life Reading Travel

5 on a Friday: Books, Tunes + Travel

March 10, 2023

1- DC PEOPLE. We are staying near DuPont circle in early April! Any must-experience restaurants or things to do in that area? We are already planning:

  • DC Zoo + Rock Creek Park + Lebanese Taverna
  • Washington Mall + Monument / Smithsonian Museums (Natural History, Air & Space, Building, Lunch @ Art)
  • Mt Vernon + Erin Condren store (Annabel’s request. Also my request. And Jenni Bick, while we’re at it.)
  • Tidal Basin + Spy Museum

Josh has some DC knowledge as he lived there for a few years, but I believe that was the late ’90s (!) so ideas welcome!

I kind of wish we had another day now.

2- It’s March 10th and I’ve spent all of my allowance. #$*(&# inflation. (And running shoe buying binges.)

3- Amusingly, this has been a recent bedtime favorite for G:

good timing for our DC trip!

4- I still have not completed my 2023 book list. I have had time to do it; I just haven’t. I think I am resisting making one because maybe I just want to be more spontaneous with my picks? The problem is that it makes library hold list management more challenging!

I am loving this:

link though this book has been everywhere so maybe you already read it . . .

I sobbed reading it last night. Which is not what I was expecting. One of my favorite books this year so far.

5- Miley Cyrus is back and I love the song “Flowers” and also her voice in general. ALSO Brandi Carlile is involved, so it has to be good. Will be listening on my long run tomorrow . . .

album Endless Summer Vacation is out today – I guess she wants to dominate the streaming airwaves this summer 🙂


  • Reply Suzanne March 10, 2023 at 2:00 pm

    I loved Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow too! So good!

  • Reply MM March 10, 2023 at 2:46 pm

    Sushi recommendation: Sakana in Dupont Circle, at 20th and P. It’s my favorite – always delicious, kid-friendly, and reasonably priced. Go early if you can. It’s relatively small inside and tends to fill up. Have fun!

    • Reply Amy March 11, 2023 at 9:14 am

      I lived in DC from 1999-2005 and that was my favorite sushi. Glad to hear it’s still good!

  • Reply Emily March 10, 2023 at 2:57 pm

    I loved tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, even though it made me cry and I’m still mad about it, but have really struggled with how to describe it to my friends to also convince them to read it.

  • Reply Jessica March 10, 2023 at 2:59 pm

    DC has the best Ethiopian food in the US! Huge population there. Would recommend.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger March 10, 2023 at 3:03 pm

      oooh at least one of my kids loves injera! any specific restaurant you have tried / loved?

      • Reply Emily March 10, 2023 at 3:34 pm

        I completely agree re: Ethiopian food. Unfortunately I was only visiting a friend there and it was several years ago so I don’t remember where we went either!

      • Reply sbc March 10, 2023 at 7:27 pm

        One fairly close to where you’re staying (it’s in Adams Morgan) is Elfegne–it is the former Zenebech and it’s really good! Other options: near Shaw or U Street, Habesha Market; near U St, Dukem; Letena in Columbia Heights; or Ethiopic near Union Station.

        Other restaurants: I really like Zorba’s in Dupont. Pizzeria Paradiso and Boogy & Peel are nearby pizza places. Swingers Crazy Golf is indoor minigolf in Dupont; I haven’t been so am not sure how family-friendly it is, but I think if you go early in the day it would be ok.

        For your Mall day, the Jose Andres restaurants are family friendly (Zaytinya gives everyone plenty of pita, Oyamel does chips and salsa); Hill Country BBQ is a chain but a tasty one. Or near the building museum, I like Wiseguy Pizza, and I really want to go to Baan Siam.

        When you go to the Tidal Basin and Spy Museum, there are many restaurants at L’Enfant Plaza but check hours–many close on weekends or after lunch I like Rice Bar and Takorean. The wharf has more sit-down restaurants and some takeout places…the fish at Gordon Ramsey fish and chips was quite tasty!

      • Reply MP March 12, 2023 at 6:52 pm

        I can’t remember if you have read Brandi Carlisle’s book Broken Horses. Just finished it in audiobook form from our library. Thought it was super entertaining!

      • Reply Kathleen Paley March 14, 2023 at 10:29 pm

        Dama on Columbia Pike in Arlington. THE BEST. Dumpy outside, incredible food. I’ve had a LOT of Ethiopian food in the last 25 years and it’s hands-down my favorite.

  • Reply Alex March 10, 2023 at 3:16 pm

    Some more DC ideas from a local: Walk around Georgetown, maybe even do kayaks on the Potomac if the weather is good. Unconventional Diner is a good family place with food that appeals to different levels of adventurousness. The Smithsonian sculpture gardens. Also Yards Park in Navy Yard, and the Wharf.

