Food and Drink, We Love Drinks

Friday Happy Hour: Lupo Verde

I hope our last article got you in the mood for aperitivo hour, because that’s what’s on the menu this week. Specifically, the menu at Lupo Verde; and with Campari, Cocchi Americano, Zucca, and Fernet all in their rail (best rail in the city, I tell you), it’s going to be aperitivo time for a long time.

But first, I have a confession: I don’t like Negronis. They’re Italian cocktails 101, I know, and this must seem like blasphemy, but it’s the truth. I’ll freely admit they taste great, but I can never appreciate the gin, it just gets lost amidst the campari and vermouth. At home I don’t waste the gin and mix Americanos. When I’m out, if I want something a little more high test, I go for a Negroni Sbagliato instead.

But the Negroni at Lupo Verde is a Negroni worth mentioning. The addition of Barr Hill gin in the Annarella is a total game changer. The earthy honey flavor makes the gin take center stage. I could be biased, Bar Hill is my favorite gin, I just can’t get enough of that honey infused junipery goodness, but this is the most memorable Negroni I’ve ever had.

And speaking of riffs on classic Italian cocktails, an Americano variation? Hell yes! Classic juniper bite from the gin, interesting earthiness from the addition of pisco, but the muddled coffee beans are the all star. Especially since they’re left floating in the cocktail. Forget your vodka Red Bull, this is how I’m going to get my late night buzz from now. Continue reading

Food and Drink, We Love Drinks

Friday Happy Hour: Café Saint-Ex

I haven’t frequented Cafe Saint-Ex for very long, but to be fair I haven’t frequented anywhere in DC very long. But in the time that I’ve spent at Saint-Ex I’ve noticed their slow and steady change from a great neighborhood bar to one of the tops spots to get a drink in DC.

Let’s be real, we all know Saint-Ex. We’ve all been there for more than a few unforgettable nights and, of course, a few that we can’t remember. The 14 street staple opened in 2003 and since then the upstairs bar has been the go to spot for an afterwork drink, whether you’re 9 to 5 or stopping by for last call after a night behind the stick, and downstairs Gate 54 has taken on iconic status for its late night dance parties. While Saint-Ex may already be a DC standard, they prove with their new food and bar menu after all these years they’re still good enough to go round for round with the biggest names in the industry.

Driving the new bar menu is Ben Wiley, formerly of Jose Andres’ Think Food Group, and Noah Broaddus. One look at the menu and you can tell they took a serious, no frills approach to making good, simple drinks. Nothing too crazy, nothing too complicated, but all ridiculously good. Each drink is flavor-driven, with a focus on quality while still being approachable. As Noah puts it, “it’s all about bringing people into the fold.” Saint-Ex is and will always be the spot to drink a beer and get a shot on 14th, but now you can be sure to get a killer cocktail too. Continue reading

Food and Drink, Foodie Roundup, The Features, We Love Food

We Love Food: DC Eats for August

Photo courtesy of
‘Cafe Atlantico’
courtesy of ‘needlessspaces’
Put on your elastic waistband pants, people. There’s plenty to eat and do in the city for the next few weeks. So click on through and you’ll find where you should be wining and dining this month.
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Five Favorites, The Features

Five Favorites: Complete Streets

Photo courtesy of
‘Mount Pleasant and National Baptist Church, Bike lane in foreground’
courtesy of ‘tedeytan’

Just this week, DDOT adopted a complete streets policy that encourages streets that accommodate all users– motorists, cyclists, pedestrians, and transit users.  This marks a shift from the auto-centric planning that has long dominated transportation planning throughout the country.  Even though DC is slightly late with its policy (168 jurisdictions already have complete streets policies on record), there are already so many great streets in the District that are fantastic examples of complete streets.  So here’s a list of our five favorite complete streets in the District.

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Food and Drink, Life in the Capital, The Features

First Look: Masa 14

Masa Interior

Unless you live under a foodie rock, you’ve noticed that 14th street has exploded lately. Eatonville, Policy (though Jenn says don’t go there), Birch and Barley, and, of course, Masa 14. Masa 14 is the new small plate concept by Kaz Okochi (Kaz Sushi Bistro) and Richard Sandoval (Zengo). The kitchen is led by Chef de Cuisine Antonio Burrell, who used to be at CommonWealth Gastropub.

