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Napa hounds in DC: sweets, wine & breakfast sandwiches?

My husband and I are making a last minute business trip to DC in a few days. We’ll have a few free days for fun, but since it’s my history-and-politic-loving-husband’s first trip to DC, the focus of our free time will be on the museums, memorials and monuments, with me trying to squeeze in some good, casual, local or ethnic food on the side. We will be car-free.

Thanks to the wealth of inspiration and knowledge you DC hounds have shared on this board, I feel fairly well prepared for our trip. You are incredibly generous and thoughtful with your recommendations to visitors, and I thank you. I do have a few random questions that I didn’t see addressed elsewhere.

My husband loves sweets of all kinds; dark chocolate, cupcakes, pie, donuts, pastries, frozen treats, candy. Any suggestions for cafés, chocolate shops, bakeries, donut shops, candy stores, etc. in DC where we can stop or where I can pick up treats for him while he’s working? Dickey’s Frozen Custard or a concrete at Shake Shack seem like good ideas, but what else should be on my list?

A glass or two of wine while unwinding in the hotel room after a long day is a good thing. Where can I buy a couple bottles of wine in DC? We live in Napa and I’m a long-time wine industry veteran, so places that offer more than the usual mass produced suspects are appreciated.

We arrive on a red-eye early Sunday morning and will head straight to our hotel (13th St. NW & M St. NW) to store our bags before we venture out. Is there any place we can grab a good cup of coffee and a breakfast sandwich or wrap to-go before we head over to the memorials? Or is our best bet to do this at Dulles?

Thanks so much for your consideration and assistance!

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  1. Ugh, how sad - the lovely ASKC chocolate shop, just a few blocks north of where you're staying, recently closed. Perhaps take yourself to Coco Sala and get a drink there while picking up some of their awesome chocolates to go. I love the unusual flavors myself, not being a big chocolate person.

    For wine, there are two different lovely shops on 14th Street, one block west and a few blocks north of where you're staying. One is Cork Market (tied to the lovely Cork wine bar) and the other's name I can't recall, as it is new, but I was impressed when I strolled in.

    1. I haven't been yet, but I've been dying to try Locolat for chocolates, pastries and savory waffles. I've read good comments on this board which have me intrigued. It's a short cab ride from your hotel.

      Best coffee near-ish to your hotel is Peregrine Espresso on 14th St.

      It is really too bad about ACKC closing - it would have been perfect.

      Baked and Wired in Georgetown is good. They have a large variety of sweets.

      1. katecm and woodleyparkhound, thank you so much for these suggestions. They look great! Any ideas about where to grab a breakfast sandwich or the like early on a Sunday morning?

        3 Replies
        1. re: Ruby Louise

          My favorite breakfast sandwich is at So's Your Mom in Adams Morgan - a longish walk or short cab ride. No seating though, except for a bench outside. Not ideal, but I can't think of anything similar close to your hotel. They open at 8:00. Much better coffee is at Peregrine Espresso on 14th as I mentioned earlier, but in the interest of one-stop shopping, there is a Starbucks on Columbia Rd, very near So's Your Mom. If it were me, I'd walk to PE, get coffee, then get a cab from there to Adams Morgan to hit SYM.

          1. re: Ruby Louise

            Between your hotel and the Mall....there has got to be an Au bon pain or a Corner Bakery in that area. They are everywhere. You could drop by the Pret a Manger which is at F and 11th.

            If you decide to walk up to Peregrine for coffee, you can walk up another block or two to Taylor Gourmet for a breakfast hoagie. They have a location on 14th and T (and another east of Mt. Vernon Square). You can check which is actually closer to the hotel.

            1. re: hamster

              I didn't know Taylor Gourmet did breakfast! Interesting to know. I see they open weekends at 8:00. This would be worth checking out.

              http://www.taylorgourmet.com/taylor-b...

