When you live in one of the nation’s top tourist destinations, you tend to steer clear of anything that remotely resembles a tourist trap. I actually go out of my way to avoid these tourist infested areas. Not trying to rag on visitors to our city, I welcome them with open arms but when it comes to going to dinner or out for a drink the last thing I want to do is wait in a long line for something that is just mediocre. It’s just not something that I’m in to. So whether you just moved to DC, are a seasoned resident of the District, or are touring the city for the first time, I am sharing some of my local favorites that will help you avoid the herds of matching teeshirts and will leave others believing you are a legit DC local. If you are one of those matching teeshirt wearing, paper metro-card holding types, then you should totally disregard this article, these places are completely disgusting and you shouldn’t waste another minute of your precious time reading the rest of this article.
Spots we hope tourists will never ruin
Show Time– Bloomingdale, DC – If you are looking for a cheap cold drink with absolutely zero wait time, then this is your new spot. Locals love this place because they play awesome funk and soul music, pour generous shots of whiskey with a beer on the side for only $5 and the crowd is always super mellow and far from pretentious.
photo credit to Brightest Young Things
Little Serow– Dupont Circle – This is a spot I hope out of towners never find out about. If you like authentic Thai food with a serious kick, served up in the most charming/quirky basement by an even more charming staff then this is a place you need to check out. There is a pretty lengthly line you have to wait in to get a table but it is 100% worth it and when the sea of matching teeshirts pass by and ask what you are waiting for, make up a lie, any lie. Just make sure they don’t ruin this hidden gem for us locals.
Photo Credit to Saveur
Cantina Marina– Waterfront – Sunshine, cold beers and good times had by all at this local waterfront hangout. Boaters can pull up and dock while they enjoy tex-med inspired dishes and refreshing margaritas. Most tourists flock to the Georgetown waterfront to get their beach like fix but this is a hidden gem that DC residence prefer over the stuffy Georgetown crowd.
Photo Credit to Cantina Marina
3 Stars Brewery– An Industrial Park In DC – Not really sure the neighborhood that this brewery is tucked away in but it sure as hell is worth the drive to get there. The industrial space is wide open, so open that the tasting room is actually inside the area where the beer is being made. You can mingle with the brewers, sample beers, hang out, drink with friends, and fill up a growler to take home while you are there. The crowd is always a good time and on the weekends there are usually a few food trucks that pull up to help satiate the hunger that goes along with heavy drinking.
Photo Credit: 52 Thursdays
Rose’s Luxury– Capitol Hill- Since Roses was written up in Bon Appetite and various other foodie publications as the #1 restaurant in the country last year, it’s safe to say this once secret foodie spot is a hidden gem no longer. The lines may be a bit longer than before but it’s still worth every minute of the wait. You have to be a pretty dedicated foodie to endure the waiting game to get a table at Roses, which thankfully scares away the tourists and rookies alike but we are ok with that. The attention to detail in the dishes they prepare is unlike any other and it is always an experience each and every time you dine there. And amazingly enough, the prices are actually fairly reasonable. The lychee salad is probably the best thing on the menu, sometimes I have dreams about this salad (no joke). If you are ready to fight the crowd to give Roses Luxury a try, I recommend getting there at 4:30pm at the latest to secure your reservation.
Photo Credit: Washington Post
Duke’s Grocery- Dupont Circle- If you are a burger fanatic then this is a spot you have to visit. Duke’s Grocery claims to have the best burger in town and it seems that the DC crowd agrees. Best part is there is nothing douchy or arrogant about this London corner pub, only damn good burgers that claim to be life changing.
Photo Credit: Duke’s Grocery
Rock and Roll Hotel– H Street- Not the night club type but still like to go out, have a good time and get your dance on? Rock and Roll Hotel is always my go to on H Street, it’s always a rowdy time and there is never a tourist in sight. This DC bar is one of our favorites for planning parties, since you can rent out their hotel themed rooms along with your own personal bar tender. The DJs there know how to get the crowd moving and the bartenders know how to pour a stiff drink which usually makes for a pretty hazy night. But hey, we live for the nights we don’t remember right?
Toki Underground- H Street- Numerous ramen shops have popped up in DC over the past few years but none of them compare to Toki. Again, you cant make a reservation and probably will have to wait in a local bar until your table is ready but hey it could be worse. This ramen is hands down the best I have ever had and a spot I frequent regularly. Personal favorites are the Kimchi Ramen – add pork belly, Fried Chicken Steamed Buns and end the meal with the warm chocolate chip cookies. Soo good.
Photo Credit: Washington City Paper
A few other local spots I love that tourists should steer clear of:
–Bullfeathers – Capitol Hill hangout where you can find politicians and hill staffers networking, drinking and making poor decisions.
–Molly Malones – A down to earth 8th Street bar
–Granville Moore’s– Best moules frites in town.
–Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken – Look out for the food truck and the location on G street. This is seriously a deadly combination.
-Lemongrass Food Truck– Bahn Mi and Bubble Tea on wheels, say wha??
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