An Insider’s Guide to Your Best Summer Yet: DC Edition
Snag tickets to the hottest shows of the season, escape into the city’s coolest speakeasy, and paddle along the Potomac — courtesy of Compass agents.
Editor: Hannah McWilliams Illustrations: Ping Zhu
Sample the globe’s best cuisine
Kalorama and Adams Morgan represent the most diverse collection of restaurants in the city,” says agent Ethan Carson. “Turkish, Brazilian, Vietnamese, Ethiopian, Cuban — the list goes on!” Here, he gives his personal recommendations around town.
Middle eastern eatery Mama Ayesha’s has been a staple since the 1960s, serving up fragrant hummus and feather-light babaganoush. Nearly every president since Eisenhower has eaten here — as documented by a mural on the restaurant’s wall!
Adams Morgan’s Las Canteras serves Peruvian cuisine. Start with a citrus-spiked cebiche, then opt for the savory lomo saltado (seared beef in wine and soy sauce) or rich aji de gallina (chicken simmered in a creamy, nut-based sauce).
Ethiopian spot Dukem is a U Street institution. First time? Order tibs — a common dish of stewed meat and vegetables, served atop a teff-flour flatbread called injera. Be sure to specify your spice preference in advance — these recipes tend to run hot.
Experience the District from the water
“For a different perspective of the city, head over to Thompson’s Boathouse in Georgetown. There, you can rent kayaks, canoes, paddle boards, even hydrobikes by the hour or day and take in the views from the Potomac. Looking for a bit more guidance? Sign up for their 90-minute kayaking tour to hit sights including Watergate, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Kennedy Center.” — Compass DC agent Tony Hain
Tap into the Capitol’s burgeoning art outlets
“Once you’ve exhausted the (often free!) entertainment provided by the Smithsonian museums, make your way to some less mainstream cultural outlets. First stop? The Fridge DC, a gallery, performance space, music venue, and classroom located on Barracks Row in the historic Eastern Market area. Then, duck into the newly-renovated Renwick Gallery, directly across from the White House, which emphasizes American contemporary crafts and decorative art — think textiles and jewelry. Finally, check out Art Enables in Woodridge. This nonprofit studio provides workspace and resources for artists with disabilities. For each piece bought, 60% of sales go to the artist; the other 40% is allocated to materials and facility upkeep.” — Compass DC agent Orlando Gonzales
Sip the city’s most innovative cocktails
“For a well-crafted drink in a low-key setting, head to speakeasy Left Door in the U Street Corridor. Ring the doorbell, then follow the sound of shakers up the stairs to the bar. Choose from reinvented classics like the absinthe-tinged Sazerac or entirely original creations. Just be sure to go early in the night, as it can fill up quickly after dusk.” — Compass DC agent Matt Zanolli
See DC’s lesser-known sights
“In a city brimming with monuments and museums, it can be tough to dodge the crowds in between Memorial and Labor Day,” says agent Mandy Mills. Here are some less-frequented hot spots.
The US Botanic Garden Discover plants and flowers across time and space inside the Capitol Hill conservatory, from Jurassic-era varieties to medicinals used by healers in countless cultures. Then stop by the current “You Can Grow It!” exhibit, which unlocks the secrets of successful cultivation at home.
The Arboretum Wend your way through native trees and blossoms within this 446-acre campus in Northeast Washington. Select exhibits including the koi pond and bonsai museum are within walking distance of the entrance; otherwise drive, bike, or hike the nine-mile network of pathways.
The Portrait Gallery This Chinatown museum celebrates the visages of American history — its leaders, renegades, entrepreneurs, and artists. Tour the galleries and then, in Washingtonian fashion, pause for a quick picnic on the steps of its handsome Greek Revival home.
Tune into the summer’s hottest shows
“DC is home to a number of cool live music venues. For jazz, visit the iconic Blues Alley in Georgetown. It’s been an institution since its 1965 founding, and this summer’s lineup, which includes Jean Carne, Poncho Sanchez, and Stacey Kent, promises to impress. To gain a sense of the local talent, check out a show at indie-centric Black Cat on 14th Street — pop group Charly Bliss, folk-influenced Timber Timbre, and soul group JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound are all slated to make appearances. Finally, be sure to check the Lincoln Theatre’s schedule — this season, the seated, 1,225-capacity auditorium will welcome performers including the Pixies and Old Crow Medicine Show.” — Compass DC agent Andy Peers