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HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY WEEK! To top off our week of romantic mood setting we decided to round-things up with the ultimate love letter: the one to Washington DC. And since the city has been so good to us, not just any letter would do. So-we asked for some pro-DC-lovin’ help:

  • We rounded up: artists, musicians, architects, designers, gallery owners, non-profit folk, musicians, local heroes, chefs and more all of whom make DC, in their own way, a city we’re pretty jazzed about right now.
  • We asked them to submit a list of 5 things/people/places/food plates/drinks/anything really that they LOVE (all caps, boldnened) about Washington and hey-they kindly obliged

Yesterday, we had our first batch of entries for this year, courtesy of some very hard working men and women.

Today, feel the butterflies in your stomach and don’t forget to comment with your lists….

Amy Saidman
Director of SpeakeasyDC
 Saidman w Shorty
  • Malcolm X Park (aka Meridian Hill) on any day, but especially on a Sunday eve anytime between April and October. It’s like Burning Man with less fire and sand and more African drumming.  I walk my dog through there almost every week, meandering through the slack-wire walkers, poi spinners, acro-yogis, and capoeiristas.  My favorite thing is when someone leads a crowd of people in some African dance.
  • The D.C. dance scene. Full disclosure, I’ve been out of the loop for awhile bc my work schedule is pretty full most nights, but I used to go salsa dancing regularly. There are lots of places to go (e.g. Lucky Strike on Sunday night or the Salsa Underground) and lots of great dancers and teachers (e.g. