NFT Washington DC National Mall

National Mall

Essentials
Here you'll find pretty much every reason DC is a top tourist destination: The White House, the Washington Monument, the Declaration of Independence, etc. If you didn't see them on a school trip, try to check them out on the weekdays. The Mall, on weekends, especially in warm weather, is a mob scene. Tip: When you've had enough of the white marble, photocopy this map and let it substitute as the tour guide when relatives arrive.

Sundries/Entertainment
This neighborhood used to be seen as a place that catered mostly to tourists, with its many chain coffee shops and restaurants. But thanks to a booming food scene in Penn Quarter, things are changing and it seems that a new hyper-trendy spot opens daily, making this neighborhood a destination for White House staffers, K Street lobbyists and tourists alike. For a classic Washington experience, have a cocktail at See more.

>The Willard's rooftop bar and enjoy the view.

Hit up BLT Steak for steak, Ristorante Tosca for Italian, and Old Ebbitt Grill for a quintessential DC experience. District of Pi serves up quality 'za and Proof serves quality vino. For drinks, turn heads at Poste Moderne Brasserie and get a pint at either Capitol City Brewing Company or RFD.




         


This Neighborhood Featured in...
The Wonderful Willard

By J.R. Pegg
A pleasant place to lay your head, a hotel that won't leave you dead. Willard, Willard; tally-ho! Digs like yours--far from skid row!

Read More...
Corcoran Gallery and School of Art + Design

By Stephanie Sheridan
Art! Arresting, Resplendent and True! Art is the salve that's been waiting for you!

Read More...

On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Magda Nakassis
Photo:  Magda Nakassis

Ping Pong Dim Sum
Sometimes, the idea of dim sum is appealing--but boiled chicken feet are not. Sometimes, friends like to get together for Chinese food--only to order dumplings and fruity cocktails. For these times, Ping Pong Dim Sum is ideal. Its menu is comprised of steamed, griddled, and fried dumplings, spring rolls, and buns, with a large number of teas (flowering, rare, iced) and cocktails (lychee & roses martini, kumquat mojito, wasabi & amaretto sour). Its interior is slick and servers are accommodating and easy on the eyes. It's not quite in line with what's left of DC's Chinatown, but PPDS certainly has its role...and admittedly, it's pretty fab--although nothing can take the place of Phoenix talons.



Posted By:  Magda Nakassis
Photo:  Magda Nakassis

Café Mozart
Oktoberfest (which, contrary to popular belief, really takes place in September) is right around the corner. But if a plane ticket to Munich is out of your price range, perhaps you can settle for a bus ride to Cafe Mozart. Situated at the awkward intersection of H St, 14th St, and New York Avenue, this small, unassuming German restaurant and deli serves big wursts and glasses of hefeweizens. Walk through the front shop (offering pastries and packaged European foods) to reach the bar (pouring metric quantities of wheat beers), and then onward to the white-tablecloth restaurant (offering fondue, schnitzel, potato pancakes, and occasionally a piano player). Truly a Teutonic treat.



Posted By:  Magda Nakassis
Photo:  Magda Nakassis

S. Dillon Ripley Center
The Smithsonian Resident Associate Program offers around 1,000 programs each year--from lectures and seminars to tours and children's workshops. I am particularly a fan of their studio art classes, which allow me to relive grade school art class as an adult. Of course it's much more sophisticated than finger-painting, and classes are available in digital media, drawing, painting, photography, fiber arts, and "other media"--which may include anything from neon light sculpture to stained glass. And for us city-dwellers, having a space to spread out, make a mess, and be creative is priceless. There are many options for beginners, and many classes are project-based, so even if you never take up mosaics again, you'll still leave with a lovely vase.



