1. Best Hometown Hero
Because he’s a hunger-fighting political powerhouse—and his tapas are great, too.
It seems inaccurate to describe José Andrés simply as a chef and restaurateur these days. Humanitarian and disaster-relief leader seem more apt after Andrés and his nonprofit, World Central Kitchen, outperformed the Red Cross by serving more than 3 million meals to Puerto Ricans hit by Hurricane Maria. Or perhaps we should call him Trump’s foil? After a legal showdown for pulling his fine-dining restaurant from the Trump hotel, Andrés has become a face of the #resistance, needling the President on Twitter about immigration reform and other political issues. Overall, though, one title in particular seems to have stuck: hometown hero.
2. Best Development News
DC Is Finally a Waterfront City
Because, like Seattle and Chicago, we’re finally making the most of our waterfronts.
A decade ago, the land along the banks of the Potomac and Anacostia was sorely underutilized. Now riverside areas in Southeast and Southwest are among the fastest-growing, most exciting destinations in the District. The Wharf’s second phase will break ground this year, with an additional 1.2 million square feet of development expected by 2022. A mile and a half east, the Yards at Capitol Riverfront—already home to hundreds of apartments as well as restaurants such as Osteria Morini and Whaley’s—recently announced plans to triple in size. In July, DC United will debut its new stadium on Buzzard Point, kicking off a wave of surrounding development. And the 11th Street Bridge Park—Washington’s answer to New York City’s High Line—is expected to break ground in 2020, bringing an elevated, 300-yard span of green space and recreation over the Anacostia River.
3. Hottest Museum in Town (Still)
National Museum of African American History & Culture
Because the visit will stay with you even longer than it took to get in.
It’s been nearly two years since the newest Smithsonian opened, but the buzz has barely quieted. There remains a three-month wait for advance passes, and if you’re lucky to have been inside, you understand why. The museum’s most harrowing artifacts—slave shackles, bills of sale for human beings—are matched by its most inspiring: Rosa Parks’s dress, a plane flown by the Tuskegee Airmen, the bucket in which Martin Luther King Jr. soaked his feet after five days of marching from Selma to Montgomery.
4. Best Reason to Stand in Line (Still)
Because waiting for modern Filipino fare is a sign of how much we embrace good food.
Yes, killing an hour or more on the sidewalk to get into a restaurant sucks. But the payoff here is warm service and inventive cooking. Gems such as Bad Saint—and our willingness to wait for them—have transformed Washington into a top dining destination. 3226 11th St., NW; no phone
5. Best Traffic Hack
All the Bike Trails
Because it beats driving any day.
“I love the amazing bike paths all over our region. When I was a kid, I could ride from my house in North Arlington to my grandparents’ in South Arlington. Today the options are extensive: I can ride from Bethesda to National Harbor or way out to Purcellville or up to Lake Needwood, all on interconnecting trails. A great escape from hectic schedules and too much traffic.”
– Doreen Gentzler, NBC4 news anchor
6. Best Sports Obsession
Because whether he stays or goes, he’ll be a DC baseball legend.
This is it. Six years after he burst into the MLB as a hard-hitting phenom, Harper’s contract year is upon us. Maybe the Nats will give him one of the biggest contracts in baseball history. Or maybe he’ll be wooed away by a deeper-spending club. Either way, the end is the stuff of sports lore: savior, bust, or the one who got away.
7. Best Reason not to Shop Amazon
All Our Indie Bookstores
Because old and new shops are thriving.
Amazon Books is opening shops here, but independents have always set the city apart. Politics and Prose and Kramerbooks still host events nearly nightly. H Street is now home to Solid State Books, while MahoganyBooks is Anacostia’s first bookstore in 20 years. Add in others, such as Arlington’s One More Page Books, and it’s clear many of us shop local.
8. Best Trump
Because we never hear about her.
When the Trumps landed in DC, even haters could appreciate that they didn’t play the corny roles America imposes on First Families. Unfortunately, their new image was worse, with nepotism, seedy business interests, nasty tweets. One exception: Tiffany, the President’s younger daughter, has lived here a year but has stayed out of White House news. Good for her.
9. Best Trump Distraction
Because they’re still cool neighbors.
They’re still here—eating at all the hot spots, putting in a swimming pool at their Kalorama house, unveiling their groundbreaking official portraits. On days when Russia and porn stars and Twitter tantrums start to feel like too much, they’re a comforting reminder of a simpler time.
10. Most Entertaining Never-Trumper
Because the prolific Tweeter and writer doesn’t mince words.
In April, after the FBI raid of Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen, the GOP consultant wrote: “If Cohen had a lump of coal in his ass the moment those search warrants arrived, he could have popped out a diamond.” With impeccable conservative credentials, Wilson is a pugilist unafraid to slug President Counterpuncher.
11. Best Monument
The Lincoln Memorial
Because now more than ever, it seems important to honor great leaders.
