destination DC

We recently visited Washington, D.C. for a few days and I'm so disappointed that our trip wasn't longer. D.C. is one of those places that just has so much to see and experience! Previously, I'd only been to the District twice; once in high school and then in college. I had yet to really explore the city beyond the typical tourist attractions, so I was excited to discover new some sights. For the first two nights of our trip, we stayed at the Hotel Monaco in Alexandria, Virginia in the heart of Old Town Alexandria. The hotel was fabulous and beautifully designed with pops of bright color and interesting furniture.

Not to mention, the hotel hosts a complimentary wine hour each afternoon -- major bonus for us winos.

I really love the Old Town Alexandria neighborhood. The cobblestone streets and brick row homes completely transport you to a different time. For instance, one of the nearby Starbucks is housed in an old restaurant built in the late 1700s. It's incredible to think of the history surrounding you as you pick up your morning latte. The neighborhood is also within walking distance to the Potomac River, which is quite picturesque and serene, especially at sunset.

One of my favorite parts of this trip was meeting Tasha of The Glossier. She's one of the first bloggers I connected with when I started this lil ol' blog of mine last year. Both her blog and Insta are seriously on point, and I remember thinking how cool it was that she followed me back when Rivas Raves was just starting out. Well, let it be known that Tasha is just as awesome in person as she is online. We had such a great time chatting about beauty, fashion, diversity in the blogosphere, and learning to stay true to yourself and your dreams. It was so fun to feel like I was catching up with an old friend.

Tasha and I in Old Town Alexandria.
Tasha and I in Old Town Alexandria.

Tasha and her boyfriend suggested that Kent and I check out the Washington National Cathedral -- and wow! I am so grateful for their suggestion. It is truly a masterpiece and absolutely awe-inspiring. Built in 1907, the cathedral is of Neo-Gothic design closely modeled on English Gothic style of the late 14th century. It is the sixth-largest cathedral in the world and the second-largest in the United States. As someone who is quite spiritual, I found the cathedral to be both incredibly moving and calming all at once.

Washington National Cathedral
Washington National Cathedral

We spent the last two nights of our trip at an Airbnb in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of D.C. The spot was eclectic to say the least, but that's one of the perks of staying at an Airbnb -- you really get a sense of the locale's personality.

Since Kent was on the trip for business, we didn't do as much sightseeing as I'd hoped. But we did stumble upon the National Geographic Society offices/museum and we made our way to the White House for an obligatory photo.

Of course, what trip is complete without food? We noshed at some pretty great spots, but here are my top picks from the places we sampled:

1.Open City (2331 Calvert Street NW Washington, D.C.)

This is what heaven looks like.
This is what heaven looks like.

Part coffeehouse, part bar, part diner, this place is probably as close to perfection as it gets for your average foodie -- especially for us brunch enthusiasts. I ordered the Blanco Scramble (egg whites, tomato, and spinach), which was served with hashbrowns and toast. I also couldn't resist the Chai Waffle (in my Starbucks barista-ing days I used to drink chai like it was water). Kent ordered the 24th Street Fried Chicken Sandwich, which looked divine, but by the time I wanted to take a bite I was already in a comatose state.

What I loved most about Open City (besides the food, obvs) was the vibe. When we walked in, there was an air of hustle-and-bustle that you'd expect from your typical American diner, but with salsa and merengue music overhead, you'd swear that you just stepped onto South Beach. Honestly, I'd move to D.C. just to frequent this place every day. It's a must-try!

2. Lincoln(1110 Vermont Avenue NW Washington, D.C.)

I let Kent choose our dinner option on this night, and when we pulled up to this spot called Lincoln, I asked him, "Is this supposed to be funny?" (We live in Lincoln, Nebraska, after all.) While the name did slightly influence his choice, apparently this spot is a go-to for seasonal small plates (think tapas but bigger portions) and delicious craft cocktails. We ordered an array of these plates for our dinner, with the Deviled Eggs really stealing the show (both in taste and in presentation).

While the craft cocktails were tempting, I stuck with my wine and had the 2009 Flaco Tempranillo, which was excellent. The ambiance of this place was lively and upbeat; it felt like an upscale lounge minus the pretentiousness. We walked in dressed rather casually and felt right at home (pun intended).

3. Sang Jun Thai(300 King Street Alexandria, VA)

This restaurant was our first stop after checking in at our hotel. Typically when I'm in a new city, I lean toward finding a great Thai restaurant as soon as possible. Thai is a cuisine that I never tire of, so it's always such a pleasure to try it in different places. Sang Jun Thai is conveniently located just a block away from Hotel Monaco, so this was a no-brainer. At this point I was so hungry that I didn't take any pictures (blogger fail), BUT I can highly recommend the Pad See-Ew (despite the "ew," this is one of my favorite Thai dishes).

Honorable mentions

Woodward Table(1426 H Street NW Washington, D.C.) -- Conveniently located just a block away from the White House, it's perfect for grabbing a Happy Hour drink or appetizer after a day of walking and touring the sights. The menus change seasonally, but the chili I ordered was hearty and flavorful.

Chart House(1 Cameron Street Alexandria, VA) -- Kent and I stumbled across this gem after our Thai dinner and decided to order dessert and a nightcap. The crème brûlée and Moscow Mule provided the perfect end to our first day in the area.

Jackson 20(480 King Street Alexandria, VA) -- I try to avoid hotel restaurants as a principle, but after a morning workout and with Kent off at a meeting, I thought I'd give Jackson 20 (located in Hotel Monaco) a try. I was pleasantly surprised at the comfortable setting, attentive service, and reasonable prices (and the host complimented my outfit -- bonus points there). The turkey sandwich and french fries made for a delicious and satisfying lunch. This restaurant apparently has an excellent brunch as well, although that is only offered on the weekend.

While our trip was short, we still managed to squeeze in a few outfit photos. We took these at the cathedral, which provided a truly one-of-a-kind and intimate backdrop. Since we were in D.C., I thought it fitting to wear a dress and coat from the Scandal Collection at The Limited. The coat was featured in a previous post, along with this black clutch from Ash & Willow.

We had such a great time in D.C. and I'm hoping that we can return soon!

Dress: Scandal Collection at The Limited (nearly sold out online -- check eBay or your local store)

Coat: Scandal Collection at The Limited (sold out online -- check eBay or your local store)

Clutch: Ash & Willow (c/o)

Tights: Target

Shoes: Steve Madden

Mekita Rivas