The Post’s magazine asked readers to tell us what they love in Washington, from pizza to play dates
Favorites lists have been around as long as humans have had enough things to pick favorites. The exact purpose of prehistoric cave drawings is unknown, but I suspect they are favorites lists painted by Neanderthals. Everyone has a favorites list. President Obama. Guinness World Records. Winston Churchill. Dictators. Mark Twain. Yahoo. Jerry Seinfeld. Quizopolis. Oprah. Quibblo. Adam Levine. MdJunction. Kim Kardashian. Politicians. National Geographic staffers. Jackson Galaxy. Derek Jeter. Merriam-Webster. My husband.
There’s even an online quiz to help you ﬁgure out your list of favorites, just in case you can’t ﬁgure them out on your own. (That is not my favorite online quiz.)
The Washington Post Magazine has always avoided favorites and best lists, thinking who are we to tell you? But then we decided to let you tell us.
We sent a list of questions to a pool of Post readers to ﬁnd out their favorite things around Washington. Read the answers below. And who knows? Perhaps this will be your favorite story.
— Lynn Medford, editor
Place to take out-of-town relatives who have already seen the monuments
Great Falls Park, McLean “Tremendous natural scenery, great hiking trails, well-curated history.” John Handley, Fairfax County
Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Chantilly “The coolest museum in the history of ever.” Huey Callison, Annandale
Newseum, Pennsylvania Avenue NW “No one ever gets bored.” Amy Ross, Bethesda
Place that prompts an American history moment
Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington “It reminds me how much our country is worth. When you measure that value in the number of lives that have served to protect and defend it, the petty political squabbles the D.C. area is famous for tend to fall away. The sight of all of those men and women who gave of themselves makes me want to do better. To be better.” Siri Mitchell, Arlington
George Washington’s Mount Vernon, Fairfax County “One of the few places left in the region that looks almost the same as it did way back when George Washington lived there. One can walk around freely without having to take a tour or go through security. It not only has his old home but all the outbuildings that made up a plantation. I never get tired of wandering around and imagining life 200 years ago.” Christine Dziak, Great Falls
Lincoln Memorial, the Mall “Because it signifies so many key turning points/issues in American history: the Civil War, the civil rights movement, many political and social protests that have and continue to use the memorial as a meeting place. And all my fellow citizens who come and visit the monument — either once or over and over again. I love seeing the diversity of visitors. Symbolizes what the best of America is all about.” Anne Stauffer, D.C. “I remember Marian Anderson’s concert after being denied access to Constitution Hall and Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.” Carol Wyman, North Beach, Md. “There’s a beautiful, somber and reflective quality to visiting the Lincoln Memorial late at night. The crowds are lighter, the tour buses are gone and the planes have stopped flying low overhead on their path into National Airport. The memorial is lit up beautifully, and the Washington Monument shines brightly in the Reflecting Pool as you look east from the top of the stairs. Most important, the quiet and the dark sky add an air of gravitas as you read the full Gettysburg Address and second inaugural address that are carved into the walls. It’s a fitting reminder of the fragility of our union, and of the struggles we have overcome.” Scott Ableman, McLean
Place to get a great meal under $25
Chipotle, multiple locations “This is my kids’ favorite place. They love the food and being able to make their burritos and burrito bowls any way they want. The average burrito is under $7, which is perfect for a family of four. The line can be long, but that’s how you know it’s a good place.” Toan Tran, Bristow
District Taco, multiple locations “Super nomz, super cheap.” Caitlin Reed, Arlington
Artie’s, Fairfax “I love Artie’s steak salad. It has so many delicious ingredients, comes in a large portion and is reasonable in price.” Stefanie Schwartz, Vienna
El Pollo Rico, Arlington “Hands down the best Peruvian chicken in the area. Juicy and flavorful, and you can get plenty of chicken, yucca fries andan Inca Kola for way less than $25.” Tucker Hughes, Vienna
Daikaya, Chinatown “The ramen is both authentic and amped up, with smoky rich flavors from the pork, sauteed bean sprouts and roasted corn toppings. It is a more savory hipster bowl of ramen but is still true to its Japanese roots. Perfect chewy noodles and rich, long-simmered broth. My fave in town!” Jean Kim, Bethesda
Oohhs & Aahhs, U Street NW “Great takeout soul food.” Michael Stratton, D.C.
