I am known for giving house guests, especially if they are from abroad, strange tours of random parts of the United States. Yesterday it was a mix of Northeast D.C. and Anacostia.
Maketto on H St. offers Cambodian and Taiwanese cuisine in hip surroundings. The Dolcezza factory near Union Market serves gelato without freezing it, so it is superior to the other branches, and Righteous Cheese is the best shop of its kind in town. St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, in Anacostia, was the first federally supported mental hospital, dating from the 1850s; John Wilkes Booth spent time there. The architecture looks like something from Shutter Island or a Stephen King novel, and if you are clever you can talk your way in through the front gate. The Frederick Douglass House is the standard Anacostia site, worth more than one visit. The Big Chair originally was an advertisement for a furniture company, but has evolved into an Anacostia landmark and it was renovated in 2006. It since has fallen from the biggest chair in the world to no better than number three. At The Big Chair Coffee and Grill, reopened by African immigrants I might add, drinks are remarkably cheap.
Overall Anacostia is improving at a rapid clip, with lots of new town home construction and even some shops. In terms of greenery and views, it is one of the nicest parts of town and someday it will be very expensive indeed.