Some people think of Washington, D.C. as a place with museums, monuments, and politicians...while that's true, there is just so much more to do in this great city. I absolutely love Washington, D.C. and almost moved there at one point, so I may be a bit biased - the amount of extraordinary food is nearly endless and there are so many opportunities for fun adventures within just a short drive.
One person to thank for bringing such wonderful food to D.C. is chef José Andrés. His restaurants include Jaleo, minibar, Zaytinya (one of my personal favorites!), Oyamel, and many others, all of which I would highly recommend. Jaleo is a Spanish tapas restaurant that is now world famous, but the quality of the food has not lowered one bit during its many years. I have made a habit of going to Jaleo every single time I am in D.C., even if it's just for one small plate to share at the bar (don't forget to get a cocktail or a glass of wonderful Cava). If you are looking for a truly exquisite and memorable culinary experience, I would look no further than minibar. Reservations may be hard to come by and it is certainly not cheap, but it is well worth the effort. It's definitely a unique and playful experience. See some photos below...
Some other spots that I love include Proof, which is the perfect place for a cheese/charcuterie board and a glass of wine, and Pearl Dive Oyster Palace, which, shockingly, has great oysters and cocktails, among other things (Hank's Oyster Bar is another great spot for oysters). All in all, it's easy to find good food in this city so I won't continue on with an endless list.
When you decide that you need to get out of the city, drive about an hour west into Virginia for a fantastic wine tasting adventure. I never realized that such beautiful countryside and such lovely wines are so close to D.C. Two particular favorites are RdV Vineyards in Delaplane and Linden Vineyards in Linden, which are just a short drive from one another. There are several other wineries in the area and I did not have a chance to visit all of them. Visit Virginia Wine to find a winery map and a guide to the wine regions. If nothing else, it's just a nice drive and an excuse to get out of the city for a few hours.
Another idea for a half-day trip is Frederick, Maryland, which is also about an hour northwest of D.C. It's a lovely town with a cute main street filled with local shops and it's also home to some wonderful restaurants, including the destination-worthy VOLT - definitely make a reservation for brunch and have a leisurely day walking off that meal!
Where to stay
I need a hotel that is walking distance to at least a couple of restaurants or a few things on my itinerary and these all meet that need. I don't mind uber-ing around, but who wants to drive around all weekend?!
$$ Hotel Palomar, a Kimpton Hotel, 2121 P St NW