Where to Take Holiday Visitors for Food & Art

By Olga Boikess  |  November 22, 2013
Credit: Urbana

Looking for things to do with guests on the weekends during the holiday season? What about going to see a happening art or museum exhibit and pairing it with a midday meal? In order to help you tailor the plan, we’ve come up with some scenarios matched to personality types that should seem familiar.

  • Credit: Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong, Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York, and M+B Gallery, Los Angeles.

    The Fashionista

    Art photographer Alex Prager, who is said to be on the cusp of fame by local mavens, staged imaginary scenes for her arresting “Face in the Crowd” series, which is being shown at the Corcoran Gallery of Art near the White House. After scoping out the images (and the good-looking visitors), your fashion-conscious friend will feel oh-so-trendy when digging into the vegan brunch at Muse, the in-house cafe. It's good enough to please omnivores, with the likes of wild-rice salad with grapes, cranberries and roasted cashews; red-curry couscous risotto with squash and crispy tofu; and granola-crusted French toast with quince and raison compote (202-956-6650).

  • Credit: Rob Shelley, National Gallery of Art

    The Francophile

    See Paris emerge as the City of Light through the lens of Charles Marville, whose 19th-century photographs of the town are on view at the Smithsonian’s National Gallery of Art. Take a lunch break by the serene fountain at its Garden Café, where chef/restaurateur Michel Richard (Central) has crafted a new buffet filled with classics like quiche, bouillabaisse, duck confit and chocolate mousse.

  • The News Junkie

    Mixing satire and sexist history, the Penn Quarter Newseum’s “Anchorman: The Exhibit” includes memorabilia from the Will Ferrell movie. Would-be newscasters can also absorb some modern history about format innovations and challenges women faced in the field. The Saturday dim sum brunch at The Source, in the same complex, offers a satisfying investigation of Chinese food culture, while a few blocks away, Daikaya Izakaya’s modern Japanese take on American brunch classics (crisp chicken karaage with a red-bean-paste-filled waffle, pictured) is also worth a gander (Source: 202-637-6100; Daikaya: 202-589-1600).

  • Credit: Urbana

    The Perfectionist

    Van Gogh Repetitions, the current feature at the Phillips Collection near DuPont Circle, displays several of the artist's paintings that revisit the same subject. This should resonate with anyone who strives for precision yet sees many ways to accomplish an effect. Chef Ethan McKee at nearby Urbana shares that approach. He’s designed a brunch menu that includes classics done just so, like his signature bombolini (pictured), eggs Basque with lamb merguez and piquillo peppers, and pizza topped with tasso, egg and Manchego cheese - plus $2 Bellinis and mimosas to sweeten the deal (202-956-6650).

  • The See and Be Scenester

    On 14th Street NW above Logan Circle, the hottest real estate in town, respected art dealer George Hemphill’s gallery is quite a scene. Currently showing DC artists who have made their mark, like William Christenberry, it also generates people-watching nearly as good as what’s on the walls. The street teems with exciting venues for brunch, including BToo (pictured), Estadio, Le Diplomate and Pearl Dive Oyster Palace (B Too: 202-627-2800; Estadio: 202-319-1404; Le Diplomate: 202-332-3333; Pearl Dive Oyster Palace: 202-319-1612).

  • Credit: Jody Brady

    The Hipster

    Tats and facial hair are de rigueur along Seventh and Ninth Streets NW in rapidly developing Shaw, where the Longview Gallery was something of a pioneer. Right now the space is showing mixed-media artist Tony Savoie’s complex shadow boxes with political sensibilities. Two intriguing spots for brunch nearby are the modern European Table - where you might have a tartiflette (bacon, onion, potatoes and cheese bake), or house-smoked salmon and waffles - and 1905 - a good spot for truffled grits and pork belly, or smoked Caesar salad. Later in the afternoon, check out the action at the sherry and ham bar Mockingbird Hill (pictured), or its new oyster-bar offshoot, Eat the Rich (Table: 202-588-5200; 1905: 202-332-1905).