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5 D.C. Dining Hot Spots with Presidential Flair

Chefs throughout the nation’s capital salute the inauguration with special drinks and dishes that range from the Obama Roll to vodka-and-fruit shakes that will get your taste buds racing.

 

The big event is less than a month away, and Washington, D.C., is rolling out the welcome mat for Barack Obama supporters, VIPs and political junkies who will descend on the city in full force in January for the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States. Despite the cool winter temperatures, the city nightlife promises to be hot—and jam-packed. (A good rule of thumb for beating the crowds in D.C. is to plan to arrive before dark!) Check out these picks for some of the best restaurants and bars in town, all of which are offering a little something extra for their inaugural guests.

1) Acadiana (901 New York Ave., NW; tel. 202-408-8848. www.acadianarestaurant.com) in the eclectic Chinatown/Penn Quarter neighborhood routinely offers Washingtonians Cajun comfort food and great music to accompany your dining experience. Don’t miss the grits studded with jalapenos or the fruit cobblers in season (its hot peach à la mode is down-home heaven in a bowl). Wash down a big southern meal here with the restaurant’s newest concoction, a warm cocktail called “The Dream” (bourbon, apple cider, caramel, and a healthy dose of cinnamon), created to celebrate the first African-American president.

2) Asia Nine (915 E St., NW; tel. 202-629-4355. www.asianine.com) is a couple of blocks from the White House, and offers some of the best Asian tapas in town. In addition to exceptional California rolls and delicate tuna sashimi, the restaurant now offers the “Obama Roll,” a “lean and green” combination of asparagus, cucumber and avocado sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds. Fans of the new VP can savor the “Biden Roll,” a slightly spicier combination of local Chesapeake blue crab, cucumber and wasabi cream. Even devotees of President George W. Bush are not forgotten: “The Lame Duck” is a roll of roasted duck, scallions and Hoisen sauce—although the restaurant expects to discontinue this item soon after Bush leaves town.

3) Mie n Yu (3125 M St., NW; tel. 202-333-6122. www.mienyu.com) in the always-bustling Georgetown is as cleverly designed a restaurant as its pun-y name implies: Crystal chandeliers and paper lanterns mix with wildly vibrant-colored walls, golden statues of Hindu gods and miles of lavishly draped silk. To enhance the already exotic ambiance, belly dancers twirl about the place as diners enjoy eclectic dishes with influences from Asia, Africa and the Mediterranean. (Try the phenomenal “inside-out flounder,” with jumbo lump crab, shrimp, mushrooms, Thai basil and a zesty red-curry sauce.)

This immensely popular restaurant and lounge has added two inaugural treats to its cocktail menu. “Hail to the Chief” is a mix of bourbon, locally grown mint, peach juice, and ginger ale. According to Mike Cherner of Mie n Yu, the concoction was formulated to feature “classic American ingredients.” Another dish, “The White House,” is a nod to the Herculean task that faces the new president—it’s designed to provide an extra boost of energy for those late nights in the West Wing, with its blend of P.I.N.K. vodka infused with caffeine and mixed with ginger liqueur, lime juice and white cranberry. (This drink looks a little milky—and a lot like the color of the president’s new digs.)

4) Round Robin (1401 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; tel. 202-637-7348. www.washington.intercontinental.com) is the watering hole at the venerable Willard Intercontinental, just down the street from the White House, where on any given day you’re likely to find powerbrokers sipping cocktails and talking in hushed tones. Befitting the history of this grand old hotel—Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his “I Have a Dream” speech in one of the rooms in the Willard, and every president since Zachary Taylor has called it their home away from home at some point—the bar menu features a lesson in presidential history.

There is a themed drink to correspond with every U.S. president. For example, George Washington is assigned a “Madeira,” said to be his drink of choice. Bill Clinton is paired with the “Foggy Bottom Ale” (a beer named after a D.C. neighborhood, in case you were wondering!). And to celebrate the 44th president, Barack Obama is feted with the “Obama Shake,” a fruit, cream, and vodka concoction said to be served “tall and cool,” like its namesake. If presidential beverages don’t appeal, consider the “Willard Mint Julep,” the bar’s signature drink, mixed for the first time on site by Kentucky Congressman Henry Clay in the 1850s.

5) The Source (575 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; tel. 202-637-6100. www.wolfgangpuck.com) is said to be one of Obama’s favorite restaurants in D.C., so if you come to this new hot spot, you might even run into the first family. The brainchild of media darling Wolfgang Puck, The Source is ensconced in the Newseum, the recently reopened museum highlighting all things related to journalism. (Read our article about its opening.)

Floor-to-ceiling windows offer spectacular views of the most powerful corridor of the city day and night, but the best views might very well be right in front of you: The lacquered Chinese duck with black mission figs and stir-fried lo-mein noodles is as beautiful as it is mouthwatering. Although the restaurant will neither confirm nor deny if Obama has a sweet tooth, one would imagine he’d have a hard time passing by The Source’s luscious strawberry shortcake, served with buttermilk ice cream and rose sorbet. This restaurant is a hot ticket, and reservations must be made a month in advance. However, for the chief executive, a table is always open. 


Destinations: Washington

Themes: Culinary

Activities: Eat


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