Destination DC: Shops, Sights, and Senators
The Top Ten Places to eat, drink and be merry in our nation’s capitol
Plus, contributor Warner Roberts visits DC for the USS George H. W. Bush commissioning
There is more to do in DC than snap shots of the White House and peruse the Lincoln Memorial. With infinite dining options and scores of museums, our nation’s capitol is brimming with exciting attractions. As former residents of the district, we’ve compiled a list of the city’s top ten visit-worthy destinations:
By Shyla Batliwalla and Leah Faye Cooper
1. Ben’s Chili Bowl
1213 U St. NW (202) 667-0909
DC’s favorite greasy spoon has been pleasing patrons like Martin Luther King, Jr., Bill Cosby, and President Barack Obama for over 50 years. Check your calorie-counting tendencies at the door and indulge in hot dogs, chili-cheese fries, and the city’s most beloved milkshakes.
2. Busboys & Poets
2021 14th St. NW (202) 387-POET
Listen to inspiring lectures, get lost in a book, or sip a glass of cabernet at Busboys. The all-in-one bookstore, restaurant, fair-trade market, theatre and community center is a favorite among locals. Take a break from touring the monuments and toil the day away engrossed in pizza and prose.
3. Eastern Market
225 7th St. SE
Conveniently located on “the Hill,” Eastern Market is a goldmine of fresh meats, cheeses, and produce. From green beans to Gouda, daily shipments of gourmet and organic foods have kept the foodie paradise open since 1873. Don’t miss the weekend flea market!
4. 18th Street Lounge
212 18th St. NW (202) 466-3922
The 18th Street Lounge stays true to its soulful roots with global tunes and luscious cocktails. Salsa on the roof deck or sip your caipirina by the grand windows overlooking the heart of the city.
5. The International Spy Museum
800 F St. NW (866) 799-6873
Brush up on all things espionage in one of the country’s most intriguing museums. Channel your inner Jack Bauer with documentaries based on famous spies, lessons on the trade, and a trip through a crawlspace. Whatever you do, be on your best behavior—you never know who’s watching.
6. Luna Grill
1301 Connecticut Ave. (202) 835-2280
Those who adore brunch and delicious home-style cooking will love Luna Grill to your list of places to try. Their corned-beef Ruben with sweet potato fries will warm your heart and fill your belly. The unpretentious crowd equally vibrant décor are bursting with energy.
1528 U St. NW (202) 667-6955
Named for the owner’s grandmother, Nana houses unbearably chic clothes from uncommon designers. Whether you are looking for a Hobo bag, summer frock, or irresistible scented hand soap, the delightful staff will lead you to some fabulous finds.
8. The National Portrait Gallery
4100 Ninth St. NW (202) 633-8300
For an offbeat glimpse of American history, add the Portrait Gallery to your itinerary. Veiled in one of the grandest buildings in the city are images of prominent Americans from Abraham Lincoln to Michael Jackson. The iconic “Hope” painting of President Obama was recently moved here.
9. Old Ebbitt Grill
675 15th St. NW (202) 347-4800
Politicians, journalists, and ambassadors convene here for hefty doses of oysters served with sides of DC history. Established in 1857, Washington’s oldest saloon was a favorite of Presidents Grant and Roosevelt. Our votes go to the Hot Steak Salad and Bourbon Walnut Pie.
10. Screen on the Green
900 Ohio Drive SW (202) 426-6841
Watch classic movies on a Texas-sized screen with the capitol building as your backdrop. Bring a blanket and your buddies Monday evenings all summer long to the National Mall. It’s an idyllic way to spend a balmy evening.
All Aboard: The USS George H. W. Bush
By Warner Roberts
What would it be like to have a 100,0000 ton, $6 billion aircraft carrier named after you? Former President George Herbert Walker Bush could tell you.
On January 10, 2009, the world’s largest nuclear aircraft carrier—The USS George H. W. Bush was commissioned at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia. The man of the hour celebrated the tribute with family, political leaders, and thousands of invited guests; he became the first person to attend the commissioning of an aircraft carrier named in their honor.
During the ceremony Barbara Bush joked, “this is the biggest thing that’s ever happened to George … bigger than our wedding!” Literally and figuratively Mrs. Bush was correct—the aircraft carrier spans longer than four football fields. Crewmembers call the carrier “The Bush.” Its motto, “Freedom at Work,” derives from the former presidents affirmation, “We know what works: Freedom works. We know what’s right: Freedom is right,” in his inaugural address.
“This is the culmination of my life,” the Former President said, admittedly holding back tears.
Numerous prominent Houstonians were present to join in the commemoration:
Hushang and Shahla Ansary
Archie and Linda Dunham
David and Pat Jones
Drayton and Elizabeth McLane
Charles and Sally Neblett
Marvin and Mariloli Odum
Diana Untermeyer and daughter Ellie
Gene and Astrid Van Dyke
The honoree’s son, President George W. Bush, opened his remarks by saying, “Laura and I are thrilled to help commission this awesome ship and to honor an awesome man.” He received laughs from the crowd when quoting a letter his father wrote many years ago. “You should see Georgie now. When I come home he talks a blue streak—sentences disjointed, of course. He tries to say everything and the results are often hilarious.” After a brief pause, the former president joked, “Some things do not change.” He went on to say he and his siblings feel blessed to have the “the best father anyone could ask for,” and will always carry his lesson “that integrity and honor are worth more than any title or treasure.”
George H. W. Bush has the love of his family, admiration of friends, and gratitude of a nation. What do you give a man who seemingly has it all? Well, an aircraft carrier.