Capitol culinary credentials, go-go music greats and the coolest (non-smithsonian) museums in Washington, D.C.
THIS CITY IS SO MUCH MORE than the White House, monuments and memorials. It’s an unexpected culinary capital with serious chops, recently gaining its own Michelin Guide, one of only four created for cities in the United States. James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef José Andrés has a handful of restaurants featured in the guide, including downtown’s China Chilcano, which features playful takes on Peru’s eclectic Chinese- and Japanese-influenced cuisine. Find a spot at the sushi bar, grab a mouth-puckering pisco sour and alternate bites of soft sashimi and crunchy plantain and taro root chips dunked in a Chinese five-spice dip. History buffs should head to 1789 ( right), an upscale contemporary American restaurant in a Federal Period house in Georgetown, the city’s oldest — and arguably most charming — neighbourhood. Dine on seasonal fare (think wild ramp risotto and soft-shell crab) while surrounded by antiques, historical prints and Limoges china. chinachilcano.com, 1789restaurant.com
WHAT’S DINNER WITHOUT A LITTLE DANCING? Go-go music — a subgenre rooted in funk, soul and old-school hip-hop — is quintessentially D.C., conceived in the Washington metropolitan area in the 1970s by the late guitarist and singer Chuck Brown. For more than three decades, the 11-member go-go band Rare Essence has helped keep go-go alive with energetic performances at clubs and festivals. Concertgoers will want to check out 9:30 Club ( left) in the U Street neighbourhood for exciting up-and-comers in nearly every genre. Called the “best big room” venue in America by Rolling Stone, this 1,200-person capacity, standingroom-only club has its origins in the 1980s hardcore, punk and alt-rock scenes, hosting now famous but then little-known acts such as Nirvana and Black Flag. Don’t leave without visiting the 9:30 Hall of Records, a collection of music from every artist that has ever played the venue. rareessence.com, 930.com
D.C. IS BRIMMING with top-notch museums, but ditch the masses at the Smithsonians lining the National Mall (for now, anyway) and walk a few blocks north to some lesser-known collections. The International Spy Museum is the only museum in the United States dedicated to espionage and features the largest public collection of its kind in the world, including disguised weapons such as the lipstick pistol, miniature cameras and listening devices, KGB artifacts and spy training films from the Second World War. Dedicate an afternoon to free expression at the Newseum ( right), near the Capitol building. This interactive museum devoted to journalism and defending the First Amendment of the United States Constitution has 15 fascinating galleries in which you can explore topics such as the rise and fall of the Berlin Wall, the 9/11 attacks and every Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph since 1942. spymuseum.org, newseum.org