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The Aisle Seat: Washington, DC

Posted on 2008-03-27 00:00:00 by David Hartogs

North America | Washington, DC: My home town, how can I not blog about DC. Rather than blog about the city as a whole I am going to choose one neighborhood at a time. The first one will be the one I like to call “The Verizon Center Area”, it is in Chinatown, and many people call the area on 7th St. Penn Quarter. With all the events and out of town people coming to DC for the NCAA Tournament, the upcoming Pearl Jam concert, and much more I think this will help a lot of people to find places to make their stay even more memorable. If you are planning on attending President Obama’s Inauguration this should be a helpful entry. The general area above is about a 10 minute walk to the Mall, and 15-20 minute walk to the Capital. This will be a lively area with a lot going on all day.

The Verizon Center is on F St. in between 6th and 7th Sts. also taking up G. St. There is a metro stop right at the entrance. On the Metro Red and Green Line Gallery Place/Chinatown or the Orange and Blue Line at Metro Center (7 minute walk). There are numerous places to get good beer, with any kind of food you can imagine. If you are going to a sold out event please note some of the places below get packed, so if you are at a good table and comfortable rather than bar hop before the event it’s probably best to stay at one place until show time.

First off is Chinatown, basically H St. between 6th and 7th. Honestly not the best Chinese food around, unless you want dim sum, then go to Tony Chang’s (619 H St. NW) Ok, now what we are past that I can move on.

Capital Q is by far my favorite dive to stop before an event at the Verizon Center, at 707 H St. it’s a small slice of Texas BBQ. Boasting slow smoked meats and delicious sides, I love this place. Stop messing around and get the beef brisket sandwich. They’ll ask if you want hot or mild bbq sauce. Know that the hot is very hot. I usually ask for a little of both. Get a side of potato salad and or baked beans and wash it down with a Shiner Bock or three and you are good to go for several hours.

Around the corner from Capital Q at you will find Fado (808 7th St. NW) a fine Irish bar, with decent food. Next door is RFD (Regional Food and Drink) (808 7th St. NW) literally hundreds of beers to choose from and decent food. Across the street is Hooters but their food sucks, and not to be a pig, but their talent is pretty bad.

Across the Street from Verizon Center is the Rocket Bar (717 7th St NW). The entrance is small and takes you down a flight of stairs...but the ever expanding area offers four bars, numerous pool tables, dart boards, skee ball, shuffle puck...all in orange and red lighting. A sizable beer selection makes this place a very fun stop.

Now on to some higher end places, but not too expensive unless you go nuts on the drinks. Both of these places are small plate style restaurants owned by the same guy but different experiences. The first is Jaleo (480 7th St. NW) this places is excellent for Spanish Tapas and fantastic Sangria. A mix between very authentic and also somewhat eclectic menu this is a great place to go in a medium size group and sample many dishes. Then there is Zaytinya (701 9th St NW), this is a Mediterranean small place (or mezze). Anything you get her is going to be rich, from authentic to new age. The vibe is a bit chic but a great place for a date or a medium size party. A good place to wash your meal down with Ouzo. Great drinks too. These two are some of my favorites in DC.

Next to Jaleo is the Austin Grill (750 E St NW). Better than average Mexican food with decent margaritas. Try the chicken wings, they take 12 min. to cook but are worth it. This is one of my favorite meeting points with my good friend James. Hi James. Around the corner is a pricey restaurant with so-so food, Café Atlántico (405 8th St. NW). This is the best place I have ever had a mojito. Seriously, it’s a perfect blend and the piece of sugar cane is a great topper. The bar is a bit cozy but well worth at least one mojito.

So after the show you want to try a new neighborhood or have the munchies again. Hail a taxi or get on the Metro Green line at the Verizon Center and head to the U. St. Cardozo stop. There you will find Ben’s Chili Bowl (1213 U St NW) This is a DC institution, if you have never been to DC this is an absolute must. The line can be long but the half-smokes are worth it. Make sure you order a hafl-smoke "all the way" to get the full experience. Service is very friendly, and the food is awesome. This is true DC. Only Bill Cosby eats for free. To find out what that means you have to go there.

If you still want more beer than there is a bar next to it called The Saloon (1205 U St NW). They have a great beer menu and a very laid back vibe. They don’t allow standing patrons so if all the seats are full then you have to wait. They have some food and they have an interesting selection of board games you can borrow.

Here are some other places that are good and don’t need too much explanation. Also if you are at these restaurants you don’t even need to cross the street to get back to the Verizon Center. Sushi Go-Around and Tapas (701 7th St NW), The Green Turtle 601 F St NW,, Clyde’s (707 7th St NW). There is also a Lucky Strike Bowling Lanes next to the Verizon Center at Gallery Place. A few blocks from the Verizon Center is the International Spy Museum (800 Fth St NW) One of the most fun museums of all time, but if you plan to go get tickets early.

As far as where to stay, I have never needed to stay in DC because I live there. There are also tons of other neighborhoods to explore but I wanted to keep this narrow. The Metro is a bit slow on weekends due to track work, so if you are with friends hail a taxi. Or you can wait the 12 minutes for the next train. All the places above are within a 4 minute walk from the Verizon Center aside from Ben’s Chili Bowl and the Saloon. These are also just a few of the dozens of establishments around the Verizon Center so walk around you are bound to find something. If you are unsure of where you are staying and need directions or anything just get back to us and we’ll help you out.

Despite it’s reputation DC is not all about politics. It is one of the most dynamic cities in the country with so many options on what to do, what to eat and what to drink you can spend month and months and searching and still find something new. Come in with an open mind and experience what DC is with the politicos running around. Besides, they would never run in the same circles with riff raff such as my self.

For questions or comments about this article, please email me at

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