by June 18, 2013 at 12:00 pm 3 Comments

From Cara Scharf. Email her at cara[AT]


Philanthropub on 9th Street NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

A few weeks ago I wrote about Borderstan’s charitable bar, Cause, the Philanthropub, starting Sunday brunch service with a few trial menu items. Now that they’ve had success with the first few brunches, they are rolling out a permanent brunch menu, which features an interesting twist on a morning favorite: “Adult Cereals.”

Yes, alongside the French toast, omelets, and Huevos Rancheros, you’ll find cereal and alcohol combos such as the “Silly Sloe Rabbit”, made with Trix, Sloe Gin, lemon syrup, and Half & Half. See the full menu here.

I encourage you all to go to Cause’s brunch and try the cereals because, well, where else in the city can you simultaneously day-drink and donate to worthy charities?  For me, though, I have to admit that a boozy breakfast just makes me think of the immortal words of Lethal Weapon character Roger Murtaugh: “I’m too old for this.”

Am I aging out of DC drinking culture at just 28-years-old?

A couple weekends ago, a friend of mine came to DC for his bachelor party. I’m female, but this was a non-gendered affair, so I trekked out to H Street and tried to work up a healthy buzz with beer and wine. We played mini golf at the H Street Country Club until 1 am and then moved on to the Rock and Roll Hotel to dance to some songs that were popular when I was in middle school. Everyone seemed to be having a jolly-good time and I was glad to be part of it, but mostly I just wanted to stop drinking and go to sleep.

I often joke that DC is full of “perpetual college students”, people who still act like they’re in college well into their 30s. It’s understandable: this is a great place to be a young professional and, with myriad opportunities to integrate drinking into activities like sports and brunch, it’s easy to keep the buzz going. But I think everyone hits a point where they’re not into it anymore. Sometimes, I feel like an outsider because I’ve reached that point a bit earlier than others.

It would be great to know I’m not alone: any of you in your late 20’s feeling the same?

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by June 4, 2013 at 12:00 pm 0

From Cara Scharf. Email her at cara[AT]


VIDA’s U Street rooftop pool. (Courtesy of VIDA)

If the past weekend’s heat wave is any indication, this summer may be brutally hot and humid.  Luckily, for Borderstan residents who prefer backstroke to heat stroke, there are several outdoor swimming pools nearby where you can cool off, catch a tan, and work on your fitness.

Public Pools

DC residents can take advantage of free access to any pools run by the District’s Department of Parks and Recreation. Pools are now open on weekends and will open for full weekend and weekday hours on June 24. Nearby, DC DPR pools include:

  • Francis Pool (2500 N Street NW) features roped-off areas of varying depths to satisfy children, beginners, and novice swimmers.
  • Banneker Pool (2500 Georgia Avenue NW) is a crowd favorite that you may find yourself waiting in line to enter, but once you’re in you’ll enjoy separate adult and child areas and diving boards.
  • Upshur Pool (4300 Arkansas Avenue NW) is where you’ll find ample parking but no depths greater than 5 feet.
  • Happy Hollow Children’s Pool (2200 Champlain Street NW, adjacent to Marie Reed Aquatic Center) exists solely for the young ‘uns.

Be sure to call the pool if you have questions (including what kind of identification you can use if you don’t have a DC driver’s license. Beyond listing the hours and addresses of each pool, the DC DPR Aquatic Facilities website is sparse but worth visiting for more information.

For all pools, early arrival is best to ensure you can snag a lawn chair. Expect to be with children at the pool, be curteous with your eating habits and choice of swimsuit, and don’t expect to train for the Olympics or you will get frustrated.

Grown-Up Pools

For those of you who like to booze while you bathe in a more exclusive atmosphere, check out one of DC’s rooftop bar/pool combinations, such as the swanky DNV Rooftop Pool Bar (at the Donovan House Hotel, 1155 14th Street NW). You can buy memberships to the Capitol Skyline Hotel (10 I St SW) or the Penthouse Pool and Lounge (1612 U Street NW, roof of Vida Fitness). However, Capitol Skyline has Adult Pool Parties that non-members can attend by texting your name to their guest list line (information on Facebook).

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by May 20, 2013 at 9:00 am 0


Mastectomy: What you should know about it. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Cara Scharf. Email her at cara[AT]


Cara Scharf after surgery. (Courtesy Sara Scharf)

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. I am a breast cancer survivor and carrier of the same gene mutation that prompted Angelina Jolie to have a double mastectomy, which she talked about in last’s Tuesday Op-Ed in The New York Times.

At age 22, a blood test told me I had a mutated BRCA 1 gene. Everyone has BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes, but when these genes are mutated, lifetime risk of breast and ovarian cancer shoots way up. I was given two options: remove the body parts that might get cancer (what Jolie did), or be closely monitored. I opted to monitor, but three years later I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and I underwent a double mastectomy.

In light of all of Jolie’s publicity, there are a couple things I think it’s important for everyone to know:

  1. Please think before you judge – It always pains me to read the comments on articles like Jolie’s because of nasty people who chastise us for making such drastic decisions. No one thinks surgery should be taken lightly. As of 2013, however, it is the best option available to women with BRCA gene mutations, if they don’t want to end up with cancer. If your doctor told you that there was an 80% chance you’d get cancer in your pinky finger, would you consider having it removed?
  2. Mastectomies are serious business – Most celebrities glaze over their health issues. No one wants to share negative news like hair loss or depression, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Mastectomies are grueling, many people have complications, and there will be lasting physical and emotional scars.
  3. The media is often wrong – I heard a local news affiliate state that Jolie tested positive for the BRCA gene. As I mentioned above, everyone has the genes, but not everyone has a gene mutation. This is just one example of the media giving inaccurate information, which brings me to my next point:
  4. Educate yourself – This cannot be stressed enough. There is so much information available about BRCA gene mutations that there is no excuse for ignorance. It is worth it for everyone to explore their family’s medical history and find out whether it might be worthwhile to test for genetic abnormalities, and be sure you have the right support system (doctors, genetic counselors, family members) to help you if you do find something out of the ordinary.

