Adventures, Education, Essential DC, History, Life in the Capital, The District, Throwback Thursday

We Love Throwback Thursday: 04/24/14

3c02388r-1This week’s throwback photo illustrates that even tall people (6′+) can get the short end of the stick. Before 1925 men 6′+ couldn’t join the President’s police force, but eventually were allowed to protect our POTUS despite their “giant-ness.”

With the great weekend weather, let’s get you out of your neighborhood rut and exploring the neighborhoods you’ve heard of but for some particular reason haven’t made it to. And bless WeLoveDC alum, Shannon, for doing the hard work for you with her Where We Live series.

  1. Did you know Takoma Park got its start back in 1883 as a commuter rail suburb of Washington? Me neither! There’s so much more to this awesome, quaint hood. So hop on metro and check it out in Where We Live: Takoma Park.
  2. Step back in the past and see how U Street has changed since Shannon profiled it back in 2010. Where We Live: U Street Definitely worth reading before you
  3. In my weekly Sunday jaunts to the Palisades Farmers market I have some to love the neighborhood, and you’ll understand why with Where We Live: The Palisades.
  4. If you think U Street has changed, then check Where We Live: H Street from 2009 for a complete blast from the past on this transformed DC neighborhood.
  5. Generally speaking, I try to avoid the West End because, cough college students, but it’s rich with history, intrigue and non-college shenanigan awesomeness, Where We Live: West End.
Food and Drink, The Daily Feed, The Features, We Love Drinks

Friday Happy Hour: Tacos and Tequila at El Rey

I’m done with this cold, rainy nonsense. It’s time for spring, people! I want to see more balmy temps, cool drinks, sundresses, and cherry blossoms. But most of all, I want tequila and tacos because nothing quite puts me in the spirit of warm weather quite like drinking tequila and eating tacos under the sun. So I’m sure you can imagine my feelings towards the opening of El Rey last week, Shaw’s new U Street tacqueria/beer garden. It went sort of like this (only replace “bacon and eggs” with “tequila and tacos”).

I walked into El Rey’s soft opening, having done shameful little to no homework, with a very short check list. First order of business: lots of tequila. Yeah they got that. Second: tacos. I think so. Lastly, not cold. It might have been rainy and nasty all week, but under those heat lamps you could have fooled me. Close my eyes and I’m back to undergrad, eating tacos off a truck and lounging on the sunny quad. Only this time there’s tequila. Continue reading

Entertainment, Special Events, The Features

Summer 2012 Guide to Outdoor Movies

Photo courtesy of Chris Rief aka Spodie Odie
DSC_1556.jpg
courtesy of Chris Rief aka Spodie Odie

Summertime in the city–the daylight lasts longer, the outfits get shorter and the city has so many things to offer you outdoors. We’ve rounded up the outdoor movies in the DC area and put them into one comprehensive guide. Break out the popcorn and blankets and get ready to see what films are rolling this summer.

Washington, DC:

Screen on the Green
Where: On the National Mall, between 7th and 12th streets, NW
When: Begins at sunset
Movie Lineup:

Monday, July 16th: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Wednesday, July 25th: It Happened One Night
Monday, July 30th: From Here to Eternity
Monday, August 6th: Psycho

Follow @SOTGinDC for updates and more information.

Capitol Riverfront Movies
Where: Tingey Plaza (behind U.S. Department of Transportation), New Jersey Avenue and Tingey Streets, SE
When:
8:45 PM/Sundown
Movie Lineup:
Thursday, June 14: National Treasure
Thursday, June 21: The Goonies
Thursday, June 28: Raiders of the Lost Ark
Thursday, July 5: City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly’s Gold
Thursday, July 12: O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Thursday, July 19: The Da Vinci Code
Thursday, July 26:  Muppet Treasure Island

Follow @CapitolRvrFront for more information.

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Food and Drink, Night Life, The Features

Lost Society Opening on U Street

Photo courtesy of
‘Steak, Lost Society’
courtesy of ‘Jenn Larsen’

Last Thursday I was a guest at the media preview for “boutique steakhouse” Lost Society, occupying the top two floors of a classic corner building at 14th and U Streets. I’ve long awaited this building’s renovation, as it’s been a blight on a corner of what should be prime real estate. I’m happy to report that Lost Society will counter-balance the chains planned for the bottom floor (as a local resident, not too happy with yet another Subway!).

