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Help planning Inauguration Day, staying in Arlington

amazing grace Jan 5, 2009 07:07 PM

We have tickets to the swearing in ceremony. Staying at the Key Bridge Marriott. We are planning on catching the metro around 5am. Do you agree? What would you do for breakfast, lunch? Would you recommend we brown bag it? Or plenty of restaurants in the area?

Any help/suggestions will be much appreciated!

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  1. m
    MikeR RE: amazing grace Jan 6, 2009 02:19 AM

    Nobody really knows what the crowd or commerce situation is going to be. It's like snow - the news media have been making the worst of it for weeks, and nobody from the restaurant community has spoken up saying "we'll be open so come on in if you're hungry."

    I'd definitely recommend bringing your own food, or else try to get out of there as soon as you possibly can after the ceremony and eat when you get back to the hotel. Pick up some pastries the night before that you can eat either in your hotel before you leave or when you get situated downtown, and have some crackers or trail mix to tide you over until you can scope out the local food situation or get back to your hotel.

    Don't think of the inauguration as a DC dining experience. You might get a little hungry if you get stuck, but you won't starve.

    8 Replies
    1. re: MikeR
      daves_32 RE: MikeR Jan 6, 2009 03:15 AM

      MikeR makes a good point. For Inauguration day, walk up Wilson (from the Marriott, turn right on Wilson) and go to the Safeway that you hit after a few blocks. Grab trail mix bars, almonds, fruit, and the like. presumably, you would do that the night before. Get to the area early. Be warned, however, that Metro will be so packed getting back into Virginia, you will be waiting a while to eat again. Then you will be hungry enough to have a couple burgers at Ray's

      1. re: daves_32
        Dennis S RE: daves_32 Jan 6, 2009 05:39 AM

        A "couple" of burgers at Ray's. Wow - that's an appetite!

        I second all of this, and recommend that you just plan on walking. Metro is suggesting that you do so if you are within two miles (which you'll be). I honestly don't think you'll have a snowball's chance to get a space on a metro train anyway that close in. I doubt anyone closer than W. Falls Church is going to have much luck for most of the day. They're apparently NOT going to stop once they reach capacity.


        1. re: Dennis S
          daves_32 RE: Dennis S Jan 6, 2009 06:24 AM

          Well, if i hadn't eaten all day and walked from the capitol all the way to Clarendon, I am going to have a couple of Ray's burgers. admittedly, the last time i was there, having one made me borderline uncomfortable.

        2. re: daves_32
          amazing grace RE: daves_32 Jan 6, 2009 07:02 AM

          Thank you daves. Where is Ray's, close to Marriott? Great suggestions.

          1. re: amazing grace
            alkapal RE: amazing grace Jan 8, 2009 05:27 AM

            ray's is just up the hill, following wilson boulevard west. http://www.washingtonpost.com/gog/res...

            i'd definitely take food on my trek downtown, and water. they probably won't let you in the secure areas with water, though.

            i'd plan on walking, too.

            1. re: alkapal
              mselectra RE: alkapal Jan 8, 2009 07:00 AM

              I haven't seen anything saying no water, but no glass bottles, of course (and you never know): http://voices.washingtonpost.com/inau...

              I think Memorial Bridge will be the only one open to pedestrians. http://voices.washingtonpost.com/inau...

              Perhaps also useful:

              Denise's advice about buying a metro card ahead of time is great. I might also take the map I linked to above....

              Of course, you're not supposed to eat or drink in Metro ;)

              1. re: mselectra
                alkapal RE: mselectra Jan 8, 2009 07:59 AM

                well, going to the andrews air force base air show, you can't take in water...

                1. re: alkapal
                  mselectra RE: alkapal Jan 8, 2009 08:29 AM

                  I know you can't take water into the Capitol or Capitol Visitors Center, too (which they do say clearly on their website). I *suspect* if they confiscate water, it will be for those in the tickets-only area, where the rules do say "no food or drinks," but not for the rest of the non-ticketed Mall or parade route. I guess this isn't a big deal, but I need to keep hydrated or I get really bad headaches, so I was actually paying attention to this one....

      2. b
        bordeauxfan RE: amazing grace Jan 6, 2009 04:15 AM

        If you're staying at the Key Bridge Marriott, then I would advise against taking the Metro anywhere. Most trains will be packed by the time they get anywhere near the Mall.

        From your hotel you can walk across the Key Bridge to Georgetown, where you should find plenty of breakfast options. The 5am start time shouldn't be necessary. Then walk from Georgetown down Pennsylvania or Virginia Avenues down to Constitution and the Mall.

        3 Replies
        1. re: bordeauxfan
          Denise RE: bordeauxfan Jan 6, 2009 04:42 AM

          The swearing in ceremony is at the Capitol - so that is about a four mile walk from the Marriott.

          I woud at least try to get on the Metro, and if it is really that crowded, you could go outbound towards Vienna, then hop over to an inbound train at one of the stops. It wouldn't cost you any money, just time.

          1. re: Denise
            amazing grace RE: Denise Jan 6, 2009 07:03 AM

            Great idea. What time would you leave? Thanks for the help, this is so great.

