- 1. Best Unifier
- 2. Best HQ2 Dealmaker
- 3. Best Restaurant Trend
- 4. Best Public Nuisance
- 5. Best Political Celeb
- 6. Best Scandal
- 7. Worst Scandal
- 8. Best Evidence That We’re Not Quite the Sophisticated World Capital You May Think
- 9. Best New Sports Villain
- 10. Best New Bryce Harper
- 11. Worst Metro News
- 12. Best New Place to Get Married
- 13. Best Washington Marriage to Gawk At
- 14. Best Washington Memoir
- 15. Best Stadium
- 16. Best Waterfront
- 17. Worst Up-Sell
- 18. Best Fast-Food Trend
- 19. Best Blank Canvas
- 20. Best Second Act
- 21. Best Invasion
- 22. Best Music Festival
- 23. Best New Water Feature
- 24. Worst Food Trend
- 25. Best Antidote to Lunch-Bowl Fatigue
- 26. Best Politico “Spotted” Item
- 27. Best Protest
- 28. Best ’90s Comeback
- 29. Worst Political Stunt Artist
- 30. Best Place to Cry
- 31. Best DC Lawyer to Follow on Twitter
- 32. Best Argument for Eminent Domain
- 33. Best New Office Building
- 34. Best New Neighborhood Name
- 35. Worst New Neighborhood Name
- 36. Best Distraction During the Christine Blasey Ford Hearings
- 37. Best Delivery Service
- 38. Best Homegrown Expansion
- 39. Most Badass Retail Pop-Up
- 40. Best Pop-Up Gone Permanent
- 41. Best Local Weed Columnist
- 42. Best Fine-Dining Trend
- 43. Best Use of Jeff Bezos’s Money at the Washington Post
- 44. Best Critical Assassin
- 45. Best Breakfast Trend
- 46. Best Accidental Meme
- 47. Best New Hangouts
- 48. Cutest Date Spot
- 49. Least Comfortable Dinner Seats
- 50. Best Italian Import
- 51. Best New Bookstore
- 52. Best Politics and Prose Store for Readings
- 53. Best Doughnuts
- 54. Best New Local Clothing Line
- 55. Best New Boutique for Local Designers
- 56. Best New Brewery
- 57. Best Cocktail Trend
- 58. Worst Moment for Washington High-School Culture
- 59. Best Moment for Washington High-School Culture
- 60. Best Other “Pink Wave”
- 61. Best Restaurant-Decor Trend
- 62. Best for Ungirly Girls’ Clothing
- 63. Best New Nail Salon
- 64. Best New Hair Salon
- 65. Best New Day Spa
- 66. Best Workout If You Wish You Had a Dog
- 67. Best Crabcake
- 68. Best Crab Dish That’s Not a Crabcake
- 69. Best Guitar Slinger
- 70. Best Food-Court Transformation
- 71. Best Toddler Distraction (Suburbs)
- 72. Best Toddler Distraction (City)
- 73. Best New Team to Get to Know
- 74. Worst Dessert Trend
- 75. Best Use of Cookie Dough
- 76. Best Local Politician’s Newsletter
- 77. Best Citizen Service
- 78. Most Generous Restaurateur After José Andrés
- 79. Best New Mode of Transportation
- 80. Best New Way to Drink on the Water
- 81. Worst Way to Drink on the Water
- 82. Best Unsung Restaurant Patio
- 83. Best Affordable Restaurant for Groups
- 84. Best New Wine Store
- 85. Best Beauty Shop on a Mission
- 86. Coolest Kids’ Sleepovers
- 87. Best Stupid Pet Trick
1. Best Unifier
Because despite losing in this year’s playoffs, they gave the city a much-needed sports championship—and a big boost of energy
When both longtime and new fans of the Stanley Cup–winning Caps lined the streets last June for a victory parade, almost everyone wore red. Young and old, Republican and Democrat. It was a rare moment when everyone was on the same side, everyone happy and smiling. (We don’t even seem to care that the squad’s star, Alex Ovechkin, is a Putin supporter.) A year later, the unbridled enthusiasm may have become just a wee bit bridled—due not just to time but also to that first-round loss this season to the Carolina Hurricanes—but there’s still a glow around the team. While a back-to-back championship would have been sweet, what they achieved in 2018 will never be forgotten.
2. Best HQ2 Dealmaker
Because his Crystal City proposal won the Amazon sweepstakes
While regions across the country competing for HQ2—including in Maryland and the District—used tax subsidies and infrastructure upgrades to try to lure Amazon, Virginia’s top economic-development official, Stephen Moret, offered the Everything Store something even more valuable: highly skilled workers. His winning bid will plow $1.1 billion into public education to expand the pipeline of future employees. (For more, see page 50.)
3. Best Restaurant Trend
The Return of Reservations
Because dinner shouldn’t require a two-hour wait
Standing in a long line for a hot restaurant has become a rite of passage for DC dining devotees. But now there’s good news for people who don’t have the physical ability, time, or babysitter cash to stand around for hours trying to get a table. In the past year, places famous for their waits—Himitsu, Rose’s Luxury, Bad Saint—have started taking limited reservations. Now if only we could get one.
4. Best Public Nuisance
Because you can’t escape them, and that’s both good and bad
They’re a special scourge to the pregnant, the disabled, the elderly, and small children, especially when riders insist on zooming down sidewalks. (Why, people, why?) But, sigh . . . they do solve a last-mile problem, and if that means less traffic, lower demand on Lyft, or revitalized neighborhoods thanks to increased accessibility, then they’re a nuisance worth abiding.
