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 April 23, 2013
  • On April 1, 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. 

    Rasika West End is a newer version of the perennially popular new-Indian concept Rasika in Penn Quarter. An outlet of the popular New York tapas bar, Boqueria opened in Dupont Circle last year. In Adams Morgan, Mintwood Kitchen was last year's media darling, serving up French-inspired homey dishes. Finally, Fuego Cocina Y Tequileria (Translation: Fire Kitchen and Tequila Bar) serves robust Mexican and 100 tequilas. Fuego is in Arlington, VA but is metro accessible and worth the trip. All five restaurants were nominated by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington as New Restaurant of the Year.
  • On April 1, 2013
    Mary Beth Albright answered the question: Mary Beth Albright

    Where is the best pizza in Washington D.C.?

    These days, there are as many kinds of pizza as there are iPhone covers. Thin, thick, gluten-free, New Haven, New York, Naples, cheeseless, yeastless. If pizza weren't so damn good, I would've given up on it long ago. Specific types are up to personal preference and some days I feel doughier while others I feel cheesier. Regardless my go-to is Pete's Apizza, a chef-driven, eater-focused pizzeria offering a lot more than pies. The crust is thin, charred on the bottom, and topped with locally-sourced beef and artisanal Creminelli charcuterie like spicy soprasetta and razor-thin pepperoni. It's chichi quality without chichi fussiness. It's pizza you can serve during March Madness (without any squinty accusatory looks of, "where's the REAL pizza?"), prepared as a careful chef would. Pete's is fine-dining quality with family-dining value -- probably why they were nominated for a Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington Award for Casual Restaurant of the Year. 
  • On April 1, 2013
    Mary Beth Albright answered the question: Mary Beth Albright

    What restaurants have the best wine in Washington D.C.?

    CityZen at Mandarin Oriental in DC was just nominated for Outstanding Wine Program in America by the James Beard Foundation (a.k.a. The Oscars of the food world). And CityZen's wine list is thoroughly democratic -- I discovered Biale Vineyard's Black Chicken Zinfandel there years ago at the sommelier's recommendation for a mere $35 per bottle. The food at CityZen is extraordinary too, with Thomas Keller acolyte Eric Zeibold consistently at the stove (unlike some other high-end restaurants, where the chef doesn't cook as much as kiss babies). Bourbon Steak at The Four Seasons DC has some amazing Champagnes left over from inauguration, including rare vinatages and some available by the glass...get them while they last.

    Up for Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington Awards (The Oscars of the DC food world) for outstanding wine program are Adour at the St. Regis Hotel, Dino in Cleveland Park, Marcel's in Foggy Bottom, Ripple in Cleveland Park, and The Ashby Inn and Restaurant in Virginia's hunt country.
  • On April 1, 2013
    Mary Beth Albright answered the question: Mary Beth Albright

    What is the best hamburger in Washington D.C.?

    How many ways do I love the cheeseburger at Palena Restaurant? First, I love the housemade brioche bun, seedless, puffy, and standing tall but squishing down to a thin airy disc that fits perfectly into a bite for a human, not for a creature with an expandable jaw. Second, I love the truffle cheese, not overwhelming but just enough hint of earthiness to add a musky layer to my burger experience. Third, a thin, almost translucent smear of housemade mayonnaise raises the meat's richness to a new level. And the meat -- a handground blend of cuts shaped into a modest patty (this is no gut-busting burger) cooked to temperature (but please don't get it above medium!). Served with just a few housemade pickles (carrot, cauliflower, cucumber), this $13 piece of heaven has made every DC top burger list for years but I think it deserves its own category. I had one last night, split with three others as an appetizer before my roast chicken entree. Fries are $8 extra but worth it, served with a kind of sriracha mayonnaise. 
  • On April 1, 2013
    Mary Beth Albright answered the question: Mary Beth Albright

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

    Most, but not all, museums in DC are free so the city provides a great opportunity to take in little bits of many cultural spaces. The National Portrait Gallery houses extraordinary art, but the Gallery's Kogod Courtyard is a masterpiece by itself. The glass atrium houses a cafe, fountains, and trees, and is a marvelously sunny space in winter. Plenty of comfortable chairs invite visitors to simply admire the architecture. Julia Child's kitchen at the Museum of American History is foodie mecca, with her every tool placed exactly as it was in her Masachusetts home. The National Building Museum is a spectacular, cavernous space (the most coveted private event venue in DC), and wonderful with children -- there is a special "Building Zone" for kids under 6 where they can learn about architecutre while playing with soft blocks, and a new Play Work Build exhibit with real and virtual blocks. 
  • On April 1, 2013
    Mary Beth Albright answered the question: Mary Beth Albright