            1. re: amazing grace
              Denise RE: amazing grace Jan 8, 2009 05:46 AM

              According to news reports, the Metrorail will operate rush hour service for 17 consecutive hours (4 a.m. to 9 p.m.). This whole event is a crapshoot as to how busy things will be and when crowds will ebb and flow. The only thing I can recommend for sure is to get over to a metro station before that day and buy your metro card so you don't have to stand in line at a kiosk that morning.

              Since this is off-topic, maybe you should visit the city-data forum to discuss logistical issues. Here is a link:

        2. a
          amazing grace RE: amazing grace Jan 6, 2009 07:05 AM

          Thanks much to everyone. This is the best. Open to any and all suggestions. Other than Ray's, any other restaurants you would recommend. We will have a couple of days prior to the inauguration and a couple of days after.

          14 Replies
          1. re: amazing grace
            mjhals RE: amazing grace Jan 6, 2009 07:12 AM

            Amazing, you can basically spend all your eating time in the same little shopping center that contains Ray's and not repeat a single delicious meal. In that shopping center there is Guajillo with awesome Mexican food and wonderful sangria, then Ray's the Steaks for the best steaks (and crab bisque, love it), then Pho 75 for pho (but just pho, not much of a selection other than that, and minimal decor to put it nicely), then Ray's Hell Burger for the best burger's in DC (check out the thread elsewhere on this board). Also, Village Bistro, I've never been but hear that it's pretty good, and a nice little cofee shop for breakfasts (might be a Greenberry's, I can't exactly remember).

            Good luck with navigating through the inauguration!

            1. re: mjhals
              amazing grace RE: mjhals Jan 6, 2009 08:12 AM

              Is the shopping center near the Key Bridge Marriott or ? Again, thanks for the help.

              1. re: amazing grace
                mselectra RE: amazing grace Jan 6, 2009 08:38 AM

                Since nobody's answered your location question yet, here's the address. It's not far from the Rosslyn metro.... I would double check what's open -- and I haven't been to any Ray's (my loss), but they don't take reservations and have long lines on a normal day, as I understand. Room service might be looking pretty good.

                Apparently taxis will be allowed on the roads into the city (only taxis, buses, and emergency vehicles). That's just fyi, no idea if you'd be able to catch one. There's been some controversy that I'm not really following about which and how many street vendors will be allowed in the perimeter. As said above, nobody really knows what will happen -- plus there are different authorities for different matters (inauguration committee making many decisions, but then there's DC police, Metro, etc etc.) At least that's my impression. Be prepared for anything, and who knows what security will actually let you take in (no umbrellas!)

                Ray's Hell Burger
                1713 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22209

                1. re: amazing grace
                  MikeR RE: amazing grace Jan 7, 2009 03:38 AM

                  While it's a great deal for a tasty and filling meal, I suspect that the suggestion of a couple of Ray's Hell Burgers was at least partially in jest. The strip where Ray's (both the burger and steak restaurants) as well as a few others, is just short of a mile from the Marriott, though it's mostly uphill.

                  There are plenty of places to eat closer in Rosslyn, and you might opt for one if you're pooped after the inauguration ceremony. You probably won't have much luck with Metro until much later in the afternoon, so plan to eat someplace within walking distance.

                  Dinner time will probably be safe, so you might want to save your "gourmet experience" until dinner time, and then really treat yourself.

                  1. re: MikeR
                    mordacity RE: MikeR Jan 7, 2009 05:08 AM

                    It's only about half a mile, a walk I make every day. Twice. The closer options that come to mind include a Burger King and a Ruby Tuesday, so unless the weather is really awful it's worth the walk. You're also just a bridge away from Georgetown, which has many higher-quality dining options.

                    1. re: mordacity
                      Lori D RE: mordacity Jan 7, 2009 05:53 AM

                      According to Mapquest, it's .66 mile from the Marriott to that strip mall. It is indeed uphill for part of the walk.

                      There are other restaurants in Rosslyn, but some of the best ones are in that mall. If it's a very cold day, you might want to have Pho at Pho 75.

                      1. re: mordacity
                        mjhals RE: mordacity Jan 7, 2009 07:11 AM

                        I agree Morda- I walk a similar route every day as well, and it's pretty easy. And if you're in reasonably good shape, it's no sweat. And I really can't think of anything closer than the strip mall with decent food. I don't mind Cafe Asia, but once you make it there, you're spitting distance to Ray's.

                        And Amazing, here's a tip for Ray's the Steaks, if you go, go as early as possible to put your name on "the list" (they don't take phone in reservations), and then head to the bar at Guajillo for drinks. But be forewarned- Guajillo is a little touchy about serving as a waiting area for Rays, so everyone at the bar must order a drink.

                2. re: amazing grace
                  Dennis S RE: amazing grace Jan 6, 2009 08:52 AM

                  In Clarendon you'll find one of my faves - Nam Viet. My go-to items are the sweet and spicy salmon soup and the curried squid.

                  You can search for Clarendon or Courthouse to find out many more.