5. Best Political Celeb
Because she makes us feel young again
Washingtonians are aware that our city is more than just a government town. Unfortunately, the rest of America often is not—and we kinda know it. Which is why the identities of the political celebrities of the moment matter to us on some visceral level, whether we like them or not. After a couple of years during which the roster of recognizable faces was distinctly old and uncool and off-brand, the 2019 scene features at least one attention-grabber who profiles young and hip. Sure, we know AOC is a New Yorker who hightails it back home just like the 434 other members of Congress. But if America wants to imagine us hanging around with her, that’s okay. Love her or hate her, we’re happy with it.Back to Top
6. Best Scandal
The eagle affairs
Because the drama was like The Real World: Nest Edition
Eagle-cam star couple Liberty and Justice went through the ringer this spring when the latter went missing for three weeks. In his absence, Liberty laid two eggs and found two different suitors. When the stress got high, though, she also left the nest and, sadly, lost their offspring. Yet in the end, Liberty and Justice came back together. We hope the pair stays strong.Back to Top
7. Worst Scandal
Because you know very well why
The top three leaders of the state, all Democrats, were suddenly disgraced, either by a blackface scandal or allegations of sexual assault—in the space of one week.
8. Best Evidence That We’re Not Quite the Sophisticated World Capital You May Think
Because you probably don’t know who he is
Do you recognize this guy? He’s likely the second-most famous person in Washington—to people in the rest of the world. He saved one local business’s year in 2018, and he’s on track to make 2019 even better. Give up?
It’s DC United superstar Wayne Rooney.
9. Best New Sports Villain
Because he sold out to our obnoxious division Rivals
Good news, Dan Snyder. You’re no longer the most hated sports figure in Washington. But perhaps Harper’s betrayal is just what the city needs? Nothing unifies a fan base like a common enemy.
10. Best New Bryce Harper
Because he’s young and freakishly talented
At 22 years old, the rookie center fielder is one of baseball’s future stars, with the speed, power, and fearless energy to make you forget about what’s-his-face.
11. Worst Metro News
Six Yellow and Blue Line Stations Closed This Summer
Because not everyone can bike instead
Memorial Day to past Labor Day. That’s how long it’s supposed to take Metro to rebuild three station platforms south of Reagan National Airport. If you live in Alexandria, the summer will probably feel a lot longer.
12. Best New Place to Get Married
Because it’s about time
After years fielding inquiries from the newly engaged, the Smithsonian is open for weddings. Now Washington’s betrothed can say “I do” under the glass-and-steel roof of the Kogod Courtyard, in the presence of pandas at the National Zoo, within event space at American History (below), or like royalty at the Smithsonian Castle.
13. Best Washington Marriage to Gawk At
George and Kellyanne
Because Keeping Up With the Conways is the reality show we’re all secretly dying to watch
Do they live in separate wings of their Massachusetts Avenue Heights mansion? Do they even speak to each other? Or is all their public sniping a clever conspiracy—just a means of pumping up the demand (and advance) for the juicy, joint tell-all they probably plan to write? In a freak-show era of news, the old-fashioned, rom-com aspect to the union of a devoted Trump aide and a fervent Trump basher seems downright quaint. Anyway, the people want to know.
14. Best Washington Memoir
Kwame Onwuachi’s Notes From a Young Black Chef
Because we need to talk about racism in restaurants
You may know Kwame Onwuachi for the quick collapse of his pricey tasting-menu restaurant, the Shaw Bijou, and for his comeback at the acclaimed Afro-Caribbean restaurant Kith and Kin. In his new book, the chef gets personal about growing up with an abusive father, dealing drugs, and eventually working in the world’s top kitchens. His encounters with racism in restaurants and his willingness to name names make for an engrossing read, but the 2019 James Beard Award winner’s story is also a powerful call for industry change.
15. Best Stadium
Because the size is right
You don’t have to love soccer to love this new gem of a stadium on DC’s Buzzard Point. The seats are close enough to the field that you can see the players sweat, and the sections are close enough to one another that you can hear DC United’s crazy fan clubs singing from across the stadium. As a matter of fact, if more people did love soccer, it might be less fun: The magic is largely enabled by having to seat only about 20,000 spectators.
16. Best Waterfront
Because it feels like a neighborhood
DC’s waterfronts can seem touristy (Georgetown) or manufactured (the overnight sensation of the Wharf). Navy Yard has elements of both—an influx of visitors for Nationals Park, teeming development—but it lives like a dynamic riverfront neighborhood. Don’t let the uninspiring architecture fool you.
Perhaps the actual-neighborhood vibe exists because much of the recent evolution sprouted up around a park. Sure, the area had been a home base for the Navy since 1799 and, for more than a decade, the Nats. But Yards Park’s riverfront running/biking path, its splash park, and events such as free Friday-night concerts created a hub for residents.
Over time, luxe apartments and fancy restaurants opened, but it also has very good restaurants that feel like neighborhood joints. Even better, at these places you’re not just paying for the water view—we’d happily dig into New England–style seafood at the Salt Line (79 Potomac Ave., SE; 202-506-2368), local oyster platters at Whaley’s (301 Water St., SE; 202-484-8800), or pastas on Osteria Morini’s patio (301 Water St., SE; 202-484-0660) even if they were facing a parking lot instead of the scenic Anacostia River.
17. Worst Up-Sell
“Super Excellent” Seats at the Anthem
Because there’s always a good vantage point—even during a sold-out show
These more expensive balcony seats are fine (and, yes, they’re actually called Super Excellent), but there are many other spots to see the show for a lot less—including right behind them.
