We recently traveled by Amtrak (kids are half off on regional trains) from New York Penn Station to Washington DC where we had a very pleasant stay at The Beacon Hotel on Rhode Island Avenue. This hotel is within walking distance from Whole Foods (a requirement wherever possible) and has a restaurant called The Beacon Bar & Grill where I was able to eat safely. After my second meal, I was so impressed, I asked my waiter, Drew, how comfortable his kitchen would be making something simple for a severely allergic person, my child. She was up in the room relaxing after having woken up at 4am traveling to DC, waiting patiently for me during my meeting, and then spending four hours in the Natural History Museum. She had eaten a bit already, Allergaroo (a shelf-stable spaghetti meal in a bag) which we had packed with us, and there was plenty of food in the room, but I knew if I was hungry, she would enjoy a chicken and romaine salad. After speaking with the Manager, Nancy, I felt comfortable enough to order her a meal. She ate it voraciously. I made sure to tell the restaurant manager, Steven, the following day what a wonderful job the chef had done in making an excellent allergen free meal.
The following day we slept in. OK the teenager slept while I walked to Whole Foods for some fruit, coffee and Enjoy Life cookies. Then we headed to the Smithsonian National Zoo to see the Pandas. We only had an hour to spend there, due to me needing to get back to business, but we made the most of it. We took the metro there, but an easier ride would have been the L2 bus which leaves from near our hotel and drops off right in front of the Zoo. We returned to the hotel where I got some work done, retrieved our bags so I could change and headed to the meeting a block away.
After the meeting, we went to an early dinner at Jaleo, a fabulous Spanish restaurant started by José Andrés, which was recommended to me by Allergic Girl, Sloane Miller, who has had great experiences there with Chef Ramon. Chef Ramon was not there, but as evidence of his well-trained staff, our experience could not have been more perfect. I have to confess that had time to look at their web site it would not have been a restaurant I would not have chosen. Seafood, fish, sausage, tree nuts, white potatoes and more of our allergens – we would not have imagined the delicious treats that they made for us. The other challenge is always to make teenager feel at home. From the young man who stored our bags, and re-stored, and then delivered them to us through a throng of hungry patrons, to the busboys who attentively filled our water glasses, to the beautiful manager and adorable waitress who, picking up on a teenagers peculiarities, made her own version of dressing that she thought she would enjoy – and she was right! – our experience was five-star perfect.
But wait, there’s more. After dinner, tired, we took a cab to the National Air and Space Museum. One can’t tell from the web site but in the summer the museum is open until 7:30pm. A word to those travelling with suitcases, as I was, they do not have anywhere to check bags. Despite this, we had a great time! No lines, no crowds, just airplanes, space capsules, rockets and all things perfectly airborne hanging from wire from the ceiling. If you don’t know ALL Smithsonian Museums have free Admission, all the time, forever, or at least for right now.
After the museum was closed, we headed down the mall towards the Capitol for one last look at our Nations’ most important building. The sun was setting. Our 48 hour journey was coming to a close. We are planning our next trip. Hopefully next summer we can venture East, way East, to Thailand, or Singapore.
JALEO – Washington DC
480 7th Street
The Beacon Bar & Grill at The Beacon Hotel
1615 Rhode Island Avenue Northwest
Washington, DC 20036