Spy Museum historian and curator Andrew Hammond’s perfect day in DC
“The work is amazing work,” says Hammond, who lives down the H Street hallway. “I meet some really interesting people and research some really interesting artifacts.”
Hammond served in the Royal Air Force before returning to school full-time in 2005. He earned his PhD in History and International Relations from the University of Warwick in England and held several scholarships at the University of Warwick . National September 11 Memorial Museumthe Library of Congress and other institutions before landing his coveted position at the Spy Museum in 2020.
Like a CIA agent shrewdly observing his surroundings, Hammond spent much of his dream day in DC outdoors in some of the city’s best people-watching spots.
The first thing I would do is go to the Wydown on H street. It’s a cafe and their blueberry muffins are to die for. They are so good. Got the really cool stuff about the muffin crumbling. And you get to the bottom and there are these not too hot but hot blueberries exploding in your mouth. I usually get up quite early, usually before my wife and daughter. I would walk by there, have a latte, have a muffin, then come back and sit on the balcony and watch H Street come to life.
I’m really obsessed with bialys, and when I left New York, I spent a lot of time trying to find the best bialy in town, and didn’t really find any great ones in DC Maybe be that they exist, but I have not found them. So if we go out, we’d probably go to Buffalo and Bergen, and I would get a poppyseed bagel with cream cheese and a regular drip coffee with half and half.
I think after that, I think if it was a nice day, I would go with my wife and daughter to the Sculpture Garden and the National Art Gallery. I really like to sit down and pass the time. If this was the day of my dreams, I wouldn’t want to run frantically from place to place. So I think I’d just like to sit there and soak up the atmosphere, look at the art, and hang out with my family.
And then if [the weather] was not good, there is an antique store that my wife and I love in Logan Circle, 14th Street NW called good wood. We don’t always buy something when we go there, but we just like to poke around in there and spend time looking through stuff.
After that, I think it would probably be time for a late lunch, early dinner at that time. And there’s an amazing place we discovered just a few weeks ago called Paraiso Taqueria on Pennsylvania Avenue in the southeast. I used to spend a lot of time on Pennsylvania Avenue outside the Library of Congress, and this place is so good. Nachos are a whole tortilla that’s fried, and you get it with salsa. It’s not the boilerplate “here’s fries and salsa” and it’s, like, superficial – it’s part of the experience. My wife and I love the cod tacos. They are really excellent. If I was looking for alcohol, it would be a margarita. Classic, on the rocks.
After that, we would walk back, and on the way, we would stop either at Lincoln Park Where Stanton Park. I love the east side parks. We would sit under a tree and just watch the world in action. People playing sports or tai chi, children playing, people walking their dogs. I love lying on a blanket in the park and listening to all those sounds. I think I would probably spend the hours leading into darkness just sitting in one of these parks.
Returning to the H Street Loop, Copycat Co. is just a great cocktail bar. I love the atmosphere. Personally, I really like avant-garde cocktails, like Negronis, Manhattans, martinis, that sort of thing. I love sitting in a cocktail bar to spend a few hours. So I think that’s where I would probably have the last drink. And I always said to myself that if I ever had to have another life, I would open a clandestine bar called Espionage. And it would be quite playful, but rooted in the real world of intelligence. Trying not to make it too hokey. You know, like a code word to get in, secret items on the menu, cocktails called names like Dead Drop, Covert Action, Encryption, Double Agent – and then get a really awesome mixologist.