18. Best Fast-Food Trend
Hot Chicken Sandwiches
Because local chefs are bringing the heat
Fried-chicken sandwiches have been ubiquitous for a few years, but in recent months there’s been a delicious trend within the trend. Enter the Nashville-style fried-chicken sandwich, in which crunchy breasts or thighs are glazed in cayenne (you can often choose your heat level), then cooled off with pickles. Our favorites: the versions at Hot Lola’s (4238 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; no phone) and Wooboi (139 Spring St., Herndon; 703-435-3703).
19. Best Blank Canvas
Because the Kennedy Center could soon get cooler
It doesn’t open until September, and so far there’s little word on what will actually happen there. But we’re excited about the potential for the Kennedy Center’s $175-million, 72,000-square-foot expansion, which could—and should!—serve as a home for more adventurous arts programming. With soaring ceilings and tons of natural light, the facility has several intimate performance venues as well as rehearsal and classroom space. Let’s hope the music offerings are as exciting as the architecture.
20. Best Second Act
Because acting well is the best revenge
At 76, Joy Zinoman could have retired and basked in acclaim, knowing the theater she founded decades ago helped transform a once-bleak area. That’s not Zinoman. After new leadership at Studio Theatre pushed her out of the acting school she loved, she called on friends, raised money, and worked media and city officials. Her new conservatory opens in an old public school this summer; a permanent home in Columbia Heights will follow.
21. Best Invasion
The Handmaid’s Tale
Because this dystopian future was visually stunning
In February, 200 actors from the Hulu hit filmed a scene at the Lincoln Memorial. We’re curious what the oppressed but mobilizing women have up their red robes’ sleeves—the show returns June 5. Blessed be the fight.
22. Best Music Festival
Because it’s hosting star-studded lineups—and has a mission, too
Childish Gambino, Solange, and Cardi B have all headlined Broccoli City, an event that gets better every year. Beyond the music, the Broccoli team organizes community service in the area year-round. They built a conference around the festival to promote healthy living—there’s even a 5K—plus networking opportunities in the entertainment industry.
23. Best New Water Feature
Glenstone’s “water court”
Because we could all use a moment of Zen these days
Most visitors go to Glenstone museum to admire the modern art—by the likes of Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol, and Keith Haring—or the new Pavilions complex itself, a masterpiece of cast concrete and glass. But the feature that might stay with you longest is the soothing 18,000-square-foot water courtyard in the center of the Pavilions. There, you can rest on a bench and gaze out on the water lilies, iris, and other plants. A lot of museums display remarkable art. Few marry it with the art found in nature. 12100 Glen Rd., Potomac; 301-983-5001.
24. Worst Food Trend
Because chefs know better
Before the build-your-own-bowl trend took over the fast-casual world, diners would go out for things like sandwiches and tacos created by people whose livelihoods are built around designing delicious foods. Yet at places such as Cava and Pokeworks, we can’t restrain ourselves—and inevitably slop a dozen ingredients together so there’s no distinct flavor or texture.
25. Best Antidote to Lunch-Bowl Fatigue
Lechón Kawali Bowl at Kuya Ja’s Lechon Belly
Because it’s quinoa- and kale-free
This snug counter-service shop specializes in lechón—the crisp-skinned, slow-cooked Filipino pork. The only decision to make is whether you want it in sandwich or bowl form. Go for the latter, which comes with rice, a fried egg, and tangy pickled-ginger-and-papaya salad. 5268Nicholson Ln., Rockville; 240-669-4383.
26. Best Politico “Spotted” Item
Robert Mueller and Donald Trump Jr. at DCA’s gate 35X
Because the gates of hell are real
The horrors of gate 35X—a super-congested single gate that’s basically a shuttle terminal for remotely parked planes—are well known to anyone who’s ever flown out of Reagan National. So of course it was also the scene of an epically awkward almost-run-in last July between the President’s son and the man investigating Russian influence in his election.
27. Best Protest
Paper Plate Rebellion
Because people who play by the rules didn’t let a rule stop them
On January 23, when they had been out of work for 33 days at that point, federal employees descended on the Hart Senate Office Building with makeshift signs—actual placards are banned there—to demand an end to the longest government shutdown in history.
28. Best ’90s Comeback
Pizza bagels at Call Your Mother
Because they don’t involve a microwave
The folks behind Call Your Mother, the deli in DC’s Park View neighborhood, are also behind Timber Pizza Co., in Petworth. Their pepperoni-and-mozz-laden bagels, topped with fresh basil, are the best kind of synergy—and worth getting that old Bagel Bites jingle stuck in your head. 3301 Georgia Ave., NW; no phone.
29. Worst Political Stunt Artist
“This is a sign” guy
Because . . . we’re confused
The so-far unidentified man turns up everywhere. Outside Paul Manafort’s sentencing. Trailing Roger Stone on the way to court. Standing among throngs on the Mall. But to what end? To make fun of the other demonstrators? Rack up photo bombs? The real sin isn’t that the stunt is poking fun at activism—it’s that it reminds us how little room politics has for humor nowadays.
30. Best Place to Cry
Gravelly Point Park
Because no one can hear you
Rough day at work? Ran into an old flame? Bring a book and a picnic and lean into your emotions at this field adjacent to Reagan National Airport, where people are inclined to get sensitive anyhow because, well, planes can conjure up such emotion. Plus no one’s going to hear your sniffles as a 757 thunders overhead.