Place to have a business lunch
Clyde’s, multiple locations “It’s one of the few restaurants left in D.C. where it’s quiet enough to talk with your companions without having to yell.” Robin Miles McLean, D.C.
Bazin’s on Church, Vienna “It’s not a chain, and non-locals don’t know about it, and so far it has never failed to surprise and delight my guests … not too loud at lunch.” Anne Nelson, Chevy Chase
Old Ebbitt Grill, downtown D.C. “It represents classic D.C. It is a great place to take out-of-towners because of its history and atmosphere. While the place is always busy, you still feel like you can have a conversation without having to shout.” Margaux Price, Arlington
Private clubs Restaurants “are all so … noisy you literally have to shout to be heard. The only places we can conduct any business is in a quiet hotel lobby, a private club or a museum cafe. The hospitality scene should be ashamed that noise levels have gotten so out of control.” Randy Reade, D.C.
Chef Geoff’s, multiple locations “Food is always inventive and reasonably priced with something for everyone; the waiters are attentive but give you space to meet and don’t rush you.” Neal Elliott, Silver Spring
Rose’s Luxury, Capitol Hill “The food was creative, and I’m always impressed when a chef can take a bunch of ingredients I don’t like and somehow make me love the finished dish.” Kellen MacBeth, Arlington
Red Hen, Bloomingdale “Neighborhood vibe, rustic feeling, delicious, unique.” Valerie Norton, D.C.
Fiola Mare, Georgetown “The attention to detail and simple, sophisticated elegance.” Scott Taylor, Falls Church
The Fainting Goat,U Street NW “Love the name and the related decor!” Liisa Ecola, D.C.
Plan B, Penn Quarter “The menu is huge and includes a slew of excellent appetizers. There are many burgers from which to choose and they are consistently stellar.” Todd J. Piantedosi, D.C.
Le Diplomate, 14th Street NW “Classic French and not too expensive.” Anthony Jamberdino, Alexandria
Gringos & Mariachis, Bethesda “Fresh, creative Mexican.” Lisa Orange, Bethesda
Tico, U Street NW “Go for the chef’s tasting menu.” David DyTang, D.C.
Old Ebbitt Grill, downtown D.C. “It’s a D.C. standard for a reason. Solid menu, good service and great odds that you will have at least one political celebrity sighting.” Halle Czechowski, D.C.
Clyde’s, multiple locations “Feels like ‘old D.C.’ without being too expensive or stuffy.” Jeff Burkeen, Arlington
L’Auberge Chez Francois, Great Falls “This restaurant oozes old Alsatian French charm. It is a beautiful drive to get to and also has charming patio and pub dining.It’s truly a place to go and celebrate occasions large and small.” Christine Dziak, Great Falls
Place to get a decadent burger
Five Guys Burgers and Fries, multiple locations “The closest a takeout burger tastes to one I would grill myself.” Steven Brown, Bowie
Ray’s to the Third, Arlington “One of, if not the original, great burger joints in the area.” Tucker Hughes, Vienna
Pete’s New Haven Style Apizza, multiple locations “A little bit of New Haven south of the Mason-Dixon line.” Patrick Sheehan, Silver Spring
2 Amys, Cathedral Heights “The crust is so thin and crisp and the toppings so delicious. Plus the pies aren’t overwhelmed with cheese — delicious!” Elizabeth Eastwood, Arlington
Pupatella, Arlington “The pizza reminds me of pizza that I had in a tiny restaurant in Rome. The crust is perfect.” Cheryl Moore, Arlington
Matchbox, multiple locations “I like the thin, crispy crust. I like the variety of toppings. I like the mini-burgers as an appetizer. I like the fact that the menu changes periodically and that it offers more than pizza.” Todd J. Piantedosi, D.C.
Place to get food at 2 a.m.
Amphora Restaurant, Vienna (also Amphora Diner Deluxe, Herndon) “This place is open 24/7, and a popular chill-out spot for people who’ve been out partying. In addition to some pretty great food (burgers, Greek food, cakes and pastries to die for), the people-watching at 2 a.m. is incredible. You could just drink ice water and have fun watching the amazing cross-section of Americana that passes through Amphora in the wee hours. But that would be a waste — the food is great post-drinking fare.” Anne Nelson, Chevy Chase
Ben’s Chili Bowl,U Street NW “AMAZING chili cheese fries. Takes the edge off the hangover in the morning.” Valerie Norton, D.C.
