Saturday, February 28, 2009

Market Lunch at Eastern Market

I have had Market Lunch and their blueberry buckwheat pancakes on my "Must Eat" list for over a year. Market Lunch is part of Capitol Hill's Eastern Market food complex. Much of historic Eastern Market was burned in a fire in May 2007 and the food vendors are now located across the street in a temporary space while the market is rebuilt.

B and I have walked through the outdoor farmers market and flea market several times but have never stopped to eat. I have a feeling we won't be passing up Market Lunch in the future. We walked about 2.5 miles from our house to Capitol Hill to train for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer and had a tasty breakfast.

Despite the name, Market Lunch is really known for its breakfast. The "blue bucks" (blueberry buckwheat pancakes) are the star of the menu. When we arrived at 8:30am there was a line of people waiting to order at the counter. The owner/order taker knew many of the people in line as Market Lunch is the kind of place that has very devoted followers. You order at the counter and take a seat at a single long table.

I had the aforementioned blue bucks which were two very fluffy and very large buckwheat pancakes filled with fresh blueberries. The cakes were served with a dollop of butter, and a self-serve warming pot of syrup is located nearby. The blue bucks lived up to their reputation and were just the right balance of fluffy batter and juicy berries.

B had french toast topped with chopped pecans. The toast was made with french bread and B said it was perfectly cooked with just the right amount of crunch on the outside and doughy goodness in the middle. He called it simple and perfect.

I can't wait to return to try the crabcakes for lunch which the guy next to us called "the best crabcakes in D.C." For this crabcake-crazy town, that is saying something.

Second Thoughts from B

Having just come off Restaurant Week, my taste buds (not to mention my wallet) were happy to enjoy a more simple meal. But in the case of Market Lunch, simple does not mean boring or any less enjoyable than some of DC's fanciest restaurants. It is a perfect example of using a few basic elements and preparing them perfectly. In a town that seems to be in the business of constantly trying to impress or one-up each other, less can certainly be more.

Market Lunch on Urbanspoon

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Zola, located next door to the Spy Museum, extended its Restaurant Week pricing through the end of the month. We got together with a group of friends to take advantage of the $35 three-course special. We had all been to Zola before (this was my 4th meal there) but returned because the restaurant makes its entire menu available for Restaurant Week with no upcharges. I love Zola's swanky interior that carries the espionage theme over from the Spy Museum with dark wood, red velvet booths, and code written all over the walls. Our waiter was knowledgeable but made no mention of the special RW pricing. I wonder if we would have been charged full price if we hadn't asked? Also, the waiter was almost too friendly and informal. He made fun of our friend several times and asked "am I going to have to interrupt you every time I come?" While it fit the fun mood of the evening, I can see how he may offend others.

I Spy Appetizers

I started with the Hiramasa Tartar which was raw yellowtail served atop a slice of grilled chorizo and finished with crispy shallots and a pineapple/jalapeno foam. I wouldn't be too sad to see the foam trend end in D.C. I don't think it adds much flavor and often makes the texture of the dish a little strange. I did like the raw fish/crispy shallot combo but the hot piece of chorizo underneath the cold fish sort of made the whole dish lukewarm. It was an appetizer that was trying to be too many things at the same time.

B started with the lamb meatball sliders on house made sticky buns, with grilled romaine and pepper slaw, and goat cheese aioli. I think the buns are fantastic but lamb isn't my thing.

I Spy the Main Course

For my main course I had the Hand Cut Semolina Noodles with Three Meat Bolognese. The bolognese sauce was made of veal, pork, and braised short rib meat. It was a tasty sauce but tasted a bit like the sauce in Stouffer's frozen lasagna. The stars of the dish were the hand cut noodles. I love fresh pasta and these noodles were just the right consistency for me (doughy without being overly sticky).

B had the veal and I remember it looking a little over-cooked but he'll have to tell you more about the flavor.