31. Best DC Lawyer to Follow on Twitter
Because he can deliver substance in 280 characters
Want helpful context when your phone alerts you to the latest on Donald Trump’s wall? Or for the viability of the President’s newest, possibly unconstitutional policy idea? Katyal, the former acting solicitor general, has likely already fired off a well-informed—and, yes, usually left-leaning—take. Or at the very least, retweeted a solid source to bring you up to speed.
32. Best Argument for Eminent Domain
“Dave Thomas Circle”
Because not even a Frosty is worth the 455 car crashes that have happened there since 2015
Nicknamed for the solitary Wendy’s occupying the enormous concrete island at its center, the traffic hellhole where New York and Florida avenues, Northeast, are forced to circumvent the fast-food joint has inspired many a DC pol over the years to talk about seizing it. Mayor Bowser renewed our hopes this year when she included funds in her 2019 budget to finally get the job done. If she succeeds, we humbly endorse her for sainthood—or at least promise to buy her a burger at the nearest non-traffic-circle fast-food establishment of her choosing.
33. Best New Office Building
Because it adds a stunning public space to an otherwise soulless downtown block
Sure, it was sort of sad when the old Washington Post headquarters on 15th Street downtown was demolished. But while Woodward and Bernstein may have changed history from inside, its beige, blocky exterior had the vibrancy of a Milk Dud. Its replacement, home to Fannie Mae, is a startling departure. Designed by SHoP Architects and WDG Architecture, the development’s most distinctive feature is the three crisscrossing skybridges over its public courtyard. (They’re tinged turquoise due to the use of copper.) As for the courtyard, it provides the workday crowd both a lovely respite and a pass-through connecting 15th Street to L.Back to Top
34. Best New Neighborhood Name
Because it’s a neighborhood with no borders, literally
When Arlington and Alexandria announced the name National Landing for the area that would be home to Amazon’s HQ2, many scoffed. Some pointed out that the neighborhoods already had names—Crystal City, Pentagon City, Potomac Yard—or that National Landing sounded a bit sci-fi. But Stephanie Landrum, president and CEO of the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership, told us at the time that NatLand will have “no finite boundaries” and is less a physical place than a symbol of the cooperation between the city of Alexandria and Arlington County. In a world where borders often are sources of friction, this is thinking we can get behind.Back to Top
35. Worst New Neighborhood Name
South Capitol Hill
Because it already has several, cooler names
When a Whole Foods opened near Navy Yard Metro last year, it called its location South Capitol Hill, despite no one else calling it that. To be fair, the area has a number of other names, and even residents can’t agree whether they live in Capitol Riverfront, the Yards, Navy Yard, or Southeast Waterfront. If you ask us, any of those are far better.
36. Best Distraction During the Christine Blasey Ford Hearings
Tona Boyd, Cory Booker’s chief counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee
Because it felt like she was us
What were you doing while the Senate contemplated Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination? Yelling at the TV? Joking with your friends? Chances are it wasn’t nearly as perfect a response as the stone-cold stare worn by this Hill staffer and, via the magic of C-SPAN and the accident of hearing-room seating arrangements, broadcast to the world.
37. Best Delivery Service
Because sometimes you want to enjoy your Rasika curry on the couch
Washington’s roster of food-delivery apps has become as daunting as a multi-course tasting menu. Our advice: Dig into this one. Its collection of high-quality restaurants is what’s most impressive—a Philly Wing Fry cheesesteak or a $130 RPM seafood platter is just a tap away.
38. Best Homegrown Expansion
Because no one wants to pay $400 to frame a $5 poster
In the startup world, you know you’re on to something when giant chains like Michaels start blaming you for their nationwide store closings. Such was the case for the Georgetown online framing company Framebridge. But now, perhaps oddly, the firm that grew by doing framing online has announced its first two brick-and-mortar locations. According to CEO Susan Tynan, customers still like seeing the product in person—so much so that at the pop-ups Framebridge did before opening its first store, customers were willing to spend an average of 40 percent more.
The company’s edge lies in its affordability and convenience. In a simple, streamlined process, customers choose a frame and mount for their artwork or photo from Framebridge’s online shop—virtual designers are on hand to assist—and then either upload digital files or send the piece through the mail via prepaid shipping tubes. Framebridge will bring this intimidation-free ethos to its storefronts as well: Customers will be able to see on a screen how their art will look framed, as well as the total cost, before committing. The two new locations will also mean that the customer can drop off the piece for framing versus shipping it. 1919 14th St., NW, 202-831-0444; 4806 Bethesda Ave., Bethesda, 301-281-7640.
39. Most Badass Retail Pop-Up
Because it has gathered DC’s womyn-owned businesses into one glorious retail tour de force
Femme Fatale’s mission statement is anything but meek: Founder Yasmin Radbod set out to reclaim the phrase “femme fatale” from the depths of sexist clichés. (The collective also prefers the spelling “womyn.”) By hosting workshops, happy hours, and other events, the three-year-old collective has developed into a thriving pop-up that hosts more than 30 local businesses owned by womyn or nonbinary-identifying individuals. By buying wares such as custom lipsticks, handmade pottery, and graphic prints, says CEO Cee Smith, shoppers are supporting entrepreneurs who are historically less likely to receive funding than their male counterparts. Femme Fatale looks to help balance that inequality by acting as a small-business incubator, giving makers not only a platform to sell their products but also skills such as leadership training and brand building. The pop-up is currently in Columbia Heights. 3224 11th St., NW; 929-269-5573.
