The Frisky Guidebook: The Capital City

Coming down to our nation’s capitol for the Presidential Inauguration next Tuesday? Or considering a pleasure trip in the coming months? Don’t let Washington, D.C.’s buttoned-down reputation turn you off—just below the surface lies an unexpectedly fun city laced with edgy pockets and sexy surprises. After all, power can be the ultimate aphrodisiac (as an ever-growing list of fallen politicians would surely attest).


Eastern Market
7th St. and North Carolina Ave., SE

A long-time favorite of locals and tourists alike, this historic market (since 1873) in view of the Capitol is the perfect way to while away a weekend afternoon. Browse the eclectic flea market, locally sourced farmers market, and leafy surrounding neighborhood; join the line at the South Hall’s counter for one of the best and most authentic lunches in town, a crabcake sandwich and giant sweet tea.
Comet Ping Pong
5037 Connecticut Ave., NW
(202) 364-0404,

If you ask us, little tops the wonder of a smoky wood-fired pizza pie coupled with the rollicking, wholesome fun of table tennis. Add live music and a small but well-crafted beer and wine list, and we just might go home with you.
Palace of Wonders
1210 H St., NE
(202) 398-7469,

Contort your perceptions of conventional Washington as you gape at the freaky stars of this two-floor spectacle, complete with live vaudeville shows, burlesque, contortionists and more, plus a museum of oddities and full bar in a newly gentrifying corner of town. If hunger—or prudence—strikes, share sushi and tater tots at nearby Sticky Rice.


Hotel Rouge
1315 16th St., NW
(202) 232-8000,

Your go-to spot for a stylish one-night stand. The red-splattered walls and décor are as superficially romantic as your evening companion, but the colonnade of nine generic Venus statues out front offers a subtle reminder that if things don’t work out this time, there’s always tomorrow night.
Mayflower Hotel
1127 Connecticut Ave., NW
(202) 347-3000,

Back to that whole idea of power being sexy: Less than a mile from the White House, this plush bedpost has seen it all, from Camelot-era indiscretions to Eliot Spitzer’s career-ruining shack-up with a spendy call girl.
Tabard Inn
1739 N St., NW
(202) 785-1277,

If you can stomach its schmaltzy charm and rabbit hole implications, this adorable Victorian rowhouse is one of D.C.’s most quintessential and quirkiest boutique hotels. Cozy up by the bar’s crackling fire with (spiked) hot cider in hand, or refuel with homemade donuts the next morning at brunch.


Tryst Coffeehouse
2459 18th St., NW
(202) 232-5500,

Before plopping down with a Cuban coffee and oh-so-intellectual read, survey your prospects among the speckled scenery of mismatched couches and wooden tables. That dude with a laptop very likely will chat you up, so take proper precautions to ensure that’s something you want. Not that you’ll have much choice among the always-crammed space in the heart of hook-up-heavy Adams Morgan.
Black Cat
1811 14th St., NW
(202) 667-7960,

If hipsters hold the key to your emo-craving heart (or, uh, if you just like local music), take your pick at the Black Cat. Grab a cheap ticket to the indie music venue upstairs or kick it in the no-cover Red Room bar, with its well-stocked jukebox and pinball machine.
Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café & Grill
1517 Connecticut Ave., NW
(202) 387-1400,

Turn the page on seedy bar scenes for this Dupont Circle cultural cross-section that’s part bookstore, part restaurant and bar. Peruse D.C.’s finest offerings, from the latest political diatribe to that hottie browsing the South American phrasebooks.


The Little Fountain Café
2339 18th St., NW
(202) 462-8100,

A quiet refuge cached among the Jell-O shot crowd of Adams Morgan, this elegant eatery is a rare blend of good eats and lack of pretense. Tip: Score half-price wine with an entree on Wednesday nights.
633 D St., NW
(202) 637-1222,

In well-heeled Penn Quarter, indulge in chic, modern Indian dining that multiple critics have described as among the best in the world. Do yourself a favor and order the palak chaat (crispy spinach), the restaurant’s signature appetizer.
Two Quail
320 Massachusetts Ave., NE
(202) 543-8030,

It’s far from hip but a classic spot for popping The Question. Housed in three Capitol Hill rowhouses, the cozy restaurant drips with a syrupy-sweet vibe (frilly décor, curtained-off booths, wingback chairs).


Dascha Boudoir Boutique
1029 31st St., NW
(202) 333-0013,

Straight-laced Washingtonians come here for help getting unlaced later, with pretty corsets and saucy nighties, oils, and adult “instruments of pleasure.” The owners are registered nurses who incubate a classy setting in preppy Georgetown.
Rue 14
803-A 14th St., NW
(202) 462-6200,

Stock up on party frocks and cool denim at this new second-floor Logan Circle boutique, wedged among the strip’s hip sources for home décor and vintage furniture. The married owners proffer a sprinkling of affordable and higher-end designers for the fashionable girl and guy about town.
Pleasure Place
1710 Connecticut Ave., NW

This locally owned purveyor of erotica (since 1979) is where you can find all the fixings for a naughty night—or, more likely, a bachelorette/bachelor party—from scratch-and-sniff underwear to phallic pasta. .