National Geographic Brunch Tour


I was delighted to attend a media event at PF Chang’s to celebrate the opening of the Terra Cotta Warriors exhibition at the National Geographic Museum.  I sipped on a Terra Cotta Warrior Smash, the cocktail specifically designed for the exhibit, consisting of Hennessy, soda water, lemon, mint, and a pinch of Chinese 5-spice.

Despite the spice, it was actually a pretty refreshing drink.  As always, the food was excellent – I love their veggie lettuce wraps!

To check out the Terra Cotta buzz, I went to the National Geographic Museum for the first time.  Located on 17th and M Streets by the Farragut metro stations, it’s an expansive headquarters for the magazine.

The museum has received lots of press coverage since the exhibit’s opening last week and, as such, it was crowded and tickets for the next month are sold out.  For a city of predominantly free museums, though, $12 per ticket for entry to the exhibit caused me to decide against purchasing one.  I was able to peak in and see a couple of the archaeological figures, plus the one on display in the glass perimeter of the museum.  The exhibit runs until March 31, 2010, so I have time to change my mind and cross my fingers for a discounted ticket.  For those who can get in line by 5:30 pm, 200 free tickets will be distributed for the 6 pm exhibition viewing every Wednesday.

Tickets are not required for the other two exhibits currently on display: National Geographic Image Collection, notable photographs throughout the years of the magazine displayed in the museum’s terrace, and Polar Obsession: Photography by Paul Nicklen, a collection featuring Antarctic animals and landscapes.

My favorite photo in here was an intimate self-portrait of a polar bear who inadvertently activated a camera embedded in the ice.

The content of these exhibits can be viewed in less than 30 minutes.  I would recommend a short visit to National Geographic if you’re already nearby or very interested in the Terra Cotta exhibit, but don’t plan a day around it.

To take advantage of free time in the city, I searched for other galleries and museums in close proximity.  First, I made my way down the block to the ARTiculate Gallery and Studio on 16th and M Streets.  It was closed!

Playing with the art outside, anyway!

Then I discovered that the U.S. Chess Center Museum and Hall of Fame is only another block away!

I never knew this museum existed, and was excited to have possibly discovered an obscure neighborhood gem.  Instead, I found a small, empty room filled with card tables (no chess boards in sight) and some photos related to the board game.  There was absolutely no such Hall of Fame.  I’m curious whether this room gets any chess players ordinarily?

After my failed visits it was time for nourishment, which turned out to be more difficult than expected.  Business districts in most cities on Sundays are usually deserted, and while the area wasn’t nearly as busy as it is during the workweek, this wasn’t the problem.  We phoned and walked to a few different eateries without success.

1.    Tabard Inn: The hostess informed me that they don’t offer lunch, only brunch, and besides, they’ve been booked for over a week now.  If I want to wait, it will be an hour and a half.

2.    Olives: A small kitchen fire temporarily closed the restaurant last spring, but I thought they had reopened.  Nope, shuttered doors and no signs of life.

3.    Georgia Brown’s: We could sit at the bar without a wait, but our appetite was not prepared for this pre-fixed three-course experience that included a buffet, entrée, and dessert.  That’s right, in addition to a buffet with many stations, we would also get a full entrée and dessert!  The waitress recommended that we take the entrée portion to go because most people find that it’s far too much food.  I’d like to return there after fasting and mentally preparing for a meal of this magnitude.

4.    Good Stuff Eatery: Closed on Sunday.  Darn!  I still need to try this supposedly excellent burger place.

5.    Finally!  Circa in Dupont Circle would admit us right away if we were willing to sit indoors instead of on their patio.

I’ve passed Circa, located in the heart of Dupont, numerous times but never eaten there.  It has a really nice bustling, bistro ambiance.  JP devoured a hamburger.  I ordered an egg white omelet with spinach, feta, and mushrooms and a side of home fries that weren’t anything special.  Generously sized mimosas for $5 made up for the tasteless meal.

We stumbled on the Dupont farmer’s market and book sale just as it was closing.  Definitely some good-looking produce and crafty materials for sale, albeit overpriced.

A geographic brunch tour of the city would be a great idea.  Like a bar crawl, but instead it would be an organized sampling of the best brunch spots in the city based on international cuisine.  Sort of a map of the world as found in DC, translated through that marvelous meal described by The Simpsons as “You’d love it, it’s not quite breakfast, it’s not quite lunch, but it comes with a slice of cantaloupe at the end.  You don’t get completely what you would at breakfast, but you get a good meal!”  If you know of any such culinary tour devoted to brunch, do let me know!

My attempt to fill the day with galleries and brunch, without much planning, turned into a humorous success.  I guess that’s just DC – if you keep walking, you’ll find what you’re looking for.


13 Responses to “National Geographic Brunch Tour”

  1. 1 benhrome

    I would recommend paying for a ticket for the NatGeo TC Warriors exhibit. Well worth the price.

  2. I LOVE the idea of the brunch tour. Or maybe a bloody mary tour?

  3. 4 Sam

    You should have gone to Twist Sunday Brunch at the Carlyle Suites Hotel in DC. A hop, skip and a jump away from the National Geographic Museum. It’s a best-kept secret with a really good value. And for $22.95 per person you can’t lose!

  4. 6 A Geographer

    Just a clarification. The National Geographic headquarters are for the organization, not just the magazine. NG does a lot more than publish a magazine; its supports research and conservation around the world. That is one thing I like about DC – it is home to the headquarters of a lot of influential organizations.

  5. Congrats- I take it that it was your first media invite? Good to see companies want to convince you on DC!

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  7. 11 Olen

    You are fully aware of inside the first few minutes if you are fascinated by them or not.
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