Posted By:  Rachel Tepper
Photo:  Rachel Tepper

Chef Geoff's
Thirsty Washingtonians, take heed! Chef Geoff’s has the best gosh darn Happy Hour this side of the Potomac. The downtown restaurant near Federal Triangle is an oasis in a city of often mundane and incongruously named Happy Hours. Unlike other Happy Hour menus, there's a lot of variety at Chef Geoff's. Long necks go for $2.95 and Estrella wines for $5.95, but the real boozy draw is the $7.95 Super Mug, a drink not for the faint of heart. These gargantuan glasses of cold beer weigh in at a whopping 33.8 oz. Come thirsty! Burgers go for $5.95 and personal pizza pies for $8.95. Happy Hour prices are available from 3 until 7 pm at the bar during the week, except on Mondays and Tuesdays and all day on weekends when the deals last all night. That's right, all night. (That's what she said? Maybe not, but it's still a steal.) Fair warning though; the bar area can get quite crowded. But then again, can you blame people for flocking here?



Posted By:  Magda Nakassis
Photo:  Magda Nakassis

National Aquarium
Chances are you've heard that the DC aquarium is terrible...if you've heard of it at all. The National Aquarium has been relegated to the basement of the Department of Commerce, and for all intents and purposes it is a bunch of fish tanks. But, isn't that what all aquariums are? Lower your standards as far as they can go, then tell yourself it's overrated still, and you will find yourself pleasantly surprised. That was my experience, anyway. Sure, admission for adults is $7--unlike so many other free, national institutions around town. But children (ages 2-10) are only $3, and if they're younger than 2, then tickets are free. And unlike the more extravagant Baltimore aquarium, there are never crowds here, so you can stick your face up to that of a Longsnout Seahorse, Leopard Shark, Giant Pacific Octopus, Chambered Nautilus, Loggerhead Sea Turtle, or American Alligator without waiting your turn, or elbowing screaming children out of the way. And it's conveniently located downtown, so it's really more of a fun lunch break than a dedicated day trip. On your way out, be sure to explore the "Whales: Voice of the Sea" interactive kiosk, in which you can hear the whale songs of various species, and then deliver your best impression back. Nothing like 4-year-olds pretending to be blue whales.



Posted By:  Rachel Tepper
Photo:  Rachel Tepper

Freedom Plaza
Every Sunday in the summer, you can tango in the warm evening breeze at Freedom Plaza near Federal Triangle from 7 pm to 10 pm. I chanced upon the event one Sunday night, and I found myself at first perplexed and then bemused. Though the sight of two dozen people tangoing in the middle Freedom Plaza seemed odd at first, I was quickly won over by its charm. The soothing music, the elegance of the dancers, the sheer novelty of such calmness in the midst of a bustling city--these things soon convinced me that dancing in Freedom Plaza is the perfect way to spend a Sunday evening. The event is run by Shashin Singh, who organizes local tango events and dances, called milongas, has been hosting the free outdoor session at Freedom Plaza since 2006. Next Sunday, you'll know where to find me.



Posted By:  Magda Nakassis
Photo:  Magda Nakassis

Corcoran Gallery of Art
I knew I was ahead of the curve with my whole "Budget Club" cheapo penny-pincher miserly cheapskate thing. And now my wishes are finally being granted, and not only can I get into all the Smithsonian museums for free (as per usual), but the private galleries are letting me in for nothing too. Or at least, some of the time. This summer, the Corcoran is opening up its doors every Saturday from June 20 through August 29, waiving the $10 admission--and just in time for all the tourists and interns. Maya Lin: Systematic Landscapes, an impressive installation looking at landscape and geography, will be up through mid-July, and a retrospective of William Eggleston's photography opens June 20. The way I see it, you're losing money by not going. As well as being a total loser. Man, why are you such a loser?!



