From Katie Andriulli. Email her at katie[AT]borderstan.com and follow her on Twitter @kandriulli.
If The Washington Post story last weekend about a couple who is going on a date at a bunch of Metro stops hasn’t inspired you to renounce love (and humanity) in all its forms, then you’re probably looking forward to Valentine’s Day, in which case, have at it!
I’ll be celebrating a much more important occasion, the birthday of Rob Thomas, frontman for Matchbox 20, by listening to “Smooth” on an infinite loop while wearing Jnco Jeans, but to each her own. Luckily, there are plenty of other things going on during this (long!) weekend to help us forget that Thursday ever happened. Let’s take a look, shall we?
- As I mentioned, there are a LOT of things going on tonight, and even a few tables left at restaurants around town (if you’re cool with eating at 4:30 pm). Or, if you’re flying solo and want to launch a silent protest against Hallmark by grabbing dinner alone, you have now been validated by NPR, so eat that soup for one with pride!
- Do you like bite-sized portions of foods and also gambling? If so, head over to Ping Pong Dim Sum tonight, which is running a special promotion in honor of the Chinese New Year (of the snake): roll a pair of dice at the end of your meal, and if you hit snake eyes, they’ll take $50 off your bill.
- Those who know me are aware that I do not venture to the other side of the river (aka Virginia) without a VERY good reason, so trust me when I say that tonight’s headliner at the Arlington Cinema and Draft House, Adam Cayton-Holland, is very much worth the trip (if you don’t believe me check out his recent performance on Conan). Then call up your teetotalling friend with a car and convince them to drive you to the show, which starts at 10 pm and costs $20.
- The Downton Abbey season finale is really the only thing that matters today, but, as the Dowager Countess once said, “It would be a shame to waste a good pudding.” I’m going to assume by “pudding” she meant “bloody mary,” and suggest that you venture over to Dupont’s own DGS Delicatessen, which just launched a new brunch menu featuring delectable items like eggs benedict latkes, and a scrambled eggs with Matzo.
- Mondays of a long weekend are good for a variety if things, including by not limited to: sleeping, ordering pizza, sleeping, not going to the gym and watching Netflix for hours on end. House of Cards, its new original series, is so good it will make you forgive Kevin Spacey for Pay It Forward.
Or “How to Succeed at Chipotle Without Really Crying”
From Scott Thompson. Follow Scott on Twitter @foureyedblond
I have a crush on my Chipotle manager.
It’s the truth — a waistline shattering truth that has wreaked havoc on my daily routine. I imagine my tale is not unique. In a city where restaurants trump recipes, the potential of mixing food and romance is an ever-present danger.
It all started three weeks ago at the tortilla station.
I had stepped out for dinner mid-way through a late night at work. The neighborhood surrounding my office is filled with dietary landmines, Chipotle being the most dangerous. The queue moves fast, the menu options always appear fresh and the dim warehouse-chic lighting smooths away stress lines. It’s an evil combination that has resulted in a monthly mail delivery from my mother, containing a Chipotle gift card and a reminder to “eat more fruit.”
That night three weeks ago started out like any other night. I put on my coat, walked across the street and prepared for the weekly Sophian choice between tortilla and bowl.
“Three soft tacos to go, please,” I said quietly, reaching for my wallet to extract the gift card.
“Corn tortillas or flour?” said a voice.
My eyes lifted from the glass counter and met those of a stranger. I had more or less memorized the faces of my local Chipotle team. This face was new. He stood roughly at my height, wearing hipster glasses, a black shirt and a curious smile.
“I… didn’t… know you had corn tortillas?” (True.) “They are more authentically Mexican, right?” (True). “Sorry, I just haven’t been here in a while.” (Laughably false.)
“Not many people do. And to be frank, corn tortillas are really only good if you’re dining in – the tortillas fall apart quickly if you add salsa.”
“Oh, that makes sense.” I fumbled in my coat pocket, desperate for a missed text that could distract me from the chiseled hands that pushed my aluminum dish down the counter.
“Pico de gallo?”
