TA Away Game Travel Guide to Washington, DC

22 Aug 2011 2:12 PM | 107ist Admin (Administrator)

—by Andrew Brawley

I’ve been to DC a couple times. I was 11 years old the first time I went. It was part of a pilgrimage to the Boy Scouts Jamboree many summers ago. I remember all kinds of historical monuments, unique architecture, and people willing to take everything in for what it is: history overload. I’ve been meaning to go back and spend some free time there, but we all know that’s easier said than done.

Thankfully we have a very active TA member to serve as this entry’s voice of authority. Ben Anderson, who some of you may know better by his Twitter handle @DCExiled, returned to PDX from DC just as the 2011 season got under way, and I cannot imagine a better resource for this particular travel guide. Here’s Ben’s take on how to do DC right.

PS - Minor Threat and Bad Brains are from DC. Respect!

So, you're headed to DC.  It's not a very big city but there are a number of things to do and see while you're there.  I make the following suggestions based on my 2 years living in DC.  I'll warn you: DC is a coffee and beer desert.  Follow these directions to find the spots that took me over a year to discover.


This is perhaps the area that DC lacks the most. If you're not interested in drinking Starbucks all weekend, here's where you should go.

  • Mid-City Caffe: 1626 14th St NW (U St.). Small cafe located above a vintage/antique shop. Currently serving Counter Culture.
  • Baked & Wired: 1052 Thomas Jefferson St. NW (Georgetown). Busy coffee shop in Georgetown. Currently serving Stumptown and Intelligentsia. Decent baked goods but unfortunately a major player in the DC designer cupcake fad. Nice staff and a decent atmosphere.
  • Chinatown Coffee Co.: Located at the corner of 5th and H NW (Chinatown). Small private roaster. Busy spot but the coffee is good.


There are a number of good restaurants in the DC area but you end up paying handsomely. Here are a few spots that are good and (mostly) affordable.

  • Mitsitam Cafe: National Museum of the American Indian (National Mall/Smithsonian). It's a museum cafe, but please don't write it off too quickly. Contemporary creations based on traditional native foods, Mitsitam is arguably one of the best eats in town.
  • Kaz Sushi Bistro: 1915 I St NW (Midtown). A bit pricey but one of the few places in DC where you will find high quality sushi.
  • Open City: 2331 Calvert St. NW (Woodley Park). One of the best breakfasts in town. Coffee is home roasted. Staff is friendly and sporting a number of tattoos.
  • Lalibela: 1415 14th St NW (Logan Circle). If you don't eat Ethiopian food while in DC you have let yourself down. Lalibela is a great little family-owned restaurant. Get the combo platter and split it several ways.
  • Dukem: 1114-1118 U St NW (U St.). Dukem is considered by many to be the best Ethiopian food in town.
  • El Rinconcito II: 1326 Park Rd (Columbia Heights). Salvadoran with Mexican influences. Tiny restaurant but the food is great. There will be football on the TV - guarantee it.
  • Kramer's Books and Afterwords Cafe: 1517 Connecticut Ave. NW (Dupont). The beer selection is decent, the food pretty great.  Go in, grab a book, have a bite. Warning: new books only, don't expect any great deals.


There are a lot of bars in DC. That said most don't serve much that is worth writing home about. The following bars and pubs are listed more for the atmosphere than the selection.

