D.C. has a big piece of my heart. i think the main reason i like the city so much is for the fact that their creative scene is somewhat hidden at first glance. not to say that there isn't overt creativity, but i find that you really find the beauty of this community if you are curious and looking. in the past couple of years, the culinary scene has exploded, and i seriously cannot get enough of the food every time i visit. it's actually gotten to the point where i leave for my quarterly trips with two pieces of luggage, and come back with four, two expressly for food + specialty items i simply can no longer live without. let me tell you a little bit about the things i love.
in maya's enormous goodie bags:
+swapples. these yuca-based waffles are paleo, sugar free, gluten free, and i swear the best things with chunky slices of avocado on them for breakfast. i like the everything flavor the best.
+bottles of greenheart juice: unfortunately, i'm usually toting the empty glass bottles i've collected from my trip by the time i'm headed home. however, these glass bottles held liquid gold that totally gets me through breakfast on the road--turmeric cashew milk. i'm also the #1 fan of their coconut yogurt made from freshly cracked coconuts. (seriously, its obsessive. i texted diana 3 times in a single week asking when a batch would be ready for me to buy all the containers of). i've been depressingly walking around whole foods looking for a similar yogurt with no luck. #pleasedelivertomyhomegreenheartjuiceco!
+whole roasted compass coffee beans and two tins of their raspberry rose tea: on my road trip to nashville this time last year, we stopped into compass almost every day we were in DC for their lavender lattes. we also met caitlin who worked as a manager in the shop and is an amazing human being. there are also super cute guys who roast the coffee in the back of the shop on 7th street, and i'd be lying if i didn't say that this holds a lot of the appeal for me. knowing that i'm bringing home a little piece of this awesome shop fills me with joy every morning that i pour a mug of it out of my french press.
+a gluten free loaf of bread from o earth creamery + bakehouse . i professed my love to these ladies on a super warm saturday morning in april at the dupont circle farmers market. i dream about their kalamata olive bread. its so dense and chewy, with little gems of flavor throughout. i love it with kerrygold and coffee and i always buy enough loaves to slice and freeze and last me until my next trip. (can you tell that i'm obsessed with breakfast yet?)
+baked goods from rise . a fully-gluten-free bakery in adam's morgan. i love their bagels and cinnamon rolls, and usually get one of everything, which is excessive, but i don't care.
+a large bag of plantain chips from colada shop. i discovered these chips last trip, and i bought three bags during my stay. my first bag i had with a drink at happy hour, the second was consumed for breakfast, and the third was had with a cafe con leche. this brightly colored, tropical shop brings me straight back to my childhood-- driving to miami on sundays for my father to get his hand-rolled cigars in little havana. we'd always have lunch at a cuban cafe, complete with tostones, ropa vieja and cafe con leche. i spent a lot of time in this hub off of 14th street absorbing the good nostalgic, cuban vibes. you can bet your bottom that i bought an additional two bags of these plantain chips for the road.
+a plant from little leaf. this greenhouse of a shop opened up last year and i am so thrilled. i love plants if you didn't already know, and am a proud plant mama to about ten. little leaf feeds my obsession for everything quirky and botany-related. i mean, just this last trip i scored a set of stamps depicting different boob shapes (the best thing i've ever owned), monsterra earrings from local jewelry artist 76andmaine, and a pink quill plant. plus the shop keepers love me and my two-hour visits :p.
+ a bottle of spiced rum from cotton + reed. the first time i met jordan and reed was last year and they had a warehouse space behind union market. there were dudes outside cat-calling my friend sarah and i, and their van had just been stolen and all of their bar equipment dumped at a junkyard. They had just returned from the junkyard covered in gnarly cuts and grease stains. jordan definitely cracked a joke about possibly having tetanus and i was like, "that's funny, but not." they recovered some of the bar items and the van, and a couple of months later they made a second trip to and from new orleans to source sugar cane. these two dudes, in a nutshell, are bad. ass. oh, and did i mention they used to work for nasa? i just can't. totally gushing here, but i'm going to continue gushing like a proud mom because now they are a fully-functioning distillery and bar (and mind you, the only rum distiller in dc) at union market, and a couple of months ago, i popped my head into their street-facing window and was greeted by jordan who proceeded to feed me all of the drinks. (he doesn't have tetanus, hooray!) we celebrated their new bottled dram with a shot, and then another shot of white rum, and then obviously, we had to try whatever Lukas the magical bartender made. my friend anna and i decided we needed to eat since we both hadn't since lunch and so we stumbled out of the bar and finished off our night eating foie gras at le diplomat. because you're doing it wrong if you don't eat foie gras as drunk food.