Masa 14 has a large, industrial feel. Sleek and trendy, noisy, and totally packed. Fritz Hahn was right when he said it is the new thirty-something destination on 14th street. The crowd wasn’t the typical young quasi-hipster crowd I’ve grown accustom to at places like Eatonville or Saint Ex. But don’t for a second think this isn’t a stylish crowd – red lipstick, cuff links and afros all made statements there Friday night when Jenn and I stopped by to check it out. Continue reading

Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Crepe Love

Photo courtesy of
‘Nutella + Banana crepe!’
courtesy of ‘ronnieliew’

I don’t think I can adequately describe my love of crepes, so you’ll just have to believe me when I say that upon reading PoP’s breaking of not one but two crepe cafes hitting my ‘hood this winter I just about passed out from sheer bliss. Three words, people – Nutella! Banana! Strawberry! That’s all it takes to get me in a buckwheat batter lather!!


Anyway, yes, two creperies will open on the rapidly blooming 14th Street Corridor this season. Crepes on the Corner in the old Garden District space at 14th & S (by the same owners as the garden shop) and Point Chaud in the storefront formerly operated by Circle Boutique (on roughly the opposite side of the street). The former has the opportunity for a large outside seating area so I predict quite a hot brunch spot. The latter will probably be cosier. But who cares about the details! Nutella! Banana! Strawberry!

Two, two creperies. So close to me. I’m in heaven. Dancing around with dreams of savory and sweet. Can’t wait.

We Love Food

We Love Food: Marvin

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘Erica Wissolik’

Marvin is #100 on Washingtonian’s Best Of list. I thought I should put it out there in front, just because in my mind, it sums up Marvin. It’s not #10 and it’s not even in the top 50, but it’s still a choice pick. Plus, people’s opinions of it, even on our We Love DC authors list serve, vary considerably. Some people believe it to be a hidden gem (not so much on the hidden part any more) and some people consider it totally crap. Me? Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s #100. A neighborhood joint with above-average food, a rooftop deck, and some excellent fried chicken.

Marvin, named after DC native Marvin Gaye, is at the intersection of 14th and U. Thanks to the savvy folks behind Eighteenth Street Lounge, The Gibson and Local 16, Marvin is both a bar hot spot and a tasty evening dining destination. The menu pairs southern with Belgian, and has a little something for everyone. On a recent pilgrimage to The Gibson for an after-work drink, a friend and I stopped by Marvin for dinner and had a mostly pleasant experience. Continue reading

Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Food

We Love Food: Eatonville

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘Jenn Larsen’

So I’ll let you in on a little secret, new restaurants. Sometimes two of the blonde single lady authors of We Love DC hit the town together, and judge you. You can spot us, cause we ask a bunch of questions, giggle to ourselves, and take tons of pictures of our food and drinks. One of us is southern, the other northern. One twentysomething, one thirtysomething. We try and represent all demographics. We also try not to make a scene. Maybe one day we’ll get fabulous enough to don disguises Ruth Reichl-style, but for now, we aren’t particularly incognito. I’m pretty sure our server last week at Eatonville knew something was up, but he was a good sport, as we grilled him all about the menu, the best picks, and even the decor. He wound up asking us a bunch of questions back to our questions about the restaurant. Bending over our table, conspiritorially, he asked us “do you twitter?” (Yup.) “Will you tweet about this?” (Sure will.) “Even if you don’t like it?” (Uh huh.) Luckily for him, we liked it just fine.