                  You'll be a short walk across the bridge to Georgetown. I don't like the area much, but there are many posts on it. For a pub I recommend Garrett's, though.

                  1. re: Dennis S
                    amazing grace RE: Dennis S Jan 6, 2009 02:59 PM

                    You are all the best. I have printed up everything. Ray's is on our list of must do's, as is Safeway and room service! Also, thanks for the taxi tip. I will report back

                    1. re: amazing grace
                      mselectra RE: amazing grace Jan 6, 2009 03:46 PM

                      You might find the Wash Post's "Inauguration Watch" helpful, too, if you haven't seen it. There's a link to a map of vendors that might help with the food question and other presumably useful info: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/inau...

                      Looking it over, it seems that those with tickets to swearing-in aren't allowed to bring food or drink, but are allowed to bring "small snacks" -- so the suggestions to weight all pockets with food might work for those trying to find a free spot on the Mall or along parade, but not those with tickets?

                      1. re: mselectra
                        amazing grace RE: mselectra Jan 6, 2009 05:10 PM

                        Great info mselectra. Again, the info is so appreciated!

                    2. re: Dennis S
                      hamster RE: Dennis S Jan 7, 2009 08:45 AM

                      In Georgetown, I would check out Leopold's or Pain Quotidien (that would be a bit of a longer walk though) for brunch. Pizzeria Paradiso is a good pizza place as well. All are on M Street, very easy walk from Rosslyn.

                      1. re: hamster
                        daves_32 RE: hamster Jan 7, 2009 09:32 AM

                        AND on inauguration day, all draft beers are half off (Tuesday and Wednesday)

                        1. re: hamster
                          daves_32 RE: hamster Jan 7, 2009 09:33 AM

                          that's at pizzeria paradiso (downstairs)

                    3. m
                      mordacity RE: amazing grace Jan 6, 2009 04:56 PM

                      That strip center with Ray's and Guajillo is great - there's also a coffee shop. Walking further up Wilson to Courthouse and Clarendon provides many more options, though I haven't sampled most of them so I don't know what to recommend.
                      As far as the inauguration goes I'm planning on walking; I live close to your hotel. The metro will be a madhouse I'm sure, so I'd highly recommend going by foot. I'll be bringing some granola bars to see me through the festivities but I plan on doing all my dining at home that weekend.

                      1. i
                        Indy 67 RE: amazing grace Jan 8, 2009 05:19 AM

                        All the Smithsonian museums will be open on Inauguration Day. The thinking is that the buildings will be a place to go to get warm and to use the toilet facilities. There is food available in some of the museums, although I have no idea whether the restaurants/cafeterias in the museums will be stocking up in anticipation of the crowds.

                        On Capital Hill, but on the side opposite from the swearing in ceremony, you'll find the Postal Museum, part of the Smithsonian. No food facilities there.

                        The Museum of the American Indian is probably the closes Smithsonian museum offering food. In fact, the cafeteria there is one of the better food options on the mall under any conditions. The National Air and Space Museum has a huge McDonald's. The Castle of the Smithsonian had a decent if limited and unimaginative cafeteria.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Indy 67
                          Dennis S RE: Indy 67 Jan 8, 2009 07:32 AM

                          Oh those are good thoughts - duh. Add to it Union Station - though it all will be mobbed, probably.

                        2. m
                          MikeR RE: amazing grace Jan 9, 2009 07:22 AM

                          As of yesterday (I left town so I don't know if there's a change today) Key Bridge will be closed to pedestrians, so even if you were planning to walk into town from the Key Bridge Marriott, you'd have to go to Memorial Bridge. At least you'll be headed in the right direction if you're heading for the Capitol, but it's a mighty long way. Get a Metro card, or buy (or bring) a bicycle.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: MikeR
                            amazing grace RE: MikeR Jan 9, 2009 07:51 AM

                            Wow, we were counting on the Key Bridge. Well, it looks like the Metro for sure. You all have been so helpful. I just want you to know how much I appreciate it. I will report back if you would like me to.

                            1. re: amazing grace
                              Mister Big RE: amazing grace Jan 9, 2009 05:30 PM

                              They just announced that bridges will be open for pedestrian traffic.

                          2. alkapal RE: amazing grace Jan 9, 2009 09:19 AM

                            these bridge closings are hysterical...and i don't mean funny.

                            1. p
                              pineapple sage RE: amazing grace Jan 9, 2009 12:41 PM

                              I would go to Kanpai. Half the distance of Ray's, on a side street so less likely to be crowded. Warm yourself with udon soup and then regain your energy from some nigiri or maki. The sashimi rose appetizer is a good deal. It's going to be a Long day and you might want a slower pace than Ray's.

                              Save Ray's for lunch the next day.

                              There is a bar/lounge/billiards about a block or two away that has fine bar food and a fun atmosphere if you don't mind the smoke.

                              If you go with Metro, walk over the night before and buy your fare cards. It will be one less thing to deal with on Tuesday and will save you a lot of time in the morning. Blend in with the locals by standing on the right, walking on the left when riding the escalator. Enjoy our city.

                              Kanpai Restaurant
                              1401 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA

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