- 1. The New Way to Work
- 2. The New Ways We Live
- 3. Eating | Destination Streateries and Outdoor Patios
- 4. Eating | Over-the-Top At-Home Food Experiences
- 5. Drinking | New Bottle Clubs
- 6. Nightlife | New Restaurant Neighborhoods
- 7. Shopping | New Spots to Shop Local Businesses
- 8. Shopping | New Stores Offering Custom Items
- 9. Home | New Plant and Flower Shops
- 10. Culture | The Age of the Big Art Installation
- 11. Museums | Three New (or Reinvented) Museums
- 12. Nightlife | New Bars With Games
- 13. Transportation | New Ways to Get Around
- 14. New Rules For Dining Out
- 15. New Rules For Parties
- 16. New Rules For Dating
1. The New Way to Work
Now that WFH is here to stay, Zoom rooms aren’t just about wallpaper and houseplants—they have to function for the long haul. People have moved altogether or have renovated garages and guest rooms into permanent offices. At the very least, a lot of us have finally given in and swapped MacBooks for full-size monitors. Designers are now fielding questions about cable management and disguising home printers.
From the Office
Giving corporate spaces a homier feel was trendy before Covid, but now companies are taking it further, designing setups that let employees work from wherever they’re most comfortable rather than at an assigned desk. “Think of a hotel lobby,” explains Erica Cummings, principal at Form Architects. “There’s always a variety of places and nooks and crannies that draw people out of their rooms.” David Ritchey, executive vice president at developer JBG Smith, predicts that outdoor workspaces will also be key as more organizations bring employees back.
2. The New Ways We Live
The New Suburban Surge
For many formerly devoted city dwellers, the promise of backyards, extra bedrooms, and quiet Zoom calls has become significantly more alluring than proximity to the newest rooftop cocktail bar. The proof is in the real-estate prices: By November 2021, home values were up by 13.5 percent in Bethesda, almost 17 percent in Potomac, and nearly 20 percent in Great Falls; in DC, they increased by less than 5 percent. Meanwhile, some beloved urban hangouts are also making the move. Capitol Hill’s Pretzel Bakery is planning a second location in Potomac. DC mini-chain Colada Shop has said it’s now focused on suburban expansion. The group behind All-Purpose Pizza and the Red Hen is opening two spots in Bethesda.
The New Trump Tomes
While the initial wave of Trump memoirs was defined by buzzy accounts of chaos and incompetence, the latest firsthand accounts aim to satiate our hunger for in-the-room details while tackling weightier questions, says Carlos Lozada, who consumed 150 Trump-related titles while researching his own book, What Were We Thinking. Stephanie Grisham’s tell-all was filled with gossipy nuggets, but it also addressed the larger issue of why Trump die-hards remained loyal. Former senior national-security official Fiona Hill’s new book goes beyond the first impeachment proceedings to recount a broader narrative about the ascent of populist heads of state. And Congressman Adam Schiff’s volume isn’t simply a catalog of Trump’s transgressions—it’s a look at the frustrations of investigating a President in a polarized Congress.
The New Way to Protest
Gathering a horde of demonstrators outside politicos’ offices isn’t so fun when the offices are closed by Covid. Which may be why the last 18 months have featured the rise of the “house call.” Body bags were laid in front of Senator Mitch McConnell’s house, a go-go truck paid a visit to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s residence, and a candlelight vigil at Senator Josh Hawley’s home went viral after the lawmaker falsely called foul on Twitter. If the fall’s kayak protests outside Senator Joe Manchin’s houseboat are any indication, the trend could be here to stay—for better or worse.
The New Everywhere Gym
In-person fitness is back, but studios are still offering opportunities to sweat it out at home. Virtual startup Moxie opened a Bethesda gym last year with membership options that include in-person only, virtual only, and hybrid workouts. Meanwhile, instructors are still streaming on-demand classes at studios such as Bloomingdale’s Bluebird Sky Yoga—ideal for different comfort levels and schedules. Outdoor workouts are also sticking around: The Vida gym chain runs such courses at three DC locations, and the conditioning studio Cut Seven opened a 2,000-square-foot space on the 14th Street corridor with retractable garage doors for fresh-air fitness in any weather.
The New Customer-Service Adage
The old hospitality maxim “The customer is always right” has been busted in the pandemic—not that it was ever true. Credit waitstaff who have to double as Covid cops—yes, you must wear a mask; no, you can’t push tables together—and certain customer behavior that’s, ahem, irrational at best (remember the hostess who was punched in the face at Carmine’s?). More business owners are also vocally fighting back on Yelp and social media when they deem a patron’s behavior unfair or untruthful. Even in the wake of lifted restrictions, restaurants continue to struggle after almost two years of turmoil. In short, be kind when you dine.