              There is an Au Bon Pain at 13th and L and a Corner Bakery at 14th and K. I hate both of these chains, but you are right in that they are in the right direction if you are walking to the Mall from your hotel.

          2. Some random thoughts by way of response:

            For sweets, may people love the doughnuts at Birch and Barley's Sunday brunch. They take reservations, but also save some space for walkups. It's on 14th just a bit south of Cork and Cork Market ... it might be a good way to fortify yourselves after the redeye and before the monuments. They've got a great selection of beers from all over, and might be a good counterweight to your wine-loving ways. You may also want to try the gelato (or excellent coffee) at any of the three branches of Dolcezza -- DuPont Circle, Bethesda or (far from metro) Georgetown. Terrific gelato, from a local microchain.

            For wine, I disagree that Cork is worth looking into -- I love the restaurant and the market, but I think the wines are largely a selection of off-the-beaten path $20 bottles that are a bit meh. On the other hand, I think DC has a few shops worth seeking out -- Schneiders on Capitol Hill (well-selected wines from all over the world), Andy Bassin's MacArthur Beverages (occasional snooty service and a LONG way from a subway, but one of the first shops to sell Bordeaux en primeur in the US and with a good selection of wines across the board), and Weygandt Wines (at the Cleveland Park metro stop, they import their own wines and often have a really good selection of Austrian wines, incl. FX Pichler).

            Hope that helps. Hope you have a great time.

            1 Reply
            1. re: kelewis

              I haven't had the doughnuts at B&B, but that reminds me ... I LOVE the hot, homemade doughnuts served on weekends at the Standard on 14th St. And while we are on the topic of the Standard, that is one of my very favorite spots in DC - especially in nice weather. 95% of their seating is outdoors. They have a great brisket sandwich and the best onion rings I've had in years. I like their sausages too. They have a small, but good beer list. I highly recommend it.

            2. I second the recommendations for Baked and Wired and Dolcezza. I would skip Dickey's, but go with Shake Shack.
              Also consider going to one of the Paul bakeries (one at Archives, one in Georgetown, and one at Farregut Square) for a French pastry. I think the quality is very good.
              There is a fancy chocolate place called Cocova on 18th Street around T. You can drop by there if you go to Locolat, where I recommend the Liege waffle and noticed last time that they serve cold chocolate??!! Can't wait to try it.
              Also I recently enjoyed a fancy ice cream sandwich at Cork Market, mentioned above. Their scones are also surprisingly good.
              The baked goods at Palena Market are top notch, if you go out to Cleveland Park. Hours are limited though, so check first.
              If you feel like a metro ride, go to Buzz next to the Ballston station (orange line). Amazing baked goods, beautiful space.
              I've also heard very high praise of this new French bakery at Clarendon metro (also orange line), called Leonora.

              1. The best treat in DC is the toasted marshmallow milkshake at Good Stuff Eatery on Capitol Hill.

                I adore the tropical buttercreams and the sea salt chocolates at Locolat, a tiny Belgian café. World Class. They also make serious savory waffles here, so a very fine place to eat.

                Shack Shack concretes are sugar bombs. Dickey's is mediocre at best.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Steve

                  By all means, if milkshakes are a particular pleasure of your husband's, do not miss Good Stuff. They are fantastic. In addition to the toasted marshmallow, I also love the Black and White.

                  Shake Shack has good shakes too, but they pale in comparison to GSE.

                2. Not a wine shop, but given your Napa bent, you may delight in the wines offered at Dino in Cleveland Park. Mondays, they offer 33% off their wines that are over $50. They have fabulous small plates or you can have a full meal. The food is superb with lots of local ingredients. If they have the Lamb Sweetbreads, enjoy! The pork & peach dish is incredible. They also do my current favorite brunch.

                  Dino is right by Weygandt where my favorite wine, the Alsatian Albert Mann wines are to be found. Both can be reached easily via metro.