BUT WAIT. THERE'S MORE.
CHAIA, 3207 grace street nw
this vegetarian taco shop is where it all started for me in d.c. chaia is a client of mine, but they are also so much more than that. they became my client because of my frequent (read: daily) visits into their shop for locally sourced, in-season vegetable tacos. the tortillas are pressed fresh every day, and the menu features five tacos that rotate by the season. they also serve fresh shrubs, hibiscus tea, beer and wine. there is a pretty intense lunch rush here, but don't let that deter you, they have upstairs seating and the turn around for tables goes pretty quick. you can also take the taco babies to go and sit by the beautiful georgetown waterfront. don't miss this place.
LITTLE SESAME, 1306 18th street nw
i will preempt this paragraph with this: the chef is israeli. i could stop there, but i will continue--little sesame makes some delicious hummus. they put their own spin on their bowls by topping them with seasonal veggies. when i dined here i had the spring peas and asparagus with a hard boiled egg. it was divine. i went back into the shop to hug chef ronen. i might also have a crush on him. probably because he made me hummus.
UNION MARKET, 1309 5th street ne
not to be missed. this industrial space is filled with passionate food-makers and shops that will have you trying arepas, drinking wine, eating seafood, and finishing it all off with a toli-moli in less than an hour. i go here to get my fill of as many different foods as i can. please stop in at bidwell for dinner too. chef john mooney makes some delicious dishes inspired by his american roots and worldly travels. my favorite dish off his menu are the hawaiian nachos--flash fried kale topped with ahi tuna, guacamole and spicy mayo.
SALLY'S MIDDLE NAME, 1320 h street ne
i would honestly eat here just for the interiors. subway-tiled walls feature the handwritten menu, and retangular-folded cloth napkins of mismatched color and design adorn every place setting. owners sam and aphra adkins locally source their produce. its farm fresh, and it comes through in their dishes. the menu changes daily to reflect what was brought in that day. familiar dishes with a twist.
LA COLOMBE, multiple locations
the draft latte, black + tan. that's all you need to know.
ON RYE, 740 6th street nw
modern twist on a jewish deli. this menu is familiar and comforting to the jew in me, but also has me being like, "say what? beet reuben?!" sign me up. also they have an ice cream push pop made from lemon, black and white cookie crumbles and chocolate chips. honestly.
SALT AND SUNDRY,1625 14th street nw
the mother store of little leaf, salt and sundry is a collection of the most beautiful goods to ever exist in one store together. come here just to ogle, or to buy all things home goods. from curious-shaped glasses to beautiful textiles and jewelry. I spend most of my free time here.
BAKED AND WIRED, 1052 thomas jefferson street nw
a staple of dc. eating a cupcake here is mandatory. in the spring time, for the cherry blossoms, they make a blushing pink cake. so delicious. also check out their sister bakery, a baked joint.
SFOGLINA, 4445 connecticut ave nw
fresh, made in-house pasta is the star of the menu. every dish is presented on delicate, ornate dishes and topped with edible flowers. my dining experience here was the epitome of eating with your eyes, and the dishes totally lived up to their beautiful visual standards.
VIGILANTE, 4327 gallatin st. hyattsville
longboards and plants dot the white brick walls, and the coffee is beautiful. i appreciated the spaciousness of this spot, perfect for a saturday morning cappuccino and a couple hours of work (or life contemplation, whatever you want to call it). also, this almond bar pictured below was fucking amazing. i can't even explain the flavor profile. it just tasted like my childhood and i took small bites of it throughout the day as i drove home as to savor every last minute of it.