We shared a side of lobster mac and cheese for the table. Zola is famous for its lobster mac but this is a dish that seems to be better in theory than in practice. It was creamy but lacking flavor. Also, they used orecchiette pasta instead of macaroni and the noodles stuck together in clumps.

I Spy Dessert

I opted for the Pumpkin Pecan Roll with brown sugar - sour cream ice cream and chocolate sauce. The roll was a moist blend of pumpkin cake and frosting rolled in crushed pecans. I loved the scoop of brown sugar - sour cream ice cream that added a tart kick to the very sweet pumpkin roll.

B had the Key Lime Cheesecake with tequila anglaise and a cinnamon churro which he described as uninteresting. He noted that the dish wasn't committed to being either tangy or creamy and as a result, the flavors were kind of muddled.

I Spy a Return Visit?

I've been to Zola twice for dinner and twice for lunch. I've been more impressed with their lunch menu than the dinner experience. While we had a nice meal with a fun waiter, nothing was remarkable. I think the beautiful dining room, convenient location and excellent Restaurant Week menu keeps me coming back.

Second Thoughts from B

It is interesting that J mentioned that she likes the lunch at Zola more than the dinner. I've only gone for dinner, so maybe that is why I've never seen what she likes so much about it. As J said, there are many things to like about Zola. However, I think that the food is best summed up as a missed opportunity. Dishes tend to be imaginative and each look good on the menu. However, in my limited experience, it seems like there is always one thing that is missing that could have made a good dish an outstanding dish. For example, the sliders had a well developed sour (almost mustardy sauce) that complimented the lamb. However, this flavor was a bit overwhelming and would have been improved with a counterpoint of sweet or savory. As for my veal, it was overcooked, and therefore a little dry and tough. And my cheesecake was non-committal. (J says: nobody likes a non-committal cheesecake!) I think it needed to be braver and let the tartness of the lime shine.

Zola on Urbanspoon

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Oceanaire Seafood Room - Postscript

Shampoo commercials made famous the line, "You never have a second chance to make a first impression," but that can be said about a lot of things besides dating and dandruff, particularly when it comes to restaurants. Take for instance our recent trip to the Oceanaire Seafood Room (review posted 2/17/2009). While any reasonable person would admit that it is completely understandable for a restaurant to have a bad day, when you have as many choices for fine dining as DC presents, one bad or even lackluster experience can get a place crossed off your list permanently.

Shortly after our post about Oceanaire hit the internet, we received a message from the restaurant's general manager and operating partner, Christine de Clerfay, who wrote, "It appears that we missed on a couple of details. Which I apologize for. I would love the chance to talk with you personally, so we can better serve our guests in the future." Ms. de Clerfay clearly has a sincere desire to improve her business by actively searching for feedback and striving to improve Oceanaire, even if it is one diner at a time. Needless to say, we were impressed and for that effort, we will most likely give her a second chance at a first impression.

Note: This post was written prior to speaking with Ms. de Clerfay but posted after a phone conversation took place. Her manner on the phone confirmed our initial impression of her.
Oceanaire Seafood Room on Urbanspoon

Bistro Bis

To cap off D.C. Winter Restaurant Week 2009, B and I ventured out to Bistro Bis near Capitol Hill. The restaurant is located in the modern Hotel George and has a cozy french bistro feel. Bistro Bis earned points for making its entire menu available for Restaurant Week (with upcharges for certain dishes).

The Starting Block
I'll let the restaurant menu descriptions speak for themselves:

Onion Soup Les Halles
rich broth with sweet onions and sourdough croƻtons topped with gruyere and emmenthaler cheese
Endive Salad Chardenoux
julienne of endive with caramelized pears, peppered walnuts, blue cheese and walnut-red wine vinaigrette

My onion soup was a classic french onion soup with a very flavorful broth. Nothing groundbreaking here, just good soup. I didn't get to taste B's endive salad but it looked like a slight variation of the standard field greens salad.

