An Insider’s Guide to DC, Courtesy of Viceroy GM Sherry Abedi

An underrated museum, superb cup of coffee and no fewer than three bakery suggestions

September 27, 2022 7:44 am
United States Botanic Garden and the Capitol Building Murat Taner
United States Botanic Garden and the Capitol Building
Murat Taner via Getty

The Viceroy Washington DC has a ringer when it comes to local recommendations in the nation’s capital: Sherry Abedi, the GM of the trendy hotel near Logan Circle. We recently tapped her fount of knowledge, getting tips for tourists and locals alike. Below, you’ll find her suggestions for the city’s best cup of coffee, cheap eats, low-key museums and more.

Where can I get a cup of coffee near the hotel and go for a good walk?

Outside of BPM, our in-house coffee shop, I often visit Slipstream which is just a block away on 14th Street. It’s got those cute coffee shop vibes and a tasty menu to boot.

Where’s a good place to go dancing? 

Twelve After Twelve is the spot to enjoy intense beats in the dark.

Best cheap eats in town?

It may sound cliché, but no trip to D.C. is complete without a visit to the affordable Ben’s Chili Bowl, a family-run D.C. institution for more than six decades. You’re getting a free side of history with your half-smoke.

Where can I go for the best dessert?

I head to L’Ardente for an experience. I hit up Tatte Bakery for something more casual. They are right next to each other, so my sweet tooth is easily satisfied. Sticky Fingers will delight you and then surprise you when you find out it’s 100% vegan.

 Best place for a sunset cocktail? 

Top of the Gate, the rooftop lounge of The Watergate Hotel, overlooks the Potomac and several D.C. landmarks. If you don’t feel like venturing out, Viceroy guests can go right upstairs to Hush Rooftop Bar for a beautiful sunset cocktail framed by the less typical but equally beautiful views of D.C.

Where should I go in the area for a day spent outside?

One of the best things about D.C. is its abundance of green spaces. Go to Rock Creek Park for nature hikes, great running and biking trails, and wildlife spotting in D.C.’s untouched natural habitat. Or visit the United States Botanic Garden to get smarter about plants of all kinds while enjoying the breathtaking flora.

Where’s a good spot to snap an Instagram-worthy photo?

Culture House is a destination for art exhibitions and community enrichment, while the building, a former church, was transformed into a bold, colorful work of art itself.

Best neighborhood to take a four-hour stroll?

The H Street Corridor is super close to my home and there is so much to do: festivals, farmers markets, boutique shopping, unique eateries and cool bars.

What’s the easiest way to get around town, in terms of transportation?

The Metro, because we have one of the cleanest and safest subway systems in the country. It’s a safe and pretty walk from our hotel to four different stations. It is a slightly confusing system, so we recommend familiarizing yourself with where each line goes and where the transfer stations are before you go. 

What’s a lesser-known cultural institution worth visiting?

Yes, we have the Smithsonian Institutions, and yes, they are surely the best free museums in the world, but we have so many other museums worth a visit. The Phillips Collection is always a favorite. Nestled in the Dupont Circle neighborhood, away from the busier streets, the Phillips Collection is over a century old and is America’s first museum of modern art.

What’s a cool architectural site that’s not mobbed with tourists?

Everyone knows Dupont Circle, but do you know about the abandoned streetcar station underneath it? It sat empty for decades until it was revitalized and turned into Dupont Underground, which is an arts center that promotes independent and upcoming artists, and a very cool place to visit.

What’s the best thing you can only get in your city?

Fried chicken with Petworth mambo sauce at Hitching Post Restaurant. Mambo sauce is the go-to condiment of the nation’s capital. It’s sweet, tangy and has a kick — and it goes great with the Michelin Guide-recognized southern cuisine at Hitching Post.

What’s the best thing you can only do in your city?

See an authentic go-go show, recently named the official music of D.C. Go-go music has a rich history in this city. Head to the U Street Corridor for several clubs that are known for hosting great go-go bands.

What’s something I can say or do to endear myself to locals?

Ask us where to shop local. D.C. gets a bad rap for its collective sense of fashion, but around U Street, H Street, Capitol Hill and scattered throughout the city are owner-curated stores filled with really cool emerging designers. [Here’s our take on eight excellent menswear shops in the city.]

What’s something that tourists tend to do that really annoys locals?

Stand to the left on the Metro escalator — that side is for walking. Stand on the right side if you don’t want to be berated.

What’s an item or activity that tourists tend to get ripped off on? Any tips on how to avoid that?

I’d recommend skipping the trolley tours and Segway tours in favor of one of D.C.’s great walking tours, like DC by Foot.

I’m looking for a low-key brunch. Where to?

You can’t go wrong with Union Market because the food hall gives you so many great options, but my top pick would probably be Immigrant Food, which also has locations near the White House and at the Planet Word Museum.

Best place to eat a meal or have a beer outside when the weather’s nice?

I recommend guests visit any outdoor bar in the Navy Yard Waterfront. I find most people appreciate the more relaxed neighborhood feel, rather than the other busier (and more touristy) waterfronts in the city.

Any potential issues I should be worried about or pay attention to when it comes to public transportation?

While clean and safe, our Metro system requires a bit of research before using. Metro prices change throughout the day and are higher during rush hour and big events. Also, the Metro closes much earlier than the NYC (or other) subway, so have an alternative mode of transportation home if you plan to stay out late.

What’s the one thing everyone forgets to pack? Or the one thing everyone should remember to pack when visiting? 

Mosquito repellent, especially in the summer. They don’t call us a swamp for nothing.

Finally, what’s the best book to read about the area before I come?

Creatures of Passage, written by a D.C. native. This book is spooky and entertaining while offering the reader the history of the thriving, mostly Black D.C. neighborhoods erased over time by gentrification.

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