Opening this Friday, July 1, the space is interesting in that it’s divided into “decor vignettes” – changing the mood as you turn each corner. The second floor is dominated by a double-sided bar, which is in turn flanked by a series of booths with a view overlooking 14th Street that can be enclosed by privacy curtains, a line of pub tables with a grey velvet banquette, a lounge area with purple couches and leather chairs, and finally a whimsical alcove wallpapered with flirtatious Gibson Girls. You wouldn’t feel out of place wearing a smoking jacket. Let’s take a look.  Continue reading

News, Night Life, The Daily Feed

ABRA: DC9 may reopen December 15th

Photo courtesy of
‘DSCN3278.JPG’
courtesy of ‘::FiZ::’

According to TBD’s Sommer Mathis, who attended today’s ABRA hearing, DC9 has been given permission by ABRA to reopen on December 15th if they so choose.  The Board had some conditions set out under previous meetings that were met: they had to revamp the video security system, and under no circumstances could they employ at any of the restaurants/bars in the same group, the five individuals initially charged with the death of Ali Ahmed Mohammad until after the January 19th status hearing.

I’m not sure why that last condition was necessary, but given the choice between abandoning his staff and keeping his various licenses in order, there’s little choice that Joe Englert has at this point.  By the status hearing on the 19th, the DC Medical Examiner should have an autopsy report, hence the rescheduled date.

Getaways

New Bus Service Links U Street to Brooklyn (Win a Ticket to Try It Out!)

Photo courtesy of
‘Knowitexpress’
courtesy of ‘erin m’

“Don’t hate on us. Don’t hate just because we might be cool or choose to live in a creative, vibrant neighborhood,” implores Shalonda Hunter, founder of The Know It Express a new bus service between Brooklyn and DC. You might have heard it casually called “the hipster bus” – but it’s owner has a more inclusive, positive concept.

“The whole idea is to help people from both cities appreciate what the other has to offer – and connect people with their pals, where they live.”

Ms. Hunter originally founded The Know It as a DC tourist-information site (now in transition to more of a traveler’s social network) after years of work in the city and a deep desire to show off both the major tourist sites, but also the personal, hometown side of DC. Even if tourists make their way off the Mall, she says, “There is more to this town than a stop at Ben’s Chili Bowl. I want to show people that.”
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The Daily Feed

U Street Movie Series Tonight: This Is It

Photo courtesy of
‘Day 250/365 – Modern Day Drive-In’
courtesy of ‘Kevin H.’

No tickets to tonight’s game?  Here’s another option for outdoor entertainment: the U Street Movie Series.  This summer movie  series kicks off tonight with This Is It.  Gates open at Harrison Field at 7 PM, and the movie will start at 8:30.  And if you’re one of the first 100 people there, you’ll get free popcorn!

Music-themed movies will be shown at Harrison Field on the second Tuesday of every month this summer, so mark your calendar for Buena Vista Social Club on July 13, The Soloist on August 10, and Soul Power and Duke Ellington’s Washington on September 14.

Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: Dickson Wine Bar

Photo courtesy of
‘Dickson Wine Bar’
courtesy of ‘Jenn Larsen’

Dickson Wine Bar has been open for a few weeks now, occupying a three story brick building opposite Nellie’s. It’s got a rather nondescript industrial look outside, save for the old stone plaque “Dickson BLDG 903 You” from which the bar took its name. I walked by one night in late March, noticing the sexy candlelit interior, and vowed to hit it as soon as possible. I’ve been back twice and can say it will definitely become a regular stop for me from now on. You can’t beat having a bar like this five blocks from your house!

It certainly has a great pedigree – the owners are Tien Claudio (with her husband and DC legend Eric Hilton) and Steve Kaufman (with his husband Fred Paxton), all locals living in Adams Morgan. They wanted to create a friendly neighborhood bar, and that’s the vibe here – residents, workers, Howard University students – everyone’s mingling nicely in an atmosphere that manages to be both adult and fun. As my friend who lives a block away puts it aptly, “the clientele seemed more interested in the food and drink than in finding potential spouses.”

And that food and drink is definitely a draw. Executive chef James Claudio (who also helms the kitchen at Marvin) has dedicated the food menu to local ingredients, and the wine list designed by Jarad Slipp, restaurant director at Cityzen, features organic and biodynamic selections. Rounding out the team is Tom Street, who created the cocktail program and selected the beers. Tom told me they are planning on changing the entire beverage program “quite often,” and in keeping with the eco-conscious theme, the food menu will also change seasonally. Everyone on staff is incredibly personable and helpful, which imbues the bar with a kind of care and love that’s really striking.
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Essential DC, History, Life in the Capital, The Daily Feed, The District

Cultural Tourism DC Opens A New Visitor Center On U Street

Photo courtesy of
‘U Street’
courtesy of ‘Rolenz’

Cultural Tourism DC opened a new Visitor Center on U Street last week to introduce a new audio tour of the historic  neighborhood. Local residents and tourists are encouraged to stop by the new center and take the audio tour to learn more about the rich cultural history the neighborhood has to offer.