There may be no more inspiring view of Washington than the one seen from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial as you gaze east over the Reflecting Pool toward the Washington Monument. No matter how long you live here, that vista—especially at night—reminds you of this city’s promise and resiliency. Now look the other way, toward Daniel Chester French’s 19-foot-high white marble statue of Lincoln. Visitors make the pilgrimage here because not just the statue but the man himself seems larger than life—a President who stood for decency and fought for dignity for all.
12. Best New Venue
Because it’s now the best spot in town for live music.
“It’s my new favorite place. I have only been once—for the Dropkick Murphys—but I love the venue. It feels very steampunk and modern all at the same time, and something DC needed. While it’s a large space, it doesn’t feel like a big, dead arena—it has character and life. The chandeliers over the bars are a new favorite thing of mine.”
—Elizabeth MacDonough, Parliamentarian of the US Senate
13. Best Chutzpah
The M Shop
Because Metro really wants your love.
The news could well have incited riders to violence: Metro—Metro!—was starting a retail store. Don’t they have better things to do than peddle $45 route-map beach towels? Well, yes. But look at it another way. Maybe hawking branded umbrellas and yoga pants isn’t so much clueless as aspirational, born of the conviction that Metro will again be something people want to show off.
14. Best Big Thing
Because the musician reps DC like no other.
GoldLink is leading the next evolution of Washington music, and he’s not hiding it. His 2017 album, At What Cost, is all about this city, featuring go-go influences, local slang, and verses by area artists, ranging from the ones you already know (Wale) to those you might not (April George). With a Grammy nod, “Crew” is his obvious standout jam, though “Roll Call” has the most hometown pride: “Coming from where we’re from, ain’t nothing easy / So no matter where I go, around the world / It’s back to DC.”
15. Best Next Big Thing
Because she’s upending R&B.
The Gaithersburg native is perfecting what she calls the “tender banger,” a genre-blending hit with sexy lyricism and experimental synth beats you could play on the dance floor or in the bedroom. Her debut studio album, Take Me Apart, was one of Pitchfork’s top five albums of 2017—and we’re eager to see what success comes next.
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16. Best Reason to Eat a Doughnut
Sally’s Middle Name
Because not all deep-fried carbs are created equal.
There’s nothing fussy about the crisp-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside rings of golden dough: no exotic fillings or toppings, just a dunk in house-made glaze—with flavors like coconut and apple cider. Miss weekend brunch? You’ll find doughnut ice-cream sundaes on Sunday nights. 1320 H St., NE; 202-750-6529.
17. Best Local Media Trend
Because Washingtonians crave news coverage beyond just the White House.
When the hyper-local news-and-culture site DCist shut down in November, some Washingtonians were at a loss. Now it’s back, thanks to radio’s WAMU, which acquired the site in February. Meanwhile, Washington City Paper is still chugging along thanks to businessman Mark Ein, who bought the alt-weekly last December, saving staff from a 40-percent pay cut.
18. Best Building Trend
Because Washington’s creative community deserves all the exposure it can get.
DC developers these days love a good mural. No Kings Collective did one at the Wharf. Artist Cita Sadeli painted one for a Union Market apartment building, the Edison. Insight Property Group has incorporated local art in many projects, including the Apollo on H Street. Sure, the cynical view is that commissioning a (local! authentic!) mural for a wall of its latest project is a relatively cheap and easy way for a company to soften its image as a corporate gentrifier. But who cares? More public art—and more dollars for artists—is a good thing.
19. Best Evidence Our Kids Are More Than All Right
Because the 11-year-old filled us with hope and brought down the house at the March for Our Lives.
Few had heard of Naomi Wadler when she took the stage at the March for Our Lives this spring. By the time she finished speaking, it was impossible to forget her. With poise, the fifth-grader at Alexandria’s George Mason Elementary told hundreds of thousands of onlookers that she was there to “acknowledge and represent the African-American girls . . . who are victims of gun violence, who are simply statistics instead of vibrant, beautiful girls full of potential.” For politicians she had a fierce message: “My friends and I might still be 11 . . . [but in] seven short years . . . we, too, have the right to vote.”
20. Best Summer Venue
Because baseball beats football right now in this town.
“My wife and I love going to baseball games. My family has been season-ticket holders for the Redskins since the 1930s. But I gotta tell you, it’s not because they’ve been doing good. We prefer to go to Nats Park and watch baseball over football any day.”
—Billy Martin Jr., owner of Martin’s Tavern
21. Best Retail Trend
Because shop local is a movement—and DC loves a movement.
At a time when so much shopping is done online or at chains, it’s hard for small, independent clothing lines to get a consumer’s attention. Yet a few relatively new retailers are trying to change that—highlighting local artisans while hosting events to familiarize customers with Washington makers and brands. Two standout stores: Shop Made in DC (1330 19th St., NW; no phone) and Steadfast Supply (300 Tingey St., SE; 202-308-4441).
22. Healthiest Fitness Trend
“All Are Welcome” Classes
Because it’s not enough just to preach inclusion.
