Revenge of LocalYokel DC: National Museum of the American Indian

Told you she’d be back — our SHC delves deeper into an oft-overlooked gem in DC, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.

Curvilinear architecture of the NMAI recalls American wonders like Antelope Canyon. image via

I know that I have recommended visiting the Smithsonian institutions generally as one of those very touristy things that are worth their praise, but I want to take a moment to talk about one which I think is worthy of particular notice. In addition to all of the things listed above and DC’s iconic monuments and buildings, I want to talk about a very cool museum which is frankly one of my favorite places in DC. The National Museum of the American Indian is really one of the most interestingly curated museums that I have ever visited. Far from the days of stiff feathered costumes on lifeless mannequins, this museum really brings its subjects to life using an array of technologies and psychological approaches. There are indeed intricate costumes and handicrafts from a variety of native cultures, but there is also an overlap of multimedia tools that allow for sensory immersion into the world of the Native Americans.


Artifact of a DC culture vulture: rad coasters available in the gift shop.

From the moment that you approach the museum with its unconventional architecture and garden of indigenous plants, your perspective on the world changes. Upon entering the exhibits, you are confronted with the realities of the brutal history of conflict and dispossession but also with the vibrancy of the tribal cultures that are explored. One of my favorite parts of this museum is the section that delves into the psychology of various tribes. By walking through a radial series of exhibits, you journey through different regions of North America and learn how the various tribes adapted physically, intellectually, socially, and spiritually to their various climates and circumstances. The learning is about more than just looking at display cabinets, it is also about altering the way we think about what constitutes society. It is really something that is better when experienced than described, so all I can say is that you should go.

Cedar plank salmon and fiddleheads: true American cuisine at Mitsitam Cafe. image via

While there, be sure to visit Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe which is the museum’s restaurant on the ground floor. It was only by going there that I realized that “Native American” restaurants are extremely rare, which is a shame. This one is truly unique because it uses Pre-Columbian ingredients to make very modern and accessible foods. I had buffalo chili cheese fries, but don’t worry, there are plenty of vegetarian, vegan and child-friendly options. The restaurant manages to offer gourmet, adventurous cuisine representing many different regions of the Americas. Each regional serving station offers dishes of varying sizes, price points, and tastes so it is possible to try things from all of the different regions. Be sure to leave room for dessert and for the seasonal agua fresca. There really is something for everyone at this cool place.

LocalYokel: Washington DC

LocalYokel brings you the goods from someone who should know, since you’re in their backyard. This one’s from our trusty SHC. And stay tuned for her special guide to the best Smithsonian museum

Day or night, politics is in the water in this town.

EATStarter: Visit Rosa Mexicano on 7th St NW for guacamole, it’s a religious experience of the highest avocado order. Main Course: Head up the street to Zengo for an Asian-Latin fusion tapas menu. On a budget? Ben’s Chili Bowl on U Street is so tasty even President Obama loves it. Willing to splash out a bit? Russia House in Dupont Circle is the place to dine in high style and drink yourself under the table. Fancy a dessert? Dangerously Delicious Pies on H ST NE is the place to be. You can close your eyes and point in there and your tastebuds will be happy.

SLEEPSomewhere glam: The Mayflower Renaissance Washington, DC Hotel – There’s a reason that this is DC’s hotel of choice for sleazy politicians’ sex scandals (remember Eliot Spitzer?), it’s a gorgeous hotel in a great location. Here’s some background info on the hotel’s role in the more dubious side of Washington. Somewhere comfy: The Westin Washington, DC City Center – This is my staycation hotel of choice. It’s in a great location. The courtyard atrium is unique and gives it a relaxing, spa-like feel. The breakfasts are gourmet and the beds are comfortable enough to work the stress knots out of any overworked Washingtonian. Somewhere cheap: Experience historic charm on the cheap at Adam’s Inn Bed and Breakfast which is in lively yet leafy Adams Morgan.

