Eat Your Way Through Washington D.C. in 24 Hours

Originally published May 13h, 2017.

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This week was an absolute whirlwind where I had the pleasure (and luckily, the stamina) to drive to D.C. and back, stopping at dozens of small (or basically nonexistent) towns along the way. 

In the middle of this road trip fueled by Sheetz breakfast sandwiches, and episodes of MBMBAM, I had a 20 hour layover in Washington D.C.

dcfrompittsburgh

Now, I have been to D.C. a couple of times... but it was always the 4th of July when I was there? or I never left the national mall? This time I just wanted to stay away from all those monuments, and get some of that sweet, sweet grub D.C. is known for.   

So I found a hostel in a random neighborhood that seemed cool, confirmed with a friend that it was safe to stay there, and set off!  And thus begins on of the coolest, and most expensive 24 hours of my life:

6:30 PM - ARRIVE AT THE HOSTEL

My hostel was the absolute worst.  Seriously, I have stayed in hostels in Bosnia, Serbia, Turkey, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and ALL of those were nicer than this hostel in D.C. Also, the place had three different names: one on Booking.com, one on my confirmation email, and one of the door.

So, Capital Comfort Hostel/DC International Hostel 1:
You had ONE bathroom for 30 people -  Is that even code?? I had to wash my face in the kitchen sink, and then almost peed my pants while waiting for some dude to take a nice, long shower.
The "blanket" you gave me was the size of an airplane blanket - and the longer I am removed from the situation, the more I'm convinced it was an airplane blanket.

All of that being said, it was affordable in a really great location so... stay here?

7:15 PM - TIGER FORK

Thanks Julianne! A friend recommended this hip and trendy place, and I was thrilled for a number of reasons: round bar, cool lighting, and BEER LAO! I drank Beer Lao every day while in (you guessed it) Laos.  While it is truly just a mediocre lager, it was a nice trip down memory lane (RIP to that unemployed, backpacker life). 

tigerforkdc

Also, the bartenders were super talented and friendly.  They were really interested in hearing my story, and didn't even judge me (out loud) when I read a newspaper at the bar.  Also, the location was dope... it was pretty much just an alley with some hella trendy restaurants. 

Tiger Fork is a "Chinese bistro for contemporary takes on Hong Kong dishes"... so if that sounds like your jam, check it out.

PRICE: $51 (including tip) for 1 beer, 1 cocktail, 1 appetizer
^This is when I realized I wasn't in Pittsburgh anymore. 

tigerforkdc
tigerforkdc

8:30 - COLUMBIA ROOM

This was a bar suggested to me by the bartender at Tiger Fork - I guess he didn't notice that I was wearing spandex pants and running shoes. I was a pretty underdressed... 

This is the sort of place I would go to with my parents for cocktails... the night I graduated college?  Literally looks like a cliche library/office with book shelves, dim lighting, and leather furniture.  There was also a cool rooftop patio.  They told me they were "THE best cocktail bar in D.C." 

The drinks were pretty damn good and unique. 

PRICE: $17 (including tip) for a drink approx the size of a dixie cup

Sorry, I was already in sneakers, I couldn't also be taking pictures. Here are some from instagram... (yes I wore workout clothes here... yes I regretted it.) 

A post shared by Columbia Room (@columbiaroom) on

A post shared by Columbia Room (@columbiaroom) on

9:15 - ALL-PURPOSE PIZZERIA

I was told this is some of the best pizza in D.C., and if that is the case... D.C., you have some damn fine pizza.  This place was a "trendy" pizza bar - great food, cool decor... it was a little crowded but luckily I was just one person.

My pizza was called "SEDGEWICK" and had whipped ricotta, taleggio, mozz, parmesan, chives, and honey.  My favorite type of pizza is a white pizza (bc I am a fatty who loves cheese), so CLEARLY I was all about this. The menu is pretty dope, you should check it out. 

At the end of the day - it is pizza.  Can you really go wrong? Well, I guess if you don't want to spend...

PRICE: $24 (including tip) for one "eh sized" pizza. 

