D.C. Date Night | The American Word

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D.C. Date Night

Your guide to a dining out for date night

Charlotte Prud’Homme, Niv Avneri and Sophia Crutchfield | 11/25/14 1:07pm
| Updated 11/25/14 1:26pm

Dupont: The perfect date is just a short bus ride away

Attending school in the nation’s capital is a huge privilege. When it comes to romantic excursions, we’re not limited to typical college-town spaghetti joints and movie theater dates—we have a whole city to explore. But all of the options can be overwhelming at times, so AmWord is breaking down our Massachusetts Avenue neighbor: Dupont Circle.

You can get to Dupont via a quick ride on the N4 or N6 Metrobus from the stop across from Katzen. If you’re not comfortable with busses yet, take the Metro. Dupont’s date night possibilities are endless, especially when it comes to food, so we’ll highlight a few favorites.

A stroll down P Street will bring you to Crios Modern Mexican, a vibrant yet romantic restaurant that provides a perfect atmosphere for a great date. More importantly, it provides delicious gourmet takes on Mexican classics with affordable entrees ranging from $10 to $20.

Looking for a more casual dining option? Try Connecticut Avenue’s ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen, also known as “Asian Chipotle.” Take your custom-made, Chipotle-priced bowl over to the bay window seats and people-watch while you smother your satay with Sriracha.

It wouldn’t be a date in D.C. if you didn’t get cupcakes, so feed the city’s famed snobbery and stop by Hello Cupcake to buy happiness frosted with cream cheese icing. Don’t forget to tweet about how it’s better than Georgetown Cupcake. But before you gorge yourself, look out the window—if Krispy Kreme’s neon “hot now” sign is aglow, drop everything and reassess your priorities; studies show that chances of finding love increase when fresh doughnuts are involved.

After taking advantage of DuPont’s superior food options, you might need to walk it off. Luckily, Dupont Circle Historic District is safe and great for long walks. You’ll pass gorgeous townhouses, countless embassies and enough restaurants to be able to plan dates for the next two months. There are also plenty of benches around the fountain in the middle of the circle perfect for getting cozy as the weather chills.

One of the most well-known attractions of Dupont is Kramerbooks, a quirky bookstore on Connecticut Avenue. It’s open until 1 a.m. on weekdays and 24 hours on Fridays and Saturdays. Wander through the shelves with your date and point out the books that are your favorites, overrated and on your wish list. Can you think of a better way to get to know a person? I can’t. Stop by the attached Afterwords Café and share a slice of pie while enjoying the live music.

If you want to learn about your date’s music taste, embrace your hipster side and head over to Red Onion Records & Books, a tiny store with a ton of vinyl records to flip through.

Places like Dupont Circle remind us why D.C. is truly a great college town. It’s also a good reminder of how bad driving in D.C. can get—be careful when crossing streets around the circle. Should you survive the city’s traffic, you’re guaranteed to have a delightful date and want to come back again next weekend.

Satisfy your brunch craving at Farmers Fishers Bakers

Aiming for a Sunday morning splurge or a weekend treat out? Tucked away near Georgetown’s waterfront is Farmers Fishers Bakers, a farm-to-fork dining experience that will change the way you look at your plate… and your appetite!

Dedicated to environmentally friendly practices, sustainability and local eating, this beautiful rustic restaurant is ideal for the D.C. foodie. Maybe you’ve heard of their other location, Founding Farmers, in Foggy Bottom. With a seasonally changing menu and ingredients that cycle in accordance to sustainable practices, they follow the simple principle of “Through The Eyes Of The Farmer.” This approach means that there is a commitment to source regionally and grow locally whenever possible.

The famous Farm Market Brunch, served Saturdays and Sundays from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., is the ultimate satisfaction and goes for $29.99 per person. Enjoy eggs benedicts, warm biscuits, cinnamon rolls, artisan pizza, shrimp and sushi brought to your table before you even get up to visit the buffet. Thats right, I said buffett.

