A literary cafe, restaurant, arts venue and marketplace in one, Busboys & Poets is a must-do in the city. Some of the most celebrated authors of modern times have appeared at its four locations, including Alice Walker, Cornel West and Octavia Butler. Check the web site for events that include slam poetry open mics, book signings and talks. The 5th & K location also features Global Exchange, a fair trade store that supports its namesake international human rights organization with a funky and insightful mix of goods and books.
Think you know what a Japanese restaurant is supposed to be like? Turn that idea on its head. You may be eating a negihama roll with freshly grated wasabi and smelling robata-grilled skewers, but you'll be listening to tunes by local blues, latin, jazz and reggae artists for Sunday brunch. Ask a knowledgeable server how to pair one of Kushi's 36 sakes with a dish you'll love for a crash course on the complex rice wine.
DC visitors, we introduce you to the seafood pancake. Made with buckwheat flour and ground mussels, shrimp and squid, its a signature twist on a traditional Korean dish. Pair this and other exotic creations with a sojutini (soju is a vodka-like spirit) for an old-meets-new interpretation of conventional Korean fare. Insider tip: Get there before 7 p.m. for happy hour to snag sojutinis for a cool $4.
Go on, ring the alarm. The cocktail list at this old-firehouse-turned-restaurant is impressive, integrating craft spirits into subtle, classic drinks with a twist like the Hemingway Rickey (Banks rum, Luxardo Maraschino, lime and grapefruit juice). Other drinks, like the Sixth Engine, may put hair on your chest (Great King Street scotch, Ruby Port, Angostura bitters and Peat Monster). But whatever you choose, it'll taste better while washing down one of the restaurant's upscale comfort foods in its trendy, exposed-brick space. Try the corvina (andouille risotto, corne maque choux and chili parsley butter).
Time for wine: Tel'Veh's got a 300-bottle wine list curated by a veteran sommelier who knows his stuff. There's even 48 wines on tap, a novelty available only in a few DC haunts. Hey, we think it's always 5 o'clock somewhere, but if you're in the mood for an alternative, the Turkish coffee is a delicious boost for the day (or night) ahead.