Allow me to offer a disclaimer before I start: You can trust my picks for the District’s best shopping districts as much as you can trust Bernie Madoff‘s financial advice. Through years of selective focus, I can walk through any neighborhood and ignore all manner of shoe shops, clothing stores, and perfumeries, my mind singularly focused on the latest eatery to open its doors.
As such, you’ll have to cut me some friggin’ slack if I missed one of your favorite shopping meccas. This ain’t my area of expertise. So, with that in mind, here are the best neighborhoods to mix shopping and eating on Black Friday, the day that I personally plan to stay at home, far from the marauding hordes armed with their razor-sharp plastic cards.
- Dupont Circle: I’ve heard you can buy good shit around here. I know you can eat well, although that hasn’t always been the case. I think some recent additions have significantly improved the dining in Dupont, particularly in the fast-casual area, which will probably capture most of the shoppers on Black Friday. You can’t go wrong (well, you can, but not usually) at BGR: The Burger Joint, Panas Gourmet, Sweetgreen, Nando’s Peri-Peri, and even Pizzeria Paradiso (if the place is on its game that day.)For more upscale options, you have the exquisite Obelisk and the newcomer Eola.
- Georgetown: With a few exceptions — Citronelle, La Chaumiere, and Leopold’s Kafe + Konditorei — I’ve long considered Georgetown a wasteland of food options, a tourist destination where many eateries are content to slide by on mediocre fare. The neighborhood has improved of late. I like the big juicy patties at Thunder Burger & Bar (and the craft beer selection). I admire the Neapolitan pies at Il Canale, and I know I can always get some decent sweets at Georgetown Cupcake and Baked & Wired. And if all else fails, I can just slip into my favorite little bistro in the area.
- U Street Corridor/14th Street Strip/Logan Circle: OK, granted, this is really several neighborhoods clumped together, but what the hell. It’s the holidays. I’m feeling generous. The dining options in this area have exploded. The hard part is not finding a decent place to eat, but deciding which one to pick. There’s Masa 14, Teak Wood, Bar Pilar, Oohhs & Aahhs, Cork Wine Bar, Great Wall-Szechuan House, Little Ethiopia, JJ’s Cheesesteaks, and, of course, the mother of all beer emporiums, Birch & Barley/ChurchKey. I know where I’ll be shopping this holiday season.
- Capitol Hill/Barracks Row: I’ve heard this is a good shopping area, but I have my doubts. I do know that you can get quality bites in the neighborhood. You, of course, have Spike Mendelsohn‘s fast-food two-fer, Good Stuff Eatery and We, the Pizza. Come to think of it, casual dining (some more refined than others, obviously) rules in this neighborhood. You have Matchbox, Ted’s Bulletin, DC-3, Zest Bistro, Montmartre, Ba Bay, Market Lunch, Taqueria Nacional, and Tunnicliff’s Tavern. If you want to take a few steps up the gastronomic ladder, you can always hit a pair of restaurants run by two of the District’s most notable chefs: Johnny’s Half Shell under Ann Cashion and Bistro Bis under Jeffrey Buben.
Good luck with your shopping on Friday, and please, someone, let me know when it’s over.