Eatonville had come up with mixed reviews from my foodie crowd, but ever the southerner, I was excited. Jenn was ready to judge with me, and she’s always good to have around to bounce thoughts off of. We dived into the menu headfirst, ordering the two most popular appetizers, the Hushpuppy (singular, that’s right, find out why after the break) and the Fried Green Tomatoes. (I don’t think it’s in my genetics to say no to a fried green tomato!) Continue reading

Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Food

First Look: Zentan

Photo courtesy of
‘zentan interior’
courtesy of ‘needlessspaces’

Last night Inspiration DC‘s Rebecca and I headed over to preview Zentan, the new trendy hot spot at the Donovan House Hotel on Thomas Circle. The new hot spot opened on June 8th, after a bit of a kerfluffle (the space was supposed to be a new Todd English spot), when Chef Susur Lee of Shang in New York stepped up to fill in. Chef Lee, who is known for a wide variety of Asian-influenced restaurants, was also the second Canadian chef to appear on the Food Network’s Iron Chef America against Iron Chef Bobby Flay. So I was excited to see what came of all the drama – would Zentan live up?

Also, if you’ll let me ramble for a moment, Zentan signifies to me the solidification of the quality I’ve come to expect from hotel restaurants in our area. This is thanks in part to boutique chains like Kimpton, who work to pair quality Chef-driven restaurant concepts with their hotels. But excellent in-hotel restaurants are certainly on the rise in DC, and I have much higher standards for hotel restaurants here than I do when I travel. I was interested to see what Lee would bring to the District, plus get a peek at the Thompson Hotel. Continue reading

Food and Drink, Night Life, The Features, We Love Food

We Love Food: Policy

Light Fixture, Policy

"Light Fixture, Policy" by Jenn Larsen, on Flickr

Right from the start, you know something’s off at Policy. Standing in the luridly lit stairwell, a sickly yellow gleam gives everyone the look of a mental patient. Not even the most nubile twenty-year-old looks good in light like this. It doesn’t get much better inside. The whole place is lit like a lighting designer who hates his actors. I was originally going there to write it up for my usual We Love Drinks but, any cocktail menu that has a drink mixing my beloved espresso vodka with Red Bull is off my list. But the food menu seemed at least potentially interesting.

However, I had reservations about Policy the first night I walked by and saw they had valet parking. At 14th and T, I really wonder. What does that say? Your clientele is too scared to park their own cars? What are they doing in the neighborhood anyway?

After you get past the mental hospital stairwell, the dining room greets you with a look rather like the Diner From Hell. Ceiling tiles seem to drip blood all night. Awful lighting in your booth gives you a migraine. Bad club “hits” from a decade past pound away. Contrast the forced clever black-and-red motif here with the crazy kitsch black-and-red motif at Jimmy Valentine’s, and it doesn’t take Dante to tell you where the Devil would rather hang out.

Ok, I keep getting distracted, because all these things are actually not the worst part about a night at Policy. It’s the overpriced mediocre food. Another bad sign is when your server explains to you the “concept of small plates” because “not everyone gets it.” Um, right. 14th and T again, remember? We’ve got Cork and Bar Pilar already. Or is this explanation for the people who want the valet parking?

Right, distraction. Sorry. Here we go. We tried six dishes at Policy. Two were good. Four were disappointing. The Madras Curry Lamb Sliders may have had curry in them, but I wouldn’t have known if it wasn’t in the title. The three little sliders for $13.95 were juicy, sure, but had no flavor at all. For lamb, that’s… odd. Continue reading

Food and Drink, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: ACKC

"Audrey Hepburn" Hot Chocolate

When did it suddenly become autumn? Leaves need raking, boots need polishing, and I’m craving hot chocolate. Granted, our recent cold snap has given way to positively spring-like temperatures, but that’s typical DC fall for you… it isn’t going to stop me indulging in my favorite seasonal drink.

ACKC is a dangerous little shop and cafe at 14th & Q NW that could cause chocoholics to go into palpitations. Lacking a serious sweet tooth (more like a deer with a salt lick), I can enter without too much concern about breaking the bank on artisan chocolates, though bars with almonds and sea salt sure are tempting. And then again, now through February’s end, I do go crazy for hot chocolate. I don’t know why, maybe it’s when the weather turns dreary, the melancholy of the impending chill, but there’s something innately comforting about the magical liquid.

My favorite at ACKC is their European-style “Audrey Hepburn” – utterly decadent, thick and rich, meant to be sipped and savored over an hour – solo or easily coating a buttery croissant, if you want to go crazy dunking a pastry (and you know you do). Continue reading