So this is DC…

So I arrived here in Washington D.C. several hours ago, and made the mistake of taking some shuttle service from Dulles…which proceeded to take the passengers direct to their homes, which meant I got a long, long tour of winding narrow suburban roads all over the outlying parts of the city, sitting behind the choked traffic as the wall-to-wall cars parked on both sides meant we were constrained to basically one lane. How do you people live in this chaos? It took me almost as much time to get from Dulles to Capitol Hill as it did to drive all the way across the state of Minnesota this morning! I’m thinking now that I’m going to have to leave awfully early on Monday to make sure I get to the airport in time.

Anyway, I’m going to depressurize here in the hotel for a few hours and then strike out (on foot) for food. There’s some kind of big white marble building near here…there’s probably beer nearby.


  1. Allen says

    Well, welcome to the city. That’s exactly what it is like to live here. Beer will definitely help, and I’m looking forward to some soon.

  2. Josh says

    Yeah, the shuttle from Dulles…not the best idea. A cab is worth the extra $$. Give it 45 minutes to an hour in rush.

  3. travc says

    DC has a decent subway… can’t remember if it goes all the way into Dulles, though I think it may (unlike the stupidity of many other major cities).

    The bus was also actually useful when I was there several years back.

    Obvious actually, but easy to overlook when you aren’t accustomed to having a decent public transport system.

  4. Peter M says

    you may be seeing the train station — which has a food mall — but on Capitol Hill itself there are some real bars — check out Pennsylvania Avenue above the Capitol

    for out of towners — you can also take a cab to the Vienna Metro, and then take a subway in

    always try to get a flight into Reagan/National if you have Hill business — it’s right on the Metro and a cab ride won’t cost a lot

  5. Cappy says

    I spent a couple days in DC for a friends wedding. I found the Metro easy to use and there was good micro-brewery not too far from the EPA building as I recall.

  6. Josh says

    Metro doesn’t yet go to Dulles. There is some discussion on the point currently. The bus exists, but honestly it is more trouble than its worth (to Dulles…it is great for BWI). Really, a cab from Vienna (end of the Orange Line) or just cab it from the Hill will cost a few dollars more but save blood pressure.

  7. John H. McDonald says

    Next time, fly to National (the Metro goes directly to the terminal) or BWI, where you can catch a MARC commuter train (on weekdays) or Amtrak to Union Station in DC.

  8. Richard, FCD says

    There is a bus that goes straight from the airport to downtown. You must have got on the wrong one. Metro only goes half way, so far. I think the funding is in place to finish the job all the way out to Dulles.

    Traffic isn’t a concern going to and from the airport on the dedicated road they built. I’ve nver heard of any hoold-ups on the airport road in more than a decade. So getting back shouldn’t take long if you get on the right vehicle.

    Most of the beer and food is a short walk away from the big white marble buildings.

  9. Michael says

    I enjoy airport shuttles, I’ve met a lot of interesting people while jammed into a grubby van driven by a maniac from some third world country. I second Brain Hertz’s recommendation for a Capitol City brewpub, you can’t go wrong there.

  10. says

    Yeah, I was just looking at a map and seeing that I’m only a few blocks the Capitol City Brewing Co, on Massachusetts Ave. I may have to stroll that way.

  11. Allen says

    Get to the airport very early. The TSA screening line can be very long, and very slow. Your results may vary.

  12. Jewel says

    Yeah, Dulles probably wasn’t the best choice for convenience given where you are staying. National would have been closer, but probably more expensive…but once you add in cab fare and the travel headache…

    Personally, I love this area. Sure the traffic can be hell, but there is a lot to do, should I want something to do and there is an awful lot of convenience. Plus, when friend or relatives come to town there is plenty with which to distract them.

  13. CL says

    Check out the Hawk & Dove on Capitol Hill, PZ. (It’s a few blocks east of the Library of Congress.)

  14. Doug says

    Let’s see. You took a local airport shuttle on a rainy afternoon the Friday before a three day Federal weekend in D.C. If it took you less than 2 hours you should feel lucky.

  15. says

    As a Capitol Hill resident, I’ll say yeah the ride to Dulles/Cap Hill really, really sucks. From where you are staying I really suggest heading to the 300 Penn Ave SE, especially the Tune Inn 3rd and Penn SE or 6th and Penn SE to go to the 18th Amendment both bars have great food, if I weren’t in LA I would join you for beer.
    It’s a 15-20 minute walk or a reasonable cab ride.