I said yes, and asked for extra medium sauce — the final frontier before I could move to the cashier and escape with my meal and dignity in hand.
“Careful! I don’t want you to get sauce on that nice sweater of yours!” said the smiling eyes behind the frames.
Everything disintegrated from that point forward.
“Oh I won’t! Haha!” I barked, as my head fell backwards and to the left, as if I were auditioning for the scene inPretty Woman when Richard slams the jewelry case shut in front of an unsuspecting Julia.
The elevated eyebrows on the cashier’s face summarized the entire spectacle.
Two days later I returned for lunch, with curious colleagues in tow. “You have great glasses,” I muttered somewhere between pinto and pollo. He thanked me, feigned recognition and moved to the next customer.
A week later, I returned in the evening, hoping to recreate our first encounter, away from the frenzied lunch crowd.
“Hi, again,” I said, timidly waving my gloved hand above the counter. At this point, I might as well have held up a sprig of Cilantro, sang “It Only Takes a Moment” and called it a day.
Unrequited crushes are as tragic as they are common. In the days and weeks since, I have realized that “we” will never be. I continue to cross the street to Chipotle from time to time, smiling quietly as I proceed down the buffet line before going on my way. But I have accepted fate – as well as an existential truth that I never fully understood, until now.
The connection between food and love is sacred – as is the separation. Parisians cannot fall in love with their local baker. Italians cannot fall in love with their local barista. I cannot fall in love with my local Chipotle manager. It would break down the precious relationship between chef and customer — between daily routine and daily meal — between romantic dreams and romantic realities.
I will forever be grateful to Chipotle for opening my eyes to this fact.
And to Qdoba, for opening a franchise across the street.
This column originally ran on Borderstan.com on February 7, 2012.
Virginia is for lovers, Maryland is for crabs and DC is, well, not a state. At least not according to the folks at Flip Collective, who failed to include DC on its list of how autocorrect describes each of the states in the nation. DCist, however, is going with “broken.”
Broken or not, the District just recently landed on top of another list – one for unexpectedly romantic cities. So, Virginia may be for lovers, but DC is for romantics!
What makes DC a romantic city? For starters, it’s hard to beat those pink cherry blossoms. Walking around the Mall at dusk when the tourists are gone and the monuments bask in an aura of artificial light is very lovely, too.
And yes, there’s Georgetown. Its cobblestone streets and “up-and-coming restaurant scene which provides plenty of options for dinning for two” get a mention in the article. Our little part of town doesn’t get much love, but I think there’s no shortage of romance right here in Borderstan.
Starting with the restaurant scene; if Georgetown’s restaurant scene is “up-and-coming,” then Borderstan’s is blossoming like the pinkish trees that line the tidal basin every spring.
Favorite Spots in the Neighborhood
But restaurants aren’t the only spots with romance. Here are some of my favorite romantic spots around the neighborhood.
- The Lounge at Tabard Inn, especially in the winter when you can share freshly fried doughnuts during brunch or sip cocktails by the fireplace while listening to live jazz every Sunday.
- Those a little more adventurous than doughnuts and jazz can escape to 1920s Paris over Absinthe at one of 1905‘s window booths.
- If you’re more of a nature person, what’s more romantic than a picnic in the park? Grab a sandwich at SunDeVich and relax on the grass at Logan Circle. Or just fake it by getting cozy on the swing at Firefly underneath its signature “tree.”
- Georgetown’s cobblestone streets are lovely, yes, but I find the Spanish steps in Kalorama just as romantic. And the cascading pools of water at the Italian inspired fountain at Malcom X/Meridien Hill Park are romantic enough for one of our own contributors to use them as the backdrop for her wedding.
There’s something to be said, as well, for the choice views of the Washington Monument from the 12-acres park, which sits on a hill overlooking all of downtown. That’s another thing Borderstan residents find charming about this part of town: the view.
While in my humble, Parisian opinion nothing beats the view of Parisian rooftops, the DC skyline is lovely, as well, especially when paired with cocktails at Donovan House.
Ahead of Valentine’s Day, where do you go to find romance in Borderstan?
