There is too much to do in DC. Between the greatest museums in our country, incredible bars and restaurants, a variety of walkable neighborhoods with unique vibes, as well as other theatre companies to visit while in town, you should wear yourself out while working here, but it will be worth it!
I cannot say enough good things about Peregrine Espresso. With one location close to the rehearsal studios for The Shakespeare Theatre and one near The Studio Theatre and Theatre J, this is the perfect spot for script reading and line learning. With delicious espresso drinks and pastries, this local joint is always hip, bright, and friendly. With music at a comfortable level and a perfect latte, you'll want to spend hours.
1718 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009 HOURS: Mon- Fri 7AM- 7M Sat- Sun 8AM- 8PM * Close to the Shakespeare Theatre Rehearsal Studios and The Folger Theatre. 660 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC 20003 HOURS: Mon- Sat 7AM- 8PM Sun 8AM- 8PM peregrineespresso.com * Close to studio theatre and Theatre J.
Chinatown Coffee Company
Chinatown Coffee Company, located right around the corner from The Shakespeare Theater's actor housing, as well as walking distance to Wooly Mammoth Theatre Company and Ford's Theatre, is a large, industrial-style coffee house, brewing strong cups and great locally sourced sandwiches and cookies as well.
475 H St NW #1, Washington, DC 20001 HOURS: Mon- Fri 7AM- 6PM Sat- Sun 9AM- 5PM chinatowncoffee.com
Who would have thought Poptarts could be perfected, but here at Ted's Bulletin they have been! This brunch mecca with two locations in DC, is laid out like a 1920's joint serving up delicious breakfast and brunch items all day long. The coffee is delicious and flowing. The dessert options are fresh and flavorful, and the food portions are large and hearty and satisfying. This is the kind of brunch where you feel like you won't need to eat again until 10PM.
505 8th St SE, Washington, DC 20003 HOURS: Sun- Thurs 7AM- 10:30PM Fri- Sat 7AM- 11:30PM tedsbulletin.com
Busboys and Poets
Busboys and Poets is a wonderful place! Named after American poet Langston Hughes, who worked as a busboy at the Wardman Park Hotel in the 1920s prior to gaining recognition as a poet, Busboys and Poets advertises itself as "community gathering place". Established in 2005 by Anas Shallal, an Iraqi-American artist and activist, this is a bookstore, coffeeshop, gathering place, and restaurant that you should go to and support. Their breakfast/ brunch is particularly solid, and the casual, lovely atmosphere here is ideal for a cast gathering over some eggs benedict and french toast.
1025 5th St NW, Washington, DC 20001 HOURS: Sun- Thurs 7AM- 12AM Fri- Sat 7AM- 1AM
2021 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009 HOURS: Mon- Thurs 7AM- 12AM Fri- Sun OPEN 24 HOURS! busboysandpoets.com
Teaism Penn Quarter
Teaism is where I first learned many years ago what a bento box was, and my world was changed. This very popular Penn Quarter spot seems eternally busy, and for good reason. They consistently churn out very, wonderful Asian fare, alongside a lovely collection of fresh-brewed teas at affordable prices.
400 8th St NW, Washington, DC 20004 HOURS: Mon- Fri 7:30AM- 10PM Sat- Sun 9:30 AM- 9PM teaism.com
Spring Mill Bread
Spring Mill Bread Co. This wonderful, wonderful bakery is an ideal spot for a lunchtime sandwich, but also, their fresh baked breads should be taken home as often as possible. Using no preservatives, no chemical additives, and no artificial ingredients, their Apple Streusel loaf is a guilty pleasure of mine, and I promise you, it will become one of your favorite things- especially toasted with a little bit of butter.
