Ah, summertime in Washington, D.C. The season of staffers sweating their suits off up Capitol Hill, kids playing along the Waterfront, hippies slacklining in Meridian Hill Park, and tourists buzzing along the Mall. The summer brings a certain levity to life, which is impressive given DC’s humidity.
One of my favorite parts about the summer is the chance to explore. As someone who detests the cold, I rarely leave my house in the wintertime. Once the thermometer rises above 70 degrees, I’m out and looking for the next adventure. This summer, I have help. Let me introduce you (unless you’ve already met) to the DC Passport.
The Passport Program started in Colorado and has since expanded to 9 cities around the U.S. Its mandate is simple – help locals explore their city through the best bars, restaurants, and distilleries. The DC Passport is designed to be shared, offering 2-for-1 drink deals at each of the 40 locations. (However, there is nothing wrong with getting yourself two discount drinks – yes, you do deserve it!)
This summer, I’ll be your drinking buddy through Washington, D.C., taking you on my Passport journey through DC’s colorful and eclectic neighborhoods and discovering classic haunts and new finds along the way. The 2018 Summer Edition is only valid from May 25 – September 3, so let’s get drinking!
We begin our adventure in Columbia Heights. Located in Ward 1, it is one of the most densely populated areas of D.C. For those of you unfamiliar with D.C. geography, Columbia Heights is located about 2 miles north of Downtown, and 1 mile north of the U Street Corridor.
Columbia Heights is a lively and diverse place, bursting with life. The neighborhood is known for its classic rowhouse architecture and strong Hispanic culture. The majority of the action runs along 11th Street and 14th Street, which are packed with blocks of restaurants, shops, and cafés. Full disclosure here, I live in Columbia Heights and love it so I may be a little biased.
At any moment, I’ll hear Spanish, I’ll see an artist selling their wares on 14th Street, or see children playing in the water fountain at the heart of the neighborhood, Civic Plaza. This area boasts a wide array of dining options, from Salvadoran, to Cuban, to Filipino, to modern American.
So grab your Passport and head up to end of 11th Street NW to Maple.
Maple offers Italian-inspired cuisine in a trendy, well-decorated space with exposed brick and a secret back patio. The menu is simple, the wine list long, and the ambiance cozy – all in all, a great place for a lovely evening out.
The restaurant radiates the effortlessly cool vibe of the new, hip restaurants popping up in Shaw and you’ll swear it just opened, but Maple has been around for over six years, making it one of the pioneers of the popular 11th Street strip.
I headed over to Maple with my roommate and my Passport on a rainy June afternoon and settled down at the elegant maple wood bar. We viewed the drink deal – either an Aperol spritz or a glass of select rosé wine.
Having just returned to Italy, my roommate recommended that we order the Aperol spritzes, a refreshing concoction of prosecco, Aperol, and soda water with an orange peel thrown in for zest. I had never had one, so I decided to follow her advice and give it a try.
In addition to the drinks, we ordered two bruschettas loaded with prosciutto di Parma and sweet fig glaze and a plate of burrata surrounded by roasted tomatoes and crostini.
Though the cocktail sadly underwhelmed me (should have gotten the rosé…after all, their tagline is “Italian-influenced, wine-focused”), that heavenly burrata certainly made up for it.
When you visit Maple, go for the drink deal, but stay for the food. It’s nearly impossible to resist the temptation of bruschetta, burrata, or the lamb ragu with tagliatelle – so why fight it?
You can find Maple at 3418 11th Street NW. To read their full menu, visit their website.
You can purchase your DC Passport for $20 online or at the following retail locations: Salt and Sundry, Upshur Street Books, or Steadfast Supply.
This post was sponsored by the Passport Program.