Here is part 2 on my Washington DC trip – some tidbits of info from restaurants I dined at and hotels I stayed in.
Ahh, my favorite part of any trip. I always make it a priority to sample local specialties, and avoid national franchises and chains like the plague.
On my first day, I joined Hubby and his colleagues on a business dinner at Boqueria, a tapas bar/restaurant. This was my first time at a tapas restaurant, and most of the dishes were really good. I especially enjoyed blue cheese stuffed dates wrapped in bacon and sauteed mushrooms with manchego cheese and thyme. With plates that kept magically appearing at our table and drinks that kept flowing, the bill added up quickly. Around $700 for a table of 8.
The next day I departed from my dietitian ways and had dessert for lunch. Bread pudding to be exact, from an outdoor food called Puddin’ at the Eastern market. At $6, the buttery, sweet bread pudding probably cost me at least 800kcal, but it was well worth it. By far the best bread pudding I’ve ever had. For supper we went to Ping Pong, which was basically a high end dim sum place. I was not a fan. Some of the dumplings were bland, and definitely overpriced.
There are many food trucks in DC, lots located around the National Mall, close to Smithsonian museums. Because of the horrible rainy weather, we only ate from food trucks for one lunch. We ordered a pork tenderloin sandwich from Peruvian Brothers and some tacos from a Korean food truck (can’t remember the name – sorry!). Both meals were very good, and definitely a convenient option for a quick meal if you’re sightseeing. For supper we had Vietnamese food at Caphe Banh Mi in Alexandria. This was one of our favorite places of the trip – we even went back a second time. We had summer rolls, which were some of the best I’ve had. As were the imperial rolls. I had pho, which was not the best I’ve had. The broth was a little on the bland side. Hubby loved his vermicelli bowl, which is the first time he’s had one that he’s really enjoyed in the US.
For lunch the next day, we went to Tortilla Cafe, a Salvadoran restaurant, to try their pupusas. I had this place on my list to try, but happened to watch an episode of Diner’s Drive-In’s and Dives in which it was featured during some down time in the hotel, which confirmed my desire to eat here. We had a pupusa platter and 1/2 chicken platter. The pupusas were cheesy and delicious and the chicken was nice and juicy and served with a creamy dipping sauce. Their horchata is also particularly good. That night we ate at Hawwi, an Ethiopian restaurant in Alexandria. It was our first time eating Ethiopian food since moving to the US, and it was definitely good. We had a meat combo that came with three meat dishes and 2 vegan dishes, as well as injera, an Ethiopian flatbread.
We knew we wanted to get some seafood while in DC. I really wanted to go to the Maine Ave Fish market, but it was raining really hard and I wasn’t sure if there would be any indoor seating. So we decided to try Hot N Juicy Crawfish. It may have broken my no franchise rule, but we can’t get it in Wisconsin, so I decided to go for it. We ordered the Drool – 1lb crawfish, 1lb shrimp, 1/2lb crab legs, 12 pieces sausage and 2 potatoes and corn. You choose your choice of seasoning and spice level. This was my first time eating seafood like this – in the shells, drenched in a spicy sauce and it was good! The amounts you get are deceiving, since they come in shells. So out of the 1lb crawfish, you get maybe 4oz of meat. Probably less. It was definitely worth the extra Metro ride to get there. That night we tried the hotel restaurant, Brabo Tasting Room. I also normally wouldn’t do hotel food, but this place got rave reviews and we had a $35 food credit. Their signature dish is steamed mussels, which we tried, along with all the tables around us. They were definitely really good. I would highly recommend them.
On our last day, we knew we wanted to go back for more Vietnamese food. We had more of the delicious imperial and summer rolls, and this time I had a banh mi. It was definitely one of the best I’ve had. On our way out we decided on a taro bubble tea to go. Not my favorite – it was much too sweet, and not blended like I like them. Can’t win everything I guess.
All of our breakfasts were included with hotels, so we didn’t go out anywhere. Definitely an easy option.
I only tried two hotels during my short stay. First was Embassy Suites Convention Center. Because this hotel is geared towards business travelers, you can’t be the amenities they offer, notably the breakfast buffet and 2-hour long free drinks (beer, wine and select mixed drinks) every night. Also a pool and fitness center, which I didn’t take advantage of. This hotel is easily accessible by Metro and close to many restaurants and attractions. The rooms were large, with a separate bed and living space. This one was covered by Hubby’s business trip, so I’m not sure exactly how much it cost, but I think it was around $350/night.
For the last half of the trip, we stayed at the Lorien in Alexandria. I chose this one to save a little money as I got a deal on it through my credit card. It’s in a DC suburb, but easily accessible by Metro. It’s also a Kimpton hotel, which I have stayed with in the past and was particularly impressed by the service. The service was equally impressive here, but the front desk staff took a little prodding to give me the freebies that were provided with my credit card booking (room upgrade – which I never did get, free WiFi, $25 credit to the restaurant). Rooms and bathrooms were spacious and clean with modern decor. The hotel is located in Old Town Alexandria, close to many independent and chain shops, as well as restaurants. It’s about a 2 block walk from the Metro station.
Stay tuned for a return to more recipes tomorrow.