Stops on the tour include the restored Lincoln Theater, Jazz hot-spot Bohemian Caverns, The Whitelaw Hotel, and The Thurgood Marshall Center for Service and Heritage.

For more information, email Trail@CulturalTourismDC.org or call 202-661-7581.

The Features, Where We Live

Where We Live: U Street

Photo courtesy of
’13th & U, NW’
courtesy of ‘NCinDC’

As we’re wrapping up District neighborhoods before moving on to the Maryland and Virginia ‘burbs, this week our featured neighborhood is U Street– one of DC’s greatest neighborhoods.  It has had its ups and downs, but today U Street is a vibrant urban community filled with one-of-a-kind restaurants, galleries, and bars.  Read on to find what you need to check out next time you’re in the area (including the bar where everybody knows your name), some surviving institutions from U Street’s heyday in the early twentieth century, and what makes U Street such a great neighborhood.

History: The U Street neighborhood was originally developed between 1860 and 1900, and it was filled with Victorian-era homes for the post-Civil War influx of residents. Then a streetcar came along and led to more commercial development along U Street. The U Street corridor became the most desirable area for African Americans to settle in the early 1900s, leading to the country’s largest urban African American community (until that title was claimed by Harlem in the 1920s). It was a major cultural center for the black community, and it was known as “Black Broadway”, with Lincoln Theater and Howard Theater in the area. And Duke Ellington grew up in the neighborhood too!

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The Daily Feed

Spring Trends via Rckndy

Photo courtesy of
‘Spring Trend – Color (Rckndy)’
courtesy of ‘prettylovelythings’

Looking for a little interior pick-me up while anticipating warmer weather?  No problem. David Dennis, owner of Rckndy on U Street, shares exclusively with We Love DC readers a few design trends for Spring.  Pops of color seem to be the biggest trend hitting the store with “purple being the new it color” says Dennis, who also suggests that the best way to achieve this look is by incorporating bright colors through a few bold accessories, that way, you don’t overdo it.  A popular item is the Gus Modern Stool in Safron even though Dennis says that most people still end up buying it in a neutral color anyway.  If color is not your thing, no worries, I was also told that 80′s geometric patterns are having a revival.

Rckndy is located at 1515 U Street NW.

Music, Night Life, The Daily Feed

Cratenfire.com Presents A U St. Showcase of DC Talent

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Yours truly has a one-song set on U Street tonight. Interested in catching the stage debut of Rachel Levitin & Paul Derlunas? Stop by the Cratenfire.com Local DC Talent Showcase down at Station9 located at 1438 U Street NW.

The event features a house band to kick-off a night of rockin’ DC tunes at 7 pm, followed by the showcase at 8 pm. Blues, R&B, Rock, Pop — there will be something for everyone to groove to. So lace up those dancin’ shoes, throw on some of your finest threads, and head out to U St. to scout some fresh DC talent.

Admission is 18 to enter/21 to drink with a $15 cover (if you’ve got a college ID it’s only $10). Pricey door fee? Yes. Potential for a priceless night on the town? You betcha!

Photo by Isaiah Headen.

Fashionable DC, The District, The Features

Fashionable DC: MidCity


Photo courtesy of Kelly Collis Fredrick

I recently attended two events held in what I knew as the 14th and U Streets corridor – the Dog Days of Summer in August and about a month later, Fashion’s Night Out. The vibe of these events, the display of unique items from both clothing and home décor boutiques, made these memorable shopping excursions.

Who was organizing these popular events? I traced it back to the MidCity Business Association (BA). MidCity BA represents businesses on the commercial corridors that stretch down 14th Street from Florida Avenue to Thomas Circle and along U from 9th to 17th as well as several side streets way beyond the 14th and U district. Many don’t know that MidCity is actually a historical term for this collection of neighborhoods dating decades back.

Over the past few weeks, I spent time with a few of the boutique owners, as well as Natalie Avery from the MidCity BA, to better understand the neighborhood and community (and was able to sneak in some shopping too!).  As a life long Washingtonian, it was a great experience to learn about the rich history of this neighborhood and the strong sense of community that still exists there today.

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We Love Food

We Love Food: Marvin

Photo courtesy of
‘Marvin’
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

Music, Night Life, The Features, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: DC9

"Pure Evil" shot, DC9

"Pure Evil shot, DC9" by Jenn Larsen, on Flickr

“Are you sure this is the right place?”

