15 Things To Eat, Drink, And See In Washington, DC, During The GAC

From vegan-friendly to Instagram-worthy, CreditUnions.com has all the places attendees of the 2019 GAC will want to go.

CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference is right around the corner. The four-day extravaganza includes hill hiking, challenge solving, and industry networking. Check out how seasoned conventioneers get ready for the movement’s largest gathering in Start Today To Be Prepared At The GAC.

To make the most of downtime, meal time, or nighttime, the staff at DC-based Callahan & Associates has the following suggestions. Make those dinner reservations, reload those metro cards, and fire up those Instagram accounts. We’ll see you at the GAC.

What To Eat


A Baked Joint

If at some point during the conference you need caffeine, a sandwich, or both, then this is the place for you. A Baked Joint is a local cafe/bakery-hybrid where natural light floods in from floor-to-ceiling windows and everything is tasty. A bonus? It’s a five-minute walk from the convention center.

Nando’s Peri-Peri

No matter what cuisine you crave, DC has you covered. Nando’s has a number of locations in the DC-Virginia-Maryland (DMV) region and is the spot for flame-grilled Afro-Portuguese chicken, especially appealing for those who love spice. It’s a four-minute walk from the convention center.


Compared to others on this list, Shouk is a relative newcomer to the DC food scene. Slinging modern Israeli street food, this vegan-friendly shop will have you eating good without the guilt. It’s a three-minute walk from the convention center.


The crown-jewel of the DC fast casual scene, Sweetgreen is a salad joint that satisfies even the most particular eater. A pro-tip: Get there by 11 or after 1 to avoid the lunch crush. If you hit the crowd, dress in layers for when you’re waiting outside at the end of line. It’s a five-minute walk from the convention center.

Everything at Momofuku CCDC is good. Trust us.


Momofuku CCDC

Every Momofuku location is a bit different, and the DC location skews Chinese by way of the mid-Atlantic. If that sounds weird, don’t worry about it because everything here is good, especially the bing bread. Those come cheap at happy hour, so do yourself a favor and bring a friend or three and order up. It’s a six-minute walk from the convention center.


Want to see someone famous not just DC-famous, but famous-famous? RPM is the home of classic Italian cooking and prime-people watching. Get the chicken parm and keep your eye’s peeled for Drake. It’s a two-minute walk from the convention center.

Unconventional Diner

The name says a lot: Unconventional Diner offers traditional diner fare with a face lift. It’s open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, which means you can get your fix of just about anything all day. That means lox from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. It’s a four-minute walk from the convention center.


Oscar-presenter and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Jose Andres has more than a handful of restaurants in DC, and they’re all worth checking out. One of the best is Zaytinya, a mainstay in the shadow of Capital One Arena, which dishes out affordable and delicious Eastern Mediterranean small plates. It’s a seven-minute walk from the convention center or take the Green or Yellow line one stop to the Gallery Place-Chinatown metro station.

The Love Mural in Blagden Alley is one of DC’s hottest spots to snap a picture.

Where To Drink

Capitol City Brewing Company

DC has its fair share of breweries today, but in 1992, Capitol City was the first brew pub to open since prohibition. If you’re looking to drink local in a loud atmosphere, this is your place. It’s a seven-minute walk from the convention center and a stone’s throw from Momofuku CCDC.

Crimson Whiskey Bar

Crimson Whiskey Bar is one of three levels that comprise Crimson. The whiskey bar is subterranean and offers a good selection of brown liquors. The other two floors cover something for everyone else. There’s a cafe and a diner on the ground floor and a rooftop bar with an indoor/outdoor space. If the weather is nice, this is not a bad place for a nightcap. It’s a six-minute walk from the convention center.

The Dabney Cellar

Because you can’t get a table at The Dabney, this is the next best thing. The Cellar is just around the corner from the restaurant in the basement unit of an old row house. Wine drinkers will find much to love in the drink selection as well as in the raw bar and meat and cheese snacks. It’s a four-minute walk from the convention center.

Farmers & Distillers

Not far from RPM, Farmers & Distillers is an eatery with a large menu that appeases appetites from all sides of the aisle, and the distillery mixes drinks with house-made spirits. It’s a four-minute walk from the convention center.

When the weather is nice, a stroll along the reflecting pool is top-notch.

What To See

Love Mural in Blagden Alley

Blagden Alley is chock-full of restaurants, bars, and coffee shops as well as one of the city’s most photographed murals. Chances are you’ll have to wait your turn to snap a photo, but what is love if not patient? It’s a five-minute walk from the convention center.


The main alleyway of CityCenterDC is always decorated to meet the season. On your way back from Momofuku, snap a photo. It’s a three-minute walk from the convention center.

Chinatown Friendship Arch

Hard to miss, Chinatown’s Friendship Arch was built in 1986 as a $1 million work of public art. Complete with seven roofs, 7,000 tiles, and 272 painted dragons, the 60-foott-tall celebrates DC’s friendship with its sister city, Beijing. It’s a five-minute walk from the convention center.


The National Mall

For those who want a more traditional DC experience, bundle up and head south from the convention center until you hit the capital’s big, grassy mall. At more than a mile long, walkers (or bikers, or scooter riders) will find museums, art galleries, and various memorials, sculptures, and statues, including the Washington Monument, reflecting pool, and Lincoln Memorial. Watch out for geese. It’s a 20-minute walk from the convention center, or take the Green or Yellow line two stops to the Archives-National Memorial-Penn Quarter metro station.

More From CreditUnions.com On What To Eat During GAC

  • Where To Eat During GAC 2017

  • Callahan’s GAC Guide To Washington, DC

  • The CreditUnions.com Guide To Eating In Chinatown


February 28, 2019

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