Saturday, February 16, 2013

Lunch and Rich History on Capitol Hill, DC

Spending the afternoon on Capitol Hill can be a wonderful experience!  First off, you'll be spending your day amidst the flowers in one of the largest historic districts in the United States.  Capitol Hill is home to The United States Capitol, the Senate and House office buildings, the Library of Congress, the Supreme Court, the Marine Barracks, the Washington Navy Yard and the Congressional Cemetery.  All this work on a daily basis needs play, and along many of the streets, namely Pennsylvania Ave., Eastern Market, and Barracks Row are plenty of shops to tickle your fancy and restaurants that boast everything from Classic American Bar and grill eats to French Bistro delights, Coffee house specialties, Sweet shop yummies and much, much more...  What will you find??? 
Becoming a community in 1799-1810, Capitol Hill endured huge developments, most notably the Capitol and the Washington Navy Yard, established on the banks of the Anacostia River.  Beginning as a boarding house community for the members of congress who did not wish to set up permanent residences in the city, it also quickly became home to the craftsmen who worked on both the Capitol construction and those who built and repaired ships at the Navy Yard.  
In 1801, President Thomas Jefferson picked the spot for the Marine Barracks which had to be close to The Capitol, the White House and the Navy Yard.  Nine fruitful years later, the area known as Capitol Hill was a bustling world of government work and commerce.  Goldsmiths, blacksmiths, churches, food and clothing shops, taverns and rowhomes lined the many streets of this growing neighborhood. 
The Civil war brought about more construction in this district, war meant the building of more homes and hospitals to care for the many wounded soldiers who came in and out of the area.  
Electricity, piped water and plumbing became available to residents here in the 1890's, which meant even more of an escalation in the construction of new homes, many DC residents wanted to be where the modern conveniences of time were, and that neighborhood was Capitol Hill!

A dear friend of mine and I met up a few days ago in this neighborhood for an afternoon of lunch and shopping.  We started with a walk along the charming sidewalks, taking in not only the beautifully sunny day but also the beautifully colored rowhomes, fenced in gardens and tall, stone churches that lined the streets.  
Anna suggested we lunch at Bistro Cacao, a nearby french restaurant that my husband and I visited when it first opened two years ago for Valentine's Day!  Two years later, this restaurant is still getting some of the best reviews in the city, the meals prepared here are delicious and the wine list offers, tastes, glasses, half carafes and bottles of wine, so that you can choose how much you'd like to drink, or you have the rare option of trying a few different things;)  We chose the Chicken Caesar Salad and the Grilled Salmon as our  entrees and shared a half carafe of the very hard to find, Sancerre, a vibrant wine of crisp, fruit and floral aromas and flavors.  Delicious, every bite, every sip!!!  The different dining rooms in this unique restaurant will also enchant you as much as the menu, each room is dressed in different fabrics, art and furniture adding a quirky, enchanting characteristic to your whole experience:)
After lunch, we walked over to Barracks Row for macaroons and some shopping!  The Sweet Lobby offers macaroons in every color of the rainbow, cupcakes, biscotti and specialty teas!  They make different macaroons everyday and we came on a great day!  Flavors like Lavender, Orange Creme, Raspberry  Pistachio, Red Hot Chili Chocolate and Hazelnut Praline Salted Caramel called to our taste buds!!!  
There are a few shops along Barracks Row that offer up quirky gifts, home decor, cooking items and accessories for men and women!  I found some beautiful floral tea napkins for my home and snatched them up right away!!!
On the weekends, enjoy time at the always enjoyable, Eastern Market!  Along these crowded streets you'll find great places that serve brunch!!!  After you eat, step out into the hustle and bustle of the areas finest arts and craftsmen, deliciously fresh produce, fresh meats and cheeses, waffle and pretzel street vendors, and oh yes, my personal favorite, an entire area of antique selling in a nearby parking lot!!!  So grab a Hot Chocolate, and walk the different booths, you'll find old books made into purses at Rebound Designs, you'll find handmade jewelry, vintage clothing, handmade clocks, photography, different mediums of art, and home shelving adorned with images of America, Europe and quirky, vintage art at the Had Matter!!!
Eastern Market

Enjoy your time on the Hill!

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