In recent years, spaces describing themselves as “radically inclusive” have radically proliferated. On Capitol Hill, Freed Bodyworks (1337 Pennsylvania Ave., SE; 202-321-9715) caters to the LGBTQ community, offering massages and yoga in a judgment-free space. After feeling “pretty invisible” at big-box gyms, personal trainer Bianca Russo, who identifies as queer, started Body Positive Boot Camp last summer. She says her one-on-one sessions, at Mount Pleasant’s Fit360, embrace rather than exclude “queer, fat, and trans folks.” And Vida Fitness, with six DC gyms, regularly teams up with the LGBTQ community on fundraisers and hosts a Pride Parade pool party in June.
23. Best Strides Toward Inclusion
Kennedy Center Hip-Hop Culture Council
Because this longstanding venue is diversifying its lineup.
Over the past few years, Kennedy Center president Deborah Rutter has taken the institution in exciting directions, and the newest one is hip-hop. Last year, LL Cool J became the first hip-hop artist to receive a Kennedy Center Honor, and A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip was recently named head of the center’s inaugural Hip-Hop Culture Council. With legends such as Common and Grandmaster Caz aboard, the council is sure to bring new life to the venue.
24. Best Book Critic
Because words matter.
The Washington Post’s revival is great for our city. But so far, the buzz has focused more on newsgathering than on the paper’s other strengths. One exception: Carlos Lozada, the Post’s nonfiction book critic, has built a franchise around quirky essay-length reviews whose subjects vary between high-profile new releases and obscure old ones that, in this topsy-turvy year, suddenly matter again.
25. Most Instagrammable Spot
Because photo backgrounds have become their own form of currency.
When Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Mirrors” exhibit was at the Hirshhorn, the colorful dots and fanciful pump-kins were ubiquitous on social media and in dating-site photos. That exhibit has moved on, and so, it seems, have Washingtonians. Not from posting pictures, of course—there’s just a new alluring background. Artechouse (art + tech + house) opened in 2017 as a gallery aiming to tickle the senses. It features a humongous interactive wall that wraps around 270 degrees of the room, which changes color and design with the wave of a hand during different exhibits. Aside from the projected lights, there’s another constant gleam: smartphone cameras. With the help of the augmented-reality bar, guests can also take an Instagram of their drink, with a modern twist. Artechouse’s timed-entry, $15 tickets are often sold out a week in advance. 1238 Maryland Ave., SW; no phone.
26. Best Dining Trend
Chefs Trading Fancy Food for Cheaper Eats
Because everyone’s got bills to pay.
Chefs of all stripes have long dabbled in junk food, usually on bar menus. But a few have ditched fine dining altogether. At Chiko (423 Eighth St., SE; 202-558-9934), former Source chef Scott Drewno has teamed up with Mandu proprietor Danny Lee to create thrilling Chinese and Korean noodle and rice bowls. At Shaw’s Unconventional Diner (1207 Ninth St., NW; 202-847-0122), David Deshaies took his late mentor Michel Richard’s advice and opened a diner, with shortcut-free omelets and double cheeseburgers. And our favorite pizza now comes from the ovens of Oval Room alum Tony Conte’s Inferno Pizzeria Napoletana (12207 Darnestown Rd., Darnestown; 301-963-0115).
27. Best Taste of Summer
Crabs on the Field
Because it’s a summer event not to miss.
Is anything more summery than cracking crabs while sitting on (yes, on) the field at Nationals Park, drinking cold Buds, and watching a game on the Jumbotron? This year, the Nats crab feast is August 27. While the team plays the Phillies in Pennsylvania, home fans take the field for all-you-can-eat-and-drink blues, sides, and beer, plus photos in the dugout. Tickets $85 to $125 ($35 for kids under 12).
28. Best Cafes for More Than Food
Busboys and Poets and Sankofa
Because sometimes you’re hungry for more.
“I love Busboys and Poets. I used to perform poetry there. I also love Sankofa, an Ethiopian-owned sandwich shop and bookstore. It’s kind of a hole in the wall, but they have great social-activism literature.”
—Noor Tagouri, Newsy anchor/producer
29-33. Best Answer to Overpriced Fitness Classes
Because while living here is crazy expensive, exercise doesn’t have to be, with these free workouts
Balanced Athlete Fitness Studios
Friday happy hour means a free workout. The 5 PM classes rotate weekly and might include yoga, barre, or indoor cycling. Call to reserve a spot. 5538 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-838-0055.
The morning workouts are as much about community as about revving metabolism. Monday sessions tackle hills at Meridian Hill Park, Wednesdays are for hitting the stairs at the Lincoln Memorial, and Fridays vary.
The last Tuesday of the month means an all-day open house at each of its four DC locations. Guests can try classes such as boot camp, spin, yoga, and barre, plus use the cardio equipment and weights.
A Saturday-morning Cupcake Ramble is a 15-to-20-mile ride with a midway break at a bakery. Follow on Twitter to see if the leader posts where the sweet stop will be—sometimes it’s a surprise. 440 K St., NW; 202-962-0123.
