Doing the DC Thing
9th Oct 2008
Yes, it is a veritable hotbed of scandal and bureaucracy. Yes, there are more lawyers here per capita than any place on earth. Yes, sushi is sill considered exotic, and the unofficial drink is aged whiskey. But lets face it: DC is not about being trendy --- this is a power town if ever there was one, especially these days. Yet recent events show a fresh, funky wind blowing in from the left, and you never know when you might find yourself there to lobby for some new bailout. A new vibe is settling in Washington, DC, so fist-bump that!
Nancy Pelosi may shudder when she arrives at Ronald Reagan National Airport because it bears the name of someone representing the opposition, but you won’t, because it is clean and efficient with a hint of peroxide and a squeaky clean metro stop that will whisk you straight into town. Conversely, if you are arriving at Dulles, you will shudder: It’s a total hike, and taxis are a disaster. Avoid the fuss and hire a car service.
Here’s how to add that modern international touch and avoid the Town Car, that symbol of the gas-guzzling Cheney era. DC Livery will deliver an S-Class for your arrival, ensuring that your ride into town is as serene as Obama's demeanor.
DC Livery: +1 800 736 6630
Now that Dems are able to daywalk the city streets, we thought we’d ask our local informant, Moses, to fill us in on the latest pseudoplush offerings. The liberal establishment (left in tatters with the neocon establishment on high alert and the Four Seasons on speed dial) needs its own statement, and that heralds the late and somewhat lax arrival of the Washington boutique experience. If Moses says the action is around Chinatown, then it is.
Moses: "A lot of the action is around Chinatown."
AND, while every major hotel chain in the world has an offering in the nation's capital, that doesn’t mean you have to settle for the same old popcorn box with dated guest furniture.
A modern hub sensibility is found in all of the six boutique Kimpton Hotels — a favorite is the central Hotel Monaco in the heart of the Chinatown corridor across from the Verizon Center arena, but you can’t go wrong with Hotel Helix, Rouge, or Topaz either. Rooms are surprisingly large and down below are stylish lounge bars, ideal for a martini, but not too full of themselves...evidenced by the half-price burgers at the Helix happy hour. How very democratic!
We suspect that Moses would prophesy that the food in DC has become a world class experience, but when we saw a plate of sushi on the cover of the city’s “hottest” restaurant guide, the skepticism started to set in. Nevertheless, internationalism is bound to be back in favor as the dollar continues to slide and foreign diplomats make the rounds to introduce the intern class of 2007 to the wiles of international wheeling and dealing. That's good news for some old favorites like The Palm for power eating, and Cafe Milano for power flirting with a slightly Arab air. Here are a few other places to check out as well:
If Moses were here, he would say a dazzling combination of the exotic and beautiful leaps from the plate with each dish. Who knew Indian food could have so much flair to go with the variety of flavor? We say that ethnic is good, but go for the gourmet Ethiopian in Adams Morgan.
Moses: “For a special, personalized outing with up to 30 dishes specially prepared before your eyes. Good luck getting a spot—there are only six seats, but if you are in one of them, prepare to be dazzled!” We say: “It’s basically a hot diner.”
Moses: “Fun and fabulous. Step into this high-energy Mediterranean mezze Mecca and you’ll feel like you’re whisked away to an eastern Mediterranean cliff town.” We say: “DC is flat, but it does sound great.”
Only in DC would it be a good idea to name the hottest club Science Club, clearly some sort of in joke from the geeks who made it through law school and now work inside the Beltway. That said, DC is actually fairly hopping, and the crowd at Science Club looks like it is genetically engineered.
funk is in
Another person rejoicing the change of scene in DC would be Jackie, who got her start peddling wind chimes in Georgetown back in the 1990s. Now one of DC's hottest retail destinations, her little shop is called Nana in an area called the U Street Corridor. Once upon a time you couldn't stop for gas without getting carjacked in this area, but today it’s funky fun and super trippy. Her shop sells all sorts of stuff you can't find anywhere else, and she’s a local legend on the hip and trip scene. Other stores that channel a similar independent and fresh spirit include Pop, Junction, and Destination U, all in the shopping streets that used to be totally ghetto but are now just pretend-ghetto.
No matter what your persuasion, change is definitely in the air. It’s the only place in the world where the power elite is scheduled to churn every 24 months, bringing a new angle, from the left, the right, or sometimes right down the middle into prominence. Right now the mood in DC is cautiously exhuberant, so find the moment and get going! It could shift back to steak houses and cigars before you know it.