40. Best Pop-Up Gone Permanent
Because it proves small boutiques can still make it big here
When jewelry designer Mallory Shelter launched a Valentine’s Day pop-up in 2017 in Union Market, it was meant to last two weeks. Customer response was so good, it was extended into May. Which reinforced her notion that customers like trying on her delicate, hand-hammered necklaces and hoop earrings in person—and that jewelry was hard to shop for online. After another venture—Brief Assembly, with handbag designer Matine—Shelter finally opened her own boutique last year. 1258 Fifth St., NE; 202-548-0011.
41. Best Local Weed Columnist
Because now that it’s legal, pot needs a straight-ahead consumer reporter
Since 2016, Joe Tierney’s GentlemanToker.com has accepted advertising only from firms whose product can pass a rigorous use test. That’s why, he says, you can trust his strain reviews, news, and guides. “I used to joke that my job is smoking weed,” Tierney says. “My job is running a website.”
42. Best Fine-Dining Trend
Tasting Menus Under $50
Because not everyone can spend half a month’s rent on dinner
$45 a person
Chef Aaron Silverman’s Capitol Hill cafe is a soupçon of the tasting temple Pineapple and Pearls. Given that the nightly eight-course menu is whatever the chefs feel like cooking, you might get a transcendent cheeseburger as a finale. 921 Pennsylvania Ave., SE; 202-618-1868.
$40 a person
A prix fixe that’s more wallet-friendly than the à la carte menu is a special thing—all the more reason to frequent chef Jon Sybert’s mod-Mediterranean dining room for the three-course Sunday brunch, where you’ll still find foodie thrills like those on the regular dinner menu, such as tuna croquettes or duck-egg carbonara. 1827 Adams Mill Rd., NW; 202-986-9600.
$35 a person
On Tuesdays, chef Yuan Tang turns his tasting menu restaurant over to experimentation, serving only a four-course prix fixe of developing recipes—and charging diners half the regular price. 2436 14th St., NW; 202-813-3976.
43. Best Use of Jeff Bezos’s Money at the Washington Post
More Foreign Bureaus
Because nothing beats boots on the ground
After years of retrenchment and closing overseas offices, the Post now has 30 foreign correspondents—including in Paris, Brazil, Hong Kong, and Istanbul. Meaning more firsthand stories and—thank goodness—less parachuting in.
44. Best Critical Assassin
Because Maroon 5 really are that antiseptic
The Washington Post’s chief pop-music critic is an insightful writer with the kind of admirably eclectic taste that both illuminates and challenges readers. But some of his best work comes when he goes negative, whether he’s nailing the biggest issue with Bohemian Rhapsody, deftly fileting Imagine Dragons, or dismissing Super Bowl halftime performers Maroon 5 as “a sanitary wipe of a rock band.”
45. Best Breakfast Trend
Because poppy seeds and garlic make anything better
If you’re a fan of everything bagels, then we’re happy to report that the flavor is showing up on all manner of morning goodies: cream-cheese-filled pop tarts (at Northside Social), croissants (at Junction Bakery and Little Beast), even doughnuts (at B. Doughnut). We’ll take one of each.
46. Best Accidental Meme
Hallway Pizza Guy
Because politics could use a little more pizza
Who was the real winner of Michael Cohen’s congressional testimony? Thomas Connelly, the Georgetown student who went viral for stuffing his face with pizza in the background of a TV shot. &Pizza created a menu special for him and started a GoFundMe campaign to raise more pizza money for him.
47. Best New Hangouts
Because nowadays they seem just as interested in locals as in tourists
Washington has always had hotels that put out the welcome mat for residents—luring them with elegant teas (the Park Hyatt), fancy restaurants (the Jefferson), classic bars (the Willard, the Hay-Adams), lavish spas (the Mandarin), and cool pools (the Washington Plaza). But some hotels are now designing hip lobbies, lounges, and cafes where Washingtonians might go just for coffee while working on a laptop (the Line, the Eaton), or to play Ping-Pong or pool (the Fairfax at Embassy Row). And the W—whose rooftop watering hole, POV, has long been a local favorite—is undergoing renovations to extend its lobby bar.
48. Cutest Date Spot
Because there are shareable sweets and cozy nooks
The pan-Asian desserts at this snug spot—which looks like a prep-school library straight out of Wes Anderson Land—are both enormous and delightfully over the top. Go for thick Thai toast loaded with strawberries and vanilla soft-serve. 14215 Centreville Sq., Centreville; 571-655-5959.
49. Least Comfortable Dinner Seats
Swings at the Coconut Club
Because we prefer Spam fried rice in our mouth, not on the floor
The swinging basket chairs at Adam Greenberg’s island-inspired restaurant near Union Market seem kind of cool—until you try to eat in one. Instagram bait has its limits. 540 Penn St., NE; 202-544-5500.
50. Best Italian Import
Because the National Symphony Orchestra is newly invigorated
The espresso-loving Milanese maestro has been injecting energy into Washington’s classical-music scene since he took over as the NSO’s leader in 2017. A distinctly charismatic presence on the podium, he’ll spend the upcoming season pointing his baton toward works by Mahler, Wagner, and Beethoven, whose 250th birthday Noseda will celebrate by conducting all nine symphonies over the course of three weeks.
