Spring in Washington, DC

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

It has been a while since my last blog post. All is well here in DC, where we are nearing the end of an unseasonably mild winter. Certainly a strange winter season, to be sure; there have been only 3-4 snow days, along with, perhaps, two dozen 55f+ days. I have been in DC for about seven months now, meaning more I am more comfortable with my position and understanding of the city. With that, comes a greater urge to share a few thoughts and observations

First, I thought I would share a few of my favorite restaurants and coffeeshops. Most of the time, I cook, as it is much cheaper and is actually fun once you know how to cook. DC is short on the kind of cheap, hole-in-the-wall restaurants that characterize the dining scene in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York, or the good, mid-level places prevalent in Chicago, Philadelphia and Portland. Anyways, I definitely approve of the following: Blind Dog Café (U Street), El Pollo Rico (Arlington), Amsterdam Falafelshop, the toasted marshmallow shakes at Good Stuff Eater (Capitol Hill), and the flawless pain-au-chocolat at Le Caprice (Columbia Heights) are all regular haunts of mine. I also enjoy Mandalay (Silver Spring) for delicious, exotic Burmese food, the Drunken Noodles at Siam Thai (Cleveland Park), and the filling Afghan kabob platter at Food Corner Kabob House (Dupont Circle).

As previously mentioned, I have never been to a city where everybody is so focused and devoted to their work. The large, looming government influence is highly pervasive, and is difficult to avoid. Sure, people like indie craft beers and exotic hot dogs and such, but very few people rise above the fray and actually stand out. Often, I feel as if Washingtonians are one big Northface, J Crew and leather boot-wearing crowd of anonymous simpletons from New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. Far too many people are of the “common garden variety,” with little in the way of unique identities; a group of people too obsessed with work, and utterly lacking in individuality and creativity (as seen in the city’s local art, culture, fashion, and music scenes; I am not counting the Federal-funded Museums and Galleries). I suppose that is the reality when a city is full of people whose ambitious is channeled into working and efficiency, and when the city’s employers actively discourage unique, distinct personalities and qualities.

Still, spring is beautiful, and that satisfied much of my needs. I am perfectly content spending my days doing nothing other than hanging out in cafés, bouncing around between compact, urban neighborhoods that are human in scale, and offer a lot for the pedestrian. The parks and public spaces also light up, filling with people (and their dogs). Too, restaurant patios and rooftop decks open up. Logan Circle, Malcolm X Park, and the SE Waterfront are three of my favorite Spring recreation hangouts. For visual stimulation, the cherry blossom-lined, eclectic rowhouse blocks in Columbia Heights, Bloomingdale and, especially, Dupont Circle, are my picks.. It feels as if the city has, at last, woken up.

European-influenced architecture along Embassy Row in Dupont Circle.
A variety of architecture styles seen along Embassy Row.
The mansard roof-clad, French Revival Pakistan Ambassador's Residence.
The Portland-esque Lacey Condominiums. 2250 11th St., NW.
Silje. Florida Ave, NW, Ledroit Park.
Church-funded condominiums. Mt. Vernon Square/Shaw,
A bike passes by on 11th St., NW. Columbia Heights.
Office and residential development in a recently-constructed part of NoMa.
Friendly patrons at the Blind Dog Café.
"What are you doing behind that bush?!"
Dereliction. Florida Ave, NW.
On the H2 bus. Columbia Heights.
Pho at Pho Viet. Columbia Heights
New and old rowhouses on W Street, NW. U Street.
A new luxury development near Florida and W St, NW.

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