  • Lucky Bar: 1221 Connecticut Ave NW (Dupont). The beer is pretty bad, be warned. That said, if you'll be in town for the weekend EPL matches, this is a good place to watch. Primarily an Arsenal spot, you're still sure to find supporters of your EPL club if there is a match on. Decent breakfast on match days.
  • The Pug: 1234 H Street NE (H St.). This is probably the closest thing you'll find to a dive bar in DC. Small and decently cheap. Also a good place to catch a match.
  • The Big Hunt: 1345 Connecticut Ave. NE (Dupont). Pretty decent beer at affordable prices. Huge place but usually pretty busy. Don't bother with the food.
  • Bier Baron Tavern: 1523 22nd St NW (Dupont). Formerly the Brickskellar. This pub boasts 50 drafts and over 500 bottles. The new owners have kept the same beer list as the old ones. Expect to pay a little more, but in DC good beer is tough to find.
  • The Tombs: 1226 36th St NW (Georgetown). Kind of a khaki pants and polo shirt scene due to its proximity to Georgetown University, The Tombs is a quality place with cheap drinks and late night snacks. Legend has it that Charlie Davies was drinking here before getting in a car he probably shouldn't have.

Things to do/see

DC isn't too hard to figure out. There is an historic site or a museum on every corner. You'll see some great stuff no matter what, but here are some places that you might not know about. Don't miss them.

  • National Museum of the American Indian: National Mall. NMAI is a fantastic museum and one that doesn't get visited as often as it should. The docents are incredible and are available to chat and answer questions any time, not just during guided tours. If you're doing the Smithsonian thing, don't skip this museum. (Free)
  • National Zoo: Woodley Park. It's free and bigger than the Oregon Zoo.
  • The Newseum: 555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW (Midtown/Capitol). One of the few museums you'll have to pay for, The Newseum is worth every penny. See pieces of the Berlin Wall, the Unibomber's cabin, and read newspapers dating back to the birth of the US. Don't miss it.

Other tips:

  • Take the Metro everywhere, especially on your way to RFK for the match.
  • Wear the lightest clothing you can manage - it'll be hot.
  • Watch the107IST board for pre-match tailgate plans and post-match pub plans.
  • Buy a pupusa at RFK, they're actually quite good.
  • Don't wait in line for a White House tour unless you have arranged it in advance (you need a background check a couple weeks in advance).
  • Go into the Library of Congress. You're welcome in advance.
  • Bring a zip-lock bag to RFK. DC has freak rainstorms and you should be prepared to get your cell phone and wallet out of harm’s way.
  • For tailgate: buy beer in Virginia (better selection).
  • If you fly into Dulles, go to the Air and Space Museum there.


  • 09 Jul 2016 12:37 PM | 107ist Admin (Administrator)
    Curtis - Reincarnated - Mercatonero says:
    Monday, August 22, 2011 at 9:01 am

    Thanks man, I’ll be there for the day before and of course game day so I’ll check some out.
    Link  •  Reply
  • 09 Jul 2016 12:38 PM | 107ist Admin (Administrator)
    Benjamin Anderson says:
    Monday, August 22, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    If you’re looking for something to do Friday afternoon/night, Jazz in Park at the National Gallery sculpture garden is a pretty good time. Used to be a spot where you’d bring a couple bottles of wine and enjoy sitting outside. Apparently they’ve started restricting outside beverages though.
    Link  •  Reply
  • 09 Jul 2016 12:38 PM | 107ist Admin (Administrator)
    Lucas Grzybowski says:
    Monday, August 22, 2011 at 9:50 am

    I want pupusas at JWF.
    Link  •  Reply
  • 09 Jul 2016 12:39 PM | 107ist Admin (Administrator)
    Garrett Dittfurth says:
    Monday, August 22, 2011 at 10:31 am

    I always liked Bullfeathers right by the Cannon Office Building and Lucky’s is a really good place as well. Bullfeathers is exactly what you would picture if you were imagining a Congressman hammering out a backroom deal while drinking copious amounts of scotch.
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  • 09 Jul 2016 12:39 PM | 107ist Admin (Administrator)
    David says:
    Monday, August 22, 2011 at 10:33 am

    You forgot to mention “Ben’s Chili Bowl”, home of the best chili dogs anywhere if you ask me. Dirt cheap to boot.
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  • 09 Jul 2016 12:39 PM | 107ist Admin (Administrator)
    Benjamin Anderson says:
    Monday, August 22, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    Ben’s is pretty touristy and busy these days. Food is still good and cheap though.
    Link  •  Reply
  • 09 Jul 2016 12:40 PM | 107ist Admin (Administrator)
    Andy Palmquist says:
    Monday, August 22, 2011 at 10:37 am