Sure, making a reservation and enjoying a nice meal in a restaurant on Valentine’s Day is one way to go. However, for those who prefer not to sit two feet too close to a complete stranger at a 5 pm setting or be charged a bit too much for a prix fixe menu, making a delicious and romantic meal at home is the way to go.
Deciding on the menu can be a bit tricky, but lucky for you, some local food bloggers have done the dirty work. All you need to do is click, shop and get to work. Oh, and don’t forget to grab a nice bottle of wine.
Have these cooked and ready to go for your Valentine to munch on while you finish up the rest of the evening’s prep.
- Yotam’s Taleggio Stuffed Portobellos from Arugula Files.
- Bacon-Wrapped Figs from Arugula Files.
- Fried Squash Blossoms from Not Derby Pie.
- Nothing says HEART like POM Marinated Pork Tenderloin with Shallots and Carrots from Mango & Tomato.
- Impress your Valentine with a Top Chef meal. Try Mike Isabella’s Pepperoni Sauce from Girl Meets Food. Pair with some pasta, some pizza or serve it over some meat.
- Snapper with Harissa and Rose from Not Derby Pie is sure to get your evening heated.
- Ratatouille Topped with Goat Cheese and Pesto Vinaigrette from Arugula Files is a fresh and savory meal.
- You can’t go wrong with heart shaped s’mores from Amanda McClements or try Fifth Floor Kitchen’s coconut macaroons with chocolate.
- Amanda’s Aperol Bourbon Sour and Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Salty Dog are two great cocktail options to whip-up.
- If you can’t do dinner with your Valentine, consider letting him/her sleep-in while you make something yummy for breakfast. Try Girl Meets Food’s fruity and rich take on French toast or Mango & Tomato’s heart shaped breakfast: Smoked Salmon, Egg & Avocado Cilantro Cream Cheese on an English Muffin.
Some content from this article was originally posted by Jana Petersen in February 2012.
One thing is for sure: never underestimate the power of flowers on Valentine’s Day.
Sure, there are chocolates and jewelry and stuffed animals galore, but fresh flowers make the heart grow fonder.
There are plenty of shops in the neighborhood to pick-up flowers for your Valentine. Here are just some of the options:
- Flowers on 14th, 1712 14th Street NW
- Lee’s Flower and Card Shop, 1026 U Street NW
- Palace Florists, 1305 19th Street NW
- Caruso’s, 1717 M Street NW
- Whole Foods Market, 1440 P Street NW
And if you need to pick-up a little gift to go with those flowers, consider visiting some of the neighborhood’s local gift shops, such as:
And a homemade valentine from Brand Dave is always a good choice.
From Willis Shawver. Follow him on Twitter at @WShawver or email him at Willis[AT]borderstan.com.
Hello, lads. Happy Valentine’s Day! Hopelessly single in DC without a Valentine’s Day date? Let not your lonely heart be troubled. A recent study from Nerd Wallet – published by InTheCapital – reports that DC has about 10 unmarried women for every nine unmarried men. (Sorry, ladies.)
With those odds, there is no excuse to find yourself without a date this Valentine’s Day. So let this former serial-dater give you some advice on where to find that special someone this week.
Let’s start with that DC institution where everyone eventually finds themselves: the Metro. Don’t let the fluorescent lights and odd smells fool you. The Metro is a perfect place to find a date.
You can really tell a lot about someone by how they ride the Metro. Is she sitting in an aisle seat with an open window seat? Too selfish. That girl who refuses to move to the middle of the car. Control issues. Frantically typing away on her Blackberry? Workaholic.
But that girl who gave up her seat to that nice old lady? Now that’s someone you can take home to meet mom and dad. Just take that advice from the voice over the Metro intercom: “If you see something, say something.” And I’m talking about women here, guys, not suspicious packages.
Do you consider yourself a foodie? Does your food blog have Instagrams of what you had for breakfast this morning? Perfect, ladies dig the food blog fellas. And if you happen to find women who know how to spell quinoa attractive, try the Dupont Farmer’s Market (every Sunday from 10 am until 1 pm) and impress her with your culinary knowledge of red kale and rutabaga.
