An (Un)Political Guide to the Nation’s Capital

Washington DC

It’s been called the most powerful city in the world. Charles Dickens called it the “city of magnificent intentions.” President John F. Kennedy referred to it as a place of “northern charm and southern efficiency.”

Washington, DC, seems to have garnered quite the list of identities over the years. However one thing is certain: there are far greater things to be discovered in the 68.3 square miles that make up the uniqueness that is the District of Columbia than White House tours, monuments, and interesting factoids about the founding fathers.

For a whimsy glance inside DC, without fear of being convoluted by political speak, let’s look at the city’s neighborhoods through the eyes of the everyday Darling woman.

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Image via Angela Pan

The Intellectual: Capitol Hill / Eastern Market

For the woman who loves to read, spend the morning nestled in the main reading room of the world’s largest library – the Library of Congress. Here, you’ll find nearly ever book published. Then grab a latte at what USA Today considers among the top 10 best local coffee shops in the country, Peregrine Espresso, in Eastern Market.

Photo via Anna Howard

Image via Anna Howard

Also found in Eastern Market, specifically on the weekends at the Market Lunch, are what could be considered the best pancakes ever made. Afterwards get lost exploring the used bookstores located nearby like Capitol Hill Books, or take a stroll through the open air market featuring local vendors from the tri-state area with fresh produce and homemade artisan finds. Don’t have dinner plans? Check out any of the restaurants that the locals frequent along Pennsylvania Avenue, like Beuchert’s Saloon, We the Pizza, or Hawk & Dove.

The Dreamer: Northwest

One of the most iconic churches in the country, The National Cathedral, is just as breathtaking in person as it is creative for all of its beautiful architecture. Enjoy a Sunday service or catch a sunset from the clock tower. Afterwards slip into Open City, located on the property, for a latte served up with a creative design and an animal cracker. Head up the street to Politics & Prose and hit up the travel section to plan your next adventure while enjoying the people-watching at this local staple for book lovers and even Presidents.

The Achiever: Barrack’s Row / Navy Yard

These three places all share at least one thing in common – they were started by folks who have an affinity for dream-chasing and good stories.

Two years ago, Bon Appetit rated it the best restaurant in America. This year it picked up a Michelin Star for being among the best. Washington’s worst kept secret exists in the form of the most whimsical restaurant you’ll ever step foot in. Rose’s Luxury, located on Barrack’s Row, serves up thousands of dishes per night, all unique with touches that can only be explained by your own taste buds. Practically next door is another creative eatery, District Doughnut. Started by middle school best friends and doughnut enthusiasts, this little spot moves the needle forward on the whole art of doughnut-making thing.

Image via Whiskey & Soba

Roses’s Luxury | Image via Whiskey & Soba

If your taste buds were not already tingling, the Navy Yard’s local sweet spot, Ice Cream Jubilee, will surely put you there. It was started by a former corporate lawyer who quit her day job to chase her daydream, and ice cream enthusiasts everywhere are thanking her for it. Seriously, this place is what dessert dreams are made of.

The Stylist: Downtown / Penn Quarter

Most people think of Georgetown or Friendship Heights when they think of shopping in DC, but we say browse the shops at the newly created City Center, housing various fashion brands and a handful of tasty eateries, all to keep you better fueled for the ultimate urban shopping experience.

Later, make sure to stop by the W Hotel, because if New York and Los Angeles had a child that lived in DC, it would be the P.O.V. – a rooftop known for its incredible view of the DC skyline and birds eye view of the White House. For a dinner to remember, try José Andrés’ restaurant Minibar. Elusive as it is expensive, this Michelin (two) Star eat spot, seats 12 and is the place where science and art meet to deliver up unique dishes worth the fancy experience.

Image via The Dabney

Image via The Dabney

Images via The Dabney

The Explorer: Shaw

For the ultimate city explorer, get lost in Shaw while looking for Blagden Alley. It’s not necessarily on the map, but the places tucked inside — like another Michelin Star rated restaurant, The Dabney — is helping to put it on one. Just don’t leave Blagden without trying La Colombe for coffee and The Columbia Room for craft cocktails. But once you do, seek out another great cocktail spot called Southern Efficiency, proving that maybe the South has a greater influence on DC than once believed. If northern charm is more your thing, then hop next door to Eat The Rich, an oyster bar by James Beard Award nominee Derek Brown.

The Confidant: 14th Street Corridor

As the French say, “joie de vivre,” meaning an exuberant enjoyment of life. That’s also the motto for those who enjoy dining at Le Diplomate, which is one of DC’s top restaurants featuring French fare and intimate table settings, perfect for any occasion of dining. Also found on 14th, are no shortage of good things to sip on. From local coffee shops like Dolcezza and The Wydown, to speakeasies and craft cocktail spots like The Gibson, 2 birds 1 stone, or for somewhere a little more cozy, slip into Compass Rose and order the “home away from home.”

The Hostess: Bloomingdale / Truxton Circle

Two neighborhoods currently creating lots of buzz, especially in the housing market, Bloomingdale and Truxton Circle. Stroll down Bloomingdale to see the rainbow-painted townhouses like something from a story book. Then pop in Big Bear Cafe for a bite to eat and coffee of your choosing. Wander into ANXO Cidery & Pintxos Bar in Truxton Circle, a rustic spot where artisan meets innovative.

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Image via ANXO

Image via ANXO

But for the ultimate hostess gifts and essentials, spend some time at Salt & Sundry located nearby in Union Market – a gathering spot known for its forward thinking and minimalist designs.

The Beautician: H Street Corridor

Tucked in the heart of H Street, you’ll find Maketto – an eclectic market place known for a lot of things, but pork buns, pour overs, and fabulous cocktails, to be exact, so really all things to all people. Grab your girls and enjoy the communal table on the patio with a view of the open-garage kitchen space.

Need a breath of fresh air? Take a walk through the gardens at the National Arboretum. While it is a national park, it’s also one of DC’s best kept secrets. If you’re still in search of some outdoor enjoyment, stretch your legs by getting in a run on the National Mall at sunset with the backdrop of the Washington Monument and in the distance Honest Abe himself. You’ll be in good company as DC is consistently named the fittest, as well as healthiest city in America year after year.

Have you been to DC? Where would you add to this list?

Feature Image via Ashton Bingham

Britt is a believer, writer and creative currently living with her husband, Coalter, in Phoenix, Arizona, but continues to call the Deep South home. She is a former U.S. Senate Speechwriter and spent five years working in Washington, DC on Capitol Hill. During her time in politics, she discovered her passion for writing and storytelling, and formerly published an article in Darling discussing her experience on the Hill and the state of women in politics. However, the great reality of who she is and how she is, revolves around her passion for meaningful impact.

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