From Alejandra Owens. You can find her at her food blog, One Bite At A Time. Alejandra also writes for City Eats DC, a Food Network site, where you can book dinner reservations. Email her at alejandra[AT]borderstan.com and follow her on Twitter at @frijolita.
When it comes to best/worst lists, DC always seems to find a place. In 2010 we were among the fittest cities in America thanks to all you crazy running people. We were also one of the happiest cities according to a Gallop pole. Not surprisingly, we were also among the most expensive cities to live! But last week we topped another list – this time coming in as the 9th Drunkest City In The US!
So here’s the break down: according to The Daily Beast, the average DC adult consumes 15.6 alcoholic beverages a month (rounding up, that’s four drinks a week, give or take), 14.5 percent of us are binge drinkers and 5 percent of us are considered heavy drinkers.
I mean, are we really surprised? DCers have a penchant for rooftop drinking, patio drinking and dirt-cheap-happy hour drinking. We bestow our finest bartenders with a demi-god like status. We even have classic cocktail death matches! Bottom line: cheap, neat, classic, it doesn’t matter, we like our booze!
So it got me thinking, where did I drink the most in DC this year? In no particular order:
- Fiola – I’ve lauded Jeff Faile’s manhattan for awhile now.
- 1905 – Lyn and Joel serve up cocktails with a friendly “in your living room” kind of vibe.
- Estadio – They serve my favorite rose in the whole city.
- Stoney’s – A favorite spot to meet friends and have a bourbon & ginger.
- Iron Horse Taproom – A regular after work spot, any bar with a $5 Makers Mark night is a bar I’ll like.
- Cork – Wine flights. Enough said.
Then there were dinner parties – many, many dinner parties. So that means weekly visits to Connecticut Avenue Wine & Spirits where I pick up a bottle or two for those “just in case” moments. So Borderstanis, where do you booze… or buy your booze? It’s really not hard to imagine how one might get to four drinks a week – at minimum. Or, dear lord, is it?
DC’s Fashion’s Night Out is back, and it’s taking over the city tonight. Originally founded in New York to kick-off Fashion Week, Fashion’s Night Out is an event that now takes place in cities and towns across the country.
Several DC retailers and businesses will participate this year, including shops in Alexandria, Tyson’s Corner and Georgetown, which has more than 100 events planned for the evening. Participants can expect designer deals, fashion shows, promotions, parties and more.
But you don’t have to venture outside of the neighborhood to soak up the fashion — Lettie Gooch Boutique will host “Champagne, Clutches & Couture” to celebrate Fashion’s Night Out. From 6 until 10 pm, guests will be treated to champagne cocktails (provided by Cork Wine Bar and Market), a handbag trunk show and an opportunity to shop new fall arrivals.
Policy Restaurant and Lounge, 1904 14th Street NW, is offering shoppers some tasty discounts for Fashion’s Night Out. Featured wines at half price as well as dessert specials from 6 to 10 pm. Prices will depend on the wine you select.
“Champagne, Clutches & Couture” will take place tonight at 1517 U Street NW; the event is open to the public. More information is available on the event’s Facebook page.
Other neighborhood retailers participating in Fashion’s Night Out include Redeem (1734 14th Street NW) and G-Star RAW (1666 Connecticut Avenue NW).
If the current boom state of 14th Street wasn’t enough to tell you that our fair neighborhood and city is on the cutting edge of the restaurant scene, then maybe some glitz, glamour, and glass obelisk statues will? Borderstan came up big last night at the RAMMYS, the yearly awards gala of the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW).
With many more area eateries in the neighborhood nominated, congrats are in order for:
- Cork Wine Bar: Wine Program of the Year
- Cafe Saint-Ex: Neighborhood Gathering Place of the Year
- Estadio: Beverage/Mixology Program of the Year
- Blackjack: Hottest Restaurant Bar Scene of the Year
- Black Restaurant Group: Restaurateur of the Year (Black Jack and Pearl Dive Oyster Palace are part of the group)
As Mike Benson of Cafe Saint-Ex emphatically stated about DC in his acceptance speech for Best Neighborhood Gathering Place, “our restaurant scene is kicking ass. We’re turning heads.”
Borderstan’s wins last night reflected the growing importance and attention that restaurants and restaurateurs are giving to things besides the food. Cork Wine Bar won for their outstanding wine program, and Estadio followed up its 2011 Best New Restaurant RAMMY with a win for its Beverage/Mixology program, edging out fellow Borderstan nominee Birch and Barley/Churchkey.
“Ultimately DC is a really small town doing really big things,” mused the ecstatic winners from Estadio upon accepting their award. “We’re in a city that is the most beautiful city in the world for beverages right now.”
But the big winners last night at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel were Jeff and Barbara Black and their Black Restaurant Group, taking home the award for Restaurateur of the Year. The owners of Best New Restaurant Nominee Pearl Dive Oyster Palace also claimed the hardware for Hottest Restaurant Bar Scene for Blackjack. In one of the moments of the night, Chef Black pushed through the wrap-it-up music to acknowledge that this award came from the people in the industry, “the ones doing the hard work, not the bloggers.” (The Young & Hungry at the Washington City Paper has more as does The Examiner where Black clarified his statement.)
The gala itself was full of other great moments: restaurants throwing their support behind embattled Hank’s Oyster Bar in their fight against “the gang of six,” which earned notable applause from the audience (Hank’s was a nominee for Best Casual Restaurant of the year); Estadio winning (at least in this writer’s humble opinion) the cocktail of the night with their gin-based Dia de Descanso; and some of the biggest hats and fascinators on a night that never disappoints for wild fashion. Always a great time, and our neighborhood is looking even stronger and stronger for the upcoming year. See you all at the 2013 RAMMYS!
