Mary Beth Albright

Correspondent

  • Washington, D.C., USA

Mary Beth Albright is a correspondent who lives in Washington, D.C., and covers the city for Forbes Travel Guide. A longtime Washingtonian, Albright knows the capital’s best sights and delights as a food critic, mom and lawyer (but only two of these roles had great restaurant expense accounts). She was DC Magazine’s food columnist for five years and a finalist on season 7 of Food Network Star. Albright appears regularly on local television and radio, and her legal practice represents food entrepreneurs.

  • On June 30, 2013
    Mary Beth Albright answered the question: Mary Beth Albright

    What are the best museums in Washington D.C.?

    One of our favorite spots is the International Spy Museum, proof positive that DC has evolved since your eighth-grade field trip. Check in and you’ll receive a dossier with a secret identity. Then travel through interactive exhibits on hush-hush missions and discover DC’s covert history with a GPS-guided tour of the city’s top spy spots. Special programs include Argo Exposed, a comprehensive history of the real events that inspired the Academy Awards’ Best Picture this year, and SpyKids, a drop-off class for children (one recent topic: ninjas). The museum also houses one of the city’s niftiest gift shops.

    With the world’s largest collection of Shakespeare materials, the Folger Shakespeare Library on Capitol Hill has gorgeous gardens, spontaneous readings of the Bard’s best, and my favorite stained-glass window in DC, of the Stages of Man. The Kreeger Museum boasts Cezannes, Renoirs, Picassos – and outside you’ll discover five sculpture-filled gardens designed by legendary architect Philip Johnson.

    The US Botanic Garden is terrific for all seasons, but we especially love it in winter and early spring – few experiences chase the chill away quite like stepping out of the blustery cold and into a hothouse filled with Hawaiian orchids. Under the shadow of the dome on Capitol Hill, the Conservatory houses several different climates, including jungles and deserts, and thousands of plants. The perfect spot for a clandestine political meeting.
  • On May 16, 2013
  • On May 2, 2013
    Andi Berens is now following Mary Beth Albright
  • On May 2, 2013
    Mary Beth Albright answered the question: Mary Beth Albright

    What are the best activities to do in Washington D.C.?

    On May 4-5, National Harbor hosts its fourth Food and Wine Festival along the Potomac River, with tastings, cooking demonstrations, and live entertainment. Waterfront dining and drinking is second only to the shopping, with food, clothing, and jewelry artisans lining National Harbor's pedestrian-friendly streets. This year the festival falls on Cinco de Mayo, so a special pavillion will serve up taquila to complement several Mexican food vendors. The official festivities are from 12-6, but Nationbal Harbor's bars and restaurants stay open all night, so don't let the closing time fool you. General Admission is $39 in advance, $48 on site, and includes tastings of the 150 boutique wines (but you probably won't get to all of them...)
  • On May 2, 2013
    Mary Beth Albright answered the question: Mary Beth Albright

    What is the one must-do activity when visiting Washington D.C.?

    Sleeping in the Lincoln Bedroom, attending a state dinner, and dancing on-stage at an Inaugural Ball. But let's say those options aren't available to you this weekend. I could spend an entire day around the Jefferson Memorial (and not just because my husband proposed to me there). The Jefferson has it all -- history (of course) and on a hot summer day it's always below 80 degrees in the cool marble memorial with Jefferson's statue towering above. Seclusion when you want it, which the other memorials don't have -- the Jefferson's nooks along the Tidal Basin, where the famed cherry trees twist around their gnarled trunks to form private worlds for weary tourists. Plenty of lawn space for picnics, an indoor exhibit (and bathroom), views of the White House and Washington Monumnet...and if you must work in some cardio, round out the day with a paddle boat rental. Sure the Jefferson is a bit more difficult to get to than the other monuments, but so worth it.
  • On May 2, 2013
    Mary Beth Albright answered the question: Mary Beth Albright

    What are the best neighborhood restaurants in Washington D.C.?