Yechon, Annandale “Stays open 24/7. Good-quality Korean food and sushi. Feels festive.” Deb Yoon, Herndon
Place to indulge a sweet tooth
Baked & Wired, Georgetown “I LOVE their cupcakes. They are big and decadent and have lots of frosting. I love frosting. Their frosting covers the entire cupcake — not just a glob in the middle.” Denise Johnson, D.C.
Max Brenner, Bethesda “Chocolate, in almost every imaginable form.” Dave Metzger, Bethesda
Georgetown Cupcake, multiple locations “There’s a cupcake for everyone (alas, no sugar-free cupcakes).” Luis Santos, McLean
Sweet Lobby, Barracks Row “The macarons.” Robin Chudnovsky, D.C. “The cupcakes.” Mandy Warfield, D.C. “Macarons.” Michael Leibert, D.C.
POV Lounge atop W Hotel, D.C. “Although a bit too ‘swanky in their own mind,’ the view is the best in D.C., and the bartenders are very friendly if you take the time to talk to them about what you want.” Charlene Vivian Towle, Alexandria “Expensive drinks and snotty staff, but you can’t beat the views!” Caitlin Reed, Arlington
Elephant & Castle, multiple locations “Not too crowded.” Jessica Avery, Arlington
Rock It Grill, Alexandria “The regulars.” Mike Reid, Alexandria
Muzette Karaoke Studios and Korean Restaurant, Adams Morgan “Private rooms and flexible reservation times make this a solid night out.” David DyTang, D.C.
Jimbo’s Grill, Gainesville “They have a jukebox night, where the singers of all levels can belt out their favorite tunes. Everyone is supportive there, and the food is really good, too.” Toan Tran, Bristow
Art’s Tavern, Falls Church “Good musicians, small venue, always get a chance to sing.” Dave Jakes, Annandale
Place to drink craft beer
Birch & Barley/Churchkey, Logan Circle “Great staff, strange beers, good atmosphere.” Emily Guskin, D.C.
Bluejacket, Navy Yard “It has the best beers in town, and really I think it’s already among the best breweries in the country.It has a lot of changing choices and styles.” Girair Simon, Arlington
Right Proper Brewing Co., Shaw “Tough choice as there are a lot of good places now, but Right Proper usually always has good beer on tap and keeps their rotation fresh so there’s always something new to try. They also have good cheap/low ABV selections so you can have tame nights in addition to the ragers.” Matt Newsome, D.C.
City Tap House, Penn Quarter “City Tap House has a great selection and very knowledgeable bartenders.” Chris Harris, D.C.
Poste Moderne Brasserie, Penn Quarter “Interesting cocktails made by smart, friendly bartenders, plus a large interior courtyard that makes it an indoor-outdoor space even in winter, when they have fire pits, blankets and free make-your-own s’mores.” Lisa Orange, Bethesda
The Pug, Atlas District “An H Street NE original, the Pug keeps it simple: ‘No idiots. No bombs. No shooters. No specials. No politics. Relax. Drink. Be cool. Behave.’ Always a soccer match on, great bartenders, cheap beers and brunch slung off a George Foreman grill. This is the place to go when you don’t want anyone else to find you.” Logan Hollers, D.C.
Quarry House Tavern, Silver Spring “I love its dingy basement-rec-room ambiance. I love its cheap burger nights with tots and Whisky Wednesdays. Long beer list, long whisky list. It’s a true Silver Spring ‘Cheers’ pub experience. Weeknights you see families from 5 to 7. Later, it’s millennials and lively boomers. On Saturdays, you can catch live honky-tonk or roots or rock-and-roll bands with a backdrop of empty liquor boxes.” Cynthia Rubenstein, Silver Spring
Capitol Lounge, Capitol Hill “D.C. is losing its dive bars. I am from the Pacific Northwest and I love a good dive bar, where pretense goes out the window. Cap Lounge is one of the few surviving places.” Samantha Damato, D.C.
Hank Dietle’s Tavern, Rockville “The liquor license on the wall is No. 001, the only food sold is potato chips, and there’s a front porch. This place feels like a country roadhouse, except it’s on Rockville Pike.” Dan Reed, Silver Spring
Dan’s Cafe, Adams Morgan “Ketchup bottles.” (They serve drinks in squeezables.) David DyTang, D.C.