And who doesn’t like music? Whether you’re catching the next up-and-coming band at the Black Cat, or you’ve scored some last minute tickets to a sold out show at the 9:30 Club, music venues are the perfect place to find that special someone.
Be prepared to defend your position on [insert name of hipster album] and discuss why its rating on Pitchfork.com was too harsh.
Well good luck, fellas. And hey, even if you didn’t find a date for Valentine’s Day, Chinese take-out and Breaking Bad on DVD isn’t a bad night either. Hell of a lot cheaper, that’s for sure.
It’s only a few days before the dreaded holiday-that’s-not-really-a-holiday: Valentine’s Day. The one day every year it becomes acceptable to say things like “I wheelie like you” and “I love you a latte.” The one day every year you feel justified eating a box of Godiva, because after all, it was a gift. Or the one day you allow yourself to wallow in your singlehood, indulging in a Sex and the City marathon over potato chips and wine.
Even if you are an unsentimental cynic for 364 other days, on Valentine’s Day you’ve been known to send your girlfriend expensive roses, leave a love-sticky-note on the mirror for your fiancé or make overpriced dinner reservations at a restaurant serving chocolate wine for your future partner-for-life. (Or, buy yourself those patent leather platform pumps you’ve been eyeing.)
Listen up, Borderstan: this year, ditch the traditional trappings that Hallmark is peddling and give your sweetheart something memorable, personal, and dare we say, quite hot. This Valentine’s Day, Secret Pleasures Boutique (1510 U Street NW) will add fire and spice into the mix, and Valentine’s Day will never be the same.
Secret Pleasures is a sex shop. There, I said it. Now that term of art can conjure up tawdry, sordid images. But let me assure you, dear readers, it is not a dank and dark house of pornography. Secret Pleasure is a modern, full-service palace of wonders, specializing in discretion. Its tasteful and well-curated articles range from lingerie and crotchless undies to bondage gear and fancy vibrators.
Of course there is your usual assortment of bachelorette party paraphernalia, but the full wall dedicated to lube is a sight to behold. Catering to men and women, straight and gay, singles and couples, the store sells every sex-related item you can think of — and many that even the most inventive imaginations could not dream up.
Among the offerings: body stockings, furry hand cuffs, whips, feathers, Fifty Shades of Grey, The Smart Girls Guide to the G-Spot, Lelo and Je Joue rechargeable massagers and vibrators, how-to manuals, games for couples, leather of every variety and many things we cannot print.
Staff members are open minded, not pushy and have helpful titles, such as “education coordinator.” Many have training in sexuality issues and will answer any and all of your questions. Secret Pleasures encourages its clients to check their reservations at the door and explore a healthy sexuality. They offer classes like the upcoming “Sex Toys 101” and a recent course on aphrodisiac cooking. And, a variety of their products is available on their website or they will ship orders by phone — for the shy ones among us.
So, you can go the easy route: shop for gifts from a stylish selection, look for an available table at area restaurants, buy a V-Day recommended wine and make a fancy Champagne and Chambord cocktail. Or you can shock the hell out of your significant other — or yourself! — and give a gift from Secret Pleasures. Try it, you might like it.
Valentine’s Day is upon us! Hopefully you have some great plans, whether that’s going out to one of the many fabulous places in Borderstan or around town or staying in and having an equally fun and probably simpler time at your own home.
Regardless of your feelings about the holiday (or “holiday,” depending on your views), it is a great excuse to go out and do something special with your significant other. Get out of the house, enjoy yourself and share your love — why not dedicate a day to that?
Now, on behalf of those of us who may not be romantically linked at the present time, I’d just like to ask for a favor. By all means, celebrate your hearts out and enjoy each other’s company. But if you could do so in a somewhat contained manner while you’re out and about, I would greatly appreciate it.
- Keep the PDA to a minimum. I’m not really a super touchy-feely person on my own dates, but watching others make out at a table is not my cup of tea. I’ve had to do so a few times, and it made me a little less excited to be eating food.
