Washington, D.C., has long been home to star chefs catering to the business-lunch crowd, but in recent years, they’ve seeded smaller, edgier establishments landing Esquire lists and James Beard accolades. Meanwhile, emerging city neighborhoods like Shaw and H Street are spawning homegrown shops with hip residents eschewing the District’s traditional blue-blazer-with-khakis uniform for a bit more style. With the aid of Instagram research, my husband and I ventured up I-95 for a kid-free weekend in search of inspiring #DC #design #food. Here’s what we found.
Stay just off the bustle of Georgetown’s M Street at Capella Washington , D.C. (1050 31st St. NW, capellahotels.com/washingtondc), the new, 49-room luxury property housed in a historic warehouse on the C&O Canal (rooms are $595 and up). In warmer months, wake to breakfast on the canal-side terrace and bike along the Potomac, just two blocks away. Later, enjoy a cocktail with views of the river from the rooftop deck (or while submerged in the slim infinity pool). During the winter, warm up with a rare barrel-aged liquor at Capella’s dark-wood throwback, The Rye Bar, bellied up to the illuminated marble bar or in a leather armchair. Guests can learn to make their own craft cocktail with resident mixologist Angel Cervantes, or taste a three-course dinner and cocktail pairings in The Grill Room ($150).
Venture off the beaten path to the buzzy Union Market, where a variety of restaurants and food-related shops have revitalized a 1930s indoor market in Northeast D.C. Among the food stalls is housewares shop Salt & Sundry (1309 Ffith St. NE, shopsaltandsundry.com), perfectly merchandised for the heritage-chic collector, with a selection of cookbooks and goods like Turkish hand towels ($20), stainless steel straws ($18) and wood-barrel-aged maple syrup ($14). A second location just opened at 1401 S St. NW.
Pick up an antique conversation piece or handcrafted accessory at Darryl Carter Inc. (1320 Ninth St., darrylcarter.com) the 2-year-old Shaw neighborhood shop from the celebrated D.C. interior designer. Carter’s signature minimal-masculine interiors, awash in creams with antique architectural elements and oatmeal-upholstered furniture, are staged in a rehabbed 19th-century row house that also acts as a showroom for his lighting collection for Urban Electric, as well as an exhibit space for found art like the bed springs hanging on a courtyard wall.
Give yourself some time to scour Goodwood (1428 U St. NW, goodwooddc.com), a mercantile chock-full of Chesterfield sofas, antlers, farmhouse furniture and D.C.-made jewelry, wallets and other accessories.
Eat and Drink
Since Graffiato has opened in RVA, try “Top Chef” contender Mike Isabella’s other concept, the Greek, small-plates restaurant, Kapnos (2201 14th St. NW, kapnosdc.com). You’ll smell the wood-fired grills the minute you step in. An order of the signature flatbread ($3) with one of the seven homemade spreads, like taramosalata made of carp roe, caviar and cauliflower ($12), is a must. We died for the whole bronzino ($36) and the Middle Eastern spice of the marinated spring lamb ($16).
Try a pre-dinner drink and a selection of three meats and cheeses ($17) at the rustic-industrial Barcelona (1622 14th St. NW, barcelonawinebar.com) along the bustling U Street corridor. If it’s warm enough, sit by the patio-fireplace and borrow a fleece blanket. We couldn’t get a table and instead went down the block for an excellent mango margarita ($11) and bacon-guacamole made tableside ($11) at the Mexican restaurant and tequileria, El Centro D.F., (1819 14th St. NW, richardsandoval.com/elcentrodf) another design standout on the strip with a subterranean taqueria that feels like a perfectly-lit secret.
Before heading to D.C., we recommend searching these hashtags,Instagram and Twitter accounts to find the latest in food and design:
@dcdining - aggregate of D.C. food content
@holleysimmons – dining editor at Washington Post Express
@laurenliess - Falls Church decorator, textile designer, blogger
@hollyt81 – editorial director at creative agency Design Army
@pandaheadmorgan – editorial stylist and lifestyle blogger
@jsidman - food writer at Washington City Paper
@studiomodish – D.C. design firm named in Rue Magazine’s top 7 designers to watch
@rlopez809 – D.C. food photographer