I grew up outside of DC, in the Maryland suburb of Germantown. If I hadn’t moved with my mom down to North Carolina when I was 12 years old, it’s possible I would’ve ended up living in DC because I love it so much. But, truth be told, the winters up there are just too cold. And that’s exactly when my fiancé and I visited—the middle of February.
We got bitten by the travel bug and when the idea of DC was thrown out there, that’s all we were focused on for a couple weeks. We got all the money we could together, booked the cheapest hotel we could find, and roadtripped in the middle of the night.
The lights reflecting on the Potomac River guided the way. The Watergate Hotel, Washington Monument, Kennedy Center, National Gallery of Art—everywhere you look, there’s something you’ve seen in the media, on television, in the movies, or read about in books. But a place I had never seen before was a restaurant my fiancé’s boss recommended called Founding Farmers.
We got up early Sunday (our second day) and walked half an hour from Rhode Island Avenue to Pennsylvania Avenue. The buildings are so tall, creating a bunch of shade, even at 8:00 in the morning, that the sunglasses I originally was wearing became unnecessary most of the way. But we were still completely bundled up in several layers and hats.
Halfway on our journey, one of the coolest buildings I saw was St. Matthew’s Cathedral, with a gold mural above the doors I could not stop staring at. I later found out John F. Kennedy was kept there before his burial for his Requiem Mass (Mass for the Dead). I’m sure it looks exactly the same today as it did in the 1960s.
We turned onto Pennsylvania Avenue and my hunger lit up. There was a revolving door to get into the restaurant that was both scary and fun. People were packed like sardines, and there was a beautiful wall lined with plants. I had made reservations online a few days prior, so I went up to the podium to let the friendly hostess know and we were seated in a couple minutes.
It was a small but intimate table, allowing us to hold hands across it. The waiter was easygoing and understanding of us wanting to share our meal. We decided on a latte and chocolate chip pancakes.
Bluesy music was being played from speakers way above us and every table was full. My social anxiety was kicking in, but my fiancé helped keep me level and positive as we talked about our favorite things that happened so far on our trip and what we’d want to do next time.
Our meal was brought to us and we thanked our waiter. We poured syrup (that has cinnamon sticks swimming in the container, something I desperately need to do at home) over the pancakes and that first bite was transformative. The blend of cinnamon, chocolate, and wholesome cake teleported me to an old cabin in my mind. It was like eating breakfast in the countryside, but we were in the middle of a metropolis. It was warm and safe.
I didn’t want to stop eating. The pancakes washed down great with the latte once we added raw sugar. Everything bad that was going on with me disappeared during that meal.
There are nine Founding Farmers-affiliated locations in DC, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, each I’m sure that will make you feel taken care of and part of a community wanting to grow and thrive and love. Definitely make a reservation at the Pennsylvania Avenue location because there wasn’t a single empty table.