The Main Event
Steak Frites
pan roasted sirloin strip with pommes frites, mesclun salad and red wine shallot butter

Lamb Shank Bretonne
slow cooked tender lamb with garlic, rosemary, creamy polenta and flageolet beans

On the waiter's recommendation I ordered the steak frites. I really ordered it so I could try the pommes frites to see if they were as good as the fries I adore at Brasserie Beck. They were good fries, but lacked the flavor (and dipping sauces) of the Beck fries. The steak was served with red wine shallot butter which added an interesting flavor but I didn't use much of it because I couldn't justify slathering my steak in butter. The steak, ordered medium rare, was cooked to perfection.
B ordered the lamb shank and it was a huge piece of lamb. He'll have to comment on the dish because I prefer to keep my lamb interactions limited to petting zoos. Something about lamb's flavor just doesn't sit well with me.

The Finish Line
Tarte au Citron
crisp tart shell with lemon curd, sweetmerinque, lemon confit and raspberry coulis

Black Forest Torte
chocolate genoise, chocolate ganache, rich vanilla bean mousse and morello cherries

I was feeling adventurous and passed up my usual creme brulee pick in favor of the lemon tart. The meringue on top was more like marshmallow in texture (a good thing in my book) and balanced out the extreme tartness of the lemon curd. I usually don't eat crust on my desserts but I finished the entire tart shell because it tasted more like a shortbread cookie than a bland pastry shell. Great dessert! B had the black forest torte which was a nice combination of rich chocolate decadence and light vanilla mousse.

Overall, we had a very good meal at Bistro Bis but nothing stood out as very imaginative. For those who do not like to venture far out of their food comfort zones, Bistro Bis provides a satisfying safe haven.

Second Thoughts from B
First off, I loved the space itself. There are a lot of new restaurants in downtown DC that have chic, modern interiors but lack any sort of personality or definitive style. I thought the modern spin on the art deco classic design was very interesting and pleasing to the eye. As for the food, I think the pastry chef was the star. While I don't have any complaints about the main food, it was the desserts that stood out. Personally, if I'm going to a top end restaurant (and paying for it) I like interesting food that has complex flavors. The dishes at Bisto Bis were well executed but not particularly memorable.

Note: In fairness, B had a bit of a head cold which could have influenced his opinion of the food.
Bistro Bis on Urbanspoon