    • Reply Stacy March 11, 2023 at 3:37 pm

      you can also do paddle boats in the Tidal Basin (might be easier than kayaking with 3 kids, unless you trust A in her own boat). At the wharf, bartaco is tasty. Also if you want to do air & space, look to see if you need timed passes–there can be long lines there.

      • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger March 11, 2023 at 4:09 pm

        Ooh they would love paddle boats!

  • Reply Emily March 10, 2023 at 3:35 pm

    Selfishly I want you to do the 2023 book list as I enjoy reading it! However I am completely a mood reader myself and am not always great at reading what I plan to unless I am reading the book with a friend/for book club.

  • Reply Amy M March 10, 2023 at 3:49 pm

    Check out Planet Word. It’s a great museum, not too far from the Mall area.

  • Reply Diana March 10, 2023 at 3:55 pm

    DC local here who’s been reading your blog for years and just lurking rather than commenting!

    -Bistrot du Coin in Dupont is a lively, loud, super fun and delicious French restaurant. It’s been there forever.

    -for eating near the zoo, my family really likes Duke’s Counter. Great sandwiches and outdoor seating. I’d recommend it over LebTav, but both are good.

    -there’s a great Vietnamese place near Erin Condren called Four Sisters.

    -the best museum eatery is at the National Museum of the American Indian. Plus beautiful architecture. The best thing about our museums (as you probably know) is since they’re free you can just come and go but don’t need to stay anywhere for long, or can just go to one for the food or gift shop 🙂

    Haha, seems I have a lot of thoughts on food. Hope you have a wonderful trip!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger March 10, 2023 at 4:10 pm

      ooooh love this! (better than LebTav? WOW. I love Lebanese Taverna though haven’t been in at least a decade!!)

      • Reply Diana March 11, 2023 at 7:01 pm

        Ha! LebTav is still good! Also seconding the commenter who suggested Zaytinya (Jose Andres’s mezze restaurant).

        Running along the memorials is nice too and I highly recommend ending it at Baked & Wired in Georgetown not far from the waterfront. Or take the kids to the walk along the Georgetown waterfront – extra fun on Saturday mornings when the crew regattas are going on and it’s just nice for walking/playing.

        • Reply Amanda March 13, 2023 at 4:13 pm

          You have so many great suggestions already. I wanted to second Four Sisters by Erin Condren if your fam likes Vietnamese food. So good!

          • Kathleen Paley March 14, 2023 at 10:27 pm

            I also just recommended Four Sisters in Mosaic. SO GOOD!

  • Reply Amanda March 10, 2023 at 4:03 pm

    I agree that eating lunch at the National Museum of the American Indian is SUPER fun and delicious. It’s an easy walk to the sculpture garden at the National Gallery of Art, which is so fun with kids. You’re going to have a great time =)

  • Reply CS March 10, 2023 at 4:18 pm

    Another DC local chiming in: unless you or Josh (or one of the kids) is super into architecture, I’d maybe reconsider the building museum. It’s a bit off the Mall, and in my opinion it is best for adults and younger kids. The American History Museum is great, though, and in a similar area to the others.

    If you’re doing delivery any nights, Rasika West End is near dupont and delicious. They don’t allow kids under 8, though, so not a good family option.

    And my family loves Baked by Yael as a post-zoo treat. My kids love the panda cake pops; I love the blondies.

    Have a great trip!

    • Reply Alyce March 11, 2023 at 9:57 am

      I agree, the Building Museum is not DC’s best, unless there’s a specific exhibit you’re interested in. I was just there yesterday and the exhibits on display were pretty skimpy. The permanent exhibit about homes throughout history is pretty cool – I’ve already seen it multiple times so I don’t pay it any attention anymore. But I don’t know that it would be top of my list of all the things to see of everything in DC.

      Visiting the White House would be top of my list. Of the Smithsonians, Air and Space (cool stuff), Native American (excellent exhibits, cool stuff, great gift shop, good cafeteria), the Blacksonian (beautiful building, powerful exhibits, good lunch), Natural History isn’t really my jam but I can see it being a kid favorite. The Portrait Gallery has the best exhibits. But I have no idea what’s really a kid-friendly museum experience. Probably Air & Space and the Native American museum. I adore the Botanical Gardens. It’s probably my favorite place in DC. Honestly, if I were planning a DC trip, I’d do the White House, the Portrait Gallery, the Botanical Gardens, and a day trip to Mt Vernon.

      If you are actually contemplating carryout, I would check out Happy Gyro. It used to be Komi, one of DC’s best/fanciest restaurants that pivoted during the pandemic to be ice cream during the day and pizza takeout for dinner and the food is great.

