Category Archives: Downtown

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Holiday Drinks at The Willard

Scratch one off the DC bucket list. Holiday drinks at The Willard: check.

The Willard hotel is a DC landmark, and it really comes alive during the holidays when decorations and lights go up, and carolers sing nightly in the lobby.

I paid a visit a few nights ago with my friends Melissa and Becky. One look at the decorated entrance puts you in the holiday mood.

In the lobby, more decorations and a Christmas tree.

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Carolers singing familiar Christmas tunes. I mean really, if all this doesn’t get you in the Christmas spirit, you’re made of stone.

The entrance to the bar.

We sat between the Round Robin Bar and the Nest Room. Here’s a look toward the Round Robin Bar. A big, dark, circular bar — old timey and classy, filled with people who look rather important.

Our drink of choice: Harrison’s Spiced Cider, with Calvados and Grand Marnier. Delicious, but kind of strange to put a hot drink in a wine glass with a straw.

Complimentary spicy potato chips are served in a small fryer basket, and here’s an order of spinach artichoke dip.

And a tomato pizza. Rather pedestrian crust, with the semi-crisp consistency of a frozen Ellio’s pizza.

I don’t think people come to the Round Robin Bar for the food. It’s all about the drinks and the atmosphere.  As the night wore on, the crowd got older and older, which is the opposite of what usually happens at bars. At one point, Rachel Maddow walked in. We gawked, but didn’t bother her.

Drinks are pricey at the Willard, making it not your go-every-week type of spot. (Or maybe it is if that’s how you roll). But as a holiday treat for that warm and fuzzy feeling, it’s just perfect. Bring on Christmas.

The Willard
1401 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC
202-628-9100

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Better Bring Some Money to Mitsitam Cafe

As much as I’d love to say glowing things about Mitsitam Cafe at the National Museum of the American Indian, I just can’t. It’s the prices. They’re so out of whack that there’s no justification.

The cafe’s calling card is that it serves indigenous Native American foods, which is great and certainly a step up from the McDonald’s at the Air & Space Museum. But everything is so damn expensive that they’re essentially fleecing the tourists; I can’t even imagine what it must be like trying to eat there with a family in tow.

Went there with my friend Deb last Friday for lunch, and this was my entree:

It’s shrimp and aji peppers over a fried yucca cake.  I watched the server place the yucca on the plate, and then slowly and deliberately spoon out all of three shrimp.

Three.

The cost? $16.95. With tax (and no drink), over 18 bucks.

The shrimp tasted like shrimp in tomato sauce — pretty much something I make at home on a Tuesday night.

Deb got a salmon dish with root vegetables and horseradish mashed potatoes. More substantial than mine, but still, a hefty $20.95.

I downed my plate in a nanosecond. Luckily Deb couldn’t finish all of hers, so I got to sample her leftover potatoes and root veggies. They were good, and helped fill me up at least a little.

Everywhere I looked there were jacked up prices — $16.95, $18.95, even a $29.95. For that much I’d much rather sit down for a nice lunch at Central or The Source.

At the end of the day and however they try to spin it, Mitsitam Cafe is still a cafeteria. You get own food and bus your own trays. The food, while somewhat interesting, didn’t seem to wow either of us.

I hate to say it, but what a huge ripoff. Perhaps a better name for the place would be, “Mighty Sum Cafe.”

Mitsitam Cafe
National Museum of the American Indian
4th St. and Independence Ave. SW
Washington, DC
866-868-7774

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District Taco Hits Town

District Taco comes swooping into its namesake, the District, and I for one am impressed. I’m impressed with the speed of service. I’m impressed with the prices.  I’m impressed with the quantity and quality of the food. Basically, I’m impressed that District Taco has only been open for a couple of weeks and appears to have its shit together. (Which can’t always be said for new eating establishments.)

Several of us bolted over there for lunch today. We were excited. Judging by the line, so were many others.

Surprisingly not a problem — the line moved rapidly while friendly employees passed out menus and welcomed customers.

I found the actual ordering process a little tricky just because they offer so many options for toppings and combinations, and I didn’t want to completely bewilder the guy taking my order. So I tried to keep it simple: four tacos (carnitas, pollo asado, al pastor and vegetarian) on corn tortillas, with lettuce, tomato, cilantro, rice and pico de gallo.

The condiment bar is great too, with items like chopped onions and salsas of varying heats. We got the hot salsa.

Another surprise — we had no issue finding seating upstairs despite the crowd. I think most people were getting their food to go.

A nice touch that the food is brought to you. We grabbed our seats, and almost instantly our orders arrived.

Here are three of the four tacos… not that you can distinguish what’s what anyway, since the meats are covered up. (I’m not sure why they came wrapped up, since I wasn’t getting them to go.)

As you can see, these aren’t wimpy, half-filled tacos that would barely satisfy a preschooler. These are tacos — loaded to the max, with doubled up tortillas to prevent breakage. I was shocked. I complain so often about not having enough to eat; clearly that was not going to be an issue here.

Not to mention the tacos were good! Everything was so fresh and flavorful, and I love the toothsome bite of a quality corn tortilla.

No doubt, District Taco destroys a chain like Chipotle. There’s real value here too. Tacos are $2.25. For most people, two tacos are probably plenty. Maybe even one for a small eater. How can you go wrong with a lunch under $5?

You can’t. Like I said, I’m impressed.

District Taco
1309 F St. NW
Washington, DC
202-347-7359