No longer does the city dubbed “the swamp” by its inhabitant in chief have the starchy, insular appearance of a white male fiefdom. There’s a dynamism that, along with its fabled history, qualifies it as a great American city.
Those who visit the nation’s capital for the first time in a decade or so are in for a pleasant surprise. No longer does the city derisively dubbed “the swamp” by its Inhabitant-In-Chief have the starchy, insular appearance of a white male fiefdom. Overlooking (if one can) the federal government’s maladroitness, as a destination, Washington today possesses a dynamism that, along with its fabled history, qualifies it as a great American city. It’s now entirely possible to spend a couple of memorable days here without once eating a New York strip steak or darkening a marble corridor. Check those boxes on your first visit, then come back for This Town’s revelations.
A fast-developing Washington neighborhood is Brookland, dominated by Catholic University and the majestic Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The city’s newest high-quality restaurant, Primrose, opened here just after Thanksgiving. Though the casual, if gorgeously appointed, French bistro serves on-target country staples like coq au vin and boeuf Bourguignon until 11 on weekend nights, Primrose is also ideally suited for nightcaps. Sitting at the bar among a diverse neighborhood crowd with one of the restaurant’s 15 wines by the glass (all from France or Virginia — several of the latter being made by the co-owner Sebastian Zutant) to accompany stout cheeses and rillettes de lapin, you would have no reason to suspect that you’re in anybody’s idea of a swamp, much less a drain-worthy one.
Among northwest Washington’s many high-activity neighborhoods — Logan Circle, Columbia Heights, Adams Morgan — the Shaw district is the latest to be lit up with clever dining spots. One of Shaw’s newest and best is Tiger Fork, a temple of Hong Kong cuisine situated in an alleyway. The eclectically red-and-bamboo Chinese interior (designed by Lauren Winter, who also fashioned Primrose) is smile-eliciting, much like its weekend “Dim Sum and Then Some” menu. Hong Kong-style French toast, Chinese bacon and creamed tofu are among the Sunday hangover remedies, best teamed with a prosecco and passion fruit liqueur-based drink known here as Bad Girl Mimi. (Brunch for two without drinks is about $70.)BACK TO LATEST