1 Fine-Dining Feast
Chef Frank Ruta’s Modern American dishes dazzle at
Palena (3529 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-537-9250). Guests
choose from four or six courses of delicately layered consommés, pastas
flavored with lobster roe and saffron, and entrées such as pan-roasted
pork leg with cardamom and sweet garlic. For a more casual experience,
head to the adjacent Palena Cafe— well loved among regulars for its
truffled-cheese-topped burger and crisp-skinned roast chicken.
2 Friendly Wine Shop
Weygandt Wines (3519 Connecticut Ave., NW;
202-362-9463)—owned by importer Peter Weygandt—is known for its fine
selection of lesser-known Old World wines, including an array of
affordable whites. Stop in on your way to a dinner party—the friendly,
informed staff excels at picking the right bottle for every
3 Movie Night
Sick of generic multiplexes? Opened in 1936, the Art Deco
Uptown Theater (3426 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-966-5401)
only has one screen, but at 40 by 70 feet—one of the largest in the
area—it delivers quite a show. Balcony seats add to the old-timey
4 Haute Happy Hour
Photograph by Scott Suchman.
Ripple (3417 Connecticut Ave., NW;
202-244-7995) is as much a casual snacks spot as it is a dressy dinner
destination. Grab a high-top table in the long, lean bar area and settle
in for a charcuterie sampler and one of the best by-the-glass wine lists
in town. Sunday through Thursday, happy hours (5 to 6:30 and 10:30 to
midnight) draw a crowd for half off selected wines and beers on tap and a
grilled-cheese menu with fancy melts like the Stinky Pete: Époisses
cheese, asparagus, and anchovy. In the daytime, the restaurant’s tiny
shop, Sugar Magnolia, is the spot for house-made ice
5 Secret Garden
Photograph by Andrew Propp.
There’s no shortage of Firehook Bakery & Coffee
House locations in the area, but behind the Cleveland Park
outpost (3411 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-362-2253 ) is a little-known,
lattice-lined porch with cozy nooks for whiling away an afternoon with the
newspaper, a latte, and maybe an extra-large cookie or two. Settle in only
if you’re truly looking to unplug—the bakery’s wi-fi doesn’t extend
6 Watch the Game
For nearly four decades, the squat Connecticut Avenue building
on the southern end of Cleveland Park was home to the bar Ireland’s Four
Fields. Originally named Ireland’s Four Provinces, it closed this summer
to make way for Uptown Tap House (3412 Connecticut Ave.,
NW; 202-244-2030), which boasts a marble-topped bar and tables, 17
high-definition TVs, and a handsome red-and-black color scheme. Pub grub
includes pork and beef sliders and fried chicken; there’s also a raw bar
with oysters, clams, and shrimp cocktail.
7 Kitsch Kingdom
Staplers shaped like sushi rolls? Check. Wooden alarm clocks?
Check. From plush toys for kids to gag gifts for adults, the eclectic shop
Wake Up Little Suzie (3409 Connecticut Ave., NW;
202-244-0700) has a trinket for everyone.
8 Subs on the Go
What can you get for $5.25 these days? At the Italian deli
Vace (3315 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-363-1999), it will
buy you a thick-cut Italian hard roll stuffed with fresh-cut deli meats or
tomato and sweet mozzarella. The shop’s devoted neighborhood following
also stocks up on house-made thin-crust pizza (by the slice and pie) plus
to-go gourmet imports that include sauces, pastas, and Sanbitter, an
addictive and complex Campari-like soda.
9 Fun Fashions
Photograph by Andrew Propp.
At Tangerine Boutique (2643 Connecticut Ave.,
NW; 202-652-1461), you can find brightly patterned blouses and dresses at
starting-salary-friendly prices—dresses typically don’t go over $75, tops
average less than $40, and accessories are in the $20-to-$30 range. The
warehouse-style shop is also open late—until 9 Monday through
Saturday—making it an ideal stop before drinks in Adams
10 Sip and Graze
There are so many tempting beginnings at District
Kitchen (2606 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-238-9408) that you might
not make it to the mains: Mason jars of house-made chicken-liver mousse,
smoked-bluefish dip, and handcrafted pickles. Or bite into a crisp,
battered soft-shell crab or a forkful of pasta with basil cream. There are
also clever cocktails such as the Gia Paloma, tart with lime and
grapefruit and Burlesque Bitters.
11 Cocktails in a Cool Setting
Photograph by Andrew Propp.
In the intimate dining room at New Heights, chef Ron Tanaka
serves such fare as grilled pork loin with mustard-glazed white beans and
rib-eye atop rye spaetzle. Downstairs at the twinkly, tiny Gin
Joint (2317 Calvert St., NW; 202-234-4110), bartender Nicole
Hassoun whips up seasonal tonics that combine flavors like basil and
fennel or lime and orange flower. She pairs these with a carefully curated
collection of boutique gins to create the best G&Ts in town. Hosting a
party? Give Hassoun 48 hours’ notice and she’ll make custom tonics for the
12 Neighborhood Hangout
As at its sister restaurants—Tryst and the Diner in Adams
Morgan—laptop loitering is perfectly acceptable at Open City
(2331 Calvert St., NW; 202-332-2331), a hybrid coffee shop,
diner, and bar. It’s just the spot for a solo dinner (bonus: breakfast is
served all day) or an afternoon beer break at the marble bar. No time to
linger? Grab a fresh pastry and a foamy cappuccino from the to-go counter
and be on your way.
13 Taste of Italy
It’s not just about pizza at 2 Amys (3715
Macomb St., NW; 202-885-5700). Part osteria, part wine bar, this
always-jammed hot spot is a trove of esoteric Italian morsels courtesy of
chef/owner Peter Pastan. Pleasures include a briny octopus-and-potato
salad and bright-green rapini spicy with red pepper. Don’t overlook the
well-sourced and beautifully sliced cheeses and salumi. And, yes,
the pizzas are more than fine—a recent special with artichokes, sausage,
and fontina was sublime.
14 Garden Oasis
Photograph courtesy of Hillwood Estate.
Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Hillwood Estate, Museum
& Gardens (4155 Linnean Ave., NW; 202-686-5807) is a hidden
trove of lush gardens. Stroll through the serene Japanese garden, browse
the Russian imperial art and artifacts, then top your visit off with a
gourmet sandwich in the cafe, which lends picnic blankets for lunching on
the grounds; $15 suggested donation.
This article appears in the November 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.