  16. BA says

    Capitol City is fresh but not the best quality. The Brickskeller has one of the best selections on the East Coast. Make sure to stop by.

  17. Roger Chalkley says

    Take a cab directly, or if you want to save $$ take the metro to Washington National Airport (yellow line) (less than $2) and then take the direct shuttle to Dulles…its about $20.

    BTW the metro does not go to Dulles.

  18. Diego says

    I’d definitely make heavy use of the subway. As far as I can tell it’s the only thing keeping complete and perpetual gridlock at bay in D.C. Oh yeah, and I’ll have to remember to bring this up when my girlfriend or dad, both from D.C. outliers, start to wax poetic about our nation’s capitol.

  19. khan says

    IIRC they were discussing extending the Metro to Dulles when I lived on the DC Beltway (College Park, MD) 30 years ago.

  20. Jewel says

    “IIRC they were discussing extending the Metro to Dulles when I lived on the DC Beltway (College Park, MD) 30 years ago.”

    Yep, and they’re still talking about it…or arguing. It can be so hard to tell..

  21. Barn Owl says

    For the EB meeting in April, I took the Washington Flyer bus from Dulles to West Falls Church Metro station, and it was very convenient and (relatively) inexpensive-though it may only be a reasonable option for Convention Center and nearby hotels. The weather was fantastic then too, which made walking pleasant.

    I always like Pizzeria Paradiso on Dupont Circle, but then I’m also ridiculously grateful to go to the DC area in a situation for which I’m *not* sequestered (detained??) in some ubiquitous exurban hotel for study section sessions. Give me a modicum of personal freedom, a hotel room in DC proper, and the prospect of a museum visit or two, and I’d probably be happy eating hot dogs from vendors on the street.

  22. caynazzo says

    The metro (what we in DC call the subway) only goes to Reagan, not Dulles. Catch a cab, or I’m sure someone out here would be willing to give you a lift. It’s not a bad drive.

  23. Ex-drone says

    Try Kramerbooks (1517 Connecticut Ave NW, across from the Q St Metro exit at Dupont Circle). It’s a cute little bookstore that’s open 24 hrs on Fri/Sat and has a bar and restaurant attached.

  24. says

    Brickskeller is excellent, and not too far from a Metro stop, if I recall.

    I second that one. It’s a couple of blocks from the Dupont Circle stop, as I recall. It also has something like 1,000 different kinds of beer from around the world.

  25. says

    Next time, fly into National. Dulles is a pain in the butt. National is on the Blue Line and only a stop or two from Arlington National Cemetery.

    You won’t find many of them in DC itself, but if you go out towards Arlington/Falls Church way there are lots of Peruvian chicken joints. Stop at one. You won’t regret it.

  26. DataSlave says

    Good luck in DC PZ! I regret that I no longer live in the area or I would definitely be there to meet you and Phil.

    Ironically, the traffic (average of 3 hours in congestion per day and 4 – 5 hours on Friday) was one of the deciding factors in me leaving that beautiful area. That and housing prices…

    Yeah, I would definitely plan for extra time getting back to the airport… I would also recommend flying through BWI if you have the choice next time. While I lived in No. Virginia, I would go out of my way to go up there – it was always less headache.

  27. says

    I am disturbed by all of the people who in this very comment section have been referring to Washington National but its fake name, the name of the Great Usurper. Named after He Who Shall Not Be Named. After.

  28. John C. Randolph says

    Tip for next time: take the shuttle to the metro. It’s nearly all on the highway, and then you’re on the subway system. Far better if you’re heading into downtown DC.


  29. exdcer says

    The Dulles shuttle vans are a practical joke on travelers. The last time I took one the driver admitted he’d been driving 24 hours straight, which made me view his screwups more sympathetically. If you can’t get the Flyer bus, take a cab.

    Finding a bar is never a problem in DC. Try the Monocle if you want to run into drunk senators. For food, ignore the politics but take the restaurant advice at DC has great Ethiopian, lots of Latin American cuisines, and a host of other stuff that you probably aren’t getting in Minnesota, no offense.

  30. says

    Why not just take the TGV into the centre?

    Oops, sorry, forgot … wanders off muttering to himself about archaic transport “systems”

  31. says

    Der Brickskeller? I thought it died? The one problem it had, I thought, was that some of the specialty beers were not so fresh as one might like. Unfortunately, if one were to drink one of the Iron City brews to get the commemorative can (endangered species — the only can honoring the humpback chub that I’ve ever seen), the beer might not be fresh. I’m dating myself — is Iron City even still in business? The humpback chub can would be at least 22 years old by now . . .

