This semester, I vowed to see more of Baltimore. I forgot that I also wanted to see more of D.C. Sure, I’ve done the museums and monuments; I’ve been there for interviews, conferences and field trips. But I haven’t spent much time exploring the D.C. lifestyle.
So last weekend, my friends and I set up a brunch with a professional contact in the District and headed in on the first MARC train that Sunday (hot tip: It’s 9:15 a.m.). The brunch was a 10:30 a.m. reservation at Tico DC, a hip Latin-American fusion place on U Street and 14th near Logan Circle.
I’d heard from alumni friends that U Street was a pretty posh place. The area has been gentrified quite a lot in the last few decades, and now it’s teeming with young professionals, as evidenced by the slew of bars, trendy gyms and bougie little shops.
Tico turned out to be a great pick. With lots of tables and reasonable prices, brunch specials ran the same price as One World’s, between 10 and 15 bucks. There was a lot to be said for the place.
The cocktails looked scrumptious, but our meal was semi-professional, so we stuck with coffee (which was served strong and somehow never added to the bill).
I got nervous when we ordered; One person in the party is vegan, and I had forgotten to call ahead. However, when we let the waiter know, he went back and arranged with the chef to have a special dish made for my friend. What came out was an avocado-and-veggie sandwich that looked delicious, along with hand-cut fries. She was very pleased.
The rest of our table ordered the specials of the day: one was an open-faced sandwich with smoked fish, bacon and cheese, and the other was a frittata-like omelette of the day featuring artichoke, spinach and goat cheese.
The potatoes on the side were perfectly cooked and seasoned, possibly the best I’ve ever had.
Following brunch, we went one block down and stopped in Busboys and Poets, a place recommended by our friend. We were under the impression it was a little bakery and bookstore.
We were wrong. It was a full-blown café that also happened to house a small selection of politically salient books. I purchased two copies of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists, and paid a reasonable 16-odd dollars in total.
Across the street from Busboys and Poets was a Capital Bikeshare stop. We were planning to head up to Georgetown, so we decided to look up the bike route.
It was only 15 minutes, so we went for it. Pro tip: You can rent a bike for just two dollars if you keep your ride under an hour. It probably cost less than the metro, and we got to enjoy the city and feel the sun on our faces the whole ride.
We dropped off the bikes in Georgetown and walked a block downhill to the river. It was a lovely day, and lots of families featuring cute kids and dogs lined the trail along the shore.
After a few minutes of people watching, it was very apparent we were in a pretty affluent area. We saw North Faces and Vineyard Vines galore. The buildings were all beautiful brick, with a clearly colonial vibe. Most streets were cobblestone.
Of course, no trip to the famed college town could be complete without a stop at Georgetown Cupcake. Being a Georgetown Cupcake virgin, this was my first go at the supposedly “amazing” baked goods.
A cupcake is a cupcake, right? I’ve had Sprinkles in Chicago and Baked by Melissa in New York. How much better could this place be?
After waiting in line for about 15 minutes (we were queued outside, trailing down the block), we made it into the shop to find a sweet tooth paradise.
The display case was chock-full of pretty sugar bliss. With about two dozen flavors, it was hard to settle on just one. Our party opted for a vegan apple cinnamon, a mocha fudge and a chocolate coconut. All three were incredibly delicious. The vegan cupcake was the best vegan baked good I’ve ever tasted.
After our snack, we walked up to the Georgetown Circulator stop and paid one dollar each for a ride to the end of the line, which conveniently happened to be Union Station.
Next time you’re in D.C., skip the mall. Take some time to check out the neighborhoods: the up and comings, like Logan Circle or Shaw and the classics, like Georgetown. I can now confirm that the cupcakes are worth the hype.