Mark & Lauren - May 28, 2005
Engagement Ring Lauren and Mark Washington Monument
Lincoln Memorial
washington, d.c.

For some of you, we know, this will be your first trip to our nation's capital. Despite our complaining sometimes that it is not New York, Washington is actually a great city, and we hope you will be able to spend some time and see a few of our favorite things. Everything below is organized by neighborhood or activity.

This map should help you get your bearings.

Last Minute Details
If you need to rent a tuxedo and want to do it locally, After Hours Formalwear is nationwide. In the DC area, it is located at Pentagon City Mall, which is a short subway ride away.

For hair, makeup and manicures, there are many nearby salons in Dupont Circle and Georgetown. Located in the Ritz Carlton is the Roche Salon. (Phone number: 202-974-6633). A little less expensive and slightly further away is PR @ Partners, located at 2033 K Street (21st & K). Call 202-862-3870. Other options are Aveda or Sephora in Georgetown.

Around the Hotel
In the immediate area are numerous restaurants ranging from very fancy, high-end to a campy college bar.

Bread and Chocolate: For breakfast, a light lunch or a late afternoon coffee, Bread and Chocolate is great. A very cute little French bistro right across the street, on 23rd and M.

David Greggory: A relatively new, upscale "restau-lounge" on 21st and M Street, David Greggory is pricey but worth it. The food is terrific - a contemporary mix of flavors.

Marcel's: Speaking of upscale, Marcel's is one of the best restaurants in town and priced that way. French cuisine "with a Flemish flare," head to Marcel's if you want a very special meal. It's at 24th and Pennsylvania.

Osteria del Galileo: Galileo, a very high-end Italian restaurant, is one of Washington's most celebrated and famous restaurants but one of the most over-priced and underwhelming restaurants in its category. However, Roberto Donna, its world-renowned chef and owner, has opened a restaurant-within-a-restaurant (actually within the bar) called Osteria del Galileo. Located on 21st between N & M Streets, Osteria is one of the best values in DC. The food is exquisite and very reasonably priced. If you go, make sure to tell the hostess you are there for the Osteria. Note that they do not accept reservations, but when we've been, there has been no wait.

Asia Nora: Yet another upscale restaurant in the area, Asia Nora serves a delicious fusion cuisine with organic Asian ingredients. It's really yummy. On M Street.

Blackie's: Blackie's, on 22nd Street, has been serving steak and seafood in Washington for years and years - since the late '40s. The restaurant was a favorite of Kennedy Administration hotshots. We haven't been there, but prices are on the same scale as the other high-end places on this list.

Meiwah: Meiwah is as good of Chinese as we get in Washington. The prices are right, and the food is good. Plus, it's right across the street from your hotel, on the northwest corner of New Hampshire and M.

Grillfish: Next door to Meiwah is an inexpensive seafood joint specializing in - what else - grilled fish. Served over pasta or as an entrée, the restaurant is all over the country - in fact, the website is for their Florida location.

Lulu's Club Mardi Gras: Lulu's serves bar food and specializes in happy hour drinks. It's the place to go - if you're a college girl. But it can be fun with a big group, and it's right across the street, on M Street between New Hampshire and 22nd.

Shula's: The Wyndham's restaurant, Shula's, is a national steakhouse themed after the 1972 Miami Dolphins' "Perfect Season." DC has lots of other steakhouses, but Shula's is nearby.

Dupont Circle:
Dupont Circle is a great place to people-watch and to grab a sandwich or coffee and enjoy the day. It's also renowned as DC's gay mecca - a reputation that is well-earned. It's the neighborhood Lauren lived in for four years, and it is not far from the hotels.

Pre-made sandwiches at Marvelous Market, just north of the circle, are the best in the neighborhood. If it's more of a donut kind of day, you can't miss the Krispy Kreme, right on Dupont Circle. We won't recommend any other chain restaurants, but as Mark says, Krispy Kreme is "the most exciting thing in Dupont Circle."