A post shared by All-Purpose (@allpurposeshaw) on

10:30 PM - LEFT DOOR

I have been to a couple of speakeasy bars, and W0W - I am a sucker for this concept.  It could literally be a closet in the back of a normal bar, serving PBR for $10, and I would feel so cool to be there.

I guess Left Door isn't a true speakeasy because it is on google maps, and everyone I mentioned it to knew what I was talking about...  but I felt pretty damn cool entering an unmarked door next to a laundromat and ascending the stairs to a beautiful bar. 

This was my favorite bar up until this point. 

PRICE: $16 (including tip) for one (large) cocktail 

leftdoordc
leftdoordc

11:30 PM - SERVICE BAR

So Left Door was my favorite spot... until I went to Service Bar!  Nicest people, amazing drinks, good music, prices weren't too crazy, and amazing fried chicken! 

This is a great place to go and make new friends - seriously, everyone was talking to one another - and their gin and tonic menu is *drools.* Oh, and they use liquid nitrogen to cool (both literally and figuratively) their glasses, which is OBVIOUSLY really crazy to watch. 

The lighting was pretty dim, so my pictures are pretty garbage... so allow me to share these from their instagram... 

A post shared by Service Bar DC (@servicebardc) on

PRICE: $28.10 (including tip) for fried chicken and a fancy gin&tonic (okay maybe this wasn't as cheap as I remembered... I don't really have a gauge D.C. prices)

7:00 AM - COMPASS COFFEE

This is your typical trendy coffee shop that is also an office space.  Good wifi, good atmosphere to get work done.  Opens early, and is not too expensive. I recommend. 

PRICE: $3.57 (including tax) for a Cortado

compasscoffeedc
compasscoffee

9:00 AM - DACHA

A beer garden that serves bagels and sandwiches during the day..... alright. I am really okay with that.

I got a simple bagel with cream cheese because the breakfast sandwiches (albeit, delicious looking) were like $9, and I was already hating my life because of how much money I had spent.

They serve "Bullfrog Bagels."  That means nothing to me, it might mean something to you.  My bagel w/ cream cheese was alrightSandwiches looked a lot better. 

PRICE: $3.85 (including tax) for a bagel with cream cheese

dachadc

10:00 AM - TRYST

This was probably my least favorite of the spot I visited.  My matcha was pretty terrible, and the wifi was bad.  Can't comment on the food, but people looked happy.  The decor was cool and comfortable.  I guess if you're in the area...

PRICE: $5.00 (including tip) for a matcha latte

trystdc

1:00 PM - CHAIA

My favorite spot of the trip.  This restaurant solidified to me that vegetable tacos are the best food on the planet. I've made them for lunch for the past two days after going here.  Thanks, Zoe!

The concept is "farm to tacos," and it is basically really fresh vegetables, interesting toppings (you know... pickled things, goat cheese, micro greens....), on corn tortillas  - which, for the record, make ALL the difference in taco taste. #teamcorn #neverflour 

I was like just a smidge hungover (did you see all the things I drank the night before??), and this was still exactly what I needed.

PRICE: $17.60 (including tax and tip) for three tacos, and a pressed juice. 

A post shared by Madeline Quigley (@burghgal) on

2:00 PM - GEORGETOWN CUPCAKES

The hype is real. 

PRICE: $3.00 for a cupcake. 

Thanks to the friends, family, and bartenders who gave me reccomendations and helped me drain my bank account in just 20 short hours! 

A few other places I was told to go to...

but had neither the time, money, or space in my stomach to visit:

FOOD
The Dabney
mini bar
anything by José Andrés
Le Diplomate

COFFEE
Qualia
La Colombe
Slipstream

"Wander around by 14th and P, U, S, or T streets."

Other, random things I noticed about D.C....

  • You guys drink a lot of big gulps
  • You do U-turns in the middle of the street. Where I come from, if you make a mistake while drivin, you wait for the next legal place to rectify the mistake.  Not in D.C.! U-turns in the middle of a 4 lane road are just chill, I guess.

  • Everyone bikes - I was afraid to make turns because there were bikers all over the place! 

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HAPPY GALLIVANTING!