Each year my mom and I like to take a trip just the two of us. This year’s excursion led us toWashington,D.C. My last visit to D.C. was a work-related trip in 2004. Yes, the year the periodical cicacads reared their ugly heads. With no work and no cicadas this year, we were already off to a great start!
We arrived on a Thursday night and dined at Cafe Italia on 23rdStreet in Arlington. Our cozy table on the enclosed patio made for some interesting people-watching. This restaurant has an authentic menu and food so good I would have gladly “kissed the cook.” Mom’s Gnocchi Alla Pomodoro (homemade potato pillows cooked with basil, sun dried tomatoes and black olives in a garlic tomato sauce) was warm and flavorful…perfect for a chilly evening. I couldn’t resist the Manicotti Alla Florentina (pasta crepes stuffed with fresh spinach and ricotta cheese and baked in a tomato sauce) and it certainly did not disappoint. I would go so far as to say this could be the epitome of Italian comfort food.
Lunch was an unexpected delight…Noodles & Company. I relished the Pasta Fresca with chicken breast. I could not believe the quality of the food and the speed in which it was served. This was the perfect fit for a quick lunch where we didn’t want to feel weighed down. Oh, and the price…very, very economical. Refueled and not ones to waste vacation time, we spent the afternoon seeing the sights courtesy of D.C.’s hop on-hop off bus tour. We hopped off at the World War II Memorial and enjoyed views of the Washington Monument.
That night, we returned to 23rd Street for dinner at the Crystal City Sports Pub where we gnoshed on Southwest Chicken Egg Rolls to start followed by the crab cakes for mom and a burger for me.
It was a gorgeous day so we lunched in the garden surrounding the Smithsonian Castle. While the crowd at the Castle Cafe was nearly overwhelming and the fare was expectedly overpriced, their black bean salad is quite delightful (DISCLAIMER: the salad is chock full of red onion so eat this at the risk of your companion!).
Then, we were off to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, the National Mall, and finally a stop by The White House. I love the Natural History Museum so much I would have been happy to visit it every day of our trip! They offer a spectacular butterfly experience which I highly recommend.
The culinary highpoint of our trip came courtesy of Old Ebbitt Grill. This iconic D.C. establishment was recommended by a local I chatted up on our flight up from Atlanta to D.C. Her recommendation was spot on. I devoured The Norwegian sandwich (smoked salmon, hardboiled egg, olive cream, onions, arugula, & tomatoes on pumpernickel bread), but mom’s order of Spring Vegetable Ravioli (asparagus, oven roasted tomatoes, roasted onions, portobello mushrooms, Pecorino Romano and citrus olive oil) stole the show. Old Ebbitt Grill certainly tops the list of places to return on our next trip to D.C.
Sunday we went into Old Town Alexandria as suggested by a friend. Unbeknownst to us, this area likes to ease into Sunday. All of the stores were closed expect for the obligatory corner Starbuck’s. We enjoyed the scenery nonetheless – a walk along the waterfront, traipsing through Founders Park, and exploring Carlyle House.
Before I knew it, it was time to board our flight and return to the Gulf Coast. It’s always exciting to leave town in search of adventure, but it doesn’t take long before I’m jonesin’ for sweet tea and Southern hospitality. If you plan to visit the D.C. area in the near future, I suggest the DCRider app for your smartphone. It’s absolutely free and makes navigating the metro a breeze.