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Favorite Restaurants

In constructing a Best of DC list, we initially tried to break restaurants into artificial categories. However, we constantly ran into the problem of finding a category for some of our favorite places. They weren't necessarily the best value or the best ambiance or the best anything... they were just the places that we went to the most. Many are easy on the wallet and conveniently close to home. All are worth a trip back. And shouldn't that quality alone be worth a category of the most high regard? We thought so.
  • 2 Amys - Despite not being Metro accessible and always crowded (plan on a 30 minute to 1 hour wait at all times of day or night), we keep coming back to enjoy the best pizza in town. Top quality ingredients, flavorful dough, and creative combinations never fail to impress. See our full post here.
    2 Amys on Urbanspoon
  • Ben's Chili Bowl - It is a D.C. institution. Most cities have a couple of these historic greasy spoons but this one is worth the hype (and the potential heartburn). You can't visit or live in DC without trying a half-smoke... See our full post here.
    Ben's Chili Bowl on Urbanspoon
  • Teaism - Features great tea (duh!) but also a huge assortment of other mostly Asian inspired goodies. One day you may crave their oatmeal and cookies while another day may bring shrimp udon or their handroll bento (make your own sushi). Teaism can take on many faces, each one is a whole lot of tasty. See our full post here.
    Teaism on Urbanspoon
  • Mr. Yogato - We grew up in the land of frozen yogurt (Southern California), and while you may find bigger, cheaper, or even tastier fro-yo elsewhere, you will not have a better time satisfying your sweet tooth anywhere. Get a stamp on your head, recite the Battle of Sterling speech from Braveheart, come up with three countries that don't share any letters with "mackerel", or play on their original Nintendo system... However you enjoy your Yogato, you'll leave with a smile on your face and aspirations of coming 29 more days in a row to get a flavor named after you. See our full post here.
    Mr. Yogato on Urbanspoon
  • Mayur Kabab House - Sometimes the best food is not found in the shiny new place with the celebrity chef. Sometimes what you are craving is the inexpensive and unpretentious hole-in-the-wall that promises bold flavors and huge portions. Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name... OK, so maybe you won't find Norm and Cliff shoveling Rogan Josh down their throats but as far as a comfortable old standby, you can't go wrong at Kabab House. See our full post here.
    Mayur Kebab House on Urbanspoon
  • Brasserie Beck - While Beck does feature a famous chef (Robert Wiedmaier of Marcel's) and a comprehensive menu of Belgian favorites, two things will bring you back again and again. The beer list and the mussels. The all-Belgian beer bible is extensive and guarantees the perfect beverage for those who are most picky with their beer to those who hate beer and everyone in between. Similarly, you don't have to even like mussels to love Beck. The favors and aromas, not to mention the dippable bread, are rich and memorable. Plus, the mussels are served with amazing french fries. See our full post here.
    Brasserie Beck on Urbanspoon
  • Potbelly - This is what Subway should be. Really good, fast, and inexpensive sandwiches that don't taste like they were made on an assembly line with cut-rate ingredients. Add almost universally friendly staff, great ice cream desserts, and cookies laced with crack (how else could they be so addicting?) and you've got a winner.
    Potbelly Sandwich Works on Urbanspoon
  • Julia's Empanadas - What is an empanada (aka emp)? - a stuffed pastry popular in South America. What is Julia's? - cheap, tasty goodness. See our guest post here.
    Julia's Empanadas on Urbanspoon
  • Five Guys - Coming from the land of In-n-Out Burger, Five Guys looked oddly familiar. While the interiors look nearly identical, the burgers are far from it. Five Guys deserves credit for giving you the ability to customize your burger with a laundry list of different ingredients and for their unique Cajun fries, but I don't think they can match the taste of a Double-Double. Still, it isn't a bad substitute...
    Five Guys on Urbanspoon
  • Ray's Hell Burger - Simply the best burger around. See our full post here.
    Ray's Hell-Burger on Urbanspoon
  • Co Co. Sala - Unique, imaginative, artful small dishes that will dazzle each of your senses. See our full post here.
    Co Co. Sala on Urbanspoon

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Ford's Theatre

Ford's Theatre is a great example of what we love about DC in that it is a living piece of history. Most people recognize it as the place where President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth (the home where Lincoln died - the Peterson House - is across the street, complete with the bed and blood stained pillow). What many don't realize is that Ford's Theatre is also a fully operational playhouse.

This was our second trip to Ford's Theatre. The first time we saw Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, which is regularly performed for the holidays and quite good. Since then, the theatre was closed for an 18 month renovation and reopened this month in time for Lincoln's 200th birthday. To celebrate the event, a new play was commissioned entitled, The Heavens are Hung in Black, which chronicles Lincoln's life from the time of his son's death through the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. It is a well done biographical study on the President's personal, political, and philosophical battles, impressively portrayed by the lead actor, David Selby. It lacks the drama of a more traditional play but is very appropriate for the venue and the occasion.

But no matter how good the performance is on stage, the famous balcony is what steals the show. It is presented as it looked in 1865 complete with the portrait of George Washington which was used in lieu of a Presidential seal at the time. It is hard not to imagine Lincoln enjoying a play, just as you are nearly 150 years later, and Booth jumping from the balcony to the stage as he made his escape. Ford's Theatre is history, culture, and sophistication all rolled into one... which makes for an enjoyable and very unique night on the town.

J's Two Cents
The newly renovated Ford's Theatre offers a much-improved theatre experience. Comfortable movie theatre-style seats have replaced the hard chairs and a bright new lobby, snack bar and restrooms are a welcome addition.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Tonight we continued our Restaurant Week adventures and dined at Rasika. Located on D street in Penn Quarter, Rasika is an upscale Indian restaurant known for its bold flavors. B and I both ordered from the Restaurant Week menu and were very impressed with both the food and the service. Our waitress was extremely knowledgeable about the menu and made good recommendations for food and drink.

