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Ditch the Starbucks “PSL” for the real deal. By Caroline Cunningham, Emma Foehringer Merchant
Baked and Wired’s Pumpkin Shmumkin ice cream sandwich. Photograph by Anna Spiegel.

After a bike ride among the fall leaves along the W&OD Trail, stop in at Old Ox Brewery (44652 Guilford Dr., Ashburn) located just off the path and equipped with racks. The tasting room pours pints of the Oxorcist, the brewery's seasonal brown pumpkin ale made with 100 pounds of gourds and gently spiced with 50 boxes of graham crackers.

Shaw's new Uprising Muffin Company (1817 Seventh St., NW) offers pumpkin muffins year-round, but you can make it super-seasonal on Wednesday and Saturday, when the baked good gets topped with candied walnuts and a pumpkin-spice glaze.

Feeling chilly? Cozy up with a book, a hot drink, and a slice of pumpkin pie topped with cinnamon ice cream at an old Dupont favorite, Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe (1517 Connecticut Ave., NW).

We’re fans of warming up on a brisk afternoon with a cup of Soupergirl’s (314 Carroll St., NW; 1829 M St., NW) locally sourced, vegan soups at both the Takoma Park and Dupont locations. A tasty fall option: the chunky pumpkin-and-black-bean soup, spiced with cumin, cinnamon, and ginger.

Georgetown Cupcake (multiple locations) boasts a pumpkin-spice cupcake, but don’t let the name deceive you—the real pumpkin-y goodness is found in the dense, moist pumpkin cheesecake with maple-cream cheese frosting.

On the lingering warm days with summer-like temperatures, try Baked and Wired’s (1052 Thomas Jefferson St., NW) Pumpkin Shmumkin ice cream sandwich—a thick round of zesty pumpkin ice cream smashed between two molasses-ginger cookies.

Toast to the season with Estadio's (1524 14th St., NW) pumpkin, Scotch, black tea, and smoked-paprika slushito. The frosty beverage may not keep you warm, but it's plenty festive.

Get the best of the fall dessert and cocktail worlds at Daikaya (705 Sixth St., NW), where crispy fried-pumpkin karaage with five-spice yogurt can be washed down with a bourbon-based spiced pumpkin mule.

For on-the-go goodness, try a pumpkin-spice cupcake, made with real pumpkin and topped with cream cheese frosting, from the Sweetbites food truck (locations change daily; get our Food Trucks newsletter to find it each day).

Spice up your Sunday brunch with pumpkin pancakes topped with ginger butter and chili-infused maple syrup at Agua 301 (301 Water St., SE).

Summer meets fall at El Centro D.F. (1218 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 1819 14th St., NW), where you can sit outside and sip a pumpkin margarita. Tequila gets infused with anise, clove, and cinnamon-spiced pumpkin purée for a week and is then mixed with chili-ginger syrup and given a cinnamon-sugar rim. Cheers!

Posted at 10:24 AM/ET, 10/07/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Grilled-to-order steaks, sundaes, and prosciutto for your pooch. By Ann Limpert
Feast together with your dog at local Washington restaurants. Photograph via Shutterstock.

Dogs are not hard-to-please souls. I could give mine an empty Coke bottle and she’d act like Christmas came early. But still, it’s hard for me not to give into the temptation to shower her with all manner of treats. (It also helps assuage the food-lover guilt I have about giving her the same boring lamb-and-rice pellets every morning and night.) So although your pups will probably love anything you put in front of them, they’ll especially love these tasty offerings from local restaurants.

Prosciutto Bone at Etto

1541 14th St., NW

These massive leg bones, which sometimes show up on the specials board at this pizza-and-charcuterie destination, come loaded with chewy bits of salty ham. They last for weeks, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen my typically ADD goldendoodle, Mika, so obsessive about one thing for so long. Trainers talk about Ferrari-level treats. This is a Virgin spaceship-level one. Bonus: your dog’s breath could smell like a lot worse things than prosciutto.

Mika loves Shake Shack as much as most humans.