51. Best New Bookstore
Solid State Books
Because its bar and programming skew cooler than your usual bookstore-as-gathering-place
Founded by two alums of Kramerbooks, this sprawling shop checks every box for a 21st-century indie bookseller: It carries high and low titles, arty gifts, artisanal coffee, and alcohol. It hosts crafty workshops and lit-kids’ programs. It’s open seemingly all the time (till midnight on weekends). It’s a fun place to meet a friend—or make a new one. 600 H St., NE; 202-897-4201.
52. Best Politics and Prose Store for Readings
Because you can actually hear and see the author
More people can cram into this mini-chain’s Connecticut Avenue shop, but seeing an author there often means peering over a bookshelf and straining to hear. Readings at the Wharf are laid out more logically, and the PA sounds great. 70 District Sq., SW; 202-488-3867.
53. Best Doughnuts
Because we’ve had enough tricked-out sugar bombs
Upscale doughnuts are easy to find. Simply sugared rounds? Not so much. These eggy, Hawaiian-style confections are almost cloud-like and best filled with fresh jelly, sheathed in milk chocolate and sprinkles, or just plain. 7 Loudoun St., SW, Leesburg, 571-293-0554; pop-ups in Vienna and Ashburn.
54. Best New Local Clothing Line
Because DC’s buzziest new brand is a lacy, nipple-baring bra
“We all have nipples,” says Genevieve Gralton, explaining why she chose a beautiful but semi-sheer fabric for her undergarment line, Underbares. In other words, why hide them? The material’s comfortable cut and stretch earned a glowing write-up in Vogue. The Dupont Circle resident has managed to make something both sexy and practical—just right for Washington women in power garb.
55. Best New Boutique for Local Designers
Because the area’s fashion scene is now gathered all in one place
The airy pop-up has been around only since October, but founder Meghan Evans isn’t new to fashion—she designed dresses and separates for years before launching her own line. Her experience building a label is part of what motivated her to stock Park Story with other local, sustainably minded designers such as Mimi Miller and Maven Women. 2905 District Ave., Fairfax; 202-656-0386.
56. Best New Brewery
Because it offers a lot more than beer
While plenty of places serve great locally crafted beer, few have as many reasons to pull up a barstool as Red Bear, DC’s first 100-percent-gay-owned brewery. (Two of the three owners are veterans as well.) The 7,000-square-foot space in NoMa also has yoga classes, a music stage, board games, a dog-friendly patio, pop-up menus from local restaurants, and, with Gallaudet University nearby, ASL trivia nights. Oh, and an all-gender restroom covered in sultry photos of Jeff Goldblum. 209 M St., NE; 202-849-6130.
57. Best Cocktail Trend
Year-round Piña Coladas
Because we could all use a tropical vacation
That frozen mix of pineapple, coconut, and rum isn’t just for the beach. Top Washington bartenders are serving excellent renditions summer through winter.Back to Top
58. Worst Moment for Washington High-School Culture
When boys at Bethesda–Chevy Chase made a list ranking female classmates
Because that kind of behavior should have died at 1980s Georgetown Prep
In the year 2019, a list of 18 girls’ names—rated numerically based on hotness—wound its way through B-CC, popping up like a digital gut punch on the phones of female students.Back to Top
59. Best Moment for Washington High-School Culture
When the badass girls of Bethesda–Chevy Chase shut that nonsense down
Because the grownups at their school at first didn’t
Outraged by the list, senior girls reported it to school officials. The adults’ response? To encourage them not to discuss it and to discipline one boy with a single day of detention, according to the Washington Post. That wasn’t going to cut it. Dozens of girls showed up in the assistant principal’s office demanding more action. Administrators agreed to host a meeting of male and female students. The gathering lasted hours, with the girls bravely confronting the guys—including the ones behind the list—about the ways in which they routinely felt objectified. As one of the culpable boys told the Post: “This memory is not going to leave me anytime soon.” Good.
60. Best Other “Pink Wave”
Local women in tech
Because we’re the best city in the country for women who work in tech and want to get paid equally
According to a recent SmartAsset study, DC and Arlington are two of the best places in the country for women in tech—ranked one and five, respectively. Women in the District’s tech world earn 95 percent of what their male colleagues do—less of a pay gap than the 84-percent national average—and they make up 38.9 percent of the tech workforce, second-highest in the study.
61. Best Restaurant-Decor Trend
Because the future of dining here is female
Call it a backlash to the decade of exposed brick, Mason jars, and dim lighting that rendered a menu unreadable. Restaurant spaces have grown brighter, softer, fresher, more feminine—and better as a result. That’s true in name (good-bye, Fork & Barrel; hello, Chloe and Olivia) and in aesthetic—whether Parisienne pastels at Primrose wine bar in Brook-land, greenery galore at chic rooftop Wild Days in downtown DC, or the blush pleasure of the Rosé Garden in Navy Yard. We’re loving the trend toward lovely.
62. Best for Ungirly Girls’ Clothing
Because little girls like cars and sports, too
Girls can wear dresses with dinosaurs, leggings with computer circuits, and other designs once reserved for boys’ clothes, thanks to the online shop started by DC’s Eva St. Clair and Rebecca Melsky. Princess Awesome also has a boys’ line in the works. Says Melsky: “Our goal is to make sure that girls who love twirling and trucks and boys who love sparkles and science can wear all that they love.”
63. Best New Nail Salon
Because in an age when Instagram aesthetics are everything, this salon has upped the game
Opened since November, Nothing In Between has much going for it, including a ventilation system and nontoxic polishes that align with the cleaner beauty movement, plus a Scandanavian-style decor (soaring white walls, cotton-draped lounge chairs, natural woods, potted fig trees) that makes it Instagram-friendly. To top it off, hot-stone massages come free with every standard pedicure ($42) and manicure ($24). 6410 Arlington Blvd., Falls Church; 703-241-1257.