Cara keeps a blog about BRCA, breast cancer and her journey as a survivor. For more information about hereditary breast cancer, visit Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered (FORCE). 

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by May 8, 2013 at 11:00 am 1 Comment

From Cara Scharf. Email her at cara[AT]

"young professional"

DC young professional ranked 3rd as the happiest in the country . (Luis Gomez Photos)

No one will dispute that DC is full of young professionals, and many might say DC’s young professionals are overworked and over committed. A recent ranking from paints our city’s young professionals in a different light: as the third happiest in the country. compiled the list with information from the past 12 months. They define young professionals as people who have been working full-time for less than 10 years, and factors surveyed include work-life balance, boss and co-worker relationships, compensation, growth opportunities, and company culture. Rounding out the top three cities are San Francisco in the second spot and San Jose in the first spot.

Before you start doubting the math, I’d like to share some reasons why I agree that DC is bringing good tidings of comfort and joy to us young professionals.

Myriad of Networking Opportunities

DC’s young professionals are driven, and while that’s sometimes an annoyance, it also means that you can take advantage of every encounter as a networking opportunity. I’ve found that DC is a hotbed of professional development and networking groups.

As a young arts professional, I’m engaged with Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of DC and Emerging Arts Leaders of DC, both of which host happy hours, workshops, and conferences.

Social Activities

Kickball. Bocce. Running. Trivia. Even a competitive karaoke league and a drunken spelling bee. DC’s young professionals play as hard as they work, so no matter what your interest, you can find a group that is combining your activity of choice with drinks and social interaction.

You’re in the “Center” of the Country

DC is an important city, which makes it an exciting place to be. In just one week, I volunteered inside the World Bank and attended a congressional briefing in the Capital Building. Where else in the country can you go to so many important places, places that people all over the world are reading about and may never be able to visit?

And as bothersome as a motorcade might be, how many other young professionals get to say that they were “this close” to the President?

Young professional readers: does your experience validate or go against the rankings?

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by May 4, 2013 at 8:43 am 0

From Cara Scharf. Email her at cara[AT]


Philanthropub on 9th Street NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Brunch now has a meaning. Now you can add Cause, the Philanthropub (1926 9th Street NW) to your list of Borderstan brunch joints. Starting this Sunday, May 5, the socially conscious bar and restaurant will be open from noon to 8 pm, serving food and traditional brunch-time drinks.

Opened last October, Cause is the first restaurant in DC to donate all profits, after expenses and salary, to charity. The self-professed “philanthropub” features four nonprofit beneficiaries each quarter, chosen by Cause’s advisory committee. Diners can choose one of the four by marking their bill.

Doing good isn’t the only reason people are going to Cause. The seasonal, creative dishes are also top-notch. One of Cause’s founders, former Peace Corps volunteer Nick Vilelle, cites the positive response and requests from patrons as the reason the restaurant has expanded into brunch territory.

Cause’s chefs are still working on a set brunch menu, but in the interim Sunday brunches will feature weekly specials. This Sunday’s menu includes Huevos Rancheros, homemade cornmeal pancakes, and breakfast sammies. You can also enjoy $15 bottomless mimosas or Bloody Marys between noon and 4pm.

Vilelle is open to hearing menu suggestions from the community, so feel free to get in touch through the website.

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by April 26, 2013 at 11:00 am 0

From Cara Scharf. Email her at cara[AT]


Karaoke on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at Policy on 14th Street NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

If you like the idea of social sports but are more inclined to belt out some tunes in the shower, check out District Karaoke league. Now in its second year, District Karaoke is “D.C.’s only social, team-based karaoke league,” according to the website.

Over the course of eight weeks, teams of up to eight people perform solo and group karaoke numbers, which are then scored by fellow competitors. This season there will be five divisions, taking place on different weeknights around the area, including Tuesdays and Wednesdays at Policy, 1904 14th Street NW.

The highest scoring teams from each division go on to semifinals and finals. The season culminates in a citywide final round at Penn Social (801 E Street, NW). Some weeks are themed, for instance there’s a “Disney & Showtunes” night and a “90s Mixtape” night.

Registration is open now for teams and individuals. Don’t miss your chance to claim karaoke dominance — and a T-shirt, which is included in the registration price ($55.00 per person).

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by April 26, 2013 at 9:00 am 0

From Cara Scharf. Email her at cara[AT]

"The Pig"

Chef Michael Bonk at The Pig. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Just shy of its first anniversary, The Pig (1320 14th Street NW), is welcoming a new head chef: Michael Bonk.

The Pig offers dinner, brunch and lunch, with locally sourced menu items such as crispy pig ears, Carolina smoked BBQ, cured meats, fresh salads and boar spoonbread. The restaurant also started offering online ordering this past March.

Bonk’s cooking career is only five-years-old, but he has a wealth of experience from popular DC eateries such as the Queen Vic Pub, Vidalia, and Mio. Most recently, he served as executive chef at the Capitol Hill restaurant and wine bar, Sonoma, which, like The Pig, focuses on locally sourced cuisine.

Bonk has plans to continue and expand The Pig’s tradition of serving hand-crafted, pork-centric cuisine with ingredients drummed up from the restaurant’s La Plata, Maryland, farm and other local sources.

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