DC Art and Food Tour
- Best of Washington DC
- DC Art and Food Tour
- DC’s Top 10 for Kids
- DC Food Trucks
- Dining Alfresco in DC
- DC’s Best Outdoor Watering Holes
- DC’s Unsung Memorials and Monuments
- DC’s Outdoor Concerts and Events
- Green Dining in DC
- DC’s Best Family-Friendly Hotels
- DC Wine Bars
- DC Cupcake Wars
- DC Hotels with the Best Views
For nearly 150 years after its founding, DC was considered a cultural backwater, a place where politics and intellect thrived but the arts, in all their forms, were an expense ill-afforded by the federal government, which managed the city.
The opening of the city’s first art museum, the privately owned Corcoran, in 1869, demonstrated that Washingtonians yearned to expand their city’s cultural appeal. Now, more than 130 years later, it has happened: in 2010, Travel + Leisure magazine ranked the city second only to New York for its culture.
If the transformation in the visual and performing arts was slow, the expansion of gastronomic choices in the city moved at an even slower pace, picking up, fortunately, in the past two decades. Some of the world’s finest chefs have arrived and thankfully stayed in Washington, attracted by the city’s diverse, adventurous, and affluent clientele as well as its vibrancy and locale not far from rural food sources. Today, Washington teems with choices, full-course and à la carte.
For a glimpse of contemporary style in the DC area, start south of the city in Fairfax County, Virginia, at the area’s only public Frank Lloyd Wright home, the Pope-Leighey House, a masterpiece of efficient design that was moved to the grounds of a Washington-era plantation when it was threatened with demolition. This mini-mod home is one of Wright’s Usonian designs, a family residence furnished to the exacting architect’s standards.
Stroll to the National Gallery of Art East Building, an I. M. Pei-designed exhibit hall that showcases much of the museum’s modern and contemporary art, including works by Picasso, Pollock, Miró, and Calder.
Dine at Restaurant Nora for dinner, enjoying a menu focused heavily on locally sourced ingredients, and catch a show you won’t see elsewhere at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, staging the edgy, adventurous, or quirky in a new minimal theater space that manages to be chill and intimate all at once.
Take your eggs Benedict or lemon ricotta pancakes at Seasons in the Four Seasons and browse the hotel’s lobby and hallways, featuring much of the property’s 1,600-piece art collection, including an Andy Warhol Indian Head Nickel screen print, before heading to the woodland neighborhood of Northwest DC to tour Hillwood, Marjorie Merriweather Post’s former estate, containing one of the finest collections of Russian imperial art outside Russia.
Grab a quick bite from the District’s favorite food truck, Red Hook Lobster Truck, featuring buttery rolls stuffed with Maine’s finest crustacean or plump shrimp. (The truck moves daily; find its location on Twitter.) Then enjoy Renoir’s enormous and captivating Luncheon of the Boating Party and other fine works, including those of William Merritt Chase and Winslow Homer, on display in the rooms of the Phillips Collection.
If you’ve thought well ahead and made reservations at precisely 10 a.m. a month to the day before you want to attend, enjoy your dining experience at MiniBar, a six-seat restaurant where guests enjoy a 30-plate chef’s tasting menu from those under the tutelage of José Andrés. Didn’t press redial fast enough? Reserve a table at Café Atlántico, Andrés’s New Latin-Latin fusion restaurant that contains MiniBar.
Start the day with a cheesy, gooey Croque and Dagger or more traditional breakfast fare amid an eclectic crowd at The Diner in Adams Morgan, and then head to the National Mall to tour three enticing and rarely visited spaces: the National Museum of African Art and the Freer and Sackler Galleries of Asian Art. The Freer is home to one of Washington’s true treasures, James McNeill Whistler’s outrageous Peacock Room.
People from around the world call Washington home; experience a twist on Turkish, Greek, and Lebanese cuisine at Zaytinya or check out Mitsitam in the National Museum of the American Indian. Celebrate the traditional and contemporary artistry of the Americas’ indigenous population at the museum, which features sketches and drawings, paintings, basketry, and textiles from the hemisphere’s original inhabitants.
Afterward, check out the history of cultural identity as told by fabrics at the Textile Museum, containing clothing and carpets dating from 300 b.c. to the present.
Finish out the evening with a drink and cool music at Blues Alley, a former 18th-century carriage house that hosts jazz musicians and some R&B and blues groups seven days a week.
© Patricia Nevins Kime from Moon Washington DC, 1st Edition