During Commencement weekend, graduates’ friends and relatives will flock to the most popular restaurants and hangouts near campus.
But for underclassmen in the District who want to skip the long lines and wait times, it’s time to ditch the campus favorites for some alternatives outside of Foggy Bottom and Georgetown.
Scion 2100 P St. NW
While your go-to Foggy Bottom brunch spots like District Commons and Founding Farmers will likely be filled with out-of-town families, try venturing to Scion instead for your upscale comfort food fix. You might still need a reservation, but at least you’re less likely to run into an ex-flame or an old roommate here.
This cozy, colorful Dupont Circle restaurant serves up all the classics, from $12 Monte Cristo sandwiches to $16 steak and eggs. If you’re in the mood for a more innovative dish, try their potato nachos for $8 or the $15 New Orleans eggs Benedict with pulled pork, cajun hollandaise sauce and black bean jambalaya croquettes.
Though Scion offers $8 mimosas and $9 bloody marys, skip the usual brunch cocktail and go for one of their fruit-infused brunch beers for about $6.
Pound The Hill 621 Pennsylvania Ave. SE
This time of the year, coffee and study spots like Starbucks or Whole Foods might be more crowded than usual — which is why Eastern Market’s Metro-accessible Pound The Hill is worth the trip. Its brick walls, low lighting and garden patio create a quiet escape from the Commencement chaos.
While enjoying the ambiance, be sure to sample one of Pound The Hill’s popular Nutella-flavored treats, whether it’s a Nutella latte for just under $5, a Nutella scone for about $3 or the $6 Italian Elvis sandwich loaded with Nutella, bananas, honey and bacon.
After lounging or working for a few hours, you can stick around and try some garlic Parmesan tater tots for $4 or one of their paninis, priced at about $7.
The Wonderland Ballroom 1101 Kenyon St. NW
While you might think to unwind after finals by grabbing a bite or catching a movie near the Waterfront, you won’t be able to avoid the crowds in Georgetown. Instead, opt for dinner and a show at the Wonderland Ballroom.
In addition to daily live music, disc jockey sets, karaoke and stand-up comedy performances, this Columbia Heights dive offers pub favorites like cheese steaks and hamburgers. Vegetarians and vegans can also enjoy their sweet potato bean burrito or the Flaming Moe veggie burger with green chilies, pico de gallo and Muenster cheese.
Weekly specials at the Wonderland Ballroom include free beer and cocktails when you order any food on Sundays and free drinks when you order any meatless dish on Monday trivia nights.
Sticky Fingers Bakery 1370 Park Rd. NW
While Georgetown’s bakeries tend to attract lines out the door and graduates will be eager to introduce their parents to Captain Cookie, you can satisfy your dessert cravings at Sticky Fingers in Columbia Heights.
Your grandparents might shy away from a vegan bakery, but students with adventurous palates should go for specials like the $3.50 margarita cupcake with tequila lime frosting. Sticky Fingers also serves up classic flavors like vanilla, peanut butter and red velvet for $3.
If you’re not in the mood for something frosted, Sticky Fingers also offers cookies for about $2 each and brownies for about $3 each.