A Great Afternoon Out at the National Zoo

A great afternoon at one of Washington’s biggest attractions — the National Zoo — has recently become much more popular with the addition of Bei Bei, the newborn panda.  We’re also glad to report on another reason to enjoy a visit to the zoo coming soon: One of our bar picks is branching out!

Duke’s Grocery – our after show bar for Great Evening Out #4 in the Dupont Circle and 14th St area from Just the Ticket: An Insider’s Guide to Great Evenings Out in Washington, DC – will open a new location right by the Zoo entrance later this year. We’re very excited about this, because the National Zoo is a favorite place to take people who are visiting; but there hasn’t previously been a satisfying food source so close to the zoo. Duke’s Counter (3000 Connecticut Ave NW) will be a welcome oasis for zoo visitors who have worked up an appetite walking Olmstead Walk, the America Trail, and the Asia Trail.

Because Duke’s isn’t open yet, and we feel sure many of you will include a National Zoo visit during your time in DC between now and then, let us offer a few Insider thoughts about dining around the zoo in the interim.

First, here’s a very insider tip for getting to the zoo. If you’re traveling there by Metro, DON’T be fooled into getting out at the Red Line stop called Woodley Park / Zoo. Instead, ride to Cleveland Park, just one stop away. Both stops are about equal distance from the zoo entrance, but it’s uphill from Woodley and downhill from Cleveland. So travel like an Insider: take the train to Cleveland Park, walk down Connecticut Avenue to the zoo, have a lovely visit, then carry on downhill along Connecticut again to Woodley Park, and take the train on to your next destination.

With that in mind, if you’re looking for a bite before the zoo, consider Alero (3500 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008), a fun tasty Mexican place steps from the Metro station in Cleveland Park. High quality and friendly service have kept it serving in this spot for decades in a neighborhood where restaurants usually come and go like clouds.

If instead you’ve made a morning visit to the zoo and want your lunch afterwards, walk downhill along Connecticut Ave NW and grab your lunch at the recently renovated Lebanese Taverna (2641 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008.) This restaurant is part of a regional chain, every outlet of which offers tasty affordable Mediterranean food in comfortable spaces. They can serve you anything from a snack to a banquet. When you’re done, there’s a rare mid-block controlled cross walk to get you across busy Connecticut Avenue, over to the Woodley Park Metro stop, and on to the rest of your adventure.

In either instance, we recommend a light lunch to save space for dinner during one of our Great Evenings Out! As ever, please let us know if this advice is useful to you and how we might make it better.

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