701 8th St SE, Washington, DC 20003 HOURS: Mon- Fri 7AM- 7PM Sat 8AM- 7PM Sun 10AM- 6PM springmillbread.com
This hidden gem was a spot a boyfriend of mine turned me on to while he was staying with me at the old The Shakespeare Theatre Company actor housing in Eastern Market. This Mexican/ Salvadorian chicken spot began as a wildly successful food cart inside Eastern Market in 1983, and then, when a storefront became available across the street, owner and chefs, Mr. and Mrs. Canales, moved into a permanent home, and Tortilla Cafe was born. Their slow-cooked chicken is fall off the bone delicious, the rice is delicious, fresh home-made tortillas are served warm alongside, and everything on the menu here is made with so much care and love it's staggering. Also staggering is how affordable these dishes are, so go.
210 7th St SE, Washington, DC 20003 HOURS: Mon- Fri 9AM- 7PM Sat 8AM- 7PM Sun 9AM- 5PM tortillacafe.com
Good Stuff Eatery
Ugh, this greasy, unapologetic wonderland is a glutinous dream, but the most incredible part about Good Stuff Eatery is that the goal was to create fries and burgers and shakes that TASTE just like the awful, guilty pleasures of our childhood, but made from the freshest, finest, local ingredients available. So, let that alleviate your conscience when you dig into one of their wet, hot burgers and oodles of fries. Good Stuff is not to be missed while working in DC. I only wish they were open later.
303 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC 20003 HOURS: Sun CLOSED Mon- Sat 11AM- 10PM
3291 M St NW, Washington, DC 20007 HOURS: Mon- Sat 11:30AM- 10PM goodstuffeatery.comSun 11:30AM- 9PM
In 2014, Rose's Luxory was named The Best New Restaurant in America, and it has been onward and upward ever since. This elegant, but homespun creation of passion and love is housed in a fairly unimpressive area of the city, in a three-story townhouse converted into one of the most enjoyable restaurants on earth. Let your waiter lead you through whatever the menu happens to be that day or that week. These dishes are made for sharing, and these cocktails are made for pairing, and this is the kind of special occasion spot where you should take your time, sample, and enjoy. However, shockingly, the price tag on this beautiful experience isn't high at all! AND every table gets something complimentary brought out to them during every meal, so prepare to be enchanted by the special delight- and oh, have I mentioned that the food is divine. It is. Every bit of it.
717 8th St SE, Washington, DC 20003 HOURS: Sun CLOSED Mon- Sat 5PM- 10PM rosesluxury.com
Oyamel Cocina Mexicana
Oyamel is one of my happy places. This is Jose Andres's Mexican offering to the city of DC, and these exquisite small plates are bursting with flavor and texture and care. The cocktails here are spot on (the house margarita is perfection) and starting with the guacamole made table side is also essential. (Even the chips here are wonderful!) Other menu highlights include Wild Caught Gulf Coast White Shrimp sautéed with shallots, árbol chile, poblano pepper, lime, and sweet aged black garlic, Poblano Peppers stuffed with shredded pork, pine nuts and apples, served in a creamy goat cheese and walnut sauce, topped with fresh pomegranate seeds, as well as their legendary Oaxacan Specialty of Sautéed Grasshoppers, shallots, tequila,and guacamole. Every single thing on this menu is worth trying.
401 7th St NW, Washington, DC 20004 HOURS: Sun- Wed 11AM- 12AM Thurs- Sat 11AM- 2AM oyamel.com * Close to Wooly Mammoth, Ford's Theatre, and The Shakespeare Theatre.
Zatinya is Jose Andres's Mediterranean restaurant. Offering a mezze menu inspired by Turkish, Greek, and Lebanese cuisine, these fresh, delicious flavors are served up in a bright, white, open dining hall. The spreads here are excellent. The Lamb Bahar, a spice-rubbed lamb kebab, with tabouleh, and tahini sauce is also a must, as are the sweetbreads! But again, this menu was made for sharing, so order a bunch of things that look good to you and let the table pick away, it's all really really delicious, but save room for dessert! I've head some of the best desserts of my life here.