From Mike Kohn. Have an urban etiquette wrong that needs to be righted? Drop Mike a line at [email protected] or find him on Twitter @mike_kohn. This week he takes a break from his regular urban etiquette column to outline a perfect Valentine’s Day.
Ah, yes, Valentine’s Day. The time of year where we proclaim our love for our significant others on this hallmark of Hallmark holidays. Admittedly, this holiday would be much more entertaining if I had a significant other to share it with (and for that matter, I’d be way more into celebrating it), but I digress…
The best part about February 14 is that it gives all of us the opportunity to chart a course for a great evening with that very special someone. So what would I do to celebrate my magical Borderstan Valentine’s Day with my guy?
After a rousing Tuesday at work, I’d meet up at Masa 14 at 14th and Swann Streets NW for happy hour. Not only do they generally have a great bar, but as a friend proved to me, they have the best mojitos in town. And for $4, can you really go wrong? The happy hour is usually 5 to 7 pm on weekdays, but on Tuesday happy hour drinks last all night long.
With a few mojitos downed, it’s time to make the short walk to Estadio at 14th and Q Streets NW for a romantic dinner. If you like that idea, just be prepared to wait — the place is one of the most popular restaurants in the neighborhood, so it’s unsurprisingly always packed, and they don’t take reservations past 6:00. Alejandra Owens did a great job profiling the place a few months back.
Everything I’ve had at Estadio has been delicious. On my last visit there I had the pork belly bocadillo, the crispy duck breast and the wild mushrooms, all of which were amazing. In case the mojitos weren’t enough, I’m all about their G&Ts, particularly the Old Raj Gin & House-made Orange Thyme Tonic. Delicious.
There’s no need to wander off 14th to get dessert — it’s so much easier to just walk back up the street. I’d play it by ear depending on what I’m in the mood for. For something chocolatey, I’d make a stop at Point Chaud at 14th and S Streets NW and pick up a nutella and banana crêpe. But I might be tempted to settle in at Cork Wine Bar at 14th and Riggs Streets NW, just sipping a glass of port or enjoying one of their sweeter dessert wines.
That would be the end of my night. All of that delicious food — not to mention, more than my share of beverages in each location by my recount — would definitely leave me quite satisfied.
It’s the end of September already. How did that happen? For me in my day job, it means end of the month invoicing. So let’s check in on the state of the District for their monthly ‘activity report’. If you disagree with the grade, rationale or the final invoice, feel free to tell me in the comments. All agreements are considered paid in full, anything else may be subject to an upcharge.
DC Economic Health, By the Numbers
Grade: Above Average. Rationale: While every Gallup poll will show that people think the country is on the wrong path and the economy is in the toilet, recent numbers on the state of DC may indicate our little bubble is intact. The Washington Business Journal has found that some real estate is returning to pre-recession levels. Median housing prices in some parts of the area (DC, and parts of Arlington and Alexandria) are back up to the boomtime, eye-popping listing and closing figures of 2005. And our unemployment number is holding steady at 6.1% for the area and dropped .4% in DC proper. I know that’s not great news, or a surge, especially since DC’s number is one of the higher percentages in the nation (also the WBJ). But in a time of so little optimism, I’m going with no news is good news.
DC Economic Health, By the Businesses
Grade: Needs Improvement. Rationale: While the idea that a rising tide will lift all boats (see: Reaganomics), it seems the 14th Street NW corridor is a case study in what a higher tide of rent means to established at sea level businesses. The evidence is in the shuttering of businesses that helped create the growing community — 1409 Playbill Cafe (from us), PULP (DCist), go mama go (14th and You). While not all of the closures (and there are more beyond that short list) are rent-related, the majority of them are, according to their owners. If you get motivated to do something about it (at least about the building edifices), check out this awesome read on the DC Preservation League and what to expect with gentrification, growth and changes from the Washington City Paper.
DC Food and Beverage on 14th Street
Grade: Delicious. Rationale: Estadio has been open a year now to mostly rave reviews on 14th Street NW. We Love DC went back to check things out and found some yummy scallops, shrimp and wine. The success of small plates continues on the strip of street, with Cork Wine Bar as one of the original purveyors of tiny bites. But fans should be aware that Washington Post is reporting their head chef is departing. Cork has new chefs in contention already, so the bites and sips should continue with little disruption.
DC Interaction with Businesses
Grade: Needs Improvement. Rationale: Exhibit A is unfortunately the Lincoln Theatre. DCist reports that without a $500,000 infusion of cash from the city government, the Lincoln may close this year. Apparently, it costs $60,000 to run a month and they have $50,000 cash on hand. Mayor Gray has said the model is not sustainable and has, according to theatre supporters, been less than available to discuss the state of the Theatre. There are not a lot of scheduled shows there, which seems to be a cause of the cash shortage as well (at least to our untrained in theatre economics eye).
Services and Start Ups in DC
Grade: Kicking some serious butt. Rationale: Regardless of how you feel about bicyclists on your daily commute, it is difficult to argue the success of Capital Bikeshare. In one year, they have expanded service, had over one million rides and have over 1,110 bikes on hand in various areas. This is a great public/private partnership example and we hope to see more of these models emerge and thrive in the future. To celebrate or to check out the ‘hood while this current iteration still exists, check out their Vintage Shopping itinerary on The Washington Post.
Just up the street from their popular Cork Wine Bar, Diane Gross and Khalid Pitts will expand their business this fall with Cork Market, a wine and gourmet food shop. Construction will start next week at 1805 14th St. NW, a building the husband-and-wife team just purchased. They hope to open by September or October.