Washington DC has many top-tier, celebrity-chef-owned restaurants. When I visited last I didn’t go to any of them. What I did do was visit my regular Mexican food hangouts during college and pay tribute to one of my favorite bakeries/places of cupcake worship. Thus, I present to you a brief guide to making your stomach very happy in another food loving city. I’ll have to go back for the white tablecloth tour, but in the meantime enjoy some unique DC joints that speak to the city’s character, and, of course, the existence of those good old times.
1. Alero, 13th and U St.
I don’t know if DC’s Mexican restaurants are simply better than Boston’s, or college is just a time conducive to drinking margaritas and eating at restaurants that serve food too difficult to cook on your own but, either way, I haven’t quite found Alero’s equivalent. This place is great because it gets the food right every time, the dishes have variety, and it’s just fun. I ordered Pineapple Chicken Fajitas $14 and this is what happened. I’ll take it, they were delicious.
A plus about DC is that Spring is actually a season. And a place like Alero is perfect for taking advantage of that with its million Margarita flavors. We sat outside, ate and drank these pretty things, and people watched in the fascinatingly hip yet urban and local U Street area.
2. Baked & Wired, 1052 Thomas Jefferson St. Georgetown.
You knew this was going to happen. Meet one of those places I mention that helped to birth the cupcake trend. Although it would refuse ‘trendy’ as a title: it has attitude. It is not to be confused with your typical cupcake stop. It’s a coffee shop and bakery whose walls are decorated with pen drawings on napkins detailing everything from visitors’ love lives to hometowns. With stickers that advise the customers to “Get Baked” and a clock set to 4:20, it has no shame in… life’s indulgences?
They call these tasty things I’ve taken pictures of ‘Cakecups.’ See? Hippies. However alternative they are, what they bake is GOOD. They proclaim their creations to be “whimsical, rustic, and delicious” and they do not lie. And that is an accurate title, these cupcakes are real cake consistency – I don’t think I’ve ever finished one (gasp!).
Flavors include the Elvis Impersonator (banana bread with peanut butter frosting and chocolate on top), Unicorns and Rainbows (the funfetti with cream cheese frosting pictured above), and Flapjack (maple cake and frosting, and bacon). To die for. ($3.50/cake)
So I took too many pictures.. I was excited.
3. Open City, 2331 Calvert St, Adams Morgan.
This diner/restaurant/coffee house serves breakfast all day. Its tea and coffee drinks are possibly the best part: they come in huge mugs the size of your face, always accompanied by an animal cracker. The Chai Lattes are absolutely the best I’ve ever had. The one I drank was too shy to photograph, so I offer you the breakfast burrito instead. Open City has amazing dishes for dinner as well, but I’ve only ventured there for their famous OC Royale Breakfast Platter, Omelettes, and Chai Lattes, at all times of the day and night.
4. American Ice Co. 917 V St. NW DC
The last stop for your perfect food adventure day. I can’t revisit your college town without a little celebration, right? That is, if margaritas and cakecups weren’t enough…
This is a Pickle Back shot, $8. It’s whiskey and pickle juice and it’s fabulous. Probably the best thing about DC is ‘Happy Hour’ prices that actually discount alcohol. To Massachusetts – half price chicken fingers don’t make anyone that much happier. These were consumed after Happy Hour but, still, it needed a mention. American Ice Co. is newer and definitely reminds me of the trending places in Boston, upscale bar food is its thing. It’s never too crowded but has just the right mix of types of people. It’s funky and different, and showed me how to make Whiskey taste better. Again, I’ll take it.