To Drink

I had a pomegranate pisco sour that was very tasty and pretty to look at but a $12 drink in a small glass shouldn't be half-filled with ice. B had a glass of Spanish red wine (Tempranillo) that the waitress thought would pair well with his main course (lamb).

To Eat

To start, I had the Palak Chaat which was the star of the entire meal. It was flash-fried spinach, a sweet yogurt/date chutney sauce, finished with chopped onions, tomatoes, and cilantro. I really, really dislike cilantro but this dish was fantastic. The contrast in texture between the crispy spinach and cool yogurt was unique, and the flavors were bold but not overwhelming. B had calamari with a red chili sauce. The sauce was spicy without being "in your face" and the calamari rings were cooked perfectly so that they did not resemble rubberbands.

For the main course I had mahi mahi in a coconut milk curry sauce. It was served over jasmine rice with a side of naan. You can put just about anything in coconut milk and I'll like it, but the mahi mahi was especially tender and tasty. B had lamb curry served over brown rice. The curry's spice developed as you ate each bite resulting in a complex flavor.

Dessert was coconut rice pudding (J) and guava green tea sorbet (B). My rice pudding was served very hot and was more like a soup in consistency. It was definitely different than any dessert I've tried.

To Return?

Definitely. We had a very nice meal at Rasika and felt they chose a Restaurant Week menu that really highlighted the best of what they have to offer. The service was attentive yet efficient. I'd make a trip back just for the spinach appetizer.

Second Thoughts from B
Palak Chaat was one of the best single dishes I've had in DC. Period. I have nothing left to say.
Rasika on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Oceanaire Seafood Room

B and I decided to take advantage of DC's Winter Restaurant Week and try the Oceanaire Seafood Room on F Street in Downtown. I read Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema's online chat each week and he has often recommended Oceanaire for its fresh seafood and interesting dining room.

Ambiance and Service

The dining room at Oceanaire is designed to look like the interior of a classic ocean liner. The booths are cozy and the walls are dotted with chalk boards listing the fresh fish and oysters available and the location where they were caught.

The experience started out on a high note for me as the host was very welcoming while I waited for B. He offered me a drink and asked if I'd like to be seated at the table (something that is increasingly rare as restaurants these days since all seem to require that every member of a party to be present before you can sit). Unfortunately, the host's charm did not wear off on the rest of the wait staff. Perhaps it was because it is Restaurant Week or maybe it was the fact that our reservation was at 9pm. Whatever the reason, the service was pretty terrible. After finding that my salad had no dressing on it, we were unable to get a server's attention for almost 10 minutes. I also received the wrong dessert and had to send it back (maybe it was me!).

The Food

We both ordered from the Restaurant Week 3-Course Menu. I started with a House Salad which arrived as bagged iceberg lettuce/carrot and cabbage slivers and no dressing. Not the most interesting salad I've ever eaten to say the least. B had a cup of clam chowder.

For our main courses, we ordered australian barramundi stuffed with crab and mahi mahi with caramelized onions and bleu cheese butter. Once again, B proved to be the better orderer as my barramundi was tasty but a combination of too many different flavors. The preparation of B's mahi mahi was more simple and allowed the fresh fish to shine. As a side dish we ordered the recommended hash browns a la Oceanaire which were good for hashbrowns but not that interesting. As you can see from the photo below, the portion size was ridiculous and the busboy admitted that nobody ever finishes the whole dish.

For dessert I had the chocolate chip cookies and milk. The cookies were nothing spectacular but I appreciated that they were warm and soft. B ordered the cheesecake which was a dry New York style topped with blackberries and strawberries.

Overall we were satisfied with the food at Oceanaire but not blown away.