701 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001 HOURS: Sun- Mon 11AM- 10PM Tues- Thurs 11AM- 11PM Fri- Sat 11AM- 12AM zaytinya.com
So, here it is, the mothership. The place where it all began with celebrated chef Jose Andres. Jaleo celebrates Spanish cuisine with all the love and care in the world, from signature tapas dishes, to paellas, to superb sangria, to a wide selection of the finest Spanish cheeses, wines, and sherries available. Like all his restaurants, these dishes are meant to be shared amongst the entire table, and with an affordable Chef's Tasting Menu option available, the possibilities seem limitless in how you enjoy the food at this incredible downtown DC spot. 480 7th St NW, Washington, DC 20004 HOURS: Sun- Mon 11AM- 10PM Tues- Thurs 11AM- 11PM Fri- Sat 11AM- 12AM jaleo.com
Rasika is absolutely one of the most incredible Indian restaurants in the U.S. At this downtown DC establishment, the care going into every single bite they serve is immediately evident. Sharp, clear flavors burst out of every dish, from hearty spices to the freshest herbs to perfectly moist, choice bits of meat in their curries. These exquisite dishes are obsession worthy, and, although it can be hard to get a table, come early and enjoy the bar area with a castmate. This is a special place. 633 D St NW, Washington, DC 20004 HOURS: Sun CLOSED Mon- Thurs 11:30AM- 2:30PM; 5:30PM- 10:30PM Fri 11:30AM- 2:30PM; 5PM- 11PM Sat 5PM- 11PM rasikarestaurant.com
Graffiato's opened its first location in DC in 2011 and was an instant hit. Churning out perfectly cooked personal pizzas, spot-on seasonal small plates, and a killer beer menu, there isn't a lot not to like about this tiny, dimly lit, 2-story establishment. An open kitchen and a lively bar area guarantees an air of casual playfulness around everything, but they are not messing around with their food. I recommend going with a friend and sharing a number of small plates in addition to a pizza- the "Jersey Shore" is particularly special with fried calamari, tomato, provolone, and cherry pepper aioli.
707 6th St NW, Washington, DC 20001 HOURS: Sun- Thurs 11:30AM- 10PM Fri- Sat 11:30AM- 11PM graffiatodc.com
Old Ebbitt Grill
Old Ebbitt Grill was founded in 1856 just steps from the White House, and, over the years, has been a favorite amongst Presidents and politicians, but, for your purposes, you need to come here for their Happy Hour. At the bar, both midday and late at night, this incredible restaurant offers half off their raw bar, and you will not find a better martini in town. So, treat yourself, especially late at night after a long day, to a perfect cocktail and some oysters, clams, and crab in this beautiful, historic landmark.
675 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20005 HAPPY HOUR: Mon- Thurs 3PM- 6PM; 11PM- 1AM Sun 11PM- 1AM HOURS: Mon- Thurs 7:30AM- 2AM Fri 7:30AM- 3AM Sat 8:30AM- 3AM Sun 8:30AM- 2AM ebbitt.com
Pearl Dive Oyster Palace
Part of the Black Restaurant Group, this adorable little oyster place is just down the way from Studio Theatre and Theatre J. Happy Hour includes $5 wines, half off beer, half off their incredible selection of local oysters, as well as other food specials. With a gorgeous bar area and an ambiance that will make you want to linger awhile, get a beer or a glass of prosecco and settle in with some seafood.
1612 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009 HAPPY HOUR: Mon- Fri 4PM- 7PM HOURS: Mon- Thurs 5PM- 11PM Fri- Sun 11AM- 11PM pearldivedc.com
This is a place that is impossible to walk past without noticing the man stretching noodles by hand all day every day in the window, and this should be your first clue that this is not your average Chinese restaurant. Chinatown Express is a tremendously solid Chinese joint in the heart of Chinatown and fantastically close to Wooly Mammoth, Ford's Theatre, and The Shakespeare Theatre. With an attentive staff and a bustling floor, get your order for there or to go (Shakespeare Theatre housing is right around the corner) and fall in love with almost every item on this menu. (Although those hand-pulled noodles and Peking Duck are, of course, their specialty.)
Daikaya is the very first place I had ramen, and my mind was blown. This spot holds a special place in my heart, and its teensy, bustling dining room now seems synonymous with these steaming hot bowls of goodness. Serving Sapporo Ramen with 5 different broths, including one vegan option, the freshness and high quality of everything this place does is top-notch and worthy of a wait.
