Where to Carbo Load Before a Race (or after a long night)

Every time I sign up for a half marathon, I immediately admonish myself for signing up for a half marathon. Plain and simple, running 13.1 miles isn’t exactly fun. 

Last weekend, on the eve of the DC Rock-n-Roll half I was on the brink of losing hope. All until I found a glimmer of triumph and remembered the real reason I made this decision; the pre-race carb binge! My favorite day is the one when stuffing my face with endless pasta is not only acceptable, it’s encouraged.

It may not feel like it, but spring is around the corner and with that comes a lot of opportunities to get outside and get running. If you need a little extra motivation to get active, here are some great places in the District to get your carb on.

*Note: If you’re not prepping for a race, this list is also highly applicable for anyone trying to save themselves the day after a long, alcohol laden night.

  • Ghibellina: When I moved to DC, Ghibillena became a quick favorite of mine for excellent Italian comfort food. My steadfast, go-to menu items: Gnocchi Al Pomodoro and Riso al Salto, which are crispy risotto cakes with prosciutto, tomato and coriander sauce. Ghibellina also features great pizza options.
  • 2Amys: Speaking of pizza… 2Amys. Choose from one of the creative pizza options on the menu or customize your own. This is a major favorite amongst most people in The District, and worth trying whether you live here or are just visiting for the weekend.

    credit: @2amys
  • Martin’s Tavern: Martin’s is my favorite cozy dining spot in DC. It’s known for an impressive list of regulars, including but not limited to JFK and Nixon, and its decedent comfort food. The seafood lasagna is a twist on the original recipe and includes lobster, shrimp, calamari AND crab. If that doesn’t do it for you, out of towners should still pay a visit to Martin’s for the history and ambiance alone.
  • &Pizza: Carbs, on the go. I love &pizza because it’s so highly customizable, and you can order a pizza for any kind of mood you’re in. Plus, this is a no fuss option for people looking to carb up, without spending a lot of money or time. For guidance on how to make healthy choices at &pizza (if you’re into that kind of thing), check out the list of the best and worst options on the &pizza menu. It will likely surprise you…
  • Casa Luca: A manageable menu can be key when it comes to Italian food, and Casa Luca’s got that. Fresh and simple with the infusion of interesting ingredients, Casa Luca is a fail-safe option.
credit: @casalucadc
  • Vapiano: Not specific to DC, but similar to the idea of &pizza in that Vapiano takes the guesswork out of your order and allows for optimal pasta customization. You’ll get exactly what you want all while staying in your budget, and you can find Vapiano in a couple different locations in DC.
  • Daikaya: Not “traditional pasta”, but all the carbs you need. This weekend is supposed to be cold, and there’s no better way to warm up than with a really, really good bowl of ramen. Daikaya almost always has a line to get in (even at strange times during the day) but, especially for those not native to DC, it’s worth the wait. Build your perfect bowl by choosing from more toppings options than you’ll know what to do with.
credit: @daikayadc
  • Fiola: I’m a fan of any menu that includes lobster ravioli so I gravitate to Fiola. But the truth is, you can’t go wrong with any of the pasta options available. If you’re planning to carbo load at lunchtime instead of dinner, Fiola’s Presto! Lunch at the Bar offers a drink and entree for $20, and you can get your pasta fix by ordering the pappardelle carbonara. If you can’t find the time to pay a visit before the race, Sunday nights at Fiola include a 4 course family style meal + 1 bottle of wine.
  • Osteria Morini: There’s nothing like hand made pasta is there? Osteria Morini’s got it, and you should try it. Bonus points for this restaurant because most of its regular menu items are also available for take out. The only thing better than eating pasta is eating pasta in bed.
credit: @osteriamorinidc
  • Trattoria Alberto: I love this place because it feels like a hidden gem on Barrack’s Row. The atmosphere is old school Italian, which adds to the experience in the best way, and the menu includes all your favorites. Monday-Friday, bottles of wine are half off at lunch time. Technically drinking before a race isn’t highly recommended, but with a price like that… ?

 So get your carb on!

Leave a Reply