District Trivia, multiple locations “The questions are fast and furious, the pictures are quirky and the jokes … well, the jokes are awful.” Heather Hurley, Arlington
Argonaut, Atlas District “Science night on Tuesdays!” David DyTang, D.C.
Place for a dog outing
Congressional Cemetery, Capitol Hill “It’s safe, fenced in, a very relaxed community of dog walkers. We care for the cemetery, we volunteer there, we contribute to our neighborhood. It’s a ‘living’ cemetery! You also get to see lots of interesting stones — one is a library card, others represent the Underground Railroad; Hoover and Sousa are both buried there — along with former D.C. ‘Mayor for Life’ Marion Barry.” Diane R. Johnson, D.C.
Jones Point Park, on the Potomac south of Alexandria “Under the Wilson Bridge, kind of tucked away. Lots of paths for dog walking, open areas for running, but also more isolated areas for ‘off-leash’ fun.” Charlene Vivian Towle, Alexandria
Workout alternative to gym
Hiking, walking and running in Rock Creek Park, D.C. “Right in the middle of D.C. are trails that offer amazing beauty and privacy. You might as well be in Colorado.” Thomas Sherman, Potomac
Washington & Old Dominion Trail, Shirlington to Purcellville “Long enough for a good ride, fairly flat, hooks into the Mount Vernon bike trail and the Four Mile Run trail, and not as crowded as the Mount Vernon Trail, especially out near Purcellville, Va. By the way, check out Magnolias restaurant in Purcellville — they have a great selection of beers.” Susan Whitmore, Oakton
Place to take a long walk
Rock Creek Park, D.C. “A treasure, particularly on the weekend when Beach Drive is closed to car traffic. It is a convenient escape from the city, even though it is in the city.” Philip Bender, D.C.
Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park, Georgetown to western Maryland “It is a long trail, and it has many different viewpoints of beauty. Most of it past Great Falls is almost devoid of people.” Janet Stotsky, Bethesda “Combination of woods and river setting and chance to be pretty much alone in those environments, though very close to the city.” Jim Fey, Wheaton
Great Falls Park, McLean “Scenery, challenge, parking.” Roberto Figueredo, Springfield
Arts & Music
Live music venue
Birchmere, Alexandria “Books a wide range of artists, unlike other venues that tend to stick to one genre and/or time period. I like the order that comes from their system. It’s very fair and no one gets stressed. Now, if they could just improve the food.” Suzanne Weiss, Vienna “Big enough to get big names but small enough for a close-up view of the artist.” Rebecca Young, Sterling
9:30 Club, near Howard University “Best sound and sight lines in the area.” Brett Geranen, D.C.
Neighborhood art gallery
Torpedo Factory, Alexandria “So diverse, and more democratic than most art galleries.” Asgeir Sigfusson, Alexandria
Place to see theater
Kennedy Center, Foggy Bottom “The majestic feeling, all the history there and the comfortable seats in the theater!” Stefanie Schwartz, Vienna
Arena Stage, Southwest D.C. “Wonderful productions, top-rate casts and theaters small enough to see and feel a part of the production.” Eva Bridget, Lake Ridge, Va.
Place for a kid’s play date
Clemyjontri Park, McLean “It’s got a carousel and massive sport-court-like playground.” Paul Benda, Great Falls
National Building Museum, Judiciary Square “Great indoor space in a convenient location: space to play, run around and eat.” Anna Marie Yombo, D.C. “Good access to food and places to go afterward.” Ron Alford, Greenbelt
Museum your kids are always excited to visit
National Museum of Natural History, the Mall “Some like minerals, some like animals and all like Imax.” Michael Turner, Takoma Park
Place to hear political gossip
Think-tank lectures “Actually, I don’t like political ‘gossip’ — I like policy discussions, especially with those at orgs that offer lunch with programs giving a chance to mingle. Favorites: Middle East Institute, Alliance for Justice, Institute for Policy Studies, Center for American Progress.” Dorothy Marschak, D.C.
National Press Club, downtown D.C. “Full of reporters, who are the biggest gossips of all.” Martha Craver, D.C.