GOget some culture: At the National Gallery of Art, be sure to have some gelatto in the Cascade Cafe downstairs after viewing the excellent main collection and interestingly varied exhibitions. The Freer and Sackler Galleries showcase Asian art. You can’t really go wrong by exploring the other Smithsonian Institutions as well. If you are lucky enough to catch an interesting festival or event on the Mall, in the streets, or at the Kennedy Center, you’ll get to experience the transient diversity that makes DC such a great, livable city. Get your politique on: Check the relevant senatorial or congressional website and if you are there early enough, you can attend the committee hearings and find out what your elected leaders actually do all day. Also be sure to visit Politics & Prose, an independent bookstore on Connecticut Ave, where you can see all kinds of thought-provoking authors speak about their work.

Are YOU more local than this yokel? Tell us what we missed!

LocalYokel: Knox County, Maine

LocalYokel brings you the goods from someone who should know, since you’re in their backyard. This one’s from our plainspoken Senior Ayuh Correspondent, midcoast born and raised.

The Farnsworth in Rockland, Maine.  image via


Billy’s Tavern [1 Starr St., Thomaston] Giant jenga. Fresh seafood. Largest selection of single malt and irish whiskey in Maine.

Thomaston Cafe [154 Main St., Thomaston] Fresh, natural and local food, dictates the menu.  Early morning breakfast and brunch. They make great ‘to go’ lunch boxes.

Rock City Coffee [254 Main St., Rockland] Kinda eat?  Drink coffee at least. Smells awesome. Sells fresh roasted beans as well.

SLEEPGranite Inn [546 Main St., Rockland] Pet friendly, eco friendly.

The Inn at Camden Place [14 Tannery Lane, Camden] On the canal in downtown Camden. Historical — it used to be a shirt factory.

Samoset Inn [220 Warrenton St., Rockport] Not small, but if you want a resort this is it. Private cottages, golf course(s?), and multiple pools, one with a swim up bar.


Rockland Farmers Market [Harbor Park, Rockland] Seasonal market, kinda goes in the ‘eat’ section as well. And they have pickled fiddleheads!

Maine State Prison Showroom [358 Main St., Thomaston] Cheep cheep convict-made products. The former grounds of the prison are now a cool park out back to walk around in.

Maine Wine Trail [vineyards of midcoast Maine; yes there’s more than one] Well, firstly, it exists. And only in Maine do they have a ‘drive yourself’ wine and hard alcohol trail.

Are YOU more local than this yokel? Tell us what we missed!

DayTrip: Provincetown, MA

DayTrip gives you a quick taste of a town you don’t know. 


At the very end of Cape Cod—peek closely to see Long Point Lighthouse across the harbor.

EATsomething classic (a freshly fried malassada?) at Provincetown Portuguese Bakery [299 Commercial St.] and pay homage to this town’s roots. Or try something new in Karoo Kafe [338 Commercial St.], where the South African fare transports you as far as you can get from Cape Cod. Of course, there’s always Lorraine’s [133 Commercial St.], delicious Mexican eatery in the West End that’s reliably open year-round— even New Year’s Eve.

SLEEPsomewhere cozy like Snug Cottage [178 Bradford St.] — quiet, cute, and off the main drag, but only a short walk to the hub of town. Or take advantage of an incredible view at Lands End Inn [22 Commercial St.], but you may not want to leave your perch to see the rest of town.

GOstock up on some beach reads at Tim’s Used Books [242 Commercial St.], a little cottage off the main street stacked to the ceilings with well-loved paperbacks. Switch up your gallery crawl with a stop at Provincetown Art Association and Museum [460 Commercial St.], housed in a strikingly modern building that gives you a break from the quaint. And if the wind is calm, you can walk off your malassadas with a hike to Long Point Lighthouse [1 Commercial St.] which sits all alone at the very tip of the Cape.

Can you top this day trip? Tell us what we missed!

DayTrip: Old San Juan, PR

DayTrip gives you a quick taste of a town you don’t know. 


