Foggy Bottom neighborhood guide

Your guide to Foggy Bottom in DC including the best local restaurants and bars, arts and entertainment and things to do

The Lisner Auditorium, Foggy Bottom

West and south-west of the White House down to the Potomac River, Foggy Bottom takes its name from its original, marshy riverside location. A historic district on the National Registry since 1987 because of the design of its rowhouses, these days Foggy Bottom is home to highly transient foreign service workers, federal appointees, college students and performing artists—along with older long-term residents.

Restaurants and bars in Foggy Bottom

Ris

Ris Lacoste, who earned her stellar reputation as former executive chef of Georgetown’s classic 1789, struck out on her own with this comfortable West End restaurant. (Pronunciation hint: Ris is short for Doris.) Neighbors, power players and the chef’s devotees fill the 200-some seats, spread over a bar, café, patio and segmented dining areas with plush banquettes. The American menu taps into international influences, with dishes like monkfish osso bucco, braised lamb shank with chickpeas and yogurt, and sesame crusted salmon with red curry broth. Regular daily specials include meatloaf on Mondays.

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Foggy Bottom

Marcel’s

Critics' pick

Marcel’s is the kind of restaurant that you’d expect to find on Pennsylvania Avenue: exquisite food, beautifully served in a sumptuous dining room by adept professionals. Chef Robert Wiedmaier’s Flemish-inflected French fare manages the classical balance of taste and textures: subtle versus sharp-flavored, savory versus sweet, generous versus leaving you wanting more. Boudin blanc with black mushroom truffle purée and truffle madeira sauce is exemplary, and a gratin of mussels with Chimay, salsify and bacon is a blast of intense flavors. The servers get extra points for friendliness: even if you’re not one of the place’s traditional, old-money clients, they’ll still treat you as if you were.

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Foggy Bottom

Vidalia

Onions are much in evidence in the hushed, golden dining room of Vidalia, which itself is named after the Southern sweet variety. You’ll find them in a spread for the complimentary bread, in a rich hot soup and in the discreet artwork adorning the walls. But the restaurant’s raison d’être is neither single-ingredient schtick nor even strictly Southern cooking; it proudly proclaims its cuisine to be "American regional". There are many dishes in which pork is the star player, and grits and oysters are likely suspects on winter menus.

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Foggy Bottom

Cultural highlights in Foggy Bottom

Kennedy Center

Festooned with decorative gifts from many nations and some wonderful 20th-century works of art, "Ken Cen" is as much a spectacle as the shows it presents, with its flag-filled Hall of States and Hall of Nations, six theaters and concert halls, three rooftop restaurants and great views from the open-air terrace. Free concerts (6pm daily) liven up the Millennium Stage, and there are free 45-minute guided tours (call 1-202 416 8340 or walk-ins welcome; visit the Tour Desk on Level A). Parking is inadequate when several shows are playing at once—better to walk or take the free shuttle bus from the Foggy Bottom-GWU Metro stop.

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Foggy Bottom Free

Lisner Auditorium

Located in George Washington University, Lisner hosts dance troupes, Latin music and the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington. Author readings and rock shows are scheduled as well, sometimes on the same night, as when Dave Eggers split the bill with They Might Be Giants. This is the most likely DC site for shows by prominent African performers, including Youssou N’Dour, Salif Keita and Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

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Foggy Bottom

Music and nightlife in Foggy Bottom

Kennedy Center

Critics' pick

The John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts—the national cultural center of the United States—hosts a great variety of music, particularly on its free Millennium Stage. However, its primary focuses are classical and jazz. A welcome addition is the slate of intimate KC Jazz Club shows scheduled in the Terrace Gallery. The Center has five auditoriums. The Concert Hall is where the National Symphony Orchestra and Washington Chamber Symphony (among others) perform; its acoustics are first class. The Opera House hosts dance and ballet, Broadway-style musical performances, and is the home of the Washington Opera. Productions in the Eisenhower Theater tend to have more of an edge, while the Theater Lab and Terrace Theater are the Center’s most intimate spaces.

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Foggy Bottom Free

Lisner Auditorium

Located in George Washington University, Lisner hosts dance troupes, Latin music and the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington. Author readings and rock shows are scheduled as well, sometimes on the same night, as when Dave Eggers split the bill with They Might Be Giants. This is the most likely DC site for shows by prominent African performers, including Youssou N’Dour, Salif Keita and Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

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Foggy Bottom

Shopping in Foggy Bottom

Ultra Violet Flowers

With a focus on minimalist and modern design, Ultra Violet Flowers offers meticulously arranged bouquets that pop. Founder Fabio Ripoli’s specialty is wowing with color, as can be seen in his Be Mine bouquet, made from a monochromatic mix of orchids, hydrangea and peonies.

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Foggy Bottom

Whole Foods

Besides its piles of organic produce, mountains of granola and organically raised meats, this wonderful store has an excellent stock of wines, cheeses, antipasti and other grown-up finger foods. Though the store as a whole can be expensive, the wines are available in all price ranges.

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Foggy Bottom

Hotels in Foggy Bottom

Graham Georgetown

In the property that was the old Monticello, the new Graham is a sophisticated take on a boutique hotel. The look is restrained, with lots of taupes, browns and marble in the public areas. Rooms and suites—all with CD players/radios—use grays, with carefully chosen splashes of color, and checks and patterns that blend well and are never loud. The expansive rooftop bar, the Observatory, has great views and is set to be a major asset.

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Georgetown

Four Seasons

One of DC’s most comfortable hotels, the Four Seasons has long attracted VIP guests. The health spa is both serious and sybaritic, and good art is displayed throughout. Even if you’re not lucky enough to be staying here, you can at least treat yourself to afternoon tea on the Garden Terrace. If you can stump up the money for a reservation, ask to stay in the east wing, where a $40-million renovation a few years ago enlarged the rooms and updated the decor.

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Georgetown

Avenue Suites-A Modus Hotel

This modern Washington, D.C., hotel offers free Wi-Fi and suites equipped with a spacious living area. The Foggy Bottom Metro Station is 7 minutes’ walk and The National Mall and Memorial Parks is 1 mile away.A flat-screen TV with cable channels along with a work station are offered in each contemporary room at Avenue Suites. Suites feature a fully equipped kitchen.Guests can workout in the fitness centre or use the business centre that offers fax and photocopying services. Laundry facilities are also provided.Breakfast can be purchased a la carte each morning in the lobby area.The Avenue Suites Washington, D.C., is a half mile from George Washington University. The White House is 1 mile away and Georgetown University is 5 minutes’ drive.

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Foggy Bottom

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