By Lani Gering
Things seem to be looking up a bit in National Harbor. Now that I don’t live there anymore, I look at it from a different perspective I guess. My afternoon trip (all four and a half miles of it) over the Woody Bridge from Old Town Alexandria to the Harbor was fun. I’ve only been gone for about 6 weeks but quite a bit has happened since I left. Walrus Oyster and Ale is back up and running, Furlough Cheesecake is fully open in the old Stonewall Kitchen space on American Way and another dessert themed business, Messy Treatz, is opening up on Waterfront Street. With Savannah’s Candy Kitchen serving up their popular pralines, the Harbor is becoming a mecca for those of us with a sweet tooth. I might just have to profile them all in a future column.
I chose to spend the bulk of my time around the waterfront since it was a beautiful day in the middle of the week and I figured it would be easy to get a “socially distanced” seat in the bar at McCormick & Schmick for their popular Happy Hour. I was wrong…it was the same as it used to be in our pre-Covid world – if you didn’t get there before 4-4:30 pm you couldn’t find a seat. With the limitations of the pandemic, there was a wait time at 4. So….I decided to go to Plan B and sit outside at Redstone. I was very lucky that I there was a couple leaving as I walked in. They have the bar seats set up in two’s with way more than 6’ between so that really limits the number of people they can serve. It was my lucky day. As I sat waiting for my adult beverage and people watching, I noticed a woman who was looking for a seat to no avail. Turns out she was by herself on an afternoon adventure just like I was so I asked her to join me. This is one of the things I have always loved about going out in the Harbor – meeting new friends pretty much everywhere you stop. Tracy and I had a very fun conversation and I look forward to seeing her again soon. I ordered the very popular Buffalo Jumbo Shrimp – no describing how good these are – and settled in for some people watching.
For a Wednesday late afternoon, the plaza had a decent number of people roaming around and they were either wearing a mask or had one handy. The Harbor is very diligent about maintaining the pandemic protocols. There are hand washing stations and hand sanitizer stations scattered throughout as well as reminders of the 6 foot rule.
The Wheel was in full swing/spin and since it was National Dog Day, there were some four-legged passengers waiting in the queue. Derek Lovato and his crew are very clever with the promotions for the Wheel – there is always some good deal going on. Be sure to check their website (thecapitalwheel.com) or Facebook page to see what the latest is.
My next to the last stop was Bond 45 to see if any of my Harbor pals were there. I was lucky enough to score another “socially distanced” seat and was so happy to see that one of my very favorite bartenders, Carlos, and manager extraordinaire, John, were both on duty. They know the meaning of hospitality and treat everyone like gold. This was my go-to place when I lived across the street and remains my favorite place in the Harbor. I hated to leave but had to get back to Old Town.
On the way out, I picked up lobster rolls and chowder to-go from Mason’s Famous Lobster. These are the best in the area in my opinion and they made for a nice picnic style dinner at home.
Note: I left Old Town at 3:15 pm in order to avoid rush hour traffic and was across the bridge and pulling into the Fleet Street garage at 3:25. The hardest part is getting out of Old Town. When you go, be sure that you stay in the far left lane once on the Beltway since it is the exit only lane for the Harbor and it moves pretty fast. Parking isn’t cheap in the Harbor but parking isn’t really cheap anywhere you go in the DMV. I recommend picking a space in one of the garages. The metered parking is ridiculously over-priced.