Puppy Pops at the Dairy Godmother

2310 Mt. Vernon Ave., Alexandria

When President Obama swung through this Del Ray frozen custard shop five years ago, he picked up some of these frozen sweets for Bo. The yogurt-and-peanut-butter-based cups are still a popular staple on the menu, and they come in two flavors: pumpkin and banana.

A Trip to the Pooch Patio at Art and Soul

415 New Jersey Ave., NW

There are plenty of good outdoor drinking spots where you can hang with your dog (beer garden Dacha is especially great for them), but there aren’t many places that cater to the tail-wagging set like Art Smith’s Southern restaurant. Here, on the patio during regular lunch and dinner hours, you can order your pup indulgences like a grilled-to-order six-ounce hanger steak ($8), or a frozen marrow bone ($5). Sadly, the Bowser’s Beer (basically, fizzy beef stock) is no longer on the menu, so you can’t go round for round.

Bacon & Queso ZillaBonez at Baked and Wired

1052 Thomas Jefferson St., NW

Besides the bacon and Parmesan, these freshly baked cookies, which began as a side project for the bakery owners’ young daughter, are actually fairly healthy (they’re made with whole-wheat flour, cornmeal, eggs, and oats). Each red Chinese-takeout box contains cookies in lots of sizes, which make them good for different uses like Kong-stuffing and dog walks.

Pooch-ini Sundae at Shake Shack

Multiple area locations

I love Shake Shack burgers. So does Mika. So while it’s great that I can bring her to the outdoor tables at the Dupont location, it’s not so great when she can’t keep her nose away from my—and everyone else’s—patty. This peanut-butter-and-vanilla sundae, finished with homemade dog biscuits, was a worthy distraction. And, in true Danny Meyer fashion, it’s beautifully timed: it took Mika about ten minutes to polish the thing off, the same duration as my meal.

Find Ann Limpert on Twitter at @annlimpert.

Posted at 11:15 AM/ET, 10/03/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Cheers with sausages, fire, and liquid arugula. By Anna Spiegel
Washington's crazy cocktail garnishes include Gypsy Soul's arugula oil-topped concoction (left), and dumpling shooters at Chaplin's. Gypsy Soul photograph by Jeff Elkins.

Washington bartenders put a creative twist on cocktail garnishes that go way beyond lemon peels, including house-made sausages, flaming oranges, and liquid arugula.  

1. The Gnome with arugula oil at Gypsy Soul

8296 Glass Alley, Fairfax

We've seen plenty of salad-like garnishes in our drinking day, but few in liquid form. Bryan Tetorakis took inspiration from citrus peels, which are prized by bartenders for the color and perfume-y oils they lend to cocktails. Instead, he blends peppery arugula and grapeseed oil, strains and freezes it, and then squeezes droplets onto a herbaceous mix of vodka, Cocchi Americano, and Aperol.

2. Cold War "dumpling shooter" at Chaplin's Restaurant and Bar

1501 Ninth St., NW

Oysters have cornered the bomb market for way too long (except one, see below). Bar-bros Ari and Micah Wilder make a citrusy shot with gin, Pimm's liqueur, ginger, and lemon, to which they add a house-made shrimp dumpling. We suggest chasing one with the other, unless you have a large mouth. 

The Source's sausage Bloody (left), and hybrid oyster and pickleback shooters at Eat the Rich.

3. District Mary at the Source

575 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

What's more Washington than a half-smoke? A brunch-time Bloody crowned with said house-made sausage, plus an Old Bay rim.  Dim sum can't get any better. 

4. Oyster Back at Eat the Rich

1839 Seventh St., NW 

This oyster shooter is sure to put barnacles on your chest. First, take the shot of Old Overholt Rye, then chase it with the mixture of pickle juice and a freshly shucked Rappahannock oyster. Part bivalve-bomb, part pickleback, and all awesome. 

Dried ham lends smoke and salt to Restaurant Eve's drink (left), while a porkier drink can be found at Toki (right).