64. Best New Hair Salon
Because you can sip complimentary LaCroix in a serene, super-chic rowhouse, then leave looking incredible
Launched last year by Immortal Beloved alums with loyal followings (including some DC boldfacers), this salon in Park View, the emerging neighborhood south of Petworth, is a sure bet for an on-trend cut and/or color. It also offers “healing” services such as reiki and hosts local-art shows. 3111 Georgia Ave., NW; 202-290-3113.
65. Best New Day Spa
The Wharf Spa by L’Occitane
Because the view is as soothing as the massages
Washington has lots of places for a great massage or facial. But few are as airy and pretty as this spa in the InterContinental hotel, decorated with pops of yellow evoking the beauty brand’s Provençal roots. Our favorite feature is the coed lounge. If you luck into a seat by the window, you’ll enjoy a view of the sun-flecked water and Wharf below. 801 Wharf St., SW; 202-878-8484.
66. Best Workout If You Wish You Had a Dog
People and Animal Cardio Klub
Because running is easier with a cute dog
This Humane Rescue Alliance program lets volunteers take shelter dogs for Saturday-morning runs—or walks, no judgment—in Rock Creek Park or the National Arboretum. Fair warning: The dogs are all adoptable, and you may not be able to resist giving your new running buddy a home.
67. Best Crabcake
Because there’s just no substitute for Maryland lump
At their best, crabcakes are pretty simple—just sweet hunks of Chesapeake meat bound with a little egg, mayo, Old Bay, and, here, a tiny bit of mustard and crumbled brioche. The restaurant turns out a great sandwich, and if you buy it in the downstairs market, it’s hand-formed to order.
68. Best Crab Dish That’s Not a Crabcake
Blue-crab red curry at Kaliwa
Because this shellfish dish has us licking the bowl
Chef Cathal Armstrong’s Southeast Asian restaurant at the Wharf makes its own Thai-chili curry paste with a secret ingredient—Korean gochugaru red-pepper flakes—for this coconut-milk-based dish. But the pièce de résistance is the blue crab (local in season) generously heaped on top with crispy garlic. 751 Wharf St., SW; 202-516-4739.
69. Best Guitar Slinger
Because her irresistible riffs still strike a chord
Has the DC native ever been busier? Her latest album with the band Ex Hex, It’s Real, is a head-nodding ode to ’80s stadium rock that would make Joan Jett proud. Timony also plays in the new local group Hammered Hulls, with Alec MacKaye and other music-scene notables. (They’ve played around town but haven’t yet recorded.) Earlier this year, Dischord Records reissued the collected recordings of her early-’90s DC band, Autoclave. And Ex Hex recently created its own flavor at the Mount Pleasant ice-cream spot Mt. Desert Island, called Another DiMINTsion. Yes, she even has good taste in desserts.
70. Best Food-Court Transformation
Because with all of Washington’s good food, there’s no excuse for bad mall food
Food halls—the trendy, cheffy answer to food courts—keep popping up around Washington, with ten newcomers slated for this year. The gigantic indoor/outdoor marketplace at the revamped Ballston Quarter (née Ballston Common) feels fresh without growing too far from its roots. Marquee names such as Himitsu chef Kevin Tien and the Timber Pizza Co. team are slinging superior mall classics such as slices and fried-chicken sandwiches. The mix of 24 restaurants and vendors blends local chainlets (Ted’s Bulletin, Ice Cream Jubilee) with popular national brands (gaming emporium Punch Bowl Social, True Food Kitchen), plus indie businesses serving a globe’s worth of cuisines like local oysters, arepas, fresh pastas, dumplings, sushi, and beer—which, more easily than at any food court, you can carry as you graze. 4238 Wilson Blvd., Arlington.
71. Best Toddler Distraction (Suburbs)
Because you can control chaos here, sort of
It’s a vast, padded, socks-only indoor playground, perfect for rainy weekends and federal holidays, where kids can run about like joyful heathens. Which is to say: total anarchy—and totally awesome. 5412 Eisenhower Ave., Alexandria; 571-858-5064.
72. Best Toddler Distraction (City)
Baba Ras D at BloomBars
Because this kind of cultural diversity is why you live in the city
A former corrections officer hosting Saturday-morning sing-alongs of Rasta-style nursery rhymes + a pay-what-you-like entrance fee + a voodoo aesthetic = unexpected pleasure for kid and parent alike at this Columbia Heights community arts space. 3222 11th St., NW; 202-210-0261.
73. Best New Team to Get to Know
Because e-sports are the “sports” of the future
Think no one would pay to watch someone play video games? When the Washington Justice, a fledgling video-game team owned by Mark Ein, hosted its inaugural game watch in February at Penn Social sports bar in Chinatown, the line to get in went around the block. The Justice play in the Overwatch League—20 teams competing in the multi-player shooter game Overwatch—and DC has some of its most engaged fans. Although matches are currently broadcast from an arena in California, the Justice are expected to begin playing home matches in DC next year.
74. Worst Dessert Trend
Because have we really all just given up on life?
It’s fun to lick batter off a spoon in your kitchen, but no one needs the half dozen shops that have opened in recent years serving raw dough by the scoop (and certainly not dough-stuffed cookie sandwiches).