Posted By:  Rachel Tepper
Photo:  Rachel Tepper

Le Bar
Though they often get a bad rap, hotel bars are sometimes great hot spots in their own right. Le Bar in Lafayette Square is such an example--nestled in the lobby of the Sofitel Hotel, it's definitely a destination not just for hotel patrons. The space is swanky, but not pretentious, and swathed in shades of purple and red. I went around 6:30 pm, and the clientele was an interesting mix of young and old. I'm told, however, that the place turns into a bastion for the young and hot on weekend nights. Service was exquisite and very accommodating when the drink I ordered wound up being, well, undrinkable. I ordered something called a Lychee Cooler, a concoction of tequila and lychee puree. I literally recoiled after taking my first sip. The waitress apologized profusely and brought me a crisp Chardonnay from Austrailia at no extra cost. In doing so, she saved this review--and her tip. Also, the complimentary snacks (olives, wasabi peas and popcorn) were a nice touch and helped take the sting away from the $14 pricetag for martinis (ouch!). I'm pretty sure I'll go back, though perhaps I'll stay away from the Lychee Cooler.



Posted By:  Glory Edim
Photo:  Glory Edim

Lincoln's Waffle Shop
In honor of our 16th president Abraham Lincoln you should visit the Lincoln Memorial, The Ford Theatre (where John Wilkes Booth gunned down poor Abe), and The Lincoln House Restaurant Bar & Deli. Okay, the 3rd isn't a historical landmark, however, the food is legendary. The ingredients are simple. Eggs, bacon, and tons of lard for breakfast. Crispy BLT sandwiches and fried chicken wings for lunch. The coffee is always black. The food is always astronomically cheap. The doors are (almost) always open 7 days a week from 5:30 am to 7 pm, Monday through Friday and 5:30 am to 3 pm on Saturday & Sunday. The people are undeniably friendly. You'll enjoy a cheap and filling presidential meal for less than $5. I'm pretty sure Abe would have enjoyed it.



Posted By:  Magda Nakassis
Photo:  Courtesy of Ceiba

Ceiba
Obviously happy hour is an ingenious idea. What better way to punctuate the end of your workday than with a cheap drink? But sometimes I’m still keyed up at 6 pm and the idea of starting that alcohol ball rolling isn't the best. Therefore I appreciate the late-night happy hour, the one that allows me to eat dinner first, and to applaud myself for drinking after the sun has set. Mondays through Saturdays, from 9:30–11 pm, you can enjoy a $5 specialty cocktail (mojito, caipirinha, pisco sour, sangria, or margarita) at Ceiba, a contemporary Latin American restaurant at 14th & G. $5 appetizers are also available, but if you're really cheap, complimentary bocaditos are served in the bar and lounge. With a caipirinha in one hand and Peruvian ceviche in the other, you'll be the classiest cheapskate around.



Posted By:  Emily Groves
Photo:  Emily Groves

ADC Map and Travel Center
You know how it goes: you decide to meet a friend downtown, so you pick a random, central location, like in front of the 17th Street Farragut West Metro station. And then your friend calls you to say she's running late. Luckily, you can pop right over to the ADC Map and Travel Center--the perfect place to dream of places near or far (and probably thus situated for scenarios such as these). It is chock full of maps and travel guides: everything from the perfect hikes in the Shenandoah Valley to a Guide to Timbuktu. And the laid-back staff will order you anything you can't find. So, instead of cursing your friend while freezing your trousers off, stop by the small (but intimate) ADC Map and Travel Center. After five minutes of dreamily picking through the shelves, you'll probably forget you were supposed to meet up with whatsherface anyway.



Posted By:  Magda Nakassis
Photo:  Courtesy of Old Ebbitt Grill

Old Ebbitt Grill
The Old Ebbitt Grill is historic. A Victorian saloon just a stone's throw from the White House, it's been the favorite watering hole of many a president since its establishment 153 years ago. It's known for its ambiance--Washington bigwigs talking shop in dark mahogany and velvet booths, under the dim light of gas chandeliers--but its menu (despite the implication of its name) is most famous for its raw bar. Mouthwatering, tiered platters of clams, shrimp, crab, lobster, and (of course) oysters are a popular order, and well worth the price. But seafood isn't cheap, and raw seafood shouldn't be. Thankfully, the Old Ebbitt Grill has a kind of anti–happy hour: half off everything at the raw bar from Monday through Thursday, from 3–6pm and from 11pm–1am. Our new Washington may no longer be about wanton luxury, but there's still room for a late-night cocktail at the Old Ebbitt, complemented by a feast of raw oysters. 