Meet monthly in locations around DC for activities such as Treat Yourself Workout (boot camp and yoga followed by chocolate and rosé) and capture the flag in Georgetown Waterfront Park. Fitbit not required. Register here.
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34. Best College Try
Because the region’s biggest turnaround is in Prince George’s County.
Not long ago, Route 1 in College Park was known for basketball riots, underage drinking, and traffic. But 21 years ago, the city of College Park and the University of Maryland joined forces and formed the City-University Partnership to give this flagship institution the college town it deserved. In that short time, the partnership has opened a charter school to lure new faculty and their families, courted businesses (from Target to MilkBoy ArtHouse, a bar and music venue), and built new apartments to keep recent grads from fleeing to DC. How do you know it works? The people lining up at the bars on Route 1 actually look like they’re of drinking age now.
35. Best Travel Hack for the Time-Pressed
REI Camping Planning
Because the intense quiet of the woods is a welcome balm for these times.
Is it just us or does the supersonic pace of breaking news leave you not only spent come Friday but also desperate for an escape—preferably one you don’t need to plan yourself? The REI in Northeast DC can help. Thursday through Sunday, a National Park Service staffer or a member of the chain’s outdoor-education staff assists would-be explorers with planning a hiking or camping trip from start to finish. Go off into the (not-too-far-away) wilderness with their expertise and you’ll return ready to face the next week’s news cycle. 201 M St., NE; 202-543-2040.
36. Best Boundary-Pushing Curator
Because forensics can be art, too.
As the Renwick Gallery’s curator of craft, Atkinson has brought two of the most intriguing exhibits to Washington in the past year: Visitors solved murder cases through crime-scene dioramas in “Murder Is Her Hobby,” while the current “No Spectators” displays towering sculptures from Nevada’s annual desert gathering, Burning Man.
37. Best Splurge
New Caviar Dishes
Because chefs are getting creative with the stuff.
A rise in sustainable, farm-raised sturgeon eggs means the delicacy is more prevalent than it has been in years. At Kinship (1015 Seventh St., NW; 202-737-7700), prized Persian osetra is served with chips and crème fraîche. Siren (1515 Rhode Island Ave., NW; 202-521-7171) encases its briny black pearls in foie gras. The award for most offbeat presentation goes to Pineapple and Pearls (715 Eighth St., SE; 202-595-7375), where white-sturgeon roe is presented on a sundae bar of sorts (a $75 upcharge), accompanied by truffle ice cream, black-olive cookies, potato strings, savory whipped cream and . . . gummy bears.
38. Best New Trend in Coworking Spaces
Collaborative Art Studios
Because these spaces are making it easier than ever to take on DIY projects.
Following the opening of the Lemon Collective in 2015, even more creative spaces are opening their doors—including Common Room Studio and Fostr Collaborative—and that’s exciting for a couple of reasons. First, they make it easier for the general population to produce studio-level work: Instagrammers and side-hustle artists now have access to the same caliber of production space as commercial photographers. Second, they host classes and workshops with an informal networking quality that can feel less intimidating than university or art-center classes—we’re here to learn, sure, but if you want to bring friends and a bottle of wine to your calligraphy or floral-arranging workshop, so much the better.
39. Best Thing to Do With Out-of-Towners (Still)
Monuments At Night
Because why fight daytime heat and crowds?
“When my kids come from California, this is our favorite thing to do, after a night game. The Lincoln, the World War II, the Capitol, the Korean War Veterans Memorial. All are lit up. If it’s a warm summer night and the fireflies are out, it’s spectacular.”
—F.P. Santangelo, Nationals announcer on MASN
40. Best Hotel Lobby
The Line DC
Because dogs. And fresh-baked monkey bread.
If you’ve been in Adams Morgan’s new Line hotel only on a weekend, when it’s elbow-to-elbow at the lobby restaurant/bar, Brothers and Sisters, do yourself a favor and return in the morning. By daylight, the space feels like a cross between a Wes Anderson set, an Ivy League library, and an urban clubhouse. Dogs—welcome throughout the hotel—lounge about while their handlers make a pit stop (the coffee and pastries at the Cup We All Race 4 are seriously good), and you’ll maybe catch some interesting folks inside the glass-walled radio studio. Best of all, you’ll actually find a place to sit. 1770 Euclid St., NW; 202-588-0525.
41. Funniest Local Person on Twitter
Because her tweets are elegant darts that let a little air into the noxious gas-filled balloon that is Twitter.
In addition to her job editing polling coverage for HuffPost, Edwards-Levy writes layered, tabloid-style headlines for the day’s events (e.g., TRUMP LOSES BENEFIT OF THE DOW on a day when stocks plummeted). How does she maintain such a high quality of puns? Doing crosswords helps, the 28-year-old upper Northwest DC resident says, as do a few rules, such as never punch down, don’t make light of situations, and don’t say the same thing as everyone else. If it leads to more interest in what she actually does for a living? “People come for the wordplay and stick around for an in-depth crash course in survey methodology,” she says.
42. Best Deal in Sports
Caps Practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex
Because you can watch Alex Ovechkin in action for free.
