My latest Examiner.com article
PHOTO: The rooftop of The Hay Adams (c) Sery Kim
It's been so busy with travel and work, I haven't had a chance to put up a note about my latest travel article for Examiner.com. For those staying in Washington, D.C. -- or coming to Washington, D.C. -- for the Memorial Day weekend, be sure to read my piece "Memorial Day Weekend in D.C. without the Tourists." Check out the link here: http://www.examiner.com/article/memorial-day-weekend-d-c-without-tourists.
Full text below:
Memorial Day signifies many different things. A day of patriotic remembrance for those who served our country. A time to be near family and friends. The official day to break out white for proper fashionistas. But for the travel and leisure community, it is the official start to summer and the high season for travel.
In this, Washington, D.C. remains a consistent source of visitors. Each year almost 20 million (!) tourists come to our nation’s capitol to enjoy the monuments and museums -- and hopefully not break the public transportation system. As any suit-wearing, iphone welding, D.C. worker-bee knows, Memorial Day means the glut of “Excuse me, may I ask you a question?,” starts with vigor. Those tourists!!
Now, for the most part, these tourists can not be avoided since they slam some of the more high-profile D.C. haunts like the rooftop of the W Hotel; eats at Blue Duck Tavern; cupcakes at Baked and Wired; and any restaurant on over-rated 14th Street. But for those who won’t be breaking for the beach come Friday, May 22nd, consider these great activities in D.C. where tourists can not be found.
STAYCATION AT CAPELLA
During summer, Georgetown’s tiny sidewalks are as impossible to navigate as the Iranian nuclear agreement pending in Congress. However, it’s consistently a tourist mecca. Blame St. Elmos Fire. Avoid the tourists by staying at the Capella which is offering one night free after two nights’ accommodations. Enjoy the Memorial Day parades and Rolling Thunder from the Rooftop Bar & Lounge, which offers a food and beverage menu crafted by James Beard-award winning Executive Chef Frank Ruta.
BEER AT ALL SOULS BAR
What tourist visits Shaw?! The foodies just stop at Ben Chili Bowl for a half-smoke instead of going the extra few blocks to up-and-coming Shaw. In fact, every time you venture into Shaw, it’s always a locale crowd filled with the type of young professionals who have driven the average price of buying a house in D.C. to $800,000. Of course, Derek Brown’s Mockingbird Hill is legit amazing (all hail Derek Brown) -- and Right Proper Brewing Company is still my favorite place to grab a beer in D.C. -- but the teeny-tiny (36 total seats) All Souls Bar has an allure which exceeds its space. Just ask the guys behind the bar, who are definitely more charming than most, what beer to drink or get a shot of Maker’s Mark and a cocktail glass full of pink rose.
COFFEE AND SWEETS AT DOLCEZZA
CityCenterDC currently is a glut of so much luxury, it makes a person cry with envy they did not have the prescience (or money) to develop this acreage. Instead of elbowing the crowds in Chinatown, go two blocks over to Dolcezza, creators of some of the best gelato in the country -- let alone just in D.C. Indulge in an afternoon treat or try the awesomely smooth “nitro coffee.” Made with the same techniques as draft beer technologies, the Dolcezza nitrogen coffee program will leave you with an excellent buzz.
CHEAP EATS AT NAGE BISTRO
Before hitting all the new restaurants on 14th Street, stop by Nage Bistro. Located in the Courtyard Marriott by Thomas Circle, the “cheese & crackers” and Crispy Calamari are an excellent appetizers to hold off the long wait times for dinner reservations. Or just stay and enjoy the beautiful Sea Bass. Presented in an Art Basel-esque formation, the burst of flavors are as gentle as a whispering willow.
THE D.C. SCENE AT THE QUILL AT THE JEFFERSON
If a “scene” is more your style, then pop over to Frank Underwood, i.e. Kevin Spacey’s, favorite hotel in D.C. The Jefferson. The Quill is the beautifully dark and intimate bar with blisteringly powerful cocktails. Settle into one of the cozy chairs to enjoy hours of conversation about how to settle scores and win The White House. Certainly tourists don’t venture here so it is a safe zone.
DINNER AT RED HEN
Currently the best new restaurant in D.C. -- no offense to Rose’s Luxury -- this easily accessible restaurant does have a limited menu, but each of the dishes are crafted with ease and elegance. As a lover of all things Italian, Red Hen is definitely the best place to eat pasta in D.C. and has help set the standard of beautiful dining in Bloomingdale. Since The New York Times travel folks know nothing about what is in fact good in Bloomingdale, you are safe that no tourists are in Red Hen.
ANYTHING AT MAKETTO
Famed and admired Toki Underground Chef Erik Bruner-Yang has created this 6,000 square foot oasis of hipster cool in the H Street neighborhood. For the uninitiated, Maketto is a must-stop to experience a little bit of everything: food, retail and cafe. Sit at the cafe and try the Soy Milk + Chinese Doughnuts or Pork Steam Bao or just grab a table at the 60 seat restaurant and get the Taiwanese Fried Chicken. But whatever you do, don’t come in a suit or jorts and sneakers. Please! It’s H Street. Leave the suit, bring the beard.
LAST CALL AT PEARL DIVE OYSTER BAR
This sounds pretty bad, but I don’t think I have ever walked out of Pearl Dive Oyster Bar completely sober. In fact, I can pretty much guarantee that I have always taken one too many back here, especially the delightful Fleur 75 cocktail. Maybe the fact any trip to Pearl Dive Oyster Bar always involves some kind of celebration (birthday, new job, engagement) is the reason why I drink too much. Or it could just be the simply amazing cocktails which are egregiously difficult to say no to. Either way, I hate traveling to 14th Street but I will always make an appearance for cocktails here. Plus, it’s so busy tourists can’t get in because the regulars have already been perched there since 11 am.
CLOSE OUT THE NIGHT AT THE LINCOLN MEMORIAL
Little known fact is the Memorials are open at night and if you really want a look at the awe-inspiring brilliance of our nation’s capitol, the kind of heart-pounding love which puts Mr. Smith Goes to Washington at the top of every movie, then channel Frank Capra and hit the Lincoln Memorial after last call. After all, part of remembering our veterans during Memorial Day is to look at the symbols of freedom they laid down their lives to defend. Sit on the steps of the front (or back) and think of the fact D.C. is one of the best places to live in the world. Hizzah!