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Welcome to Washington D.C. Big Ten Fans!

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Rather than eat at the arena and overpay why not explore a bit?

New York Islanders v Washington Capitals Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

When the B1G announced they were coming to Washington D.C. I was one of the few people I knew who was excited. I was certainly the only Hammer and Rails writer who was thrilled with the idea. I know that Indianapolis is a great place for the tournament to be hosted but I am sure part of that comes from the fact that I was so close to Indy for all those years. Now that I live in the Maryland suburbs I’m excited for the B1G Tournament to return to be right in my neck of the woods. I thought this might be a good time to offer you some advice on travel and food if you’re going to come into our nation’s capital for the next few days.

Rather than tell you to eat at Old Ebbit Grill which has been open since 1856, or to go see the monuments while you’re here I thought I’d tell you about a few off the beaten path options that you should enjoy. Keep in mind you should also definitely eat at Old Ebbit and go see the monuments but here are some things you should do as well and places to eat when you don’t want to wait at Old Ebbit. Let’s start with things to see.

Attractions

As stated above, go see all the monuments, the museums (including the new African American History museum that just opened recently), and the history but there are a few places that are often less crowded that I absolutely love in the D.C. area. Head over to Constitution Gardens which is usually much less crowded, gives you great views of the mall and surrounding areas, and has a nice touch of history with the signatures of all the signers of the Declaration of Independence etched in stone. A bit contradictory that this monument to the Declaration would be on an island in Constitution Gardens but I’ll let that slide. My wife found this and showed it to me when I needed a bit of inspiration and it’s one of our favorite spots in the city.

If you’ve seen all the museums and can’t stomach another day at the Air & Space Museum let me recommend the National Portrait Gallery. This is another one of my favorite places in D.C. and as a bonus it’s right across the street from the Verizon Center where all the action will be this week. I recommend the hall of Presidential portraits. I could spend hours in that room.

Lastly, check out the Newseum. This is my wife’s favorite place in D.C. and with good reason. This is a museum dedicated to the First Amendment and all the freedoms it entails. It details the bravery of journalists around the globe while also showcasing newsworthy events throughout our country’s history. Pay special attention to the award winning photographs and the exhibition of newspapers throughout American history. It’s not free like the Smithsonian but I would argue it’s well worth the price of admission. Head to the top floor and get a nice view of the U.S. Capitol building as well as the Canadian Embassy. Plus be sure to check out the emotional 9/11 exhibit. While there make sure to watch the video. It’s incredibly moving.

After all that walking I’m sure you’re hungry. Rather than paying $15 for chicken fingers why not grab something a bit tastier for a similar price?

Food

I’m gonna try to give a few options here for a few different styles of food and a few different prices. Hopefully this can satiate anyone’s hunger but if you’d like more recommendations feel free to ask in the comments and I or another D.C. area Boiler will be glad to help out.

I don’t know about you but there are few foods better than a burger. If burgers are your thing I’ll give you a couple choices. If you’re in a hurry near the stadium you can’t go wrong with Shake Shack which is right down the road from the arena. Sure it’s fast food, but it’s much higher quality than McDonald’s plus they have pretty good shakes. As far as burgers go though if you’ve got time and don’t mind going a bit further from the arena I recommend BTS. That stands for Burger, Tap, and Shake. This place has an amazing burger and possibly the best milkshake I’ve ever had in my life, and I’ve had a lot of milkshakes. I recommend the vanilla because you truly get an idea of how creamy and smooth that shake is. For burgers be sure to check out what the burger of the month is but also don’t pass up the Tejas which is my favorite.

If you’re looking for something that’s not a burger, weirdo, there are plenty of options available to you. &pizza is a quick in and out pizza place that makes the pie right in front of you. High quality ingredients as well. If you’re looking for a grilled cheese tomato soup thing on a cold day check out GCDC over by the White House. If tacos are more your thing check out District Taco which has some pretty good meats and a nice selection of salsas. If you’d rather have a sit down meal and don’t want to stray too far from the Chinatown area I’d recommend Fado Irish Pub. Good selection of delicious food and plenty of beer for those that are into that sort of thing. One final restaurant recommendation before we move on to desserts though would be Cuba Libre. If you like Cuban food, and Rum, this is the place for you. Delicious drinks and a solid menu featuring anything you could want.

If you’re interested in meeting up with the Purdue Alumni group be sure to head to Penn Quarter Sports before the game. More details can be found on their website.

Dessert

You can’t go wrong nearly anywhere for dessert but I would recommend either going to BTS and grabbing a delicious shake or else heading right down the road from the Verizon Center to the Red Velvet Cupcakery where you can find some amazing cupcakes.

If you’re more of a cookies and ice cream kind of guy/gal be sure to head to Captain Cookie where you can get fresh cookies made into a delicious ice cream sandwich. It’s hard to go wrong with any cookies they have but I recommend the Double Chocolate and the Salted Caramel if they have it.

One final choice would be down 7th Street in the opposite direction further into Chinatown there is a crepes stand, Crepes on the walk, that can make you a pretty solid late night crepe. Gotta go with the Nutella of course. If crepes aren’t your thing they also offer a selection of gelato.

So that’s it. Hopefully there’s a little something for everyone. Come, eat, watch basketball, and enjoy your time in Washington D.C.

p.s. If you take the metro and come up or down an escalator please keep to the right if you’re standing and left if you’re walking. D.C. people take their escalators very seriously.