While tickets to Capital One Arena can be pricey, there’s no charge to watch morning skates and practices at the Capitals’ facility in Arlington. The events draw regular crowds, especially during the holidays, and you may even get T.J. Oshie to sign your jersey on his way out. Find the schedule here. 627 N. Glebe Rd., Arlington; 571-224-0555.
43. Best Way to Explore Koreatown
To Sok Jip
Because if you haven’t been to Annandale to eat, you’re missing out.
One of the best things about the Washington area now is how its diverse immigrant populations have turned some suburbs into transportive dining destinations. Downtown Annandale, a.k.a. Koreatown, is one of our favorites, particularly for some bubbling stews and the gigantic seafood pancake at this no-frills Korean comfort joint.
44-49. Six Best Things to Eat at The Block
Because Annandale’s Asian food hall is a hub of deliciousness — but you may need help navigating the menus.
At Block Bar
Crunchy salt-and-pepper wings tossed with jalapeños, onions, ginger, plus house-made ranch for dunking. To drink: a refreshing peach-soju mule.
Oversize bowls of boat noodle soup swimming with rice noodles, herbs, shaved rib eye, meatballs, and crunchy pork rinds. To go full carnivore, add a pork skewer.
At Balo Kitchen
Chicken rice topped with ginger or soy-marinated thighs, pickled mustard greens, crispy garlic, and a custardy sous-vide egg.
Hawaiian classic tuna poke decked out with toppings including avocado and pickled ginger, plus “crunchies” such as lotus chips.
Design-your-own ice-cream/doughnut sandwiches. Go for scoops of matcha-Oreo.
Anything, really—among hundreds of customizable combinations of fluffy Taiwanese shaved ice toppings, we haven’t found one we don’t love.
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50. Best Comedy Showcase
Bentzen Ball Comedy Festival
Because Washington could use a laugh—and not just political yuks.
Produced by the online magazine Brightest Young Things, this comedic gathering includes some of the biggest names in the industry, from Sarah Silverman to Nick Kroll. Mississippi-born comic Tig Notaro, who hit fame joking about surviving cancer, curates the fest each year. It’s not just a one-night thing: Notaro and the organizers have produced a Bentzen Ball podcast studio plus a record label. Catch the next festival October 25 through 28.
51. Best Place to Space Out
Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
Because with the National Air and Space Museum undergoing renovations, the Chantilly branch will have even more to see.
With parts of the Air and Space Museum closed starting as soon as this summer, Udvar-Hazy’s sprawling hangars will temporarily house some of the main location’s artifacts. Even without its partner on the Mall, Udvar-Hazy is one of Washington’s best places to explore. As always, you can stand nose-to-nose with the space shuttle Discovery and stroll through the evolution of airplanes, from military aircraft and jets to commercial airliners, including a retired Concorde. 14390 Air and Space Museum Pkwy., Chantilly; 703-572-4118.
52. Best Way to Read More Good Books
Politics and Prose Subscription
Because you have time to read but you don’t always have time to figure out what to read.
Who doesn’t love browsing in a bookstore and reading the handwritten notes that staffers leave on shelves about why a work is among their favorites? Now imagine the bookseller is talking just to you. That’s the idea behind Politics and Prose’s Book-a-Month subscription. Customers often give it as a gift—either describing the recipient’s tastes (she loves classics or memoirs or mysteries, say) or letting that person fill out the five-question survey (example: What is your idea of a perfect book?). Then, every month, a book chosen for the recipient arrives in the mail. The gift-giver pays just the cost of the book and shipping. There are subscriptions for children, teens, and those who get only signed first editions. For more information, click here.
53. Best Circle
Because even though other areas have captured the neighborhood’s old buzz, the actual circle is uniquely full of life.
There’s an urban myth about DC’s traffic circles that suggests they were built into the city plan so the authorities could set up cannons in case people decided to revolt. It’s not true, but too many of our roundabouts carry the whiff of death all the same. Where they could be full of life, the circles at the intersections of key avenues are often empty green spaces—in good repair, mostly, but not exactly swimming with humanity. Dupont is the rare exception, an all-day festival of lunchers, loafers, chess players, strollers. As the District ponders ways of reimagining its public spaces for a fast-growing population, officials ought to try to replicate this vibrancy elsewhere.
54. Best Intimate Art Experience
“Luncheon of the Boating Party”
Because great art is eternal.
“I recently visited the Phillips Collection and spent some time with Renoir’s ‘Luncheon of the Boating Party.’ It’s incredible to see such an iconic piece of art in a relatively intimate setting. Renoir was my mother’s favorite painter. She filled my childhood room with prints of ‘Boating Party,’ ‘Girl With a Hoop,’ and ‘A Girl With a Watering Can.’ So I feel a real connection to the piece.”
—Candace Ourisman, cofounder of Secretly Gifting, a gift concierge company
55. Best Ambassador for a Local Food Identity
Chef Jeremiah Langhorne
Because “Mid-Atlantic cuisine” deserves to be a thing.