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

    I love living in DC: When someone says "I'll meet you at the Mall" we're usually planning a day of cultural enrichment and outdoor fun, not scouring racks of clothes. The Mall is the mac daddy of Washington parks, with the Capitol at one end, the Lincoln Memorial on the other and the Washington Monumnent along the way (not to mention the Jefferson Memoral and White House flanking the park). In springtime and summer, you'll see tons of softball games (White House team vs. Team Boehner can't be missed) while taking in the lush Smithsonian gardens and a ride on the Carousel. A bit farther north, sandy volleyball courts along the Potomac River host consecutive games all weekend. 

    On the weekends, Rock Creek Park is closed to cars on Beach Drive, which then turns into a gorgeous wooded path for serious cyclists, marathon trainers, and new parents strolling with babies. 
  • On April 1, 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. 
  • On April 1, 2013
    Mary Beth Albright answered the question: Mary Beth Albright

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

    Politics and Prose is hands-down the city's best spot for new books. It's more of a community center than a bookstore, with regular readings by bestselling authors, government officials, and chefs and food personalities. The children's section downstairs has a diverse selection and salespeople with a savant-like knowledge of kid's literature. There's even a small Rabbit Hutch hideaway for kids to page through selections while parents browse. The cafe serves coffee and snacks and is a functional office for many writers and consultants -- plus it's a popular gathering place for moms and tots. The only downside is that Politics and Prose is not metro accessible, but it's worth a cab or bus ride.

    If quick access is key, the Barnes & Noble downtown is centrally located near the White House and your best bet for thousands of titles. The two-level store is gigantic, with a stationery section, magazines, a Starbucks Cafe and a large children's section. Perfect for an impromptu gift for almost anyone.
  • On April 1, 2013
    Mary Beth Albright answered the question: Mary Beth Albright

    What are some things to know before visiting Washington D.C.?

    If you live in America, you have a congressperson -- and that congressperson has a staff whose entire job is to make sure that you, their voting constituent, is happy. Look, they have other things to do of course...pass a budget, consider gun control...but they can be enormously helpful in seeing the government sites. Most offices will offer a tour of the Capitol and perhaps be able to give an inside scoop on scoring a White House tour or tickets to White House events like the Easter Egg Roll. So call around.

    Although it's easy to come to DC just for the sites, don't miss out on our extraordinary events. Whether a Smithsonian-sponsored "Cocktails and Creativity" evening event, sipping drinks while making art in a museum, or the kids' day-long spy camp at the International Spy Museum, our programming is staffed by world experts who congregate to the city.
  • On April 1, 2013
    Mary Beth Albright answered the question: Mary Beth Albright

    Should visitors rent a car in Washington D.C.?

    Meh. I know plenty of people who live in the city who don't own cars -- and some of them even have kids. Cabs are plentiful and if you haven't downloaded a smart phone app called Uber, allow me to change your life. Uber calls a town car (read: clean, roomy, comfortable, and classy) to your exact location just by tapping on your smart phone. No calls to taxi dispatches, no 30-minute waits if you're in an off-the-beaten-path location. Capital Bikeshares are available all over town; for a small fee, grab a bike for as long as you need and return it to any bikeshare location. The metro is fantastic too, inexpensive with many stops all over town.

    If you must rent, parking has become much easier with dial-in paying at meters (no more rolls of quarters) but 25 cents buys you just 8 minutes at a downtown meter, so be prepared. There are plenty of garages downtown but some fill up around lunchtime and there's nothing worse than searching for a spot at 12:45 when your reservation was for 12:30.
  • On April 1, 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. 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 April 1, 2013
    Mary Beth Albright answered the question: Mary Beth Albright

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

    My son's birthday is right around now and I have photos of him sweating in shorts blowing out candles and images of him tromping through snow in a puffy coat and party hat. In other words, spring can go either way in DC. The National Park Service estimated the peak of Cherry Blossom season to start on March 26 because of our unusually warm winter. But on the 26th, the buds were still shut tight, not to appear for several days. Spring has been chilly, with a couple of small snowstorms, but we seem to be warming up with hopefully a high of 60 for today's Easter Egg Roll. 

    The best advice is to bring a sweater (not a jacket -- could be too heavy and even the chicest jacket becomes an annoyong burden when lugged all around town) and enjoy this short time of breezy weather on some of the country's greatest greenspace.
  • On March 12, 2013
  • On March 11, 2013