I was witnessing a mesmerizing scene, social tension galore. The speaking girl’s perfect blonde updo was trembling as she stood in line with her equally coiffed crew. Deposited by a cab with a gaggle of well-heeled preps, it was obvious she’d never hit this part of town before. But leading the way was a wild-eyed boy with a ringleader look that said – you will get out of your comfort zone, my friends – and so the girls followed him in, wide-eyed, longing for L2 Lounge. Instead they got DC9.

I’m teasing, I’m sure they had a raring good time dancing their solid gold hearts out. For a while, this girl’s nervousness was justified. There wasn’t much at the corner of 9th & U until DC9 became hipster paradise, and I’ve seen a lot of shady activity on that block over the years. Nowadays, the action is really centered around Nellie’s, which spills out on the sidewalk with lots of beautiful boys. I don’t see how you could still be nervous about the neighborhood when you see that party. But, we live in a segregated nightlife city, in more ways than just race.

DC9 carries the distinction of being one of the most unpretentious dive spots in the city. Equal parts bar, dance club and music venue, it’s been the indie hangout since its opening in 2004, fitting somewhere between the Black Cat’s Red Room and the H Street corridor on the rotation list. The fact that those tight button-down kids I mentioned earlier could get swallowed whole and turn into loose dancing fools upon hitting the upstairs is one of the reasons I love this place.

Another reason is that it’s pure evil.
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Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Food

We Love Food: Eatonville

Photo courtesy of
‘Eatonville’
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, 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, Night Life, The Features, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: Ben’s Next Door

Citrus District, Ben's Next Door

"Citrus District, Ben's Next Door" by Jenn Larsen, on Flickr

Catching up with friends who’ve been away from DC for a while is always interesting. You want to take them someplace that’s different, that shows the changes of the city over the past five years or more, but also you require a vibe which allows you to actually hear each other. I had this challenge recently with a friend who’d returned to DC from living in London, so naturally I wasn’t going to kill myself trying to impress her, I just wanted to find a place that simply said “Welcome Back to Washington.”

We found it at the bar at Ben’s Next Door. What could be more Washingtonian than the new bar and restaurant opened by the Ali family of Ben’s Chili Bowl fame? I mean, have you seen the crazy lines of tourists outside Ben’s lately? I had to show her how the legend of U Street continues to grow. 

Funnily enough, we made it just before the news of chef Rock Harper’s departure. I’m really glad we both had the instant instinct to stick to the bar. It’s a looooong one (53 feet, to be exact), which always makes me a bit nervous about service, but there was no need to worry. We spent several hours catching up under the careful eye of bartender Anthony, who made sure we never wanted for anything. 

It was a real locals crowd that night, U Street denizens cheering on the Caps against the Pens, but it never got too loud and there was a happy buzz to the place. Continue reading

The Daily Feed

Speaking of Starbucks

Bang! by Samer Farha

Last week we asked you to nominate the worst Starbucks in DC and we may now be able to name the winner: the 16th & U street location.

According to (an unprofessionally titled) article by NBC, a barista “accidentally shot himself in the leg Tuesday afternoon.”  There aren’t many details about what went down, but seeing as how I go there every morning and know some of the employees there, I’ll try to get to the bottom of this.  I have a hunch who the unnamed barista is, and the I’m not surprised that he a) was packing heat or b) shot himself.

We can only hope that his days at Starbucks are over and that we can go back to drinking our coffee without living in fear of an accidental discharge from behind the counter.  There are of course no guarantees that their service will improve.

Food and Drink, Night Life, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: Vinoteca

Malbec at Vinoteca

"Malbec at Vinoteca" by Jenn Larsen, on Flickr

So, here’s my question: the wine bar proliferation over the past few years – fad or fabulous? I mean, with all these places popping up everywhere, are people actually learning about wine? Becoming educated oenophiles? Or still just stabbing nervous fingers in an overwhelming list and hoping like mad they pronounce “viognier” correctly?

Seriously, dear reader, hasn’t it come down to one thing and one thing alone – the size of the charcuterie plate? Isn’t it all about the meat and cheese?

Well, maybe not. In a city like DC there really are a lot of wine connoisseurs who would be far more qualified to talk about this trend than me. I’m just lucky to have two neighborhood wine bars – Cork and Vinoteca – where I can hang out and slowly pick up some idea of what I like. Of those two, I think Vinoteca has evolved the most. It didn’t spring out of the gate fully formed as a Frommer’s pick. There were some hiccups along the way since its opening in fall of 2007. But after several recent sojourns with good service giving spot-on wine recommendations, not to mention one of the best charcuterie plates in the city, I’ve really warmed up to Vinoteca as a favorite drinks spot.

And maybe not just for the sinful duck prosciutto… or the fact that they have tasty venison, lamb, and bison sliders… though that certainly helps! 

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