Our area doesn’t have a strong culinary identity like Cajun-fueled New Orleans or chowder-obsessed New England. But Virginia native Jeremiah Langhorne, chef/owner of the Dabney, wants to prove it doesn’t have to be that way. He has harnessed lesser-known local ingredients and historic regional recipes to help gain national attention for Mid-Atlantic cuisine—and it tastes pretty darn good. 122 Blagden Alley, NW; 202-450-1015.
56. Best Quizzical Face
Because while he’s reporting from the trenches of Trump’s war on “the fakers at CNN,” it’s the trench between Tapper’s exceptionally furrowed brows that’s become a synecdoche for real news.
The (justifiably) indignant CNN anchor’s uninterrupted 25-minute interview with Kellyanne Conway may be the apotheosis of his you’ve-gotta-be-freakin’-kidding-me face—the glorious crescendo of a scowl that urges his guests to reconsider what they’re saying while they’re still mid-sentence.
57. Best Shop for Hostess Gifts
Salt & Sundry
Because where else can you get artisanal cocktail bitters, a Shibori baby swaddle, and macramé plant holders all in one place?
No matter what type of hostess gift you’re looking for, Salt & Sundry probably has the chicest version. The airy space is filled with the stuff of Pinterest dreams (and lots of millennial pink). Chambray-clad staff are eager to give you the lowdown on a local designer or share styling tips, and the wares range from bar-cart fodder to letterpress cards. With its new offshoot, Little Leaf (1401 S St., NW; 202-506-2131),the buzz over this beloved retailer has only grown since it opened at Union Market in 2012. 1309 Fifth St., NE, 202-556-1866; 1625 14th St., NW, 202-621-6647.
58. Best News for Fixer-Upper Fans
Lauren Liess’s New HGTV Show
Because Lauren and David are just as adorable as Chip and Joanna.
If you’re heartbroken over the end of Chip and Joanna Gaines’s HGTV juggernaut, meet Lauren and David Liess. The Great Falls couple run an interior-design business with a Joanna-esque aesthetic—natural textiles, airy color palettes, laid-back vibes—and they’re set to debut their own HGTV home-makeover series, Best House on the Block, this summer. Also like the Gaineses, the Liesses have five kids and unusual pets (no baby goats, but they do have some very cute geese—yes, that is possible).
59. Best Way to Jump the Line
Because what’s better than trying to get into the hottest show in town? Getting in.
Suddenly, everyone wants to be a patron of the arts. The trend seemed to start after people had to line up if they wanted to see the Renwick’s 2015 sensation of a show, “Wonder.” For the city’s next blockbuster, the Hirshhorn’s “Infinity Mirrors,” savvy Washingtonians became Hirshhorn members to bypass the lines, sending the museum’s membership from 150 to 10,000. When the Kennedy Center announced its Hamilton dates, the town went berserk snapping up $60 memberships. At least 80,000 queued online during the members-only ticket-sales day, and though not all were successful in scoring seats, they got a chance before the general public did. Sometimes, membership has its privileges.
60. Trippiest Restaurant Restroom
Oki Bowl at Georgetown
Because even WCs are Instagram-worthy.
61-65. Best Instagram Feeds for Foodies
Because it can be the best way to learn about local cuisine—and hear about deals.
Nats fans will find this travel- and food-centric feed by Nats slugger Bryce Harper and his wife, Kayla, adorable. They love the Italian Store. Just like us!
Chef Seng Luangrath of Thip Khao pioneered Washington’s #LaoFoodMovement, and her gorgeous posts are as informative as they are hunger-inducing. Plus, you’ll get intel on fleeting specials.
Never flown to Tokyo or Mexico City for the weekend to eat at top Michelin restaurants? Follow along vicariously as jet-setting Minibar manager Jhonatan Cano destination-dines around the world.
Chef Peter Pastan is going wild with specials—think dry-aged-dairy-cow-Tuscan-steak night—and you’ll find out about them here.
Pastry genius Pichet Ong doesn’t post just his gorgeous creations from Brothers and Sisters at the Line hotel. We love following his frequent eating travels through DC, NYC, and beyond.
Unsuspecting visitors to the single-person restrooms at this ramen shop are greeted by a Finding Dory–like undersea world of Pixar-friendly coral reefs, undulating kelp, and an aquarium filled with fluorescent jellyfish, tentacles all waving in unison. 1608 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-944-8660.
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66. Best Bucking of Dessert Trends
Because we’re sick of cake crumbles and gel.
Many chefs are still deconstructing desserts to death, as if pulverizing a pie crust somehow makes it taste better. Not Aggie Chin. The 33-year-old Mirabelle pastry talent is putting out unfailingly elegant compositions—a pitch-perfect éclair, a black-pepper-flecked pavlova—that are daring in both their flavor and their classicism. At lunch, her creations wheel by on a custom-made dessert cart. 900 16th St., NW; 202-506-3833.
67. Best Music to See While You Still Can
Because its roots run deep.
