circle

Overrated places…a lot of the big places are just long lines then nothing. The National Archives are full at all times with tourists waiting in line to see a few historical documents and not much else, and often superficial temporary exhibits, The Folger Shakespeare Library probably only worthwhile to see a play, there’s much better stuff at the Morgan in NYC.

Just for the person who asked this question, as a medical professional you might enjoy the National Museum of Health and Medicine

Obviously the Smithsonian museums is always loads of fun and should be one of your primary destinations

as is the National Library

but you could easily spend all three days at either.

Nearby are: the small US Botanical Garden right under the capital (Chocolate plants!)

and also next door to the very neat Museum of the American Indian

and The outdoor Sculpture Garden of the Nat Gal

There are a lot of other greats which don’t disappoint—the National Gallery itself , which is of course amazing, National Gallery of Art

The National Zoo out in Rock Creek Park, Arlington can be fun

and The Nat Geographic museum are some of the tourist destinations that don’t disappoint, they really are always worth the trip. But I haven’t been to either in several years.

but some of my favourites, that a lot of people don’t visit:

Dumbarton Oaks Harvard’s Mesoamerican and Byzantine collections at a research institution in one of the most beautiful buildings with one of the most exceptional gardens in the world. Very limited hours, so you have to plan.

It may seem a little ways out but really is in the heart of the old communities climbing the hills above Georgetown and is perfectly suited to doing in combination with that august collection of antiquarian Washington residences.

The world-class, really amazing Phillips Collection

1600 21st St NW

(between N Q St & N Hillyer Ct)

Washington, DC 20009

(202) 387-2151

Dupont Circle Metro Station (Red)

Of the For-Profit newer museums The Spy Museum is really fun and might appeal to a father and daughter team. The gift shop yields fun presents.

The National Building Museum is also surprisingly diverting

401 F St. NW, (202) 272-2448 WEBSITE

The National Building Museum is located at 401 F Street NW, between 4th and 5th Streets, across the street from the Judiciary Square Metro (Red Line). Wheelchair access is available through the G Street entrance.

General tip: to see what’s new and cool that I may have missed between visits, check out the best of dc awards


Best neighbourhood to walk around might be the U street

Walk on 14th street out to U.

This is the centre of the new hip-cool DC. 10-12-15 years ago, like much of DC this area used to be, hmm, a bit dodgy. Now it is safe full of young people, hip bar, after funky restaurant, squished between Art spaces and galleries. Lots of places to recommend but I’ll let you wander… except maybe: sometimes it is hard to get modern Spanish food this good in Spain. But casual and fun.

Or the newly revitalized old Capital hill district 8th Street, lots of bakeries and shops in older restored townhouses. The wait on line can be intimidating but one of the hottest places to eat in town is here, Home | Rose's Luxury

See below about the Eastern Market

One of the many institutions with headquarters in DC from infamous to celebrated

Also the district right around the Foggy Bottom metro station is newly hopping

There are roof bars all over DC now, but the one that started it all really is POV roof bar/resto of the W right next to the white house has great views of the White and is one of the inn-est if not hippesy places in town.

but there is also


Donovan House

1155 14th Street NW

Washington, DC 20005

18th st lounge with roof terrace

1212 18th St. NW, Washington, D.C.

At Jefferson Pl. and Connecticut Ave,

Metro: Dupont Circle

Nellie’s Station Kitchen and Cocktails DC in Embassy Row hotel roof deck

2015 Massachusetts Ave NW

Washington, DC 20036


right on Dupont Circle Kramer cafe and bookstore the georaphical-intellectual centre of the city. Good books of every sort and nice relaxed place for lunch



is one of my favourite places in the world. In Alexandria Old town, which you will love. Almost everyone does. Oodles of charm. The restaurant is in a beautifully restored colonial era townhouse. Incredbly witty, inventive, clever food and drink from an Irish chef who is charm incarnate. Named after his daughter, nearby there’s a casual Irish fish and chip shop he owns named Eamon’s Dublin Chipper after his son.

The DC institution

How can you go to DC without trying a Half-smoke?

Ben’s THE DC Half-smoke hotdog house

Founding Fathers bars and restos

Are a chain serving really good, well sourced American food

Founding Farmers D.C.