      If you spend time in Georgetown, I would recommend Yellow for food – excellent pastries and middle eastern sandwiches.

      I also love Chaia, if you happen to be near it. Though not the Georgetown one, cause if you’re in Georgetown, you should go to Yellow.

      You might want to see if your trip will coincide with peak bloom for the cherry blossoms. If it does, it’s worth checking out.

      • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger March 11, 2023 at 1:05 pm

        My apple notes doc is exploding!! Thank you so much!

  • Reply Diane March 10, 2023 at 5:21 pm

    I have so many DC thoughts! We moved out of the city ten years ago, and DC has changed a lot since, but our favorite cheap Chinese take out place is still in Dupont- New Dynasty. We love it so much that we had them cater our rehearsal dinner even after we moved to the suburbs.
    The Dupont Farmers Market is nice, though very busy.
    The Postal Museum is my favorite Smithsonian museum.
    Also, a little biased b/c I work there, but the Kennedy Center is always worth a visit- free performances at 6pm every day, a great view of the city from the rooftop, and its Reach campus (and beer garden, which might be open by April) is a chill place to hang out. It would be a good combination to do with Georgetown, or it’s a nice walk from Dupont or the Tidal Basin.
    For classic DC dining, I like Old Ebbitts Grill and the Hamilton, both next to the White House. Also Founding Farmers and Farmers and Fishers are really tasty. And the best noodles are at Chinatown Express in Chinatown- they are handmade and delicious!
    It sounds like you have a great itinerary for hitting all the standard DC things!
    The blog kidfriendlydc is also a wealth of info for, well, kid friendly things to do in DC.

    • Reply Alyce March 10, 2023 at 7:02 pm

      I wouldn’t recommend Founding Farmers or Farmers and Fishers (or any of the restaurants in that restaurant group). They’ve really gone down hill.

  • Reply L. March 10, 2023 at 6:24 pm

    The boat from Georgetown to Alexandria is fun.

    • Reply sbc March 10, 2023 at 7:30 pm

      you can also take the water taxi from Georgetown to the wharf, which would put you close to the spy museum and tidal basin

  • Reply Ashley March 10, 2023 at 8:08 pm

    We recently went to Planet Word for the first time, and I was blown away. It’s hard to describe, but it’s a museum about language and words, and everything is interactive. It was so much fun for both kids and adults.
    Also, near DuPont- Kramerbooks, the coolest independent bookstore and cafe and Little Sesame- the dreamiest hummus bowls (fast casual)

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa’s Yarns March 10, 2023 at 9:07 pm

    I can’t wait to read about your DC trip! I look forward to taking our boys there when they are older. I didn’t visit DC until I was in my 30s! I loved it – especially the fact that the museums are free! I was able to run along the mall when I was there for work this summer. It’s such a cool city!

    I loved Tomorrowx3 but haven’t broadly recommended it as it’s a bit niche. I loved the male/female friendship. It made me nostalgic for my youth – I played Nintendo a lot when I was around 8-12!

  • Reply Chelsea March 11, 2023 at 3:12 am

    The last time we were in DC, we went to the Air and Space Museum annex, which is not near downtown, and it was really cool:

  • Reply Coree March 11, 2023 at 3:43 am

    Tomorrow was so, so good. I cried too. I’ve never cared about video games but I cared deeply about the book.

    Your DC trip sounds amazing. We keep thinking about doing a US trip at some point – to remind my Scottish born kid he’s half American. But it feels a bit daunting as my parents are no longer in the US. Too many options.

  • Reply Mara March 11, 2023 at 8:19 am

    Sounds like a great trip! We recently moved outside DC and have had so much fun taking our kids to things in DC. A spur of the moment trip to see the Lincoln Memorial after my kindergartener had learned about it in school was almost a “pinch me” moment. Grateful for the history so close by. I am too new to here to offer tips, but enjoy the trip.

  • Reply Ami Heising March 11, 2023 at 3:07 pm

    There are some great restaurants in the Adams Morgan part of town. We ate at an Ethopian restaurant and a ramen place. Both were excellent. My daughter just went to the Air and Space museum a couple of weeks ago and a good majority of it is still closed for refurbishment. She really enjoyed the American History museum.

  • Reply Helena Murphy March 11, 2023 at 8:47 pm

    If you happen to be flying to Dulles, the Air & Space nearby (yes, there are 2!) is the most amazing (Enola Gay, the Phantom, the Endeavor space shuttle). And I second Planet Word and walking around Georgetown if the weather is decent.

    The Library of Congress is a wonderful place to visit but especially twice a year when they open the main reading room to visitors. Probably not terribly kid friendly though….

    By the way, I’ve lived just outside DC for the past 12 years but I am totally stealing all the restaurant recs!