Posted By:  Rin-rin Yu
Photo:  Rin-rin Yu

Political Americana
Just admit it: you've always been intrigued by this ultra-touristy shop on your way to the Mall, but you're too proud a Washingtonian to go inside. Well, in honor of the upcoming inauguration, in which you've probably listed your home on Craigslist for $1,000 a night during that week, why not decorate it for your guests with some themed items? Everyone needs an Obama made of cardboard--just call the store ahead to reserve your own President-elect, as demand has escalated since his election. McCain items have not hit the sale rack just yet, but there are plenty of Bush, Clinton and Reagan-era items still available. There are also Hillary t-shirts and stickers, White House towels, pens, mugs, toilet paper and golf balls; Washington, DC postcards and souvenirs, and Christmas ornaments. You can even purchase historic, valuable paraphernalia from previous elections and administrations. But let's face it--nobody in DC is ever actually from DC, just long-term tourists.




Posted By:  Magda Nakassis
Photo:  Magda Nakassis

The Washington City Paper
This is a pretty easy sell: pay less, eat more. The City Paper's "Let's Split It" deal is an ongoing promotion in which you can buy a $50 dining gift certificate for $25. The selection of restaurants varies, but current and past participators have included Mie n Yu, Vinoteca, Ceiba, Acadiana, TenPenh, and DC Coast--all easy spots to spend $50. But supplies are limited, so be sure to get on their restaurant raters list or check their website regularly. I'd also like to point out that in light of the global financial meltdown and upcoming holiday season, a two-for-one deal is a wonderful solution for generously treating local friends and family.




Posted By:  Elisabeth Grant
Photo:  Elisabeth Grant

Teaism
Why would you go to Teaism if you didn't like tea? Maybe 'cause you're hungry for a different take on brunch. Every weekday from 7:30 to 11:30 and weekend from 9:30 to 2:30, you could partake in classic breakfast fare like waffles, French toast, or granola with milk. Or, you could branch out and experience cilantro scrambled eggs and tea cured salmon (or sans the salmon if you're really anti-tea), naan with mango chutney, or cilantro scrambled tofu. And no matter the time of day you can’t go wrong with one of Teaism's signature Bento boxes. Not only are they nicely laid out (each part of the meal neatly separated like a kid's TV dinner), they are delicious. Try the Chicken Bento, featuring fried chicken, sweet potatoes, cucumber-ginger salad, and rice, or go anti-meat with the Veggie Bento, which includes grilled veggies, sweet potatoes with miso sauce, tofu, edamame, and rice. There are also a number of not-tea drinks, like ginger limeade, banana lassi, and micro-brewed sodas. Or the five-o'clock-somewhere crowd may enjoy Teaism's selection of Asian cocktails, sake, and beer. So don't let the name fool you, this place is about so much more than tea.



Posted By:  Elisabeth Grant
Photo:  Elisabeth Grant

Palace of Wonders
I get it all the time: "Where can you see a good vaudeville or burlesque show in this town?" And I always respond, "Why, at the Palace of Wonders, of course!" Located on the slightly difficult to get to H Street NE, it's a short cab ride from Union Station. Now seven days a week you can get your fill of sideshow acts, burlesque dancers, and live acts of a variety of styles and tawdriness. As if the action on stage couldn't be enough to keep your attention, the second floor's decor of "oddities, specimens, artifacts and homages to the great dime museums of the past" are on hand to entertain and get a conversation going. "Oh hi there, I just noticed you noticing that mummified merchild... can I buy you a drink?" Perhaps you'll even find love amidst the fire eaters and acrobats. If so, maybe you'll consider the Palace of Wonders for your wedding ceremony. They do weddings, especially the odd or Elvis variety.