1924 Pennsylvania Ave. NW

Washington, D.C. 20006

3 blocks west of whitehouse B, L and D

Astro chicken and doughnuts were the best doughnuts in DC last I checked

1308 G St NW

Washington, DC 20005

metro center

Hill Country BBQ

Self Service, kid friendly sometimes live music

410 7th St. NW, (202) 556-2050

Elephant & Castle

Fuller’s Beer pub with big outdoor terrace

1201 Pennsylvania Ave. NW

Washington, DC 20004

If you are getting tired and are on the Pennsylvania Avenue side of things, a good place to stop for a snack, drink, or bathroom break ;)


Cool resto cocktail bar

2275 L St NW

Washington, DC 20037

b/t N New Hampshire Ave & N 22nd St

Transit information Blue Orange Foggy Bottom Metro More info

Phone number (202) 730-2500

With so many different nationalise gathered in the capitol there are great places for most kinds of foods…. A few of our favorite suggestions:

Centrolina (first rate modern Italian)

Mercato e Osteria

974 Palmer Alley, Washington, D.C. 20001

Convivial (modern Franco-American

801 O Street, NW

Washington, DC 20001

Del Campo S. American grill by a talented Peruvian chef

777 I (EYE) Street NW

Washington, DC 20001

Phone: 202-289-7377


Very good Mexican right downtown, is:

2106 18th ST NW

Washington, D.C. 20009

Stachowski kosher deli 28th and P

1425 28th St NW

Washington, DC 20007

b/t N P St & N O St

RASIKA INDIAN one of group of superlative modern Indian places

1190 New Hampshire Ave NW

Washington, DC 20037

b/t N M St & N L St near 22nd and New hampshire

West End

Foggy Bottom Metro

Phone number (202) 466-2500


1205 11th Street NW Washington, DC 20001

is a fantastic place for Georgian food and Wine that open-end last year (2018)

There are Biergardens like the 2000 sq. feet

Sauf Haus DC

1216 18th St NW

Washington, DC 20036

b/t N Connecticut Ave & N M St

Dupont Circle

Red Farragut North Metro

Phone number (202) 466-3355

Cigar-friendly places

If you like cigars, for people watching and meeting very interesting locals, one of the best cigar bars around is worth the ride out on the metro to

5335 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington DC 20015

Friendship Heights


Civil Cigar Lounge

Or alternatively enjoy a drink and a snack on the Quill Bar Cigar Terrace of the Jeffersonian

W. Curtis Draper (640 14th Street NW) 4th oldest cigar store in the US

The Observatory at The Graham in Georgetown

(cigar friedly)

1075 Thomas Jefferson Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

Jack Rose Dining Saloon

Cigar friendly good bar

2007 18TH ST NW, WASHINGTON, DC 20009 | TEL. 202.588.7388 | SUN - THUR. 5PM-2AM | FRI-SAT. 5PM-3AM

in Adams Morgan

Local 16

Categories: Lounges, American (New) [Edit]

1602 U St NW

(between N 16th St & N New Hampshire Ave)

Washington, DC 20009

Neighborhood: U Street Corridor

Farm-owner restaurateur serves low-key fresh food, heated smoking terrace


1730 L St NW, Washington, DC

(202) 296-3872 ‎ ·

Signature Cigars - Pre-Embargo Cuban TOB Cigars

1817 M Street Northwest

Washington, DC 20036

Ozio DC Bar resto cigar lounge

1813 M Street, NW

Washington, DC 22036

Shelly’s Back Room

1331 F Street NW

THE DC Cigar Institution; but beware you also breathe in the smoke of the other smokers, the extraction isn't really a feature.


The DC markets are really worth checking out. Local products, usually entertainment, etc.

The best, newly refurbished in the middle of the old wholesale market district

1309 5th Street NE


Take the Red Line to the NoMA-Gallaudet U stop. Turn right on Florida Avenue NE. Turn Left on 5th Street NE. The Market will be on your left.

Eastern Market

225 7th St SE

Washington, DC 20003

b/t S C St & S North Carolina Ave

Capitol Hill

Get Directions

Transit information Blue Orange Eastern Market Metro and 1 more station

Phone number (202) 698-5253

Also the Flea Market and in the center of old capital hill

Penn Quarter street market, DC (est. 2003)

Thursdays, 3 to 7 pm (Apr. 2 to Dec. 17, 2015)

Location: North end of 8th St. NW, between D and E Sts. NW. Click here for map.

Nearest Metro: Gallery Place (Red, Yellow or Green lines) or Archives (Yellow or Green line)

. For more public transportation options, see

by the White House, DC (est. 2009)

Thursdays, 11 to 2 pm (April 9 to Nov. 19, 2015)

Location: 810 Vermont Ave. NW (between H St. NW and I St. NW). Click here for map.

Nearest Metro: McPherson Square (Blue and Orange Lines). MetroBus stops: S2, S4, S9, 42, X2, L2, G8 and 11Y. For more public transportation options, see

Foggy Bottom, DC (est. 2005) Farmer’s market

Wednesdays, 3 to 7 pm (Apr. 1 to Nov. 25, 2015)

Location: 23rd and I St. NW Walkway

Nearest Metro: Foggy Bottom (Blue or Orange Line). For more public transportation options, see

If you've made it this far, to the end of this, Wow. I’m too surprised to actually add in an easter egg. But I’ll give one more picture to rest the eye upon….

The DC headquarters of the SPCA…or was it PETA?

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