    Pennsylvania Ave, SE, is a good place to get a bar burger. There used to be a Greek place there which was cheap when I was an intern with no money, but got expensive later.

    If you have Saturday morning, or noon, however, get thee over to Eastern Market, and get one of their crabcakes. There is no better crabcake on Earth. The blueberry pancakes for breakfast are good, too. You can get there easily from the Eastern Market Metro stop. (I’m assuming you’re on the north side of the Capitol, right?)

    The Dubliner is probably pricey now, but one should get some fish and chips and a Guiness from D.C.’s oldest Irish bar (is the Irish Times still next door?). The first time I got a Guiness at the Dubliner, the bar was about 20 feet wide and the Guiness was not chilled. The next year the bar expanded into the hotel restaurant next door; the following year they booted out the gift shop; a year later they bought the hotel, which they later restored and sold.

    Metro doesn’t run well to Georgetown; I highly recommend Martin’s Tavern — good Monte Cristo, probably the only lamb chops left in D.C.

    I miss the walk to work from 9th and East Capitol Street. On a good spring, or fall, or winter, or summer morning, there is nothing better than walking to work through a great neighborhood and having the Capitol’s dome as the landmark, with the Library of Congress and the Supreme Court framing the final block of the walk.

    The more I think about it, the more I recommend you get to Eastern Market for a crab cake. That’s almost reason enough by itself to go to the nation’s capital.

    If you’re going to tour the monuments, if Homeland Security hasn’t gone totally crazy, I recommend the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials after 10:00 p.m. There’s nothing better than Jefferson at 4:00 a.m. on a Sunday with a bottle of champagne — but champagne’s illegal there, so keep it discreet. Give a toast to liberty.

  32. Science Goddess says

    Yes, that’s why I retired as soon as possible. I was fed up with a 2 hour commute to go 20 miles! Each way!


  33. says

    On my last D.C. trip earlier this year (we always fly in and out of National, if we can help it), we visited the Smithsonian’s Utvar-Hazy National Air & Space Museum by Dulles, and got there via shuttle from Dulles. There was a direct express bus from Dulles to and from the Rosslyn Metro station.

    Thelogos: Another great Ethiopian restaurant is at U St. and 13th (in “Little Ethiopia”), Etete. There are at least nine other Ethiopian restaurants in the area. And there’s Zed’s in Georgetown…

  34. Ted says

    If you spell it RAYGUN Natl Airpott, then it’s a cool science object, and not He Who Shall Not Be Named.

  35. says

    As a long time resident of DC-metro, I must agree with Mike and Ted that none may call it “Reagan” National. National airport is correct. Congress named it after him to piss off the Democratic residents, who were not pleased with their airport being named by Congress.

    Wish you’d mentioned you’d be in town. I could have stopped by. And pretty much anywhere in the city will provide you with nice food in bars, although the hill is one of the more difficult places to find things to do at night. For food and fun though Dupont at night (Brickskeller is a nice joint – agreed), then Adams Morgan, but Georgetown only if you are amused by obnoxious college students wearing dirty white ballcaps. Eastern Market is surprisingly pleasant these days, and has a nice farmers market on weekends and many local shops – including Uncle Brutha’s Hot Sauce Emporium, my personal favorite.

  36. says

    I flew into Dulles for the first time a few months ago on vacation. You should have taken the Washington Flyer (, which is a private Bus. The first stop is a subway station (either blue or orange line, iirc) where you can take the subway into town.

    It actually went easy and relatively quickly for me. I had planned on taking a city bus into town, but there were no signs indicating where it stopped – and nobody (not even locals) had a clue where it was. The flyer was on time and clean.

  37. David James says

    As a decades-long resident of Capitol Hill (the neighborhood, not the metaphor), I concur in recommending Eastern Market. The walk there from where you’re staying is also very pleasant, especially once you’re on the other (east) side of the Capitol: cool old brick rowhouses and lots of trees that are, right now, approaching peak fall color. But do it by midafternoon tomorrow (Sunday), as the Market closes at 4 and is always closed on Mondays.

  38. Ray C. says

    If you fly into BWI, the B30 bus will take you to the Metro at Greenbelt. The fare is $3 one way and it runs every 40 minutes.