705 6th St NW, Washington, DC 20001 HOURS: Mon 11AM- 7:30PM Tues- Thurs 11AM- 10PM Fri- Sat 11AM- 12AM Sun 11AM- 10PM daikaya.com
Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant
One thing you should definitely eat in DC is Ethiopian food- whether that will be your first time or your 100th- because this city is home to a collection of many of the best places the country has to offer. Lalibela is where I was taken, but, truly, the selection is so vast and everyone has their favorite spot to recommend. At Lalibela expect generous portions, a friendly staff, and food so delicious and complex, the tendency to over eat cannot be avoided- it's just so good. Pair with some Ethiopian beer or honey wine, and definitely come with friends, because this easy-going, affordable spot will beg you to make a night of it.
1415 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20005 HOURS: Sun- Thurs 11:30AM- 1:30AM Fri- Sat 11:30AM- 2:30AM globeater.com
Churchkey is a craft beer enthusiast's dream, and, with a location steps away from The Studio Theatre and around the corner from Theatre J, it's an ideal spot for a group to hang. With great bar food, and two stories of spacious tables and bar seating, the desire to stay awhile will take hold immediately. So, when you do, try a number of the special brews they have on tap here- their list is long but worth exploring.
1337 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20005 HOURS: Mon- Thurs 4PM- 1AM Fri 4PM- 2AM Sat 12PM- 2AM Sun 11:30AM- 1AM churchkeydc.com
Dension Liquor Bar
Denison speakeasy lives right next to The Shakespeare Theatre's Harmon Hall, in a location so close to the stage door it may seem criminal, but, even if you are working elsewhere in town, this little gem is worth hunting out. Subterranean, down a set of unassuming stairs, this dark-leather, exposed brick bar serves up just what you'd expect them to: the kind of cocktails dreams are made of. Denison is an ideal place for a quieter group gathering or a special occasion night as its location generally keeps it from being a madhouse, and those late hours don't hurt either if you're craving something special after a show.
600 F St NW, Washington, DC 20004 HOURS: Mon- Thurs 4:30PM- 1AM Fri- Sat 4:30PM- 2AM Sun 3PM- 11PM densondc.com
Iron Horse resides in a fairly posh neighborhood of DC to provide the area with a simple dive bar, for all simple dive bar needs. Dark and vaguely sticky, this massive establishment caters to those who want to have an affordable night with a group of friends. Upstairs is a bar and booths hugging the back wall, and downstairs there are shuffle board tables, another massive bar, and a huge space for groups to segment off and enjoy healthy pours of highly affordable craft beers, wine, and well drinks. Happy Hour can make this spot even more appealing with $2 off all drafts, $5 wine, and $5 rail drinks.
507 7th St NW, Washington, DC 20004 HAPPY HOUR: 4PM- 8PM DAILY HOURS: Mon- Thurs 4PM- 2AM Fri 4PM- 3AM Sat 3PM- 3AM Sun 5PM- 2AM ironhorsedc.com
Clyde's of Gallery Place
Clyde's is a grand, old-school spot whose location close to Ford's, Woolly, and The Shakespeare Theatre means it becomes fairly unavoidable that you'll end up here one night. The upstairs bar, just to the left of an enormous staircase, complete with lush carpeting, is perfect for large groups looking for easy mingling and ordering from the bar. The downstairs bar in the back on quieter nights is ideal for a slightly smaller group (still think 6-8 people) to slip into a large booth and chow down on some shared appetizers and drinks.
707 7th St NW, Washington, DC 20001 HOURS: Mon- Thurs 11AM- 2AM Fri- Sat 11AM- 3AM Sun 10AM- 2AM clydes.com
Tunnicliff's used to be the grumpy, old watering hole for those housed by The Shakespeare Theatre in Eastern Market, and, although it's still fairly close to The Folger Theatre, this classic dive is no longer quite the theatre haunt it used to be. However, for old times sake, it goes on this list because if you ever do find an excuse to have a late night in Eastern Market, this affordable, casual spot should be your go-to. Cheap drinks, healthy pours, late hours, perfect fries piled high on a plate, Tunni's has it all.