Posted By:  Jade Floyd
Photo:  Dominique Alexander

Asia Nine
The best part of anyone's Sunday (besides celebrating the Lord) is brunch. Asia Nine, located in DC's bustling Chinatown, is the brainchild of Natalie Tantivejakul and executive chef Boon Yotmanee. On any given Sunday, in addition to watching my favorite movie "Any Given Sunday," I have the freedom to dine on Eggs Florentine, Eggs Benedict, Coconut French Toast or my personal favorite, Chicken Omelets. I want you to have that freedom, too, and that's why I'm letting you in on a little secret (shh): throw on some soy sauce and prepare to unleash the possessive glutton within. All brunch specials are $15.95 and served with either a Mimosa or Bloody Mary. With sleek architectural details and unique lighting, Asia Nine was everything our helpful server Jesse assured us it would be. I'm salivating just thinking about it; by which I mean the experience in totality. Wink wink. Asia Nine: It's not asinine.



Posted By:  Magda Nakassis
Photo:  Courtesy of The Smithsonian

Smithsonian American Art Museum
As part of their "Page to Screen" series, the Smithsonian American Art Museum is screening American classics of the silver screen adapted from books and plays--including "Breakfast at Tiffany's" on October 29th at 6 pm. In the McEvoy Auditorium, you can watch the film adaptation of Truman Capote's novel for free. Enjoy Holly Golightly talk about how divinely and utterly happy she is, describe the mean reds, and flitter about as that famously eccentric New York socialite. And, in her little black dress. I don't use the term "hump day," but if I did--I'd agree this is a wonderful way to punctuate the middle of your work week.



Posted By:  Magda Nakassis
Photo:  Courtesy of National Book Festival

National Mall
One thing I will miss about the current administration is Laura Bush's National Book Festival. Between that, the invasion of Afghanistan, the invasion of Iraq, No Child Left Behind, the federal response to Katrina, and the post-9/11 War on Terrorism, the National Book Festival is my favorite. Hosted by the first lady and organized by the Library of Congress, there's no telling whether this annual autumn event will continue past noon of January 20, 2009. But for now, we have a great line-up for the 2008 festival, September 27 from 10 am-5 pm between 3rd and 7th Streets. There'll be local baker Warren Brown touting his first cookbook, ex-running back Tiki Barber reading from his autobiography, Pulitzer Prize-winning Geraldine Brooks, best-selling novelist Philippa Gregory, Paul Theroux, Salman Rushdie, Alexander McCall Smith, and many more--all converging on the Mall to read from their latest publications, talk about their work, and field questions from bookworms. It's back to school time; better hit the books.



Apt

Posted By:  Elisabeth Grant
Photo:  Elisabeth Grant

Chef Geoff's
It is DC, and an election year, so I guess you have to forgive Chef Geoff's for its Ciroc O'Pama and McCane Mojito cocktails. Take it as an opportunity to raise your glass and support your candidate, or if you're tired of politics, just enjoy a Key Lime Pie Martini (it has pie crust around the rim!). Whether you're in the mood for drinks or a more substantial meal, Chef Geoff's is a nice stop before a show at National Theater or Warner Theater, both of which are just a few steps away (to the delight of the stiletto-wearing theatergoers). And there's something for all tastes, with dozens of dishes in every category on the menu. Have a burger (of the beef, salmon, or tuna variety), a pizza (Portobello, perhaps?), a satisfying salad, or one of their "Simple Meats and Fish." And if you're up for it, definitely grab a side of the sweet potato fries. Oh, there's always room for sweet potato fries.




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