    An addendum from a fellow native Oregonian/4 year exile in DC (and now back in PDX):
    For pre-match drinks use Capitol South Metro stop near the Library of Congress and hit up Penn Ave SE – several fine bars that are soccer-fan friendly including the Pour House (319 Penn Ave SE, lots of stuff on tap), Hawk ‘n’ Dove (329 Penn Ave SE, old school English pub) and Capitol Lounge (229 Penn Ave SE; happy hours for Capitol Hill power players by weekdays, soccer on the tube on weekends). After drinking grab a burger at Good Stuff Eatery (303 Penn Ave SE), delicious burger joint owned by Spike of Top Chef fame. Jump back on the Metro and go two more stops and you’re at RFK!
    One last tip: if you’re not familiar with DC, don’t hang around RFK too many hours before/especially after the game. Not the greatest of neighborhoods, especially after dark.
    Link  •  Reply
  • 09 Jul 2016 12:40 PM | 107ist Admin (Administrator)
    Benjamin Anderson says:
    Monday, August 22, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    Good call on Hawk/Dove. Really good burgers there too. Another spot right around there for cheap breakfast is Pete’s. Personally not a fan of Good Stuff (apart from the Roasted Marshmallow milkshake) – a bit too trendy for me.
    We will be tailgating in Lot 8, pre-match. Instructions are posted in the forum.
    Link  •  Reply
  • 09 Jul 2016 12:40 PM | 107ist Admin (Administrator)
    Nick Brock says:
    Monday, September 19, 2011 at 11:41 am

    Actually, Hawk and Dove is closing too.
    Link  •  Reply
  • 09 Jul 2016 12:41 PM | 107ist Admin (Administrator)
    Chris Rifer says:
    Monday, August 22, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    Having spent a summer there in college, I can vouch for NMAI. I think the best of the Smithsonians. My chances with the ladies will be much better if I never write that last sentence again.
    Link  •  Reply
  • 09 Jul 2016 12:41 PM | 107ist Admin (Administrator)
    Benjamin Anderson says:
    Monday, August 22, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    You’re going for the wrong ladies. :)
    Link  •  Reply
  • 09 Jul 2016 12:42 PM | 107ist Admin (Administrator)
    Rod says:
    Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 9:39 am

    As someone that spent 28 years in DC before moving to Portland, I would like to add a couple of spots to your already solid list.
    Capitol City Brewing – Solid craft beer in DC.
    The Red Derby (Columbia Heights/Petworth)– Great dive atmosphere, only serve caned beer and liquor. The only place in DC where $5 will get you a Shlitz and shot Beam.
    The Looking Glass (Petworth)– Another cool dive spot.
    Link  •  Reply
  • 09 Jul 2016 12:42 PM | 107ist Admin (Administrator)
    Ken Reade says:
    Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 9:55 am

    As Rod mentioned, Cap City Brewery is not bad at all. Their location next to Union Station is a good place for a pint pit stop for anyone taking the train to/from BWI Airport (i.e flying Southwest). And for what it’s worth, Kramerbooks has had Rogue Dead Guy on tap for the past couple of years. Kramerbooks is a cool hang out, but as Benjamin said there are no real book deals to be had.
    Link  •  Reply
  • 09 Jul 2016 12:42 PM | 107ist Admin (Administrator)
    Benjamin Anderson says:
    Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    Cap City made my preliminary brainstorm but I forgot to include it. Pretty decent brews though!
    Link  •  Reply
  • 09 Jul 2016 12:43 PM | 107ist Admin (Administrator)
    Ingrid says:
    Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 10:18 am