- Feel free to hold hands, but when you’re walking around, be sure to leave a little room for everyone else walking around you. We don’t want to interrupt your romance anyway.
- Be nice to each other. Hopefully that one doesn’t even need to be stated. Lovers’ quarrels aren’t pretty for anyone, believe me.
That’s really all there is to it, in my opinion. Otherwise, live it up and have a great time!
The Borderstan team of contributors have a number of ideas for Valentine’s Day. Check back for some more updates between now and Tuesday morning!
- Urban Etiquette: Keep That Valentine’s Night Out Fun for Everyone! (Mike Kohn)
- Rodolfo Valentino: Remembering America’s First Film Heart Throb (Candida Mannozzi)
- Borderstan Is For Lovers: 5 Tips For Getting V-Day Reservations (Alejandra Owens)
- How to Pick the Right Movie for a Valentine’s Day Date (Mary Burgan)
- Lebodome: Valentine’s Day vs. Regular Ol’ Tuesday (Scott Leibowitz)
- This Valentine’s Day, Don’t Underestimate the Power of Flowers (Jana Petersen)
- Mike’s Magical Borderstan Valentine’s Day on 14th (Mike Kohn)
I remember the anxiety, the nerves, and the possibility she wasn’t going to like the gift I bought her. I was a very awkward middle school student who was basing his knowledge on late night Nickelodeon shows and assumed he had played this Valentine’s well. I bought my first girlfriend some cuddly doll; who wouldn’t want that? Then about three weeks later I was dumped quite unceremoniously on my birthday (She claims she didn’t know). The events are connected (probably). Since then I have looked at V-Day with cautious eyes.
So I admit to not knowing much to anything about the origins of Valentine’s Day, but boy, I wish I did so I could go back in time and stop it from becoming this important. I have always filed it under “Hallmark Holidays” in the sense that there is such a bombardment of commercialism associated with it that to ignore it would bring dire consequences. If you really love the people around you, hopefully you say and show it often and you don’t need the help of a crappy $2 card with Snoopy to show it (also, chocolate should be eaten year round).
But sadly I live here, too, and have gone through the motions over the years. Now I can only speak to my experience as a guy but I think my advice is practical for all. So as you prepare for Valentine’s Day have these thoughts in mind.
Do Your Homework. I am convinced there are two types of girls when it comes to this rosy day. You either love the majesty of it all or you find it as forced as I do. Do NOT assume which type your significant other is.
This reconnaissance work should be done in January, far from the actual day so it doesn’t look like you’re sloppy and forgot. Maybe there was a past traumatic experience or an ex who rolled out the red carpet (screw you dude who raised her expectations). The only way to plan properly is to know this and only then will you actually give her what she wants; the whole show or some extra affection on a Tuesday.
Roses Are For Idiots. They are overused, trite, and lame. Your significant probably thinks so too. Shoot I would even go as far to say that they actually have a specific flower they like. If you were a good companion, you would already know this and purchase accordingly. Nothing says, “I half-assed buying you something” like roses does.
Out vs. In. If you go out, it’s you and every other couple out there making the best of a Tuesday night. If you stay in and cook some dinner it’s considered making the memory and will be remembered longer than some fancy cocktail at a trendy Dupont restaurant. That said, I won’t be taking my own advice and going out, but it’s a great night to use a gift certificate for somewhere nice (thanks, Matt).
I will say it again. Valentine’s Day is all about knowing what works and not letting the hype get out of hand. And for the single people out there, don’t let Hallmark depress you with their huge display in CVS. St Patrick’s day is right around the corner and you can be sad that you aren’t Irish to celebrate that. This is a great time to eat lots of chocolate though…
Enjoy your Vday, Borderstanis.
What Grinds My Gears
- No matter how bad the Metro gets, there is no one held accountable or improvements? What gives?
Links! Links! Ice Cold Links!
- DC taxis are about to get worse.
- Forget Tebowing. Try Bradying.
- Unsure how to feel about new Spider-Man movie. Thoughts anyone?
