Ten great Washington D.C. restaurants

All that political activism (or running, as the case may be) is making you hungry. But since traditional “best” lists focus almost exclusively on the expensive, we thought we’d provide a more rounded-out list of a few of our favorite Washington D.C. restaurants, striving for variety in both location, type and price point. If we’ve left off your favorite, leave it in the comments, below – and stay tuned for tomorrow’s list of bars and nightlife destinations.
New Favorite:
Looking for a place to carb-load pre marathon? Search no further. D.C.’s largest restaurant stormed into town earlier this fall to much fanfare – the New York-based chain offers generous (and delicious) family-sized portions of classic Italian favorites like spaghetti and meatballs, eggplant parmesan and tiramisu. Be sure to come with a group – each entrée serves three to four hungry adults!
Old Standbys:
With two locations (Chinatown and Capitol Hill), this local go-to dishes out wood-fired pizzas, to-die-for mini burgers and a selection of classic American faves for lunch and dinner daily (plus a great weekend brunch). They don’t take reservations, but try your luck and you’ll find an affordable and delicious dining experience.
Opt for the Georgetown or Chinatown outpost of this DC staple, which serves up classic American fare that’s filling, delicious, and affordable. Sample chicken n’ waffles for brunch, or fuel up for a night on the town with a burger and fries.
Quick & Casual:
Stalk this Brooklyn-based lobster truck on Twitter (@lobstertruckdc) for their daily location. Then, prepare to wait in line for fresh hunks of lobster meat packed Maine (with mayo and lemon) or Connecticut (with butter) style into a toasted, buttered bun. This delicious treat rolled into DC just a few months ago but has already found a loyal following among locals.
Good Stuff Eatery
When the First Lady dines here, you know it’s worth the hype. Chef Spike Mendelsohn (of Top Chef fame) has turned out a Capitol Hill burger joint that allows even us average Joes and Janes to sample his goods. Don’t miss the house-made milkshakes (the marshmallow is amazing). If you’re more of an Italian lover, head next door to his second shop, We, The Pizza, for delish by-the-slice options.
Late Night Nosh:
Everyone from the lowest intern to the President of the United States has stood in line for the famous ‘dogs of U Street staple Ben’s Chili Bowl’s. Try the half-smokes, DC’s famous grilled meat that tastes like a cross between a hot dog and a polish sausage. Cover it with chili, onions, or cheese, and of course – opt for a side of fries.
For years, D.C. lacked the deli culture that could be found in abundance in other major cities. Taylor Gourmet not only rectified the situation – they created a phenomenon, shipping in their breads daily from Philly and crafting hoagies and subs named after streets in their hometown area. Snag one of their delicious sandwiches until 3:00a.m. most weekend nights.
Bottomless Brunch:
Fuel up with a little hair of the dog after a long night of rallying. Our top pick? Beacon Bar & Grill, where you can enjoy unlimited Bloody Marys, Champagne and mimosas, plus a brunch buffet featuring both savory and sweet options.
Sweet Tooth:
The line usually wraps ’round the block for customers lined up to sample the sweet treats of Georgetown Cupcake, made even more famous since the shop’s debut on the TLC show “DC Cupcakes.” Flavors rotate daily, but you can expect favorites like Chocolate Lava Fudge, Red Velvet and Vanilla Birthday to be on the menu often.
Boasting the distinction of being D.C.’s only “chocolate restaurant,” those with a serious sweet tooth should search no further for a decadent treat. Offering both to-go and sit-down options, you can sample a selection of desserts or opt for a tasting menu that features chocolate in every course.

Eight Great Washington DC Hotels

Whether you’re headed into the town for the Rally to Restore Sanity / March Against Fear on October 30 or just looking for a weekend away, our nation’s capitol is filled with hotels that demand recognition. No matter what you’re searching for, you’ll find a personality, price point and size to suit your needs. Here are eight of our favorites:

For the “See and Be Seen” Crowd: W Washington DC
The first of Starwood’s W chain to enter Washington, the former Hotel Washington has gotten a chic modern makeover. The Beaux Arts façade has remained virtually intact with an interior top-to-bottom makeover that includes the area’s only Bliss Spa, a steakhouse by Jean-Georges Vongerichten and a rooftop lounge that provides a view of the entire city, including the White House. The vibe is New York chic, and the thumping lobby music might be a bit much for those seeking a haven of relaxation … but it’s definitely a place to see and be seen. 515 15th St., NW, Metro Center; www.whotels.com/washingtondc

To Live Like a Diplomat: The Jefferson
Re-opened after more than two years of renovations in 2009, The Jefferson has long been one of DC’s most fashionable addresses. At just 99 rooms, the intimate Jefferson hotel boasts the distinction of being the only DC property to belong to the elite Relais & Chateau membership group. Expect thoughtful and personalized touches in every room, including Red Flower bath amenities and books and décor inspired by Thomas Jefferson’s love of music, wine, gardening and more. Don’t miss drinks in the cozy Quill bar, where some of the city’s best mixologists serve up made-to-order cocktails. 1600 M St., NW, Downtown, www.jeffersondc.com