                  AM wineshop is fabulous. Small quirky selection. In Adams Morgan.

                  Schnieders and Bassins are collector's wine shops... fabulous, lots of selection, but the best stuff isn't on the floor but in their off premise warehouses. I think there are better places to go find interesting wines to drink tonight.

                  Wish I could remember the name of the place opened by a father & son team who import their own French stuff. Good wines for the money.

                  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your wonderful responses!! I'm completely drooling.

                    My husband literally loves ALL sweets. If it has sugar, he's all over it. The diversity of your suggestions will be right up his alley. And thanks for letting me know to skip Dickey's.

                    As I mentioned, the plan Sunday is to get breakfast to go and make our way to the mall and memorials. But jet lag, fatigue and humidity may lead us to brunch, an early check in, naps and afternoon sight seeing. So, thanks for the mentions of Birch and Barley and the Standard.

                    I can't wait to check out the wine shops. While my husband like browsing sweet shops, I like browsing wine shops. Yes, I live in Napa, but I work in the Sonoma wine biz, which means I'm open to most things, but tend to eschew the larger brands you can find everywhere. I'm eager to see what's making it's way to DC.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Ruby Louise

                      You will probably need a reservation for brunch at B&B - not so with The Standard, which is very casual. The bad news is that they don't open until noon.

                      http://www.standarddc.com/index.html

                    2. My favorite DC sweets:
                      Dessert at Birch and Barley. By far some of my favorite desserts I've ever consumed. GO. Go sit at the bar and eat. Order more than one item. Report back so I can be jealous.

                      Baked and Wired: Their ginger cookies with lemon cream sandwiched in the middle - love it. Cupcakes are delicious, and I love their coffee.

                      Dolcezza: Maldon Sea Salt gelato is some of the best I've had. All other flavors are also delicious, and if you cant get to the store, there's a stand at the U Street market (14th and U) - get some and a spoon and walk around the small but well stocked market. If you go, Lois at the corner stand at 14th and U makes amazing baked goods - pumpkin whoppie pies, for example. Yum. I wish Joe Yonan had never mentioned them!

                      Locolat - very delicious food, sweet and savory.

                      Coco sala: s'mores french toast is insanely delicious.

                      14th St has two wine shops - Cork Market and Cork and Fork. I don't buy wine, but I hear they are good. Cork Market even has sandwiches to go.

                      If you want the best wine list in the city, take the metro or a cab up to Dino in cleveland park. Being from Napa, you'll really appreciate all Dean has to offer. It's near Wyngant Wines which is huge and has well trained staff, which is nice.

                      I would skip Birch and Barley for brunch - I wasn't impressed with the offerings. The Standard is a better fun lunchy/brunchy spot if you're in the mood and it's not too hot. If you want an indoor brunch spot, I just went to Estadio, tapas-type brunch, and it was delicious.

                      Off the path, Eastern Market has a delicious mini-donut stand. It's around the corner from the main area, you might see a line, near the other ready-to-eat food stands. I love them and they are a delicious treat to enjoy while strolling EM.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Jeserf

                        I agree about the sea salt gelato at Dolcezza - but you can't count on it being there. It should be mandatory.

                        1. re: Steve

                          their salted caramel is also good - not as good, but good (having made my own salted caramel, it's not an easy flavor to make....but it IS delicious).

                          I love their coconut milk gelato with some sorbet - santa rosa plum should be available right now.

                      2. Also on the breakfast sandwich thing... There are a couple Teaism's on the way down to the mall, and Juice Joint Cafe. And of course Starbucks.

                        Don't miss Dolcezza it is so worth it, Pitigano may be more on your way to and fro at some point though.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: ktmoomau

                          Juice Joint is not open on Sundays though, right?

                          1. re: ktmoomau

                            Pitango has gelato "sandwiches" on weekend mornings that look divine

                            1. re: ktmoomau

                              oh that Teaism chocolate salty oat cookie!!