222 7th St SE, Washington, DC 20003 HOURS: Mon- Fri 11AM- 2AM Sat 9AM- 2AM Sun 9AM- 12PM
2 Birds 1 Stone
So, 2 Birds, 1 Stone is schmanzy, but the kind of schmanzy that backs up what it puts down. The cocktails here are absolutely, positively delicious, and the bright, beautiful decor sets it apart from its dark, moody counterparts. Expect excellent service here, an attentive and knowledge staff who love handing someone a perfect drink, but come on a weekday and/or on the early side because this place can get truly insane on Friday and Saturday nights.
1800 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009 HOURS: Sun- Mon CLOSED Tues- Thurs 6PM- 12:15AM Fri- Sat 6PM- 1:15AM 2birds1stonedc.com
POV at the W Hotel
I was told about this spot by a local, and it does feel like something of an insider's secret. POV in The W Hotel in downtown DC is a rooftop bar with truly incredible views of some of the most famous landmarks in our country. The drinks are not cheap, and I wouldn't recommend coming on a Friday or a Saturday evening, but come you should at some point. Snag an overpriced beverage and soak in city and monuments all around you. It's a must.
515 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20004 HOURS: Sun- Thurs 11AM- 12AM Fri- Sat 11AM- 2AM povrooftop.com
The Drafting Table is just a solid bar option when working at The Studio Theatre. Their motto is " Better to Eat in a Bar than to Drink in a Restaurant", and they back that up with a delicious menu of classic comfort food like Fish and Chips with hand cut fries and house made tartar sauce and some pretty addictive Fried Pickles. With a thoughtful beer list, including a number of local DC breweries, this feels like a community bar from the moment you walk in the door, and you will want to keep bringing your business here. 1529 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20005 HOURS: Mon- Thurs 4PM- 1AM Fri 4PM- 2AM Sat 10AM- 2AM Sun 10AM- 1AM draftingtabledc.com
Ugh Trusty's is so cool. Trusty's Full Service (as its full name would suggest) takes on the decor of an old filling station, complete with an old, scrawled on school bus on its second story. An outdoor patio is ideal for summertime imbibing, but, really, any time of year is ideal for taking a treck out to this special place, only a block from the Potomac Ave Metro Stop, and ordering affordable beverages and their killer burger. Trusty's whole vibe ensures the good times, and I couldn't recommend it more highly.
1420 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC 20003 HOURS: Mon- Thurs 4PM- 2AM Fri 4PM- 3AM Sat 10AM- 3AM Sun 10AM- 2AM trustysfullserve.com
Dangerously Delicious Pies
Dangerously Delicious Pies DC is an absolute must to kill a post-show sugar craving. They have two locations in DC, but only one is open until the wee hours (3:30 AM on Fridays and Saturdays!) So grab a Lyft and head to the H-Street location for a selection of seasonal specialties in this tattoo/biker themed joint. The pies here are spectacular and guaranteed to hit the spot at the end of a long day of tech, rehearsal, or show.
1339 H St NE, Washington, DC 20002 HOURS: Mon- Thurs 11AM- 12AM Fri- Sat 11AM- 3:30AM Sun 11AM- 10PM http://www.dangerouspiesdc.com
The Sweet Lobby
Everything they offer at The Sweet Lobby is delicious, but I must give a special shout out here to their macarons. This place does macarons better than anywhere else I've ever been, and, with both classic and exotic flavors to choose from, a box of them while you're working in DC is something of a no brainer. Maybe a gift? For someone you like a whole lot.
404 8th St SE, Washington, DC 20003 HOURS: Sun CLOSED Mon- Thurs 10AM- 9PM Fri- Sat 10AM- 10PM sweetlobby.com
Founded by two sisters, Georgetown Cupcakes, began here and has since grown to national acclaim, but the freshness and care put into the cupcakes they put out each day has not diminished. These tasty morsels, are fresh, bright, delicious creations ideal for a treat during a Georgetown stroll one afternoon.