Amtrak “It sounds like an episode of ‘The Newsroom,’ but if you’re creative, you can hear a lot of great phone calls between D.C. and Baltimore.” Mara Hollander, Arlington
Metro “Just as people behave strangely on Metro, they (mostly Hill staffers) are shockingly unconcerned about what they say (loudly) on the ride home.” Asgeir Sigfusson, Alexandria
When you need to laugh
D.C. Improv, downtown “The best place for consistent laughs.” Kevin Gauthier, Del Ray
U.S. Capitol “Clowns, bro.” Brian McEntee, D.C.
Place to get dressed up for
Kennedy Center, Foggy Bottom “You feel elegant just walking in there.” Amy Ross, Bethesda
Place to volunteer
D.C. Central Kitchen “It’s a great place that does great things and is deeply connected to the community they serve while providing a second chance to those who need it.” Matt Newsome, D.C.
Meals on Wheels “They helped my mom and dad when they were elderly.” Chet Bracuto, Fairfax
Food & Friends “Because you’re helping to connect nutritious meals to those who are dealing with serious illnesses, and that feels good. No one should struggle to get food. The staff is incredible — authentic, kind, funny and great to work with. And they’re organized — never waste any time while you’re there.” Tamra McCraw, D.C.
Martha’s Table “Their work is just so good, it feels great to be a part of it.” Chris Young, D.C.
So Others Might Eat “No one should ever be hungry in the U.S.A.” John Seleski, Brookeville, Md.
Community Tax Aid “The best volunteer work there is, because you are providing an obviously important service to people who genuinely benefit from high-quality tax preparation, maximizing the tax benefits they qualify for, and saving them a couple hundred in fees.” Katherine Lucas McKay, Silver Spring
Place to people-watch
Metro and Union Station “Depending on the time of day, you can see harried tourists, stoic government workers, crazed teenagers or drunks. What more could you want?” Chris Harris, D.C. “It’s the only place where all kinds of people come together — all races, tourists, locals, students, all socio-economic statuses.” Sue Vernalis, Arlington
Georgetown “I love to sit out at one of the restaurants at Washington Harbour and watch the folks that come walking by or alight from a boat at the pier. One of the nicest views, great drinks, and my personal favorite is Sequoia restaurant, which has floor-to-ceiling windows for spectacular views of the harbor and the river.” Christine Dziak, Great Falls “Never a dull moment. Between the boats and the people walking by, it is always colorful and in a beautiful setting. You can watch from the public benches, or while having a drink on the patio at Nick’s or Tony and Joe’s.” Cheri Recchia, D.C.
Shenandoah National Park “I love to hike in Shenandoah National Park. The beginning of Skyline Drive is only about 90 minutes away (in good traffic), so it’s relatively close for such pristine bucolic scenery. There is no end to the trails, and if you’re feeling really lazy, you don’t even have to get out of the car; the frequent pullouts boast some superb views. The Park Service does a great job maintaining the park, and it’s accessible year-round; in fact, winter hikes are among the best.” Todd J. Piantedosi, D.C.
Place to make yourself smarter
Library of Congress, Capitol Hill “I find it impossible to look up at the statuary gracing the rotunda above the Library of Congress’s Main Reading Room without wanting to learn more about Aristotle.” Shelby Sadler, Rockville
Marian Koshland Science Museum, downtown D.C. “Why does this museum get left off so many lists? Run by the National Academy of Sciences, this deceptively small museum has a lot to offer. Interactive displays engage tweens and teens who are tired of getting dragged around the Smithsonians. Exhibits offer enough information to engage adults in of-the-minute topics like climate change, impact of aging and texting-while-driving (although exhibits do change often). You’ll feel like you learned something, you won’t be overwhelmed, and you’ll still have half the day to check another museum or monument off your list.” Siri Mitchell, Arlington
Smithsonian Institution museums “Especially the Air and Space, American History and Natural History. Where else can you learn how evolution works and see the actual bones of animals? Or how jet propulsion moves planes through the air? Or how we first discovered electricity and that led to the light bulb? If you take time to read all the placards and really look at the exhibits, you will gain a knowledge that you simply can’t from books or lectures. Seeing the real objects implants learning and education far better than TV or the Internet.” Randy Reade, D.C.
Washington Post Web site* “Immediate access to what I need to know now and what I should have learned in the past.” Steve Shulman, D.C.
[*Editor’s note: Of course, that is our favorite favorite favorite. And on that note, we’re going to take a long walk to a dive bar and get inspired.]
Line drawings by Tomi Um