    Loved Tomorrow. I cared so much about the characters! Top 5 of 2022.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger March 12, 2023 at 10:15 am

      What were your other 4 in the top

      • Reply Helena Murphy March 12, 2023 at 4:36 pm

        Top 5 were probably (in no particular order)
        – The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
        – The Book of Two Ways
        Jodi Picoult
        – Lessons in Chemistry
        – Crying in H Mart
        – Tomorrow x3
        – My Name is Lucy Barton
        – The Price of Salt
        Yeah, that’s like 7 🙂
        How about you?

  • Reply Melanie March 13, 2023 at 10:26 am

    DC/VA local here too – I went to GW for undergrad and live in the suburbs now but still am in DC a lot. You might enjoy Kramers books at Dupont – local favorite and his been there for years. I recommend checking it out.

    Also Zaytinya is terrific food and I would recommend it over Leb Tav but both are great. Zaytinya is a bit higher end.

    Also near the SW waterfront / DC Wharf is ARTECHOUSE DC ( a super cool digital art “museum” and they are about to have their cherry blossom pixel art exhibit. You need tickets but worth it if you have time to go.

    Also my fave sushi is Kaz Sushi on I Street near GW.

    If you do the paddle boats at the Tidal Basin – around the corner is the FDR memorial which is one my favorite places since it’s never crowded and it’s lovely. Also in that area is MLK too which is great to see – very impressive statue of MLK.

    Have fun!!

  • Reply Melanie March 13, 2023 at 10:33 am

    Also as others have mentioned, the Udvar-Hazy Center is out near Dulles Airport but has the Space Shuttle Discovery and the Enola Gay there! Both are really neat to see! Really great planes from different areas in history too.

  • Reply Noemi March 13, 2023 at 1:17 pm

    I have to add in another recommendation for Planet Word! My kids are 5 and 9, and we all absolutely loved it. They had more fun there than at the Natural History museum (which was super crowded).

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger March 13, 2023 at 1:27 pm

      Im totally adding this in!!

  • Reply Kathleen Paley March 14, 2023 at 10:24 pm

    Work in DC and live in Fairfax not far from the Erin Condren store, so lots of thoughts here:

    – DC restaurants in the downtown area that delight adults and can be good for kids too: Jaleo and Zaytinya (both Jose Andres restaurants), Rasika for excellent Indian food.

    – DC-adjacent restaurants: if you want really awesome Ethiopian (a specialty in the DC area — bit expat pop), one of THE BEST is Dama on Columbia Pike in Arlington. It’s in a dumpy spot right next to a car repair shop, but don’t be deterred. The food is incredible, the customers are almost all Ethiopian, and the connected bakery serves amazing classic French pastries because the Dama owner used to be the pastry chef in the Clinton White House. Fun fact! The kids can try eating with their hands, and afterwards you can easily visit the airforce memorial, see the Pentagon from an elevated view (it’s up the hill from the Pentagon), or visit Arlington Cemetery. If you want Ethiopian in the district, Dukem is good. But Dama is my better, IMO.

    – Restaurants near the Erin Condren store (which is in an area called Mosaic in Fairfax): Please try Four Sisters Vietnamese. It’s incredible, and they have the most kid-and-adult pleasing double-fried spring rolls. While in Mosaic, enjoy the ombre stairs to the parking lot with the giraffe mural painted on the side. Another tasty restaurant option: Jinya, a ramen bar. Cool design and delicious food. Or Ted’s Bulletin if you want burgers, homemade pop tarts, and boozy shakes. You might want to pair a trip the Erin Condren store with a trip to the Utvar Hazy air and space annex, where the kids can see a rocket and the Enola Gay. And if you’re interested in coming to Fairfax City and meeting a reader and former BOBW guest, I’ll buy you a beer and the best Taiwanese street food you’ve ever had at Highside (seriously!).

    – Other activities in DC: you can take the ferry from the Wharf (near the Spy Museum) down to Old Town Alexandria, which is really cute and walkable and fun. Pretty sure it also goes down to Mt. Vernon.

    – If you’re having a hard time booking Washington Monument tickets, sign up for the “large group” option then only select 5 tickets. That opens up space in a way the regular booking doesn’t.

    – The Capitol tour is pretty cool, as is the botanical garden at the base of Capitol Hill. And if you can go into the Library of Congress (just behind the Capitol) you’ll fall in love with the architecture.

    -The Big Blue Rooster at the top of the East Wing of the National Gallery is pretty cool.

    DC is a great town, and I hope you have an incredible time! Please reach out by email if you have any questions… happy to continue providing suggestions!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger March 16, 2023 at 4:20 pm

      omg thank you for taking the time to write this long comment!! taking NOTES!

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