“We’ve got these three core, original go-go bands now [Trouble Funk, Rare Essence, Experience Unlimited]. Go-go is such a huge part of the culture and the pulse of the city. And you never know when someone will pass away or when a band will stop playing because they’ve been doing it for over 40 years. In fact, we just lost Rory ‘DC’ Felton, a founding member of Rare Essence. If anyone has a chance to go see any one of these original go-go bands, do it before you can’t anymore.”
—Nizam Ali, co-owner, Ben’s Chili Bowl
68. Best Addition to DC Theater
Maria Manuela Goyanes
Because we predict she’ll inject new energy into Woolly Mammoth’s lineup.
In September, Goyanes will take over from cofounder Howard Shalwitz—who served almost 40 years at the helm—as Woolly Mammoth Theater Company’s second-ever artistic director and the first woman of color to lead a current major DC theater. In her 14 years at New York’s Public Theater, she helped produce stellar works, including premieres of Straight White Men, the first Broadway play written by an Asian-American woman, and the mega-hit Hamilton. We can’t wait for the next batch of underrepresented voices she may lift up.
69. Best Kids’ Play Space
Because kids need to engage their bodies and brains.
At the center of this epic indoor play park, a giant mountain rises up for youngsters to clamber over and slide down. Nearby, a water-free, stone-filled creek winds through a forest of birch trees. For brain-boosting moments, a theater with beanbag seating plays educational films, and a lab/workshop encourages kids to tackle science and DIY projects. Parents can relax with a glass of wine in the cafe, which has a great view of the space. 5200 Randolph Rd., Rockville; 301-618-0009.
70. Best New Designer Boutique
Curio Concept Store
Because the bold textiles and architectural silhouettes are more Dada than your typical Washington women’s wear.
Curio’s Spanish and Middle Eastern brands are ones you’d be hard-pressed to find elsewhere here—not to mention the avant-garde home gifts. Even better: The two-year renovation of its Georgetown store culminated in 2016 with an edgy space to match the inventory. 1071 Thomas Jefferson St., NW; 202-851-4946.
71-75. Best Ways to Unplug
Because detoxing from Facebook and CNN is easier than ever.
Take a conscious “yogi nap,” with guided meditation—which can slow brainwaves to the level of deep sleep. You can tune into subtle messages your body and mind give you, but if you crash and start dreaming, that’s okay, too. Where to do it: Take Five Meditation, 1803 Connecticut Ave., NW, Second Floor; 202-588-5198.
Sit in a cave-like room filled with Himalayan sea salt and breathe. Halotherapy, or salt therapy, is thought to counterbalance positively charged ions from electronic devices that surround us. It’s also said to be good for breathing problems, allergies, and skin conditions. Where to do it: Bethesda Salt Cave, 4709 Montgomery Ln., Bethesda; 301-312-6377.
These aren’t the contraptions from the 1980 William Hurt film Altered States. Modern, hatched-door sensory-deprivation pods are filled with about 11 inches of sterile water heated to body temperature. Buoyed with the aid of 1,000 pounds of pharmaceutical-grade Epsom salts, you can lie back and feel weightless. Where to do it: Synergy Float Center, 1240 N. Pitt St., Alexandria; 571-319-0355.
This bath doesn’t require getting wet. A “sound bath” is part meditation, part listening. Based on the idea that music heals, you lie on a cushion in savasana—yoga’s corpse pose—while being washed over with frequencies created by Tibetan singing bowls, gongs, and shamanic drumming. Where to do it: Recharj, 1445 New York Ave., NW; 202-347-4595.
Transcendental meditation, first popularized by the Beatles in the 1960s, is having a Hollywood comeback, with everyone from Oprah to Hugh Jackman swearing by it. Repeating a simple mantra or phrase over and over, for 20 minutes twice daily, is believed to help you achieve perfect stillness. Where to do it: Transcendental Meditation Center, 5504 Edson Ln., Suite 408, Rockville; 301-770-5690.
76. Best Steakhouse
Ray’s the Steaks
Because it’s excellent beef with zero pretension.
Washington has moved far beyond its old rep as a steakhouse town—yet it’s still a town crammed with plenty of steakhouses. Our favorite, though, is this unflashy spot on a quiet corner in Arlington, more popular with families than with gaggles of lawyers. Michael Landrum butchers and ages his beef in-house, serves it at fair prices (the $19 hanger is terrific), and throws in free sides such as creamed spinach and mashed potatoes. 2300 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 703-841-7297.
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77. Best Expanse
The National Mall
Because it never gets old.
“My favorite spot in Washington? Honestly, the entire Mall just humbles me. It reminds me how blessed I am to be in this city, at this time, doing this work for the nation I love. The feeling I get being just about anywhere along the Mall never gets old.”
—Joshua Johnson, host of 1A on WAMU
78. Most Luxurious Apartments
Because “vacation” is just a few floors up.