3. Eating | Destination Streateries and Outdoor Patios
Covid’s indoor closures forced restaurants to get creative with outdoor dining. Some of the most elaborate setups are sticking around.
This streatery has transformed into a Trans-Siberian Railway car dubbed “Karenina’s Carriage,” complete with curtained windows; a bookcase stuffed with matryoshka dolls and Russian literature; and vodka service. 1346 T St., NW.
Last year, the bar’s expansive Park View patio became a Viking Village. This year, it’s got an après-ski theme with fire pits and a new retractable roof. Plus, it’s looking to install a (real!) hot tub. 3400 Georgia Ave., NW.
The canopied streatery and patio shifts with the seasons (pine branches for winter, cherry blossoms in spring), making it one of the most Instagrammed spots in DC. 1306 18th St., NW.
4. Eating | Over-the-Top At-Home Food Experiences
Carryout and delivery dominated during the pandemic—even fine-dining spots offered to-go feasts. And the trend continues.
Have a sushi omakase feast prepared in your home by Sushi Taro alums Amy Phan and Zach Ramos, who also operate a takeout-only business selling luxe chirashi bowls. Prices range from $150 to $250 a person for up to ten guests. For the higher price range, expect seasonal imports from Tokyo’s Toyosu Fish Market, including “funky stuff” like cod sperm.
For cheffy ingredients you can prepare on your own, Nick Stefanellli’s high-end Italian markets in Georgetown and at the Wharf offer vegetarian ($175) and butcher ($250) boxes with a curated mix of pantry staples, ready-to-eat meals, snacks, and weekly meal-prep recipes. Add gourmet cheeses, fresh-baked breads, or cocktail kits.
One of DC’s most buzzed-about restaurants has a range of at-home options, from three-course delivery meals ($50 a person) to multi-course dinner parties supplying everything from plates and glassware to a custom playlist ($200 to $450 a person). The newest: dinner- and wine-club memberships offering exclusive monthly tasting menus and hard-to-find bottles for delivery or pickup.
5. Drinking | New Bottle Clubs
To-go cocktails brought the bar into our living rooms. Now, even after they’ve reopened, some local bars and eateries are offering subscriptions to wine and cocktail clubs with curated bottle drops each month.
Does committing to a subscription make you shudder? This Levantine restaurant’s Habibi Wine Club lets imbibers buy bottles in the curated wine box on a month-to-month basis. Varietals celebrate lesser-known wine regions across the Middle East. 1346 Fourth St., SE.
The modernist restaurant launched an artsy cocktail club with drinks riffing on paintings at the National Gallery of Art. A wine club explores different parts of the world each month to satisfy wanderlust through wine. 1906 14th St., NW.
Cocktail counter Show of Hands has yet to open at the Roost food hall, but home mixologists can preview the spectrum of boozy to low-ABV creations in monthly cocktail drops mixed by spirits director Nick Farrell. 1401 Pennsylvania Ave., SE.
Capitol Hill’s gin den offers an ultra-exclusive club—only 40 members a month—for fans of the spirit. Cocktail kits are available in serving sizes of four or 12, with ingredients, garnishes, tutorials, and tools to compose gin-based libations. 727 C St., SE.
6. Nightlife | New Restaurant Neighborhoods
Sure, 14th Street and Shaw still have culinary cachet, but quieter residential and suburban neighborhoods have become new hot spots. Here are three to watch.
There have always been plenty of restaurants, but now more local chefs and national names are flocking to the suburb. That’s true for trendy DC fast-casuals (e.g., Little Sesame, Chiko, Chaia) as well as more upscale spots. Coming soon: seafood-centric Salt Line and Miami’s meatless Planta.
Amazon’s arrival and revamped developments such as Westpost (née Pentagon Row) have created a culinary boom. Look for new spots including Mattie and Eddie’s, a gastropub from Cathal Armstrong; mahjong/dim sum/cocktail bar Sparrow Room; and modern Chinese takeout Lucky Danger.
The leafy neighborhood tucked between Adams Morgan and Columbia Heights is a lively spot for foodies these days. Some of our favorite newcomers: cookbook shop Bold Fork Books; sourdough pizzas at Martha Dear; and Nido, a Mediterranean wine shop, bar, and market.
