In Barracks Row, in place of once-boarded-up vacant lots are rows of prime Georgian-era real estate. A stone’s throw from the seat of the US government, it is lined with eateries and watering holes – where politicians talk shop over craft beer.
Former first lady of the US Michelle Obama took her other half to this no-reservations tapas restaurant to celebrate his 54th birthday. Naturally, chef Aaron Silverman’s brainchild became a hit, and till this day, diners form a line around the block to get a seat here. Must-tries include its signature pig-ear and mango salad.
Staff from the House of Representatives can sometimes be spotted going the whole nine yards with craft beers at this restaurant, bar and brewery housed in a cavernous former warehouse. It brews all 21 of its draughts on-site, including coconut sweet stout and a series of ales, so free up your entire afternoon to try them all.
In an area characterised by magnolia trees and houses with mansard roofs, this landmark red-bricked grocery hall has been serving all manner of street snacks and goodies since 1873. Join the locals and wolf down a DC half-smoke – a half-beef, half-pork hot dog that’s a food cart staple.
In DC, power lunches are rarely abstemious affairs, which means US presidents worth their salt need to know their way around a wine cellar. Which helps explain the success of this boutique and wine concierge, which hosts tastings and events.
5. Neighbourhood Heritage Trail
Thankfully, Barracks Row is easier to navigate than politics. For a history lesson on why the area has been reborn as hipster central, download a guide to the area’s side streets from Cultural Tourism DC. The 90-minute walk begins at Eastern Market Metro station plaza and loops through the neighbourhood.
When lunch hour arrives, senators, aides, and interns take a brisk power-walk from behind Capitol Hill to places such as this. Grab a calzone or pin your colours to your chest with a Barracks Row deep-dish pie (tomato, mushroom, spinach, red onion, mozzarella), then eat it on the go as though you have somewhere far more important to be.
While Barracks Row is the city’s see-to-be-seen area, it’s also continually shaped by the presence of Navy Yard, the oldest marine core in the country, which hems in the neighbourhood to the south. The US Navy’s flagship museum explains how it all began.
This upmarket retailer is smart on a number of fronts. It stocks the best cookie cutters, kitchen ware, and food-themed gifts this side of Georgetown and offers a range of insightful cooking classes.
9. Nationals Park
A city of institutions, Washington DC can be overwhelming, even for a repeat visitor. There are dozens of fabulous Smithsonian Museums and Greco-Roman memorials, but for many the most important building is the home of the Washington Nationals, the city’s baseball team. On game day, fans flood into the Barracks Row bars to watch the action on TV screens – you can also do so from the banks of the Anacostia River.
– TEXT BY MIKE MACEACHERAN
PHOTOS: ALAMY, DCANTER – A WINE BOUTIQUE, BLUEJACKET, ROSE’S LUXURY, EASTERN MARKET, CULTURAL TOURISM DC, 7TH HILL PIZZA, NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE UNITED STATES NAVY, WASHINGTON NATIONALS
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.