Practically every luxury building has a pool. Only one has a 40-foot-long roof-top infinity pool overlooking the Washington Channel, with a glass-paneled bottom that gives swimmers a bird’s-eye view into the new music venue the Anthem. The Wharf apartment complex also comes with a rooftop dog park, a poolside cabana bar, and a two-story fitness center. And no need to fret about living above a rock club—$3 million was spent on soundproofing.
79. Best Bar Trend
Newfangled Beer-and-Shot Combos
Because the only thing better than pairing drinks with food is pairing drinks with more drinks.
People have been ordering a beer and a shot together about as long as bars have been serving brews and hard liquor. While there’s nothing quite like the classic Boh and O, a can of National Bohemian lager in one hand and a shot of Old Overholt whiskey in the other, some establishments are putting extra thought into their couplings. Take Kingfisher DC—its menu has an entire section devoted to combos, including advice on how to enjoy the pairings. While a Butternuts Moo Thunder Stout and Angels Envy Bourbon are “best sipped one after the other,” the bar recommends chugging some of the Schofferhofer Hefe before pouring in the accompanying Espadin mezcal. 1414 14th St., NW; 202-750-6600.
80. Most Instagrammable Party Favor
Sugar Studio Cookies
Because these days, did the event even happen if you don’t have the perfect Instagram shot?
Tiffany McCall has been professionally hand-icing cookies in the Washington area since 2015. Her edible works of art—which range in design from delicate wedding gowns and intricate nutcrackers to preppy party animals—are both delicious and picture-perfect for any occasion. Find her on Instagram here.
81. Best Way to Feel Like an Olympian
National Capital Curling Center
Because throwing rocks across ice isn’t as easy as it sounds.
If you saw the US men’s curling team win gold at the Olympics and thought, “Hey, I look like those guys,” first some bad news: Curling is much harder than it looks. But the Potomac Curling Club in Laurel can help you at least hold your own at the next bonspiel. Starting in the fall, the region’s only curling club offers learn-to-curl events and Saturday classes. Now grab your broom and make your country proud! 13810 Old Gunpowder Rd., Laurel; 301-362-1116.
82. Best News for New Mothers
The Breastfeeding Center Expands
Because strung-out mamas need a lot of nonjudgey help.
With its new storefront location and bigger footprint, this all-in-one store/counseling center in downtown DC has become an even more valuable resource for moms who nurse—the competent and struggling alike. You can score the most efficient pumping bra at an Amazon-comparable price, take a free (free!) class on tips for a successful return to work, and receive one-on-one, hands-on help with feeding. The space is warm, and the staff are kind—everything your fragile soul needs at a fraught time. 1020 19th St., NW; 202-293-5182.
83. Best Post-Hockey Treat
Milk Bar “B’day Truffles”
Because even a tough goalie has a sweet tooth.
“I love the food variety you find in the city, but by far one of my favorites right now is Momofuku and Milk Bar. Birthday-cake truffles are a thing I love to keep in my fridge for when I get home from away games.”
—Philipp Grubauer, former Washington Capitals goaltender
84. Best Acoustic-Music Festival
Watermelon Park Fest
Because Northern Virginia’s acoustic-music scene, which has thrived for decades, has gotten even hotter of late—and this festival is a cool way to end the season.
Each September, Furnace Mountain, arguably the area’s premier acoustic band, featuring world-class mandolinist Danny Knicely, hosts a four-day shindig on the banks of the Shenandoah River (inner tubes welcome). This year, they join Ricky Skaggs, Marty Stuart, Béla Fleck, Molly Tuttle, and a host of other national and regional acts. Watermelon Park Campground, 3322 Lockes Mill Rd., Berryville, Va.
85. Best Bluegrass Concert Series
Because we all need something that red-staters and blue-staters can agree on.
“Bluegrass” is increasingly taken to mean any unelectrified Americana. Purists—who revere Bill Monroe and remember what the genre was before mission creep set in—flock to the Old Schoolhouse in Loudoun County’s Lucketts just about every Saturday from October to May to hear many of the finest bands east of the Mississippi. Tickets are $15, cash only. 42361 Lucketts Rd., Leesburg.
86. Best Open Mike for Singers
Gypsy Sally’s Vinyl Lounge
Because tomorrow’s performers need a place to grow today.
If you have three chords and some guts and you want to drink cheap in Georgetown, bring a few songs to the stage at the Vinyl Lounge. Tuesday nights aren’t for the pros. Instead, you’ll join other dreamers who are figuring out their acts. Arrive early—sign-up starts at 6, and slots number two and up go quickly. Nobody wants to be first. 3401 K St., NW; 202-333-7700.
87. Best Reason to Get Out of Bed on Sunday
Biscuit Sandwiches at Meats and Foods
Because $3.50 is a tiny price to pay for breakfast nirvana.
We love Ana Marin and Scott McIntosh’s Bloomingdale sausage shop every day, but Sunday’s the only time you can get their sage-scented breakfast patties slicked with maple syrup and nestled in golden buttermilk biscuits. Arrive early—the treats have a devoted following and sell out fast. 247 Florida Ave., NW; 202-505-1384.
This article appeared in the June 2018 issue of Washingtonian.