For Urban Cool in the Heart of Dupont Circle: Hotel Palomar
Lovers of the Kimpton brand will rejoice – the DC area boasts more than ten of the chain’s properties. One of the best? Dupont Circle’s Hotel Palomar, a zen-feeling boutique property and an accompanying restaurant, Urbana, that many have long called one of the city’s best. Enjoy walking distance from much of the city, a quiet neighborhood street, some of the city’s larger hotel rooms and daily happy hours with wine, free for guests. For a similar, yet cheaper feel, book Hotel Rouge, just down the street. 2121 P St., NW; Dupont Circle; Rouge: 1315 16th St., NW; Embassy Row; www.hotelpalomar-dc.com To Rest in the Heart of Power: Liaison Capitol Hill
If you’re looking to spend time exploring Capitol Hill, the Liasion is your best bet. Opened two years ago after a $12 million renovation, the hotel boasts a rooftop pool and sun deck, a restaurant by former Oprah chef Art Smith, and a location that’s walking distance to Union Station and The Mall. 415 New Jersey Ave., Capitol Hill; www.affinia.com/liasion

East Meets West, Luxury Style: Park Hyatt Washington
One of several area properties owned by the Hyatt brand, Park Hyatt Washington is arguably on par with names like Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons. The Tony Chi-designed interior evokes Eastern inspiration in the form of cherry blossom murals, sparse modern spaces, and a top restaurant, Blue Duck Tavern, where guests can dine in glassed-in “power booths.” A favorite of visiting diplomats, the hotel is conveniently located in DC’s West End, just a few block walk in to Georgetown or up to Foggy Bottom. 1201 24th St., NW, Foggy Bottom; www.parkhyattwashington.com

For a B&B Feel in the Heart of DC: Morrison Clark Hotel
If there’s one thing DC lacks, it’s inns and bed and breakfasts. The only DC inn on the National Register of Historic Places, the Morrison Clark is located in trendy Mount Vernon Square, just a few block walk from Penn Quarter, the Convention Center and Logan Circle. Enjoy amenities like free Internet access, period décor and a gourmet, southern-inspired restaurant. Tip: ask for one of the courtyard-facing rooms or a suite, as the rooms tend to be on the smaller side. 1015 L St., NW, Mount Vernon Square, www.morrisonclark.com

For a Long-Term Stay: Capitol Hill Suites
If it’s home-like comfort you crave, opt for Capitol Hill Suites, an extended-stay boutique hotel boasting kitchenettes or full kitchens in each room and a convenient Capitol Hill location. The pet-friendly property also serves a full Continental breakfast daily, making it quick and affordable to fuel up before you head out for a day of sightseeing, rallying, or business meetings. 200 C St., SE, Capitol Hill; www.capitolhillsuites.com

Intimate Luxury in the Heart of Georgetown: Ritz-Carlton, Georgetown
One of four Ritz-Carlton properties in the DC-metro area, our favorite is the intimate Georgetown location. Located just above the waterfront, this small property (only 86 rooms) offers a boutique four-room spa, spacious guest spaces, and daily lobby happy hours with gratis s’mores and a trained smore-mellier who can pair wines with your appetizer of choice. At just a few blocks from Georgetown proper, you’ll feel as if you’re in a private oasis, right in the heart of town. 3100 South St., Georgetown; www.RitzCarlton.com/Georgetown

[Flickr image via Jeff Kubina]

March on Washington with Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert

Miss the Glenn Beck / Sarah Palin rally in DC a few weeks back? Here’s your chance to march on Washington – with a significantly more fun crowd. Last week, Jon Stewart began spreading the word that he planned to hold the “Rally to Restore Sanity” in Washington, D.C. on October 30th with “all reasonable people welcome.”

“Think of our event as Woodstock, but with the nudity and drugs replaced by respectful disagreement; the Million Man March, only a lot smaller, and a bit less of a sausage fest; or the Gathering of the Juggalos, but instead of throwing our feces at Tila Tequila, we’ll be actively *not* throwing our feces at Tila Tequila,” said Stewart.

“Join us in the shadow of the Washington Monument. And bring your indoor voice. Or don’t. If you’d rather stay home, go to work, or drive your kids to soccer practice… Actually, please come anyway. Ask the sitter if she can stay a few extra hours, just this once. We’ll make it worth your while.”

“The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” will be in Washington, DC to broadcast “When Grizzlies Attack: The Daily Show Midterm Teapartyganza,” a week of shows as part of its ongoing “Indecision 2010” coverage of the fiercely contested midterm elections. The special episodes will feature news and analysis on heated races across the country from host Jon Stewart as well as reports from “The Daily Show” News Team.

Never one to be outdone, comedian Stephen Colbert announced that he will also be in the city on October 30 to host an opposition rally, aptly titled the “March to Keep Fear Alive.”

“America, the Greatest Country God ever gave Man, was built on three bedrock principles: Freedom. Liberty. And Fear – that someone might take our Freedom and Liberty. But now, there are dark, optimistic forces trying to take away our Fear – forces with salt and pepper hair and way more Emmys than they need,” said Colbert.

“They want to replace our Fear with reason. But never forget – “Reason” is just one letter away from “Treason.” Coincidence? Reasonable people would say it is, but America can’t afford to take that chance.”

In preparation, Gadling will be posting away in the next few weeks with new content about this hotbed of political activism, including guides to the best places to visit, sleep, dine, and of course, get your fill of blue coats and red power ties.