10 Post-GAC Session Washington Hot Spots.
Next week at CUNA's Governmental Affairs Conference, credit union professionals from across the country will gather in Washington to make their voices heard on Capitol Hill, gain insights from knowledgeable speakers, and get a taste of what other credit unions are doing to innovate and stand out in a competitive marketplace.
While many of the week's memorable moments will take place in session rooms and lawmakers' offices, some will no doubt occur in bars and restaurants -- places where conference-goers can really let their guards down, make new connections and just soak in the historic yet cosmopolitan vibe of our nation's capital.
Not sure where to take your colleagues post-session? Try one of these hot spots, all of which are in close proximity to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
If you have time to spare in the morning -- and need more than just a coffee and pastry from Starbucks to keep you going all day -- try a sit-down breakfast at Slipstream (1333 14th Street NW, 202-450-2216), an independently-owned coffee shop that turns into a cocktail bar at night. The morning menu offers filling options such as frittatas, breakfast bowls and toasts with unique toppings (think goat cheese mousse, creme fraiche and homemade squash butter).
For a no-frills meal in a casual, brewpub setting, head on over to Capitol City Brewing Company (1100 New York Ave. NW, 202-628-2222), located about five blocks from the convention center. The satisfying pub menu includes hearty apps such as southwest keg rolls and Eastern shore crab dip, plus pizza, sandwiches, burgers, salads and entrees, including Cajun chicken pasta and bratwurst marinated in the restaurant's own Prohibition Porter beer. Pair your meal with one of the seasonal on-tap brews.
Looking to unwind with a few cocktails when the clock strikes five and score a deal on quality eats? Check out the happy hour at Bar Deco (717 6th St. NW, 202-774-5867), located four blocks south of the convention center. It might be too chilly to hang on the roof deck, but you can grab a seat in the venue's third floor bar and enjoy deals such as $5 wine and drafts, $6 fried pickles, $10 Sicilian wings and $13 bacon sliders.
Just a stone's throw from the convention center, The Dabney (122 Blagden Alley NW, 202-450-1015) is a foodie's haven that recently made it onto Eat Seeker, lifestyle blog Thrillist's current list of the best places to eat in Washington. The Mid-Atlantic cuisine dinner menu includes chicken liver and foie gras parfait with candied black walnuts, parsnip, orange and malted barley; and lacquered quail with Chesapeake oyster stuffing, brown butter, tat soi and paw paw. Enjoy your work of art on a plate in the restaurant's cozy, lodge-like dining room.
If classic is more your style than hip -- and you wouldn't mind rubbing elbows with an elected official or two during dinner -- reserve a table at a place like The Monacle (107 D St. NE, 202-546-4488). The 56-year-old establishment is known as the Capitol Hill neighborhood's "first table cloth restaurant" and is a favorite among members of Congress; the menu includes filet mignon, blue crab cakes and Colorado lamb chops.
You're likely to find credit union industry folks holed up at Shelly's Back Room (1331 F St. NW, 202-737-3003), a cigar bar located less than a mile from the convention center. Aside from an extensive selection of cigars, Shelly's offers a pub menu and full bar. And, the comfortable couches and elegant decor provide an ideal setting for talking business (or pleasure or both).
The convenience of hotel bars make them a popular choice for conference attendees, and one in particular that attracts a slew of GAC-goers is Presidents Sports Bar & Grille (999 9th St. NW, 202-898-9000), located inside the Renaissance Washington Hotel. The restaurant includes a separate room for sit-down dining, where guests enjoy specialties such as crab and lobster salad and fish and chips, but the real mingling happens at the lively front bar positioned smack-dab in the hotel lobby.
If you're in the same age group as the GAC Crashers -- or just want to feel like you are for a night -- hit up Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar (801 9th St. NW, 202-408-1600), where pitchers of mojitos and sangria will give you the liquid courage you need to show off your salsa moves all night long. It's also the site of this year's Thunderpunch (Monday, Feb. 22, 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.), the annual, GAC Crasher-hosted event where GAC attendees of all ages are encouraged to let loose and party with the next generation of credit union leaders.
Looking to impress your colleagues with a round of classic cocktails in one of Washington's most beautiful bars? Take them to Denson Liquor Bar (600 F St. NW, 202-499-5035) in nearby Chinatown. Dim lighting, a 1920s-era vibe and art deco touches give the bar elegance; must-try libations include the Vieux Carre (rye, cognac, sweet vermouth, Benedictine and angostura bitters) and the Modern Cocktail #2 (blended scotch, slow gin, grenadine, absinthe and orange bitters).
Finally, if you're the type who wants to kick back with a cold one in a no-B.S. setting, park yourself at Ivy & Coney (1523 7th St. NW, 202-670-9489), a dive bar located five blocks north of the convention center. The homey spot serves up on-tap beers, quality spirits, Chicago-style hot dogs and peanuts in their shells -- which you can feel free to litter the floor with as you eat.