Peeking out at the garitas of the city wall on Paseo del Morro.

EATsome mofongo at Cafe el Punto [105 Fortaleza St.], toward the end of a small walk between the blocks. A couple minutes out of the sun and you’ll feel refreshed (or maybe that’s the Medalla talking). Pay your respects to the former La Bombanera [259 Calle de San Francisco, RIP] and grab your morning dough down the block at Cafeteria Mallorca [259 Calle de San Francisco] instead. Not as historical as la B, but just as delicioso. At night, push back those pina coladas and get to El Batey [Calle Cristo 99], infamous cavernous dive bar with an incredible jukebox: songs are a quarter each. 

SLEEPsomewhere historical (but a little spartan) like el Convento [100 Calle Cristo] or get all retro-luxe at el Caribe Hilton [los Rosales St] … or for something totally different, stay at Da House [312 Calle de San Francisco],the artsy B&B above the Nuyorican Cafe.

Flying kites on the lawn of el Morro.

GOget some sun: you’re far from the beaches but you can still work on your tan (and your piragua consumption) checking out the colorful paint jobs on the homes along Bulevar del Valle, or strolling the Paseo de la Principesa. Absorb some cultura at the historical site of El Morro [Calle del Morro]. Or get your daytrip-within-a-daytrip on out of town in el Yunque, Vieques or Culebra.

Can you top this day trip? Tell us what we missed!

bellyNY: Village edition

bellyNY is a choose-your-own-adventure food tour through the nabes of NYC.
Caffeine at Cafe Henri

Cafe Henri, a bistro that doesn't try to fool you: this is NY, not Paris

Ifit’s bone cold and you look like Jack Nicholson at the end of The Shining: Waddle down to Matilda [647 E. 11th St] and beg for their La Cucaracha veggie plate. Yep it says “served chilled” but you will know those three skulls are in no way chill once you scoop the melted remains of your face off the floor. Then you’ll be thawed out and ready for the rest of their Mediterranean/Mexican menu. After, sneak over to Hi-Fi [169 Avenue A] and soothe your tongue with tasty pours and their mega-mp3 jukebox. If you’re still alive/hungry at 3am, toddle into Veselka [144 2nd Ave] because nothing cozies you up better than a plate of pierogi and a beer (other than the comfort of knowing you can procure them 24/7).
Ifyour companion is a vegetarian obsessed with the protein presentation on Top Chef: Is there a better place to be meat-averse yet foodie-fixated than E. Vill? Plan far in advance and book one of the few tables at tiny Dirt Candy [430 E. 9th St] — everything on the menu is fair game for the vegetarian, from the chicken & waffles-inspired cauliflower entree to the carrot-based take on pork buns. (Oh and don’t even consider skipping the jalapeno hush puppies. You’re welcome.) Or maybe your companion wants more of an atmosphere and less of a fried-manipulated-scrumptiousity, so lead them to the haven of holistic goodness that is Quartino Bottega Organica [11 Bleecker St], where you can grab a simple, delicious organic meal in a cozy and refreshingly quiet setting. And what better way to up the presentation than the elaborate cocktails at Dutch/Danish VanDaag [103 2nd Ave] — take a couple of smoke-filled infused gin concoctions or a pitcher of their summery signature Radler drink. Just stay away from the Viking Blod because it is just wrong.
Ifit’s your last day in town and you’re low on fundsCafe Henri [27 Bedford St] looks like a regular cheap-chic bistro breakfast, but wait till your omelette comes out. You will be regretting wasting calories on those room service scrambles. Have a farewell mimosa at Sullivan Bistro [169 Sullivan St] and maybe have a second, since they only run you $5. Before you hail your last cab, stop at Baohaus [238 E. 14th St] for a last bite, Taiwanese bao to go. They’re rice buns, fluffy clouds ferrying food to your mouth. Get two. (Okay, three.)
Where do you fill your belly in the East Village?