7. Shopping | New Spots to Shop Local Businesses
Here are three stores that make it easy to find products from local makers.
Like a food hall for fashion, this is a rotating group of brands with mini-boutiques that shoppers can peruse in a 22,000-square-foot “retail lab.” Winter tenants include sustainable clothing brand Tribute Collective, jeweler Viva Vida, and funky furniture shop Candor Collab. 3077 M St., NW. Update: Concept 31/M has announced that it will be “pausing operations” as of January 31 “to make way for exciting new brands coming to the space later this year.”
This Cleveland Park store started as a pop-up series highlighting brands launched by women and nonbinary entrepreneurs. The retailer is now a one-stop shop for groovy candles, natural beauty products, and vintage homeware. 3409 Connecticut Ave., NW. Update: The Femme Fatale shop in Cleveland Park closed in December; follow them on Instagram for news of future pop-ups.
The team behind Shop Made in DC opened an Old Dominion version in November stocked with goods from 120 makers. Look for Virginia-themed prints and candles as well as artsy classes taught by local producers. A Maryland iteration in College Park is on the way. 1121 King St., Alexandria.
8. Shopping | New Stores Offering Custom Items
It’s an age of personalization—and not just online. These brick-and-mortar shops recently opened with pieces that can be personalized onsite.
Scribes and scribblers can stamp notebooks with gold-foil logos at the Ivy City shop. Custom orders are also available for special events. 1500 Okie St., NE.
Bloomingdale’s first-ever mini-store has a younger, hipper vibe, with a monogramming station and patch booth to give wares a personalized look. 2920 District Ave., Fairfax.
The California jewelry brand unveiled storefronts last fall in Georgetown and Bethesda. Engraving services are available for the delicate necklaces and plate bracelets—for free. 3029 M St., NW; 4810 Bethesda Ave., Bethesda.
9. Home | New Plant and Flower Shops
One of the oddest commercial booms during the Covid era has been the surge in over-the-top houseplant ownership. Three stores that cater to the new obsession:
The pop-up is turning into a perennial storefront in Takoma with foliage, succulents, and decorative planters. Owner and designer Anges Traynor provides consultations to select the right greenery for different spaces. 7000 Carroll Ave., Takoma Park, Suite 200F.
The Ballston sequel to DC’s popular plant spot features the same verdant jungle and gratis potting services. Delivery expanded to Northern Virginia, too, so botanists can have looming leaves dropped at home. 700 N. Randolph St., Arlington.
Florist Holley Simmons’s flower shop decamped from Petworth to two new locations in the fall. A petite storefront in Capitol Hill offers grab-and-go bouquets, while Eckington’s floral studio features workshops and a build-your-own bloom bar for DIY arrangements. 721 Eighth St., SE; 1550 Harry Thomas Way, NE, Suite 180.
10. Culture | The Age of the Big Art Installation
The new recipe for a blockbuster show involves going big with vast murals that think outside the confines of a frame. Three current examples:
Author and illustrator Mo Willems bade goodbye to his Kennedy Center residency by transforming the floor of the Reach plaza into a 9,500-square-foot canvas. A mural of colorful dots and lines doubles as a play space where spectators become part of the design. 2700 F St., NW.
Ever wish you could walk into a painting? Sunflowers and starry nights come to life in this digital installation at Brentwood’s Rhode Island Center, highlighting more than 300 van Gogh works through virtual-reality activations and floor-to-ceiling screens spanning 15,000 square feet. A similar exhibit dedicated to Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera unveils in May. 680 Rhode Island Ave., NE.
Art goes alfresco at the Hirshhorn, where Swiss artist Nicolas Party wrapped a massive collage around the building’s scaffolding. Looming faces inspired by 17th-century Dutch paintings peek from behind bright-hued drapes on the 829-square-foot panorama. Independence Ave. and Seventh St., NW.
11. Museums | Three New (or Reinvented) Museums
You know the Smithsonian stalwarts. These Covid-era openings are the latest additions enlivening the museum scene.
Flying taxis and emotive robots feel like sci-fi reveries, but you can find the real-life prototypes on display in the building’s “Futures” exhibition. The historic space reopened after almost 20 years of closures with more than 150 forward-thinking artifacts. 900 Jefferson Dr., SW.
There are no “do not touch” signs at the language museum. Instead, visitors are encouraged to interact with displays that contextualize words in humor, songs, and speeches. You can open books in the sweeping library for a mini–light show revealed within the pages. 925 13th St., NW.