In the heart of DC's historic Capitol Hill neighborhood, Eastern Market is a destination for food, crafts, community events, in addition to an incredibly popular farmer's market on the weekends. Built in 1873 and serving the community ever since then (even when it was partially destroyed by a fire in 2007) this beautiful structure is a designated National Historic Landmark. Find time in your busy out-of-town schedule to visit, stroll, and buy some local produce here- everything from cheese to fish. This place is the definition of supporting local.
225 7th St SE, Washington, DC 20003 HOURS: Mon CLOSED Tues- Fri 7AM- 7PM Sat 7AM- 6PM Sun 9AM- 5PM easternmarket-dc.org
Beautiful, historic Georgetown is a stunning drag of shops, homes, and restaurants that is well worth a visit when you're working in town. Get a cupcake or a coffee and enjoy a spring or a fine autumn day walking this main street. (or use it as your mall for Christmas Shopping!) This neighborhood has a truly year round appeal.
Unlike the other cities I have featured on this site, our nation's capitol has, undoubtedly, the best and largest collection of tremendous museums anywhere in the country, so I am NOT going to take the time to make a list here. I can't even find a way to pick out my favorites because I honestly feel that every single one I visit has something wildly unique and important that makes it essential visiting. But, suffice to say, visit you should. There is no excuse, and, given an actor's schedule, once your show opens, those afternoons are made for some soul-enriching, mind expanding explorations in these incredible museums and memorials.
Portrait Gallery Courtyard
A bit of a secret gem in the heart of Penn Quarter is a soulful retreat inside the National Portrait Gallery. Head on through, past the front desk, to the very heart of the building, and you will find a gorgeously appointed, peaceful courtyard area, ideal for reading, working, focusing, or meeting a friend. You can bring your lunch and eat at one of the tables as well!
8th St NW & F St NW, Washington, DC 20001 HOURS: 11:30AM- 7PM npg.si.edu
OLD TOWN ALEXANDRIA
Use the Metro and take about a 40 minute ride that will cost you about $4.25 to the beautiful main drag of Old Town Alexandria. This lovely collection of bars, shops, and restaurants, leads you right to a pier where you will feel like you escape from the concrete jungle for a moment. Visit one or two of the spots below and explore the side streets for new and special finds in this gorgeous little town.
The "ESP" part of Killer ESP's name stands for Espresso. Sorbet. and Pie. I mean, I'm sold. This funky, homey establishment has a warmth and a welcoming energy that will make you want to linger. On warmer days, it's ideal for huddling up with a cup of tea and a slice of warm pie, and, in the warmer months, the sorbet is a perfect companion for a stroll.
1012 King St, Alexandria, VA 22314 HOURS: Sun- Thurs 7AM- 9PM Fri- Sat 7AM- 11PM killeresp.com
BRABO Tasting Room
Housed in a beautiful, brightly lit 150-year-old building, BRABO Tasting Room specializes in Belgium-inspired fare using locally sourced ingredients. The real king here is their mussels, and, paired with a Belgian beer, it is a special food experience that's bound to hit the spot. Come in for Happy Hour and get $7 wines and a $14 deal on their Mariner Mussel Pot with white wine jus, garlic, shallots, and parsley.
1600 King St #200, Alexandria, VA 22314 HAPPY HOUR: 3:30PM- 6PM (bar, patio and community table only) HOURS: Mon- Thurs 7AM- 11PM Fri 7AM- 12AM Sat 8AM- 12AM Sun 8AM- 10PM brabotastingroom.com
Bar PX is a deeply sexy cocktail spot you should visit on any trip to Old Town Alexandria. Look only for the blue light and the pirate flag to lead the way to this 1920's style speakeasy specializing in all things cocktail. This is actually a place where a reservation would be ideal, but don't let that intimidate you. Reservations are an easy way that this bar keeps itself from ever becoming too load or overly crowded.
728 King St, Alexandria, VA 22314 HOURS: Sun- Tues CLOSED Wed- Sat 6:30PM- 1:30AM barpx.com