Penn Quarter Fun: Five Good Outings

Where to go for a special date, a kid-friendly day trip, or a night out with friends.

By: Sophie Gilbert

The chocolate-themed lounge and restaurant Co Co. Sala is a romantic spot for a date. Photograph by Chris Leaman

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A Romantic Date

Start with dinner at the glamorous Zola (800 F St., NW; 202-654-0999), which offers a pre-event, three-course menu for $30 from 5 to 7. Offerings include seared tuna with mango and citrus-cured pork belly. Then lose yourself in a magical land: As You Like It is at Shakespeare Theatre’s Sidney Harman Hall (610 F St., NW; 202-547-1122) through December 20. Finish the night in the warmly lit lounge at Co Co. Sala (929 F St., NW; 202-347-4265), where you can sip cocoa-themed concoctions such as a Stoli Vanilla malted-milk martini or nibble treats including hot-chocolate soufflé with espresso gelato.

Girls’ Day

Kick off your outing by indulging in facials or massages at the W Hotel’s Bliss Spa (515 15th St., NW; 877-862-5477). Stop for lunch at Teaism (400 Eighth St., NW; 202-638-6010), where options range from virtuous (tofu noodle salad) to decadent (chocolate torte with green-tea gelato). Then do a little shopping. Treat yourselves at Mia Gemma (933 F St., NW; 202-393-4367), an artisan-jewelry store, or Coup de Foudre (1001 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 202-393-0878), which specializes in European lingerie. Or treat your wallet at trendy chains such as H&M (1025 F St., NW; 202-637-3306), Zara (1025 F St., NW; 202-393-2810), and American Apparel (1090 F St., NW; 202-628-0438). End the day with a drink at the elegant wine bar Proof (775 G St., NW; 202-737-7663), which stocks more than 40 wines by the glass.

A Casual Date

Break the ice with a little bowling at Lucky Strike (701 Seventh St., NW; 202-347-1021). Then take a walk through the third floor of the Smithsonian American Art Museum (750 Ninth St., NW; 202-633-1000), where you’ll find the gallery’s vibrant collection of modern art, including the billboard-size multimedia installation “Megatron Matrix” by Nam June Paik. Don’t miss the Norman Foster–designed Kogod Courtyard between the museum and the National Portrait Gallery; it was named one of the seven architectural wonders of the world by Condé Nast Traveler. Next head to Matchbox (713 H St., NW; 202-289-4441) for a quick bite—we like the Angus sliders and crispy pizzas. Still going strong? Duck in for a midnight screening at E Street Cinema (555 11th St., NW; 202-452-7672). December features include Jim Henson’s 1986 childhood fantasy, Labyrinth.

Guys’ Night Out

Nothing says guys’ night like all-you-can-eat steak, so start at the Brazilian steakhouse Fogo de Chao (1101 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 202-347-4668), where more than a dozen cuts of meat—top sirloin, beef ribs, rib eye, and more—are brought to your table until you say stop. Sides include cheese bread and garlic mashed potatoes. After dinner, head to the Verizon Center (601 F St., NW; 202-661-5000) for a Capitals game, then recap the action at one of the area’s many bars. Popular spots include Penn Quarter Sports Tavern (639 Indiana Ave., NW; 202-347-6666), which boasts 19 high-def TVs; the dimly lit Irish pub Fadó (808 Seventh St., NW; 202-789-0066); the basement dive Rocket Bar (714 Seventh St., NW; 202-628-7665), which has shuffleboard, darts, and pool; and Shelly’s Backroom (1331 F St., NW; 202-737-3003), a cozy cigar bar and lounge.

Kids’ Day

Take your budding detectives to the interactive National Museum of Crime & Punishment (575 Seventh St., NW; 202-393-1099), where they can investigate crime scenes, learn about famous heists, and try their hands at an FBI shooting range. Then head to Ella’s Wood-Fired Pizza (901 F St., NW; 202-638-3434), which serves kid-size pies among its regular offerings. For dessert, grab a vanilla-bean cupcake from Red Velvet Cupcakery (675 E St., NW; 202-347-7895). If the kids aren’t tuckered out, take the family to the Washington Ballet’s The Nutcracker—set in DC—at the Warner Theatre (513 13th St., NW; 202-783-4000) December 10 through 27.

This article first appeared in the December 2009 issue of The Washingtonian. For more articles from that issue, click here.

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