The whimsical museum adjacent to the Ronald Reagan Building combines techy installations with classic playground equipment to teach kids about science and technology. Little ones explore tactile exhibits such as a racecar track and a cloud-inspired jungle gym. 1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW.
12. Nightlife | New Bars With Games
Forget dinner and a movie. Four spots are combining drink and play for an unconventional night out.
Is there better post-quarantine catharsis than throwing an axe? Groups looking to partake in the lumberjacktivity can reserve a lane at Fauquier County’s Farm Brewery at Broad Run. Chase hatchets with hops brewed onsite. 16015 John Marshall Hwy., Broad Run.
Remember the Village Lanes Bowling Center? The revamped space is still a spot to knock pins—albeit an upscale version with charcuterie boards and sangría. If bowling a strike in one of the 16 lanes isn’t your thing, head to the arcade for throwback games like PacMan and Skee-Ball. 49 Catoctin Cir., SE, Leesburg.
This London expat houses two nine-hole courses in Dupont Circle with obstacles such as a spinning water wheel and looping greens. Caddies shuttle beer and frozen cocktails onto the course to pair with a mini–food hall of New York–style slices, Southern burgers, and street tacos. 1330 19th St., NW.
The two-story bar in Capital One Arena made its debut in June as the country’s first sports-betting venue inside an athletic stadium. Catch games on the massive jumbotron while placing wagers at 30 kiosks. Michelin-starred chef Nicholas Stefanelli designed the menu with cheffy riffs on tailgate favorites. 601 F St., NW.
13. Transportation | New Ways to Get Around
We may be going places again—but we’re not necessarily going the same way. Some new rules of the road:
Cheaper Metro Fares
Weekend rides are now $2; weeklong bus passes are $12.
Alexandria’s DASH system has ended fare collection.
Bring Your Bike on MARC
All trains now have racks for at least four bicycles.
Lock Up That Scooter!
DC now requires all rental scooters to end their ride locked by a cable.
Speedier Screening at Reagan National
New security halls promise to get you to your flight faster.
14. New Rules For Dining Out
Make Reservations (Yes, Even for Burgers)
Only the fanciest spots used to have mandatory reservations, but now more casual places like Bethesda’s Woodmont Grill require them (no walk-ins, even for a French dip).
And Keep Them
More businesses require credit cards to book, and charge for last-minute cancellations or no-shows—typically $10 to $20 within a 24-hour period, a small fee considering what it costs restaurants to hold an empty table.
Bring Your Vaccination Card
The spectrum of businesses requiring proof of vaccination is wide, from dive bars such as Ivy & Coney in Shaw to Michelin-starred tasting rooms like Gravitas. When in doubt, go out with your card, and check business websites in advance.
Reserve Customizations for Your Fast-Casual Bowl
Add avo? Maybe not. Given the soaring cost of ingredients and massive supply disruptions, many chefs are keeping their menus like Ryan Gosling’s hair: short and tight.
15. New Rules For Parties
Keep It Small
Comfort levels vary, but many guests remain wary of tight crowds. Keep your guest list trimmed according to your space, ensuring that people have a little more room to move about.
If you have the space, set up an indoor/outdoor floor plan. Make your balcony, patio, or rooftop as accessible as possible for guests who may prefer alfresco.
Grazing tables and self-serve buffets still give some people pause after almost two years of hyper-hygiene. Think about setting up less communal options such as individually plated bites and attendant-served stations.
Consider Proof or Test Rules
Similar to events and entertainment venues, some private functions are requiring proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test. Companies such as Sameday Health and Event Scan can be contracted—for a premium—to conduct onsite testing.
16. New Rules For Dating
Start With Vaccination Status
If vaccination status is a deal breaker, make sure a potential partner is on the same page—some singles are even touting their jab on dating profiles. “It opens up the lines of communication,” says dating coach Erika Ettin, founder of A Little Nudge.
No one wants their time wasted, especially after months of social distancing at home. If you’re looking for a serious relationship, let suitors know you’re thinking long-term. And if a casual hookup is more your speed? Set the expectation ASAP.
Don’t Restrict to In-Person
First dates on FaceTime were de rigueur during quarantine, and the virtual introduction can still act as a low-stakes entry point to meeting IRL. “It’s a chance to say hello and see if there’s something there,” says Michelle Jacoby, founder of DC Matchmaking.
The DC area is currently experiencing record-high numbers of new Covid cases due to the Omicron variant. Attending in-person events could now be significantly riskier, even for vaccinated people. You can find more info here: DC, Maryland, Virginia
This article appears in the January 2022 issue of Washingtonian.