So I spent the first half of this week at a convention for work called Computers in Libraries. It was an interesting time with some excellent presentations dampened only slightly by the reminder of how utterly and completely terrible I am at introducing myself to strangers even when we likely share the same professional background. Now, while I definitely love my genre fiction two of my other favorite pass times involve food and beer. Being in a new city, or at least a place where I don’t actually live, means that I get to try a bunch of local food.
The convention was held in Washington D.C. at the Washington Hilton roughly half a mile from the DuPont Circle metro station. I knew during the first morning walk to the convention that most of the places along Connecticut Ave. were either outside my budget (particularly the more local eateries) or were chain restaurants. Furthermore, the D.C. Metro isn’t really a fan of bringing drinks on the train so I had to find coffee in the morning. While there were like eight Starbucks in the half-mile to the hotel I decided I wanted avoid Starbucks in favor a more local business.
Dolcezza (their 3rd location) is sort of stuck right next door to a Starbucks. Anecdotal observation suggests this doesn’t help business, they weren’t particularly hopping in the morning, which is a shame since this quiet little shop serves some rather excellent coffee. While I was on the move in the morning I only had a chance to grab a cup to go but, for those who have the time, you can get your coffee brewed fresh in a Chemex coffee brewer. I’m a huge fan of the “pour over” brewing method so I’m sad I didn’t get to try it but it’s great the option is there. Regardless, their to-go coffee was stellar.
1704 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20009(202) 299-9116
Lunch was a bit of a trickier prospect. Since I wasn’t a huge fan of what I saw during my morning walk I had to look into Yelp a bit to find somewhere to eat. The Washington Hilton is located just on the outskirts of D. C.’s Adams Morgan area. Known primarily for its multicultural hertitage and its nightlife I did manage to use Yelp to help find a number of local eateries that I wanted to try.
So’s Your Mom
1831 Columbia Rd NW, b/t N Biltmore St & N Mintwood Pl in Adams Morgan
This is a small, cash-only neighborhood deli. They don’t really have a web presence but you can find a menu on menupages. I managed to get a sandwich (1/2 corned beef and 1/2 pastrami with swiss cheese and spicy mustard on rye), a bag of chips, and a bottle of water for about $8. A pretty good deal.
2425 18th Street NW
Washington DC 20009
Started locally Amsterdam Falafelshop has expanded to Annapolis, MD and the Somerville, MA (and are currently franchising). The falafal is made fresh, scooped out of a tub and fried right there. They offer a plethora of topping options, and you can even come back and top your falafel more than once. The large falafel was delicious and filling; a great bang for your buck. European travelers should take note: the shop accepts Euros.
2459 18th Street NW
Washington, DC 20009
On Wednesday I had intended to eat lunch at Donburi but was informed upon arrival that many of the staff had a family emergency and the shop had to close for the day. I was a bit disappointed, but there were no hard feelings. I hopped across the street to Tryst. Tryst, serves all day “brunch” and while I was definitely tempted by the breakfast food I decided to get a sandwich instead. The Nina (chicken, spicy marinated onions, jalapenos, feta, mixed greens, kalamata olives, tomato, & cilantro in a whole wheat wrap) was absolutely delicious, fresh, and packed to the gills. The handmade chips were also pretty good (maybe a tad overcooked) but I definitely was a bit miffed when the wind took my last chip right off my plate. I did try one of their single origin coffees, La Golondrina, which was absolutely fantastic.
I didn’t have a chance to do dinner in D.C. (I was staying with my sister in Virginia) on any day but Monday. Monday also just happened to be National Beer Day. Monday was a bit damp and miserable so my plans to walk the 2 miles to Churchkey were foiled. Adams Morgan’s own Black Squirrel may have been my second choice but it was still an excellent one.
The Black Squirrel
2427 18th Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20009
With 2 floors The Black Squirrel has a ridiculous number of taps, about 20 on the main floor and about 30 in the tap room, all populated with excellent beers. The main floor happened to have Ballast Point’s Sculpin on tap while I was there, bottles are readily available here in New Jersey but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it on draft, so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I got a rather delicious Jalapeno Burger, with hand cut fries to enjoy with my beer and all was good. In addition to the Sculpin, I tried White Birch Brewing’s First Sparrow which is a grodziskie. I did a bit of a disservice to the beer with jalapeno from the burger which didn’t help me experience all of its flavor. With smoke at the fore it took a while for the more subtle hop flavor to work its way past the jalapeno burn. White Birch is a great little brewery which unfortunately doesn’t really distribute to New Jersey. The night’s winner, sampled in 4 oz., was Goose Island Sofie Paradisi. Strong, but not overpowering grapefruit flavor gave the beer a nice tart bite while the aging brought a bit more of the alcohol up front which actually complemented the tartness quite nicely. If you can find Sofie Paradisi somewhere I definitely recommend giving it a shot.
So If you’re ever in the D.C. area and are looking for good, reasonably priced food and bevearge you should definitely give any of the places above a shot.