    Ah the coffee desert that is the District! As another Oregonian currently exiled in the District, I would recommend the following oases (oasises? oasii?) for the travelling fan. Tucked into the lower level of a rowhouse just a few block north of Dupont Circle, Filter Coffeehouse (1726 20th Street NW) is definitely the closest we’ve got to PDX coffee culture. They serve up an awesome local roaster Caffe Pronto. Far closer to RFK stadium, Peregrine Espresso’s (660 Pennsylvania Ave SE, across the street from the Eastern Market Metro Station) hipster baristas will whip you up a decent cappuccino as well.
    As for bars, I would venture a few blocks further down Penn Ave SE to Trusty’s (1420 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Metro: Potomac Ave Station, one stop from RFK stadium). Chill vibe with a mostly neighborhood crowd (read: less Hill staffers/interns), large selection of board games, can beer selection is pretty good (taps are not), and the prices are decent by DC’s overinflated standards.
    Link  •  Reply
  • 09 Jul 2016 12:43 PM | 107ist Admin (Administrator)
    Clayton Moore says:
    Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 6:39 am

    If anybody is planning on driving to RFK Stadium, the parking lots open 4 hours before match time, 3:30 PM (EST). Tailgating is allowed.
    If you’re looking for a bar with a large beer selection check out RFD’s (Regional Food and Drink) near Chinatown/Gallery Place.
    Link  •  Reply
  • 09 Jul 2016 12:44 PM | 107ist Admin (Administrator)
    Benjamin Anderson says:
    Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 10:55 am

    On this, check the board or SCUSA for tailgate plans. Although I am hearing reports that the match has been rescheduled for earlier in the day due to weather concerns.
    Link  •  Reply
  • 09 Jul 2016 12:44 PM | 107ist Admin (Administrator)
    Ina says:
    Friday, August 26, 2011 at 6:19 am

    From an email sent by DC United Customer Service:
    “The kick off time of Saturday’s match has been moved to 2:00 PM due to extreme weather conditions expected as Hurricane Irene approaches the Washington, DC area. You are reminded to wear rain gear to the match in the event of rain, as RFK Stadium policy forbids entry with umbrellas”
    Link  •  Reply
  • 09 Jul 2016 12:44 PM | 107ist Admin (Administrator)
    Benjamin Anderson says:
    Sunday, September 4, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    A place that I recommended to a couple TA who were unfortunate enough to make the trip there for the postponement was Wonderland in Columbia Heights. If you happen to make the trip in October, this is a good spot to hit up.
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  • 09 Jul 2016 12:45 PM | 107ist Admin (Administrator)
    Megan says:
    Tuesday, September 20, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    I’ve been out here for a year and I agree that there are not as many beer options. Also, (along with everything else) it is way more expensive than in Portland! Still, there are plenty of bars, many mentioned above, to drink in! Since no one has mentioned Adams Morgan, I’d like to suggest it as an eclectic mish-mash of ethnic restaurants and bars. While it gets pretty dang wild on Friday and Saturday nights, there is no cover during the week and many of the bars have live music. My favorite sports pub is Ventnor, where the weekend bartender Julie will always play Oregon sports on the tvs. Madam’s Organ is good for music and depending on the weather, a deck upstairs in the back. Tryst is a cafe/lounge- they have good coffee, food, and a full bar! It’s pretty easy to find a place if you just walk down 18th from Columbia to U, where you’ll start to enter Dupont. For those who want a gay sports bar (and why wouldn’t you?) check out Nellie’s on U at 9th; they even have an upstairs outside deck with dancing. Last place: Perry’s on Columbia just past 18th. The inside is nice but the best part is the roofdeck bar and dining area (can you tell I like decks?). They serve somewhat pricey food and drinks but the menu includes a lot of Japanese dishes and the drinks are very interesting! Also, the Corcoran art museum is great, but alas is not free like the Smithsonians… If you’re going to the Library of Congress you probably need to book ahead, but it is definitely worth it!
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