If You Go
Hyatt House: www.washingtondcthewharf.house.hyatt.com
Pearl Street Warehouse: www.wharfdc.com/restaurants/pearl-street-warehouse/
Water Taxi: www.potomacriverboatco.com/water-taxi/wharf/
Cordial Craft Wine, Beer & Spirits: www.wharfdc.com/shops/cordial-craft-wine-beer-spirits/
The Anthem: www.theanthemdc.com
By Barbara Barton Sloane
Special to The Vindicator
It’s called The Wharf, a somewhat innocuous and bland name for nothing less than a new, world-class neighborhood – not to mention a prized waterfront location – in the nation’s capital. However, this name will, without a doubt, be in the minds of legions of tourists this year as the go-to destination for all sorts of wonderful things happening in D.C. right now.
Where D.C. Meets its Water
In mid-October of last year, the $2.5 billion Phase I of the Wharf project opened to the public, and I was lucky enough to be there to see the virtual drawing back of the curtain. It was splendid! Imagine witnessing a project so vast and ambitious that it is literally akin to the opening of a brand-new small city. Emotions ran the gamut from pride and exhilaration to outright astonishment – a dream whose digital calendar has been counting down for a decade until this moment. Celebration!
The Wharf, developed by Hoffman-Madison Waterfront, is a mixed-use waterfront project centrally located on the Potomac River, along the District of Columbia’s southwest waterfront and adjacent to the National Mall. The Wharf stretches across 1 mile of waterfront on 24 acres of land and more than 50 acres of water. When complete, sometime this year, it will feature more than 3 million square feet of residential, office, hotel, retail, cultural and public uses including waterfront parks, promenades, piers and docks – the largest waterfront development in the nation.
I was with a small group of visitors who had the great, good fortune to sample some of the fun activities, events and restaurants that had just opened. We took the Wharf Jitney to East Potomac Park for a knock-out breakfast catered by D.C. favorite Taylor Gourmet. The Jitney is a free service that ferries people from Recreation Pier at the Wharf to this lovely park in less than three minutes, where one finds a myriad of engaging activities from a golf course to tennis courts and a swimming pool .
Later, we took a water taxi tour, an innovative regional taxi system that connects the waterfront to both Maryland and Virginia. Some of the stops include Georgetown and Old Town Alexandria. One now has the option of a daily commute of 20 minutes to work aboard a cute, yellow water taxi, skipping entirely the horrendous bumper-to-bumper Key Bridge traffic to D.C – a calm, oh-so-pleasant way to start one’s workday.
Pearl Street Warehouse is one terrific place to breakfast. I threw caution completely to the wind and feasted on the restaurant’s famed biscuits and gravy with sausage and bacon, topped off with a perfectly spiced Bloody Mary. Sadly, I didn’t get to experience Pearl Street by night because they have entertainment from all over the country performing rock to country, folk, soul and bluegrass. The place has a cool Austin-Nashville vibe, so you’ll want to put this one on your bucket list, no doubt.
Kith/Kin, InterContinental Hotel’s premiere restaurant, was a real trip – all the way to Africa, one might say. You see, Top Chef alum Kwame Onwuachi was doing the honors that particular evening, and he drew on his West African heritage for the inventive appetizers he served. Later, dinner at Requin, a French-inspired restaurant, offered an exemplary range of seafood as well as memorable Mediterranean-inspired dishes.
The night’s entertainment was nothing less than the fab Foo Fighters, inaugurating The Anthem with its first concert. The venue is a 6,000-person concert and event space that anchors the Wharf as an entertainment destination. The Anthem features an acoustically advanced hall to host marquee performances by internationally celebrated artists as well as intimate shows with local favorites. As Foo Fighters is one of my favorites, this was a most idyllic way to end my wondrous Wharf experience.
There was an atmosphere of gaiety and excitement as we strolled the Wharf back to our Hyatt House hotel, a sense that we were experiencing a totally new, important addition to D.C. – and this feeling of wonderment had infused everything that we experienced on this brief but bountiful visit.
City on the Water
This, then, is Washington’s great new meeting place with dazzling water views, hot new restaurants and year-round entertainment, all together in one inspiring location. The time is now. Come play on the Potomac.