Accommodating to carnivores and veggie guru’s, the Brunch tables hold a variety of hot and cold dishes. The chefs at the Butchers table slice a variety of steaming meat options for your hot plate including honey fried chicken, jambalaya, meatballs, bacon, ham, turkey, chuckeye and garlic sausage. To top it all off, a make your own taco section with delicately fried corn puff tortillas, hand mashed guacamole with a tangy lemon kick and house made salsas will make your mouth water.

Enjoy perfectly grilled Ciabatta bread slices with eggs, custom omelets made to order, grilled vegetables, melt in your mouth herb butter potatoes and a variety of dips and spreads. I’m talking about onion, pimento, hummus, Maryland crab and artichoke dips, my friends. Chef’s salads including purple and black kale, crisp spinach, rejuvenating cucumber and palate-cleansing daily vegetable rotations.

Delicate individual delights like creme brûléed grape fruit, granola and yogurt parfaits, fresh berries, and trays upon trays of cakes, pies, and other sweets make the meal the perfect dining experience to sit back, eat slowly and enjoy the delights of a true weekend brunch.

If you choose to indulge, the boozy brunch menu has a variety of bubblies to top off your morning. The thorough and helpful service and luxurious dining environment make it a guaranteed bang for your buck, especially if you can visit the brunch bar with many plates. But, make sure to book your reservation in advance, as it is always healthily packed. Visit Farmers Fishers Bakers with friends, for birthdays, special occasions, when parents come to visit, and when you decide to simply treat yo’self.

Nando’s Peri-Peri

Bored of Chipotle’s burritos? Pigged-out on too many Cava pitas? Try Nando’s PERi-PERi, a recently-opened, affordable restaurant in Tenleytown. Not only is Nando’s food delicious, but its comfortable atmosphere makes it a great place to dine with friends.

Behind every restaurant’s signature dish lies an interesting story. Nando’s most popular meal, chicken, is much more than just grilled chicken. It is is flavored with African Bird’s Eye Chili, also known as PERi-PERi. This spice is grown in South Africa but was discovered by Portuguese settlers who lived there and incorporated the spicy pepper into their homeland dishes.

Fernando Duarte was introduced to the flavor at a small Portuguese restaurant in South Africa in 1987. He wanted others to experience the heat, and so Nando’s PERi-PERi was born. The chain is now open in 34 countries, with four D.C. locations, five in Virginia and nine in Maryland.

So what’s so special about Nando’s famous PERi-PERi meal? It could be anything from the fresh chicken, to the 24-hour marinade, or even the process of grilling on an open flame, but whatever techniques are used in the kitchen, it is evident that the passion behind each dish shines through.

If you indulge in any of the chicken options, you can pick from a variety of flavors: Plain…ish, Lemon and Herb, Mango and Lime, Medium, Hot or Extra Hot PERi-PERi sauce (warning, they do not fool you when they say it’s spicy!) With the chicken dish, you are given the option of selecting among a list of delicious sides including Portuguese rice, corn on the cob, or mashed potatoes, just to name a few.

But let’s face it, if you don’t like chicken, Nando’s might not be your restaurant of choice. However, the menu provides a variety of options, (some vegetarian) including sandwiches, wraps, and salads, and of course—if there’s still room—dessert.

The Tenleytown location is characterized by its welcoming and cozy environment. When you walk in, you are greeted and offered a menu to read over while you wait in line to order. After ordering, the server hands you a number to place on the table, and without much of a wait, the delicious meal is served. Although this is not a classic sit-down restaurant, my waiter was very polite and checked up on my table quite often throughout dinner. In addition to the friendly service, the outdoor patio enhanced the fun vibe and created an overall positive evening.

Nando’s is a good spot to try if you’re looking for fresh and flavorful food and don’t want to venture too far off campus. Warning: this is not a place for the bland.