    Can you still call it a neighborhood restaurant if Katy Perry's been spotted there? The month-old Le Diplomat on DC's 14th Street, NW is a hot and neighborhoody place, just as famed restaurateur Stephen Starr planned. It's packed every night with locals crunching into housemade crackling bread, sipping espresso or wine, and enjoying DC's new best steak frites, just as a bistro should be. I've personally occupied a table for 45 minutes drinking just coffee and waiters haven't rushed me at all (I was waiting for a friend to join me for dinner, but still). I plan on spending every free summer moment people watching and dining on the outdoor patio, savoring the well curated French cheese selection with a tangy frisee salad. Another glass of rose? Mais oui!
  • On May 2, 2013
    Mary Beth Albright answered the question: Mary Beth Albright

    What are the best places for breakfast in Washington D.C.?

    Kafe Leopold in Georgetown is a hidden gem down Cady's Alley, a hot spot for designers like Italy's exclusive Pedini Kitchens. With outdoor seating and a lovely small fountain, Leopold's ambiance is rivaled only by its coffee, an exclusive Vienese blend, and its tiny exquisite pastries. Lined up in a massive glass display cabinet like a jewelry store (and almost as beautiful), choose from fruit tarts or teensy muffins. For heartier appetites, eggs, ham, and fresh bread are available.

    New this month, GBD in Dupont Circle serves hot and fresh doughnuts on the go, to rival those at the sit-down Tabard Inn restaurant. The Corcoran Gallery of Art hosts a raucous Gospel Brunch every Sunday (call early for reservations).
  • On May 2, 2013
    Mary Beth Albright answered the question: Mary Beth Albright

    Where is the best ice cream in Washington D.C.?

    Dolcezza Artisanal Gelato is a DC company with a cult-like following. Using local milk and seasonal ingredients, Dolcezza's take on ice cream is a trip to Nirvana. Their gelato makers have a chef's eye for ingredients, like the Sicilian Blood Orange Sorbetto made with that special Italian fruit or the Valrhona Chocolate Gelato, using the special French luxury chocolate. I've been know to order their Valrhona hot chocolate in July, for the thick, pudding-like drink that is 70% chocolate (as it was made in 1920s France). If sweet isn't your thing, Dolcezza serves an amazing cappuccino.

    With four area stores and stands at several farmers' markets, Dolcezza reigns as a top DC frozen treat.
  • On May 2, 2013
    Mary Beth Albright answered the question: Mary Beth Albright

    What are the best kids activities in Washington D.C.?

    I have a five year old and there's always something to do in DC. The museums are amazing and because they're free, we pop in for half an hour just to see the fish tank or the butterfly room at the National Museum of Natural History or to just say hi to the giant pandas at the National Zoo. I'm never on a three-hour museum death march as I sometimes am when I pay $25 to get in. Theater is terrific — Adventure Theater, Imagination Stage, the Smithsonian's children's programming of music and puppet shows are all thrilling for kids. Glen Echo Park in Maryland requires a car but your reward is an antique carousel, playgrounds, and a dinosaur hunt area. DC's Aquarium is hidden in the basement of the Department of Commerce (who knew?) and is a small but worthwhile gem. The Rock Creek Park Nature Center inspires kids' innate attraction to nature, with horses, a small planetarium, and tons of special lectures. 

    For very young children, head to the National Building Museum's Building Zone where toddlers can construct with enormous legos and build cars from block. Run upstairs for the Play Work Build exhibit featuring giant foam blocks and a virtual building screen. The museum's main room is gigantic and on a rainy day you'll find dozens of kids just running from end to end, playing tag and enjoying the indoor fountain.
  • On May 2, 2013
    Mary Beth Albright answered the question: Mary Beth Albright

    What are the best business hotels in Washington D.C.?

    The month-old Capella in Georgetown is a great business hotel, especially if you're traveling with a spouse or kids. Standard rooms start at $800 per night but there's nothing standard about Capella's service. The hotel-guest-only living room allows the perfect degree privacy in a public space, and is especially nice for an after-meeting fireside drink. To meet the locals, drop in on the Rye Bar for one of the best Manhattans in the city (but open your wallet -- it's $22). 

    Each room receives a personal assistant (basically your own exclusive 24-hour concierge) who advises on hot restaurants, boutiques, and museum exhibits. For the family, the assistant can set up special tours of the Spy Museum or an after-hours shopping spree at exclusive stores. Bliss for all.
  • On May 2, 2013
    Mary Beth Albright answered the question: Mary Beth Albright

    What should I pack for a trip to Washington D.C.?