Second Thoughts from B

While we both seemed to enjoy my food more than J's, I still was not overly impressed. My mahi mahi was very well prepared and the sweet warm onions mixed well with the cool bite of the bleu cheese. Unfortunately, this didn't offset the overall experience which left me feeling like Oceanaire was not a particularly enthusiastic Restaurant Week participant. If the whole point of the event is to impress and build repeat business, I think Oceanaire missed the mark, especially in a town full of great seafood.

To their credit, we did hear from Oceanaire regarding this post which you can read about here.
Oceanaire Seafood Room on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 16, 2009


If you're looking for a dining experience unlike any other, you must try MiniBar. MiniBar is a six seat restaurant located on the second level of Cafe Atlantico at 8th and D streets NW. There are only 2 seatings each night (12 diners total) so you usually have to book reservations a month in advance.

The Warm Up

The experience starts at the downstairs bar where your server will help you choose a wine pairing. I opted for the sparkling wine/champagne pairing which included some very interesting drinks including a sparkling red wine. Be careful with this pairing as all of the bubbles can go to your head quickly. Pace yourself!

The MiniBar Experience

As soon as all 6 diners have arrived, the server takes you upstairs to a sushi bar-like counter where two chefs are waiting to greet you. The chefs introduce themselves and encourage diners to ask questions and make it an interactive experience. Because of the uniqueness of the food, the chefs will tell you how to eat each course (i.e., "eat this in one bite"). As soon as you are seated, the show begins. The chefs set to work prepping over 25 small dishes that are unlike anything you've ever eaten or seen before. From the Dragon's Breath Popcorn (with liquid nitrogen smoke that pours from your nose as you eat it) to the eel with cotton candy, each dish is a contrast in temperatures, textures, and flavors.

B and I tried everything they put in front of us. We loved some of it (the "philly cheesesteak," thai dessert, and pisco sour) and kept an open mind about some other courses (the aforementioned cotton candy eel and foie gras "cappucino"). It was definitely an experience unlike any other. After a parade of desserts, the server brings over an egg and smashes it on the counter in front of you revealing the check!

The Post Game Report

MiniBar is for those looking for a completely unique experience (and looking to part with a lot of cash). Overall, the service and food were outstanding. We both left stuffed (and pretty tipsy after the wine pairing). My only complaint has nothing to do with the chefs or the servers. I gave B a gift certificate to MiniBar for his birthday and when I purchased it I asked the manager how much I'd need to give to cover 2 meals, 2 wine pairings, tax and tip. He recommended $400. When the bill came, I realized it was about $400 excluding tip. So, minus a few points for underestimating the cost and leaving a tipsy J to calculate the tip.

You can check out the current MiniBar menu and some pics of the food by clicking here.

Second Thoughts from B

Minibar is easily the most expensive meal I've ever had, but it was more than a meal... it was an experience. The evening could have been just as appropriately titled, "Food as Art." I felt each of the 25+ dishes were artistic creations to see, touch, and taste, and all made better by being able to interact with the "artists" while they did their magic. While many dishes you'll try at other restaurants are created around flavor, many of those at Minibar seemed to put advanced cooking techniques at its core. It is no surprise that chefs from around the world come to study at Minibar for months at a time. Finally, it should also be noted that the premium wine flight matched the quality of the food and is not to be missed.

Clearly, Minibar isn't for everyone and there is no amount of description or praise that will change that. But for those people who love interesting food, this is worth saving your pennies for.
Mini Bar on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

DC Survival Guide - Getting Around

Welcome to Two DC, and if you're reading this, I should probably welcome you to DC too! I hope you enjoy both. While much of this blog will track our most recent experiences in Washington, I think I'll start by summarizing some of the things that I've learned in my brief time here. Like all cities, our nation's capital has unique quirks that you can only learn with time. Here's a cheat sheet on getting around L'Enfant's maze...
  • Know your history. Pierre Charles L'Enfant was a French-born American architect that is either credited or blamed for DC's layout. In short, the nation's capitol was a 10 mile by 10 mile diamond made of land from Maryland and Virginia. This made for 4 quadrants, NW, NE, SE, SW, with the Capitol Building in the center (at least in theory... it is really at 4th and L St., NW). As the city grew, however, all the action was happening on the Maryland side of the Potomac and in 1846, the Virginia side was given back. Streets were originally laid out in a grid with numbered streets running North-South and lettered streets running East-West. Streets named after State run diagonally and meet at traffic circles.

