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Little Serow, Washington, D.C.

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, December 01 05:34 PM

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With all the partisan bickering in Washington, D.C. these days, you have to ask: Can't we all just get along? Well, one chef is forcing politicos to do just that, over the dinner hour at least. Behold Little Serow, a new family-style restaurant from star chef Jonny Monis of Komi.

The spare, mint-colored dining room includes communal seating and a set seven-course menu of shareable plates. The northern Thai dishes might include deep-fried pork skins with green chile sauce or sausages with Kaffir lime and basil. Everything about the place is done in a spirit of equality, from the seating policy (first come, first served) to the china (fashioned to look like paper plates) to the price tag (a cool $45 for the prix fixe). Democracy never tasted so good.

Photo: Courtesy of Dakota Fine for Brightestyoungthings.com

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Washington, D.C.

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, August 31 07:00 AM

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With all the partisan bickering and national debt doomsaying, it's hard to find a ray of hope in Washington, D.C., these days. Perhaps we can all draw inspiration from this quotation from Martin Luther King, Jr.: "Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope." It was the impetus behind a new national memorial to the civil rights leader, which was to have been dedicated last Sunday, on the 48th anniversary of King's "I Have a Dream" speech. (The ceremony was delayed by Hurricane Irene, and a new dedication date will be announced here.) The first National Mall memorial to an African-American, the 30-foot granite statue depicts a resolute King staring toward the horizon encircled by walls inscribed with excerpts of his speeches. Let's hope some congressional leaders take a page from his book. We can dream, can't we?

And while you're in town...

Eat here:
Rogue 24
The new Rogue 24 restaurant has an open kitchen and serves up 24-course tasting menus that push the culinary envelope. That might mean a sliver of shrimp sausage atop a sphere of grits filled with corn milk or a lavender meringue with shaved foie gras smeared in berry jelly. Rogue indeed.

Stay here:
The Liaison Capitol Hill
A Pop art portrait of Martin Luther King, Jr., watches over the lobby of this Capitol Hill hotel; King is just one of the world leaders that the Liaison brings together both on and within its walls. The 343 rooms were made for comfort, with velvet and leather headboards and toffee-and-cream color schemes punctuated by turquoise throws and crimson pillows. Leaders from across the aisles come together at the rooftop bar and locavore restaurant Art and Soul. This is a D.C. liaison that won't land you in the tabloids.

Photo: Courtesy of Jason Rosenberg

Graffiato, Washington, D.C.

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, July 13 11:07 AM

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Talky Top Chef and José Andrés alum Mike Isabella's new D.C. restaurant, Graffiato, will spoil you with crave-worthy deep-fried strawberry-sugar-dusted dough balls--a.k.a. zeppole--even though they're not on the menu.

Secret desserts aside, Graffiato exudes openness, from its raw wood beams and exposed brick walls to its peekaboo kitchen and list of local farm and dairy partners spelled out above a seven-seat ham bar. Think of it as a bustling stage for small plates as bold as the celeb chef himself. Our favorites? Spiced red beets with pork-fried almonds, bone marrow with cured lemon, and a rustic Countryman pizza topped with duck egg then pulled charred and bubbling from a wood-burning oven.

Isabella works the crowd, chatting as you chew. And as at any proper show, there's Prosecco to go with it. On tap.

Photo: Courtesy of Greg Powers 

St. Regis Washington Ballet Package, Washington, D.C.

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, April 29 04:21 PM

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When Natalie Portman pirouetted onto the ballet scene in Black Swan, the dance world was spun into the spotlight. Now you can go behind the scenes (minus the feather freak-outs) courtesy of a partnership between the St. Regis and the Washington Ballet, in D.C.

Hotel guests will attend a private dress rehearsal and the opening night performance of Carmen on May 19, plus a backstage tour by the Washington Ballet's artistic director, Septime Webre. You'll party afterward at a gala reception with company dancers and ballet VIPs. Then you'll debrief with Webre the next day over lunch at the hotel's Alain Ducasse restaurant, Adour.

The $5,000 price tag includes four nights in a swanky St. Regis suite with private butler service, so you know your stay will be en pointe.

Washington Ballet Aficionado Experience, $5,000 for four nights, May 17 to 21, 2011.

Photo: Sona Kharatian by Steve Vaccariello

Gauguin: Maker of Myth, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, March 01 08:12 PM

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Most people think of D.C. as a buttoned-up kind of town. But this spring, the National Gallery of Art is stripping things down with a new Paul Gauguin exhibit--the artist's first major U.S. show in 20 years.

Gauguin is the traveler's painter, having hopped from Peru to Paris, Martinique to Tahiti. The 120 works in this exhibit evoke many of those places, with Polynesian nudes, rainbow-hued images of the South Seas, and mythological paradise paintings. Far-flung beaches and scantily clad subjects? It's the Post-Impressionist's answer to spring break.

Gauguin: Maker of Myth will be on view through June 5, 2011.

Photo: Paul Gauguin, Fatata te Miti (Near the Sea), 1892, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Chester Dale Collection

The Normandy Hotel, Washington, D.C.

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, December 14 11:21 AM

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Saving a couple of hundred dollars when you're staying in D.C. might feel like a drop in the ocean compared with the sums Congress is arguing over. But for ordinary folks like us, it's a big deal. The Normandy is a 75-room hotel that feels far more luxurious than the bargain rates (often as low as $109 per night) suggest. Located on a leafy side street within walking distance of Dupont Circle's restaurants and bars, the Normandy juxtaposes Old World touches like toile wallpaper with a clean, neutral palette and leather headboards. Service is friendly and efficient, and there's a host of perks (free Wi-Fi, Nespresso coffee machines in the rooms, wine and cheese receptions). It all adds up to a pleasant stay, and, dare we say, the best value in the District.

And while you're in town...

Eat here:
Bibiana
Madeleine Albright, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg have all been spotted in Bibiana's buzzy dining room. So, what's the draw? Chef Nicholas Stefanelli applies a light touch to pasta dishes such as citrus agnolotti (airy pillows perked up with tangy ricotta) and buttery Maryland lump crab on a rich tangle of squid ink spaghetti. The confident yet unobtrusive service is a welcome plus, too.

Drink here:
Columbia Room
The tiny Columbia Room is part apothecary, part Japanese omakase experience. Owner and master of ceremonies Derek Brown chips ice from a wooden hangiri while holding forth on the chemistry of tinctures and the history of tiki. Tipplers tend to linger, taste-testing new recipes, mellowing out to the acoustic indie soundtrack, and ordering one last cocktail. We suggest the martini, the perfect marriage of precision (Brown uses a thermometer) and flair (that cut crystal coupe!).

Photo: Courtesy of the Normandy Hotel

Prices and other information were accurate at press time, but are subject to change. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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