People’s District‘s Danny Harris invites you to join in an anti-love fest in honor of Valentine’s Day (yes readers, it’s next week). “The Anecdote: Stories About Not Love” will take place on February 7 at Room & Board (1840 14th Street NW, 4th Floor), from 7 to 9 pm. Presenters will share tales of romance gone awry.
Participants can get comfy in the store’s furniture displays and listen to stories about bad dates, no dates, and every awkward, intimate detail in between. Local talent Danny Harris, Chris Keener, Vijai Nathan, Amy Saidman, Jennifer Tress and Patrick White will be there to keep the laughs coming.
While Lady Gaga is not scheduled to make an appearance, she would no doubt be proud of the bad romance celebrated at “The Anecdote.”
Also of note, Room and Board will be giving away a $250 gift card to one attendee of The Anecdote. That would count as getting lucky!
From Mike Kohn. Got a tip? Send Mike an email.
Happy Valentine’s Day! I’m sure everyone is fully prepared for the most holiest of Hallmark holidays, but in case you’re still looking for those last-minute plans, check out our post from earlier this week with some alternative ideas for this evening. And once you’ve got that squared away, don’t forget to consider what to wear before heading out tonight.
Be sure to check out our Valentine’s Day logo at the top of the Bordestan page. Our logos (including the usual one) are designed by Neil MacLean of Six Five Design Group.
Won’t you be my handcuffed Valentine?
Speaking of alternative ideas, the National Museum of Crime and Punishment is continuing its “Crimes of Passion” exhibit for the third year, inviting couples to go through the museum handcuffed together for $30 per person. The handcuffs are souvenirs and can be taken home (and for $1, you can even upgrade them to the furry kind to give them that something extra!). But as WTOP reports, this year, it’s taking some flack. Chai Shenoy, co-founder of Holla Back DC, claims that the exhibit “is mocking the lives of people who have died due to domestic violence.” The Museum doesn’t consider this to be a problem and will not be making changes to its exhibit.
Bonjour, Borderstanis. That day that all florists, peddlers of sweet, sweet confections and Hallmark employees anticipate/dread is quickly approaching.
While I’ll likely be watching a marathon of John Hughes’ flicks on my couch on February 14 (don’t worry, I’ll be dressed impeccably), you may be planning a romantic evening with your significant other.
Let’s assume you’ve made your reservation and planned your evening? Excellent. Let’s get down to business.
Since you’re working in the District, I’ll bet that you’ve got a pretty demanding job. In order to meet that deadline, you probably won’t have a chance to stop by your cute and stylish apartment after work and before you meet up with the love of your life for drinks and/or dinner.
Do you want to celebrate Valentine’s Day, but can’t stand the thought of another drinks/dinner/movie “date” night? Do you give chocolate every single year? You give flowers all the time?
Late addition: A Valentine’s Day reception at gallery plan b with exhibition artists Paula Amt and Rod Glober and “The sounds of the Belgian Wonder… Genevieve Leloup and her accordion” from 6 to 8 pm. Location is 1530 14th Street NW.
Borderstan to the rescue! Our contributors have pulled together some off-beat options that might take you out of the neighborhood but are sure to deliver in the “new” and “different” categories!
Well Borderstanis, like it or not, Valentine’s Day is upon us! Whether you’re of the “ooey gooey lavish me with chocolates” or the “this is a Hallmark holiday that offends my sensibilities” variety, we believe you can enjoy Valentine’s Day and eat and drink well while you’re at it!
We’ve compiled a list of the best spots to drink, eat and indulge your sweet tooth with your shnookums, your bestie or maybe just treat yourself!
- A number of the places listed below accept reservations. In fact, you would be well advised to try and make reservations if you are planning to dine out on Valentine’s Day — or even this weekend.
- Some people avoid the actual rush and crush of Valentine’s Day crowds in restaurants by celebrating beforehand. Or, if you can’t get reservations for your restaurant of choice, considering celebrating V-Day later in the week or the following weekend.
Here are our V-Day choices in the Dupont-Logan-U Street area — for drinks, dinner and dessert.