  • Walk. DC is a wonderful mix of neighborhoods that blend the modern with the historical. While we can all find and enjoy the major monuments, it is often the little known things you stumble across that makes DC special. Plus, L'Enfant's grid makes for easy navigation on foot.

  • Avoid Driving. As easy as it is to get around by foot, it is just as hard to get around by car. Traffic, potholes, one-way streets, traffic circles, taxis, buses, lost tourists, construction, road closures for dignitaries, and poor signage (either non-existent or voluminous) are prevalent. Keep in mind that I grew up in LA and am used to famously bad driving conditions. Even with GPS and two years of local knowledge, it is still challenging to get around at times. Also, be aware that all police cars drive with their lights on. You're not getting pulled over unless they use their siren. Finally, everyone honks. You probably didn't do anything wrong, it just happens. Don't get pissed, just go with it.

  • Cross at your own risk. Beware of intersections and crosswalks. That goes for pedestrians, bikers, drivers, and anyone else. Throw the rules out the window. Jay walking is the norm but don't expect anyone to stop for you.

  • I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike! Some people bike to work. They must be far braver than me or have a death wish (see the bullet above). For those of you who do not fall into either of those categories, there are still plenty of options for you. Among our favorites are the Capitol Crescent and the Mount Vernon trails. Both are scenic, have tree cover for those hot days, and allow you to break up the day with lunch in downtown Bethesda or George Washington's estate, respectively. I'd also recommend taking advantage of Rock Creek Park, which is closed to motor traffic on the weekends. When planning your trip, check out the DC Department of Transportation's bike map and other information which can be found here. Finally, I should mention that there are many bike rental companies in the city including a self-serve one called SmartBike.

  • Metro. Relatively reliable, clean, and comfortable, there are few places that are not Metro accessible. As an extra bonus, many employers reimburse or subsidise Metro fare. But the hidden gem of commuting on Metro is the free copy of the Washington Post's Express which is a Cliff's Notes version of the full paper that can be read cover to cover in a half hour. It should be noted that many of the restaurants and activities that we've tried during our time in DC have come from my daily reading of the Express. But one warning when taking Metro: There are a couple of etiquette cardinal sins that must be avoided if you want to survive the masses. Metro commuters have little tolerance for people who ignore the unwritten rules so learn them and teach your visitors. First, when on an escalator, stand on the right and walk on the left. Second, when boarding, stand on the sides of the door to allow riders to exit before you rush on. Follow these rules and you'll be ok.

  • Planes. DC has 3 airports. DCA (Reagan or National), IAD (Dulles), BWI (Baltimore). DCA is Metro accessible but the smallest which means fewer options. You can get to IAD via Metro bus or by various buses and shuttles from certain Metro stops (I prefer the Washington Flyer from West Falls Church). If you plan on driving, taking a cab, or using a service like SuperShuttle, keep in mind that IAD and BWI are both about 45 minutes from downtown DC. Most people expect BWI to be further.

  • Trains (and buses). From DC you can access many great American cities through trains and buses. In addition to being relatively cheap, they also are relatively quick (4 hrs. to NY) and convenient. For example, we took Bolt Bus to New York over Labor Day weekend for $36 round trip for the both of us. Bolt Bus (and several of its competitors) offer direct service in new buses with power outlets and Wi-Fi. You avoid the security lines and cost of flying as well as the stress and parking costs associated with driving.

  • and Automobiles. If you don't want to own one, I'd suggest looking into car sharing programs like ZipCar. They are everywhere in town and a great resource for that quick run to the grocery store or Target.