washington, d.c.! (part two)
by otessa ghadar, a filmmaker and indie production company owner who made a show called orange juice in bishop’s garden about pre-internet era teenagers in ’90s D.C.
best venues: still love the black cat… also worth mentioning are: comet ping pong. the pinch. quarry house perhaps? went to some cool house shows this summer at wasted dreams & the dollhouse.
best record stores: not many left (sad face!) but red onion is solid and smash and crooked beat still have some picks.
best vintage / thrift stores: love love the value village discount duo, by college park MD & silver spring. otherwise, the georgia avenue thrift has some good picks (especially if you’re looking for housewares).
cheap eats: old city falafel on columbia road! their fixings bar is just dreamy & super veg-friendly. pho 14 is yummy and the takorean foodtruck is pretty clutch too.
mid-range eats: the uruguayan sandwich shop (it’s kitty-corner from 14th street and in a gas station — but don’t let that filling station dissuade you).
not so cheap eats: sticky rice is delicious & probably my favorite. upstairs/downstairs: mintwood & perry’s — same building, different restaurants. what they do have in common is that they are both absolutely not affordable, but if some cashmoney happens to be burning a hole in your pocket, it’s well worth the spend there. honorable mention: el tamarindo’s chicken mole.
vegetarian-friendly eats: ditto on the old city falafel. sticky rice has some great veg. dangerously delicious pies has yummy veggie quiches. fojol bros foodtruck has a pumpkin stew. and umm…do cupcakes count as a meal? because baked & wired’s are just so delicious and very filling. try the “unicorns & rainbows.”
best neighborhood: I’m biased because I grew up in adams morgan, so my heart will always very much be tied to the neighborhood. but truth be told, nowadays adams morgan is virtually unrecognizable from when I grew up there, as a ’90s teen. in a breakfast at tiffany’s kind of way, walking up and down newark street (in cleveland park) always turns my frowns upside down. it’s just so beautiful & peaceful there — walking through is like a retreat. from a livability stand-point, columbia heights has a lot going for it. bloomingdale has charm too. this is actually quite tough, because I have a pollyanna tendency with my city: generally finding something of merit in most neighborhoods.
cheap haircut: eek. I do this myself. usually with some blunt scissors and over the kitchen sink. it’s very cheap. but I also wouldn’t recommend it. 🙂
best drinking holes: I adore the drinks at room 11 (the gin/lavender honey/chamomile one is my favorite — full stop). hmm…also the drink menu at taan is quite dreamy. the red derby is a gem because you can drink cheap beers and play connect 4 at the same time, which is aspirational. I’ll also give the raven a nod, because it’s very comfortable, affordable and low-key.
best coffee or tea houses: my favorite spot might just be firehook (in cleveland park) because they have an actual vineyard outdoor seating area in the back. it isn’t advertised either, so it doesn’t overcrowd. to have a canopy of interwoven grape vines overhead, with dappled leafy light, and a small fountain with birds– it’s like a sanctuary in the city. runners up for tea, I frequent teaism (gen ma cha!) & dolcezza (orchid oolong). although if you’re feeling like a grand dame, having afternoon tea at the willard is the most elegant experience—bar none. tufted chairs, beaux arts opulence… the last time that I had something to really celebrate, I went there with my mom.
best radio station / web station: I’m awfully partial to WBAR (college radio-and-web station out of NYC…where I was actually a DJ for several years). I’ll also give a shout-out to howard U’s radio station which can play some great deep cuts. especially dig their sunday night soul.
cool cinemas: e street! also, west end in georgetown.
best used bookstores: kultura’s is great. second story is a legend. idle time offers a really a pleasant browsing/shopping experience too. oh, but, the cleveland park library does an epic seasonal book-sloughing that is not to be missed. an entire whole foods bag (yes, this is now a unit of measurement) can be filled with as many books as possible for $3.
best place to see art: hillyer art space is pretty great. and I love its neighbor, the philips too. the fridge is also well worth the visit. but let’s just discuss and appreciate for a moment how all of the smithsonian museums are free to the public. d.c. makes me spoiled with all its free museums.
best local bands, artists, writers, designers: the indie surf revival band beach week. emma fisher at the fridge… morgan hungerford west.
parks and green spaces: c&o canal! spanish steps! the potomac overlook is also so key and you feel hidden away, but up high like you’re some powerful hawk in an eyrie. the rope swing on the potomac… (every year the cops tear it down and every year the kids put it right back up. it’s now in a slightly new location. but you can still swing into the river. not for the faint of heart, but perhaps a right of passage when young.) peirce mill barn…marks an ideal swimming spot in rock creek when the weather heats up.
unmissable highlights: h street corridor. food trucks. smithsonian & other museums (like the textile museum). let’s do some pairings by neighborhood: c&o canal + baked & wired cupcakes. national cathedral + bishop’s garden of course. eastern market + fridge. kennedy center + watergate. ¶ a personal fave is the maine avenue fish market. and the awakening sculpture. I also love what I call the “secret clubhouse abandoned building” by the dancing crab. also, dc brau does free tours. franciscan monastery has beautiful gardens. the “spite house” in alexandria, virginia. toward the bizarre end, the DEA showcases property seized from drug busts — think fancy bling, bongs and more. stranger still, they’ve built simulated “head shops” & “crack dens” — as a cultural study, the curatorial propaganda is just as worthy of examination as the things in the glass cases are. oh, and I recommend catching the DC roller girls. they’ll make you a derby fan. (watch otessa’s videos on the exorcist steps and the c&o canal here)