Ethnic favorites are Heritage India for Indian food, tapas-style, and Bistro du Coin, an authentic French bistro that's reasonably priced. Both are on Connecticut Avenue - Heritage is just below the circle, and Bistro du Coin is a few blocks north, at Florida Avenue.

If you're looking for a place to have a drink or play pool, as you know, Buffalo Billiards is near and dear to our hearts (you should know that, if you've read the "our story" section).

East of Dupont Circle is a growing neighborhood that boasts many new restaurants and shops. Our favorite restaurant on 14th Street (at R Street) is Rice, a yummy Thai restaurant. For a good cup of joe, try Sparky's, a block or two north.

The Ritz Carlton and Wyndham are located about halfway between Dupont Circle and Georgetown. If shopping and eating is your game, Georgetown is a great walk (take M Street west, right into the heart of Georgetown) and a lot of fun.

For shopping, M Street and Wisconsin Avenue are Washington's equivalent of a mall. With national clothing stores like The Gap, Banana Republic, J Crew, Benetton, Zara, H & M and Victoria's Secret, you can pick up any last-minute accessories. For make-up, Sephora and Mac are on M Street.

Our personal faves for lunch: Pizzeria Paradiso for California pizza, Five Guys for the best burgers in town, and don't forget Thomas Sweet for dessert. Their homemade ice cream is barely rivaled by new favorite Isee Icy, an Argentinean gelato shop up the street.

Further up Wisconsin are two locally-owned restaurants that we want to support. The Curry Club is a new Indian restaurant whose food is as good as its story. And Café Bonaparte is a recent addition to Georgetown. A crepe and espresso there will make you think you're in Paris.

Adams Morgan:
The nightlife in DC often centers around Adams Morgan, full of great ethnic restaurants and bars. A bit of a hike from the hotels, you might want to splurge on a taxi. The best place to start is 18th and Wyoming. Most of the places to be are north of Wyoming, all along 18th Street. Restaurants worth trying: Fasika's for Ethiopian, Jyoti for Indian food, Bardia's New Orleans Café for delicious cajun food and Cashion's Eat Place which is a little more upscale. A new spot for late-night grease is Amsterdam Falafel, where the only items on the menu are falafel, fries and apple juice. It's delicious!

Lincoln Memorial
If you read our engagement story, you know that the Lincoln Memorial holds special memories for us. It is a beautiful monument and much more moving than you might think. President Lincoln sits on 23rd Street, just south of Constitution Avenue. It is walk-able from either hotel.

If you haven't seen the Lincoln, likely you haven't seen the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial, or the Vietnam, Korean War or World War II Veterans Memorials as well. There are also numerous Smithsonian museums, including the National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of Natural History, the American Art Museum and many others.

Other Museums
Lauren's personal favorites are the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and the Corcoran Museum of Art.

The Hirshhorn is also a Smithsonian institution and is therefore free. It features modern and contemporary art. The sculpture garden there hosts really cool sculptures by artists such as Rodin and Alexander Calder, and you can sit outside around a fountain. In the spring, it's a beautiful and peaceful place to hang around.

The Corcoran is full of American art, mostly modern. It is a very cool museum but, sadly, not free.

Many people rave about the 2-year-old International Spy Museum. Located downtown at 800 F Street, the museum explores espionage and the role of spies in world history. You can buy advance tickets through Ticketmaster or at the museum the day before.

Taste of DC
Last but not least, we have recently learned that the 12th Annual Taste of DC will be taking place Memorial Day weekend. We haven't been, and we just told you about all our favorite restaurants in the city (plus, we're not at all sure any of those will be represented at the Taste of DC), but we're sure it will taste good. The food will be available Saturday through Monday from 11am to 6:30pm on Pennsylvania Avenue between 7th and 14th Streets.

Photos by Doug DeMark