    I'm not a fan of packing heavy, especially when it comes to visiting a city that has everything you need. Jimmy Choo, Gucci, and Burberry boutiques? Yes, and all are metro accessible. But for those first steps out of a Washington hotel room, you'll need a lightweight bag and great-looking comfortable shoes. Because DC is a city made for walking and you can't miss out on strolls along the Mall (my favorite walk is the miles between the Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial, a greenspace pulsing with history) and the romantic C&O Canal in Georgetown. A scenic walk along the Potomac River to watch college rowers, kayakers, and luxury yachts is key; but not metro-accessible and nearly impossible to find a cab.
  • On May 2, 2013
    Mary Beth Albright answered the question: Mary Beth Albright

    What is the best new restaurant in Washington D.C.?

    DGS Delicatessen in Dupont Circle is a throwback to the great delis of New York, in a chic and comfortable restaurant. Their old world Jewish kitchen turns out killer pastrami, chopped liver, and matzo ball soup, in addition to terrific cocktails (my favorite, the Mensch, combines Rye and blood orange bitters). The DGS sandwich shop just opened next door. 

    Table is another great new place (which thankfully just started taking reservations), offering seasonal and casual fare. Chef Frederick de Pue runs a chef's table-style restaurant, with an ever-changing menu of fresh comfort foods. Welcoming and chummy, Table's best offerings include one of the city's best coq-au-vin and housemade fresh tagliatelle with wild boar sauce.
  • On May 2, 2013
    Mary Beth Albright answered the question: Mary Beth Albright

    What festivals are going on in Washington D.C.?

    It's a great weekend for festivals here in DC. The best, hands down, is the National Cathedral's 74th annual Flower Mart, which is amazing for even those who have no interest in the blooms. With the city's top food trucks, tons of rides for kids, fabulous clothes for sale, and live music and performances, the flowers almost take second fiddle to the amusements. Jewelry and apparel tend toward the super preppy, getting ready for summer beach vacations with monograms and tiny whales. Special tours of the Cathedral happen all day (and don't miss the new first-floor gift shop).

    Those with green thumbs should arrive early on Friday (it's open from 10 am to 6 pm) for the best selection of plants including herbs, vegetables, and flowers of all kinds. Saturday's festivities, from 10 am to 5 pm, can draw up to 10,000 people so plan ahead and take a cab (there's no metro nearby, and the Cathedral's lot fills fast). This year will focus on Americana, with a tent devoted to US crafts and culture.
  • On May 2, 2013
    Mary Beth Albright answered the question: Mary Beth Albright

    When is the best time to visit Washington D.C.?

    Look, there's no bad time to be in the nation's capital. That said, May 2013 is a pretty fantastic time to be here. The weather is perfect, flowers are blooming, and even Capitol Hill seems a little more congenial with its milky white dome against the brilliant cloudless sky.

    Then again, in winter, special events for the holidays are everywhere, from art exhibits to the lighting of the national tree and menorah to theater for all ages. Santa brunch at the Kennedy Center is a best-kept-secret, and a photo with Santa overlooking the Potomac River and the monuments is priceless. Spring brings cherry blossoms -- the best time to see these glorious pink puffs along the Tidal Basin is super early in the morning, before the crowds get too overwhelming. Summer is hot, sure, but DC's greenspaces provide respite and perfect venues for outdoor events like plays, movies, and National Symphony Orchestra Concerts. Fall is clear and pleasant, a virtual replica of spring, and the city comes alive again with the new theater seasons and Congress back in session (which for better or worse, means the city gets buzzier). Day trips down to Shenandoah National Park provide foliage to rival New England. 
  • On May 2, 2013
    Mary Beth Albright answered the question: Mary Beth Albright

    What is the weather like right now in Washington D.C.?

    In a word: gorgeous. DC is nototrious for having no spring, and shooting right from frigid temperatures to sweltering heat. But the weather gods have smiled on us in 2013 and we are in a period of sunny, low 70s, no humidity nirvana. With May flowers blooming (azaleas, roses, iris) the tourists -- and I -- all have permanent smiles. Grab a bottle of wine and some bread and cheese and head out for a picnic, NOW.

    The best advice is to bring a sweater (not a jacket — could be too heavy and even the chicest jacket becomes an annoying burden when lugged all around town) and enjoy this short time of breezy weather on some of the country's greatest greenspace.