75. Best Use of Cookie Dough
Cookies-and-cookie-dough ice cream at Ice Cream Jubilee
Because you won’t have to choose between the two best ice-cream flavors in the world
There are more creative flavors at Victoria Lai’s shops—strawberries-and–tres leches, chocolate-yuzu—but this one, in which Oreos and eggless cookie dough converge in rich vanilla ice cream, is what we line up for. Four area locations.
76. Best Local Politician’s Newsletter
Justin Wilson’s “The Council Connection”
Because when it comes to where they live, so many Washingtonians are low-information voters
On the first day of every month, Alexandria’s may-or sends out a massively wonky e-mail newsletter that covers topics both eye-glazing and unexpectedly fascinating—for example, the effects of townhouses versus single-family homes on school enrollment.
77. Best Citizen Service
DC Superior Court’s jury-duty video
Because you’ll feel better about showing up
Since its 2014 debut, 30,000 people a year have watched Andrew Ferguson’s video. Not bad for a law professor. Admittedly, he has a captive audience: The UDC prof and onetime public defender is the star of the video shown to prospective jurors who are there only because they answered a summons. But the film has a way of making folks feel better about spending the day at DC Superior Court. A 47-year-old District native, Ferguson explains jury duty’s place in history, allowing viewers, momentarily, to see themselves not as nobodies going through a biennial chore but as citizens fighting for justice, fairness, and equality.
78. Most Generous Restaurateur After José Andrés
Because too many people in this city don’t get enough to eat, and he’s filling some of that void
Sakina Halal Grill (1108 K St., NW) will feed any hungry belly—whether a K Street lawyer’s, a tourist’s, or a homeless individual’s—with its buffet of Pakistani-Indian curries and kebabs. Can’t afford it? It’s on the house. Mannan, an immigrant from Pakistan, served nearly 16,000 free meals in 2018. Why? “I like to believe that when I’m giving to the poor and hungry, God sees that,” he told Eater in 2017. “Just the act of giving a smile to someone can be a blessing. Just think about what food has the power to do.”
79. Best New Mode of Transportation
Because it’s a new way to escape gridlock
Water taxis, once with limited services, now make regular stops, including during morning and evening commutes, between Alexandria, National Harbor, Georgetown, and most recently, the Wharf. The fleet of barges even serves beer, so you can enjoy happy hour on the go.
80. Best New Way to Drink on the Water
Because not everyone owns a yacht
The new customer-powered “Cycleboat” at the Georgetown waterfront—available for 90-minute paddles for groups of up to 16—is like a booze cruise and (light) exercise class rolled into one. Plus you can BYO wine, beer, and snacks while the crew provides ice and coolers. $45 a person; make reservations online.
81. Worst Way to Drink on the Water
Boomerang Pirate Ship adult cruises
Because wench costumes should be limited to Halloween
We can handle the kids’ “treasure hunt” cruise, but we’d rather walk the plank than be stuck aboard a faux-pirate barge with millennials in seafaring at-tire—or worse, “sexy wench” costumes—guzzling tequila-laced “pirate punch.” $20 to $30 a person.
82. Best Unsung Restaurant Patio
Because DC now has so many crowded patios, it’s rare to find one this peaceful
Washington is full of pretty places to dine al fresco, but the herb-filled garden adjoining this Georgetown French restaurant will transport you straight to Provence. Order a bottle of rosé and some chicken-liver mousse and enjoy a little quiet under a bright-yellow umbrella. 1035 31st St., NW; 202-965-2606.
83. Best Affordable Restaurant for Groups
Because dining with all your friends shouldn’t be stressful
No need to fret about dividing up tapas plates or split-ting a check with different-priced entrées among your entire squad at this Korean-barbecue newcomer in Fairfax. Combos of tabletop-grilled meats—from thick-cut pork belly to prime rib eye—are generous and fun and typically break down to less than $25 a person. 9619 Fairfax Blvd., Fairfax; 571-459-2875.
84. Best New Wine Store
Because it sells only natural wine
Before this airy storefront opened last fall, natural-wine geeks in DC had to work to find their favorites locally (let alone happen upon new ones). Not anymore—the shop stocks hundreds of low-to-no-sulfite wines, both international and domestic. Bonus: The $20-and-under value rack is a helpful starting point for newbies. 10 Florida Ave., NW; 202-853-3897.
85. Best Beauty Shop on a Mission
Because cosmetics regulations haven’t changed in 80 years
Cosmetics don’t need pre-market approval from the FDA, so the ingredients in face lotions and makeup are virtually unregulated. That’s why Ivy Wild owner Rachel Mulcahy prescreens every bottle, tube, and compact for 12 ingredients commonly found in personal-care products—often called the “dirty dozen”—before they hit the shelves in her dreamy Cardozo boutique. 1328 Florida Ave., NW; 202-804-5441.
86. Coolest Kids’ Sleepovers
Because your kids can sleep under a 50-foot whale
Ever since the 2009 movie Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, the Smithsonian has offered kids and their guardians the chance to bunk overnight at the National Museum of Natural History. This year, little ones will be among the first to see the new Fossil Hall and its dinosaurs.
87. Best Stupid Pet Trick
Because a skateboarding pug is frivolous fun we need right now
You might do a double take if you see Mr. Butts, a seven-year-old pug, propelling himself on a skateboard with the push of a paw. Owners Justin Siemaszko and Elizabeth Farnstrom used YouTube training videos to keep the dog engaged during winter, when his seasonal depression flares. Mr. Butts can often be seen rolling outside the Mount Vernon Square bakery A Baked Joint—a tiny Tony Hawk with a curlicue tail.
This article appears in the June 2019 issue of Washingtonian.