5. I Am Virginia with dried ham at Restaurant Eve 

110 South Pitt St., Alexandria

Todd Thrasher creates an ode to the Old Dominion with Wasmund's single-malt whisky, Madeira, and local figs. The finishing touch: Virginia ham, which he dries, grinds, and combines with salt for the rim. 

6. Toki Monster at Toki Underground

1234 H St., NE

This pork belly beauty is one of Toki's signatures. It's tempting to eat the kushiyaki skewer immediately, but that's doing the drink an injustice. Let the grilled meat marinate in the bourbon and pepper-honey liqueur, which adds smokiness to the cocktail and a boozy finish to the carnivorous garnish. 

The Passenger's eye-catching tiki bowl arrives on fire (left); a cooling pomegranate popsicle comes in Stone Cove's cosmo (right).

7. Volcano Bowl at the Passenger

1021 Seventh St., NW

Order this showstopper during Tiki Tuesday. The four-person drink comes loaded with light and dark rums, fresh juices, house-made syrups, a scattering of flowers, and a tower of flaming oranges. Burning citrus: not just a good band name, but delicious.

8. Pom Cosmo at Stone's Cove Kitbar

2403 Centreville Rd., Herndon/10997 Owings Mills Blvd., Owings Mills

Everyone loves popsicles. Most everyone (secretly) loves cosmos. Put a house-made pomegranate pop in a pom-vodka cosmo and everyone's happy. 

Find Anna Spiegel on Twitter at @annaspiegs.

Posted at 02:17 PM/ET, 09/26/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The era of the wood-fired pie on every corner has arrived. Pour yourself a Negroni and let’s get into it. By Jessica Voelker
One of the pizzas on offer at Ghibellina on 14th Street. Photograph by Andrew Propp.

Pop culture continues to obsess over the zombie invasion, but a wave of new spots shilling wood-fired pies, house-made pastas, and Negronis by the gallon mean that here in Washington, we’ll likely be undone by carbs and cocktails by the time the brain-munching undead arrive. In addition to these new spots, we’ve seen an overhaul at Elisir—now rustic-casual Osteria Elisir—a remodeled beer bar at Pizzeria Paradiso in Georgetown, and a G sandwich pop-up at Penn Quarter’s Graffiato. There’s no doubt Italian is taking over Washington. Let’s get into it.

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Posted at 03:15 PM/ET, 06/03/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Where to watch skinny celebs while stuffing your face. By Anna Spiegel
Have yourself some drinks and deli sandwiches—like this corned beef beauty—at the Carving Room while checking out who takes home Oscar. Photograph courtesy of Oded Weizmann.

Anne Hathaway may have subsisted on nutrients from her own tears to lose weight for Les Mis, and co-star Hugh Jackman reportedly stopped drinking liquids altogether. So much sacrifice, just so that you can watch them—plus a lot of other pretty people—this Sunday while slugging Champagne and stuffing your face. Whether you’re into deluxe parties or laid-back bars, there are a number of great options for watching the awards in Washington. Don’t see your favorite restaurant or watering hole among the seven spots below? Plenty of places are hosting viewing parties or screening the big show on their flat screens—check with your usual barkeep.

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Posted at 05:00 PM/ET, 02/22/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
The ceremonies kick off tonight, and there are plenty of places to toast our athletes with on-theme dishes and cocktails. By Travis M. Andrews
Enjoy traditional British food such as fish and chips in honor of the Olympics. Photograph courtesy of Shutterstock.

The London 2012 Olympics begin tonight, and over on the After Hours blog, we’ve rounded up bars where you can watch the opening ceremonies. But some local spots are really getting into the spirit with special dishes, cocktails, and other games-themed treats.

Art and Soul

Why: The bar at Art Smith’s Southern restaurant is serving up a cocktail with ingredients from Tennessee, Illinois, DC, Florida, and Virginia. And go USA, because when we win a gold medal, it’s half off for the next 15 minutes.

The Deal: The All American cocktail, made from whiskey, Hum liquor, honey syrup, soda water, White Hall Viognier, and a slice of orange. ($13).

When: Through August 12.

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Posted at 10:55 AM/ET, 07/27/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()