In the first episode of Victoria’s Secrets, a new podcast series by Victoria Freeman (CAS ’26), Freeman gives a review of Emissary, a coffeehouse located in Dupont Circle. Tune in to hear Freeman’s in-depth analysis of the shop’s environment, taste and what song it reminds her of.
Victoria Freeman (VF): Hey, it’s Victoria, and I have a secret.
VF: Today I’m going to review Emissary, which is a coffee-shop-slash-restaurant located around Dupont Circle, at 2032 P St. NW. And you may be wondering why I would choose Emissary for my first review on this podcast, especially because it’s not particularly new, it’s been around for a while. So why break the paradigm for what reviews should be on the first episode?
And the answer to this would be that Emissary as a restaurant or coffee shop feels a lot like coming home. As soon as I went there, for the very first time, I knew that I would be back. Which leads me to the first category I want to confront in terms of what Emissary is like, and that would be the vibe of Emissary.
So the first time I ever visited, I was feeling adventurous. My roommate was gone, so I was having the living-alone lifestyle moment. So I went on a solo walk to Second [Story] Books, which is a used bookshop. I think I got a used copy of “Macbeth” or something. And so I was really feeling quirky, interesting, hipster. Um, so on my way back, I see this coffee shop and it looks bustling. It looks aesthetic. So I feel like it’s the perfect place for me to go. And let me tell you, I was exactly right.
The vibe is dark inside — the perfect place to drink a coffee and read a used copy of “Macbeth.” So I would say that the vibe of Emissary really shines because honestly, it’s like a chameleon. I’ve learned after going back again and again that every single time you go there, something is different. If you walk in in the morning, it’s a hustling-and-bustling coffee shop. There are people just popping in to get coffee to go, there are people there sitting, reading.
Then for weekend brunch — it’s your classic busy brunch. You’re extremely lucky if you’re able to get a table, and they do full table service. And then if you’re there further in the afternoon, either on the weekend or on a weekday, the vibe is a lot more calm and quiet. People sitting doing work — often me, I’m one of those people who’s sitting there on my laptop for hours getting work done, so it’s more calm and quiet.
And then, once you hit 5 p.m., Emissary transitions to be a lot more cocktails-and dinner-type vibe of people sitting at the bar, people there on dates, that type of thing. So I feel as though Emissary could be anything that you really want it to be, which is one of my favorite parts about it.
Next, we have consumables: if you go to Emissary, what’s something that you’re going to get? So obviously you’re going to get coffee, which is the most important thing any coffee shop could be serving. And Emissary really comes through with this — the lattes are superb, of course, they have latte foam and art on top, because of course they do. It’s just that type of place. And of course, then they also have full meals, in addition to pastries. So I always get the avocado bacon sandwich, which is delicious. And the meals are perfect if you want something more filling, but then again, it’s also a coffee shop, so you don’t have to get a full meal. So I would say that the food at Emissary overall is delicious, entirely what you would expect based on the vibe that it gives off.
And given that this is in D.C., it’s entirely the prices that you would expect as well. So if you’re sitting down getting a coffee and a meal, obviously you’re not going to be getting out of there on less than $20. But then again, what did you really expect?
One of my favorite parts about Emissary is the accessibility of it. And you may think because it’s in Dupont Circle, it’s a little bit far, but the walk is 20 to 25 minutes. And let me tell you, I’m a New Yorker and one of my main personality traits is that I love walking. So I would say that Emissary is far enough that when you get there, it feels as though you had to put in a little work to get there. Maybe, maybe got some steps in, in your day, so getting there was an accomplishment. And then the walk back is a nice, relaxing way to cool down from whatever work you did when you were there. So I feel as though the accessibility of Emissary is a perfect walk away.
Next, I want to start a segment in which every single thing that I review on this podcast, I’m going to tell you what song it reminds me of, because I feel as though a song is a really good way to encapsulate those things about a restaurant or coffee shop that you can’t really quite describe. And Emissary reminds me of the song “True Blue” by Boygenius. And this song feels to me as though it’s a return to a classic homely love. The refrain in this song is the lyric, “and it feels good to be known so well.” And I feel as though this really describes Emissary, in the sense that it feels as though you’re coming home, even when you’ve just been there for the very first time. It feels so much like a traditional coffee shop, that it feels like someplace you’ve already been before. Which is why as soon as I went there, I knew immediately that I had to go back.
And in terms of the secrets that I want to share about Emissary are two really important things. And the first is if you’re looking for a place for Saturday or Sunday brunch, Emissary is far enough off campus that you can tell stories and drop names. Rather than sitting in Georgetown at like 1310 or, God forbid, going to Compass to get some coffee, where you could not mention a single person — [at Emissary] you can give full stories, full names because there aren’t that many people there from Georgetown. Maybe after this podcast that’s going to change, who knows? I’m going to assume every listener is going to flock immediately to Emissary because I mean after this review, I would too, but at least for the time being, totally comfortable telling loud stories, talking about humiliating stories, everyone I know, at Emissary.
And the next secret is that if you’re trying to go there to get some work done, you better go on a weekday rather than a weekend, because weekend, it is absolutely overrun with people there for brunch, and who could really blame them?
The final rating I’m going to give to Emissary is a nine out of 10. Because Emissary isn’t really a place that you ever feel as though you’re going for the first time, it’s a place that you go back to. So please go back to Emissary and let me know what you think.
VF: This podcast was recorded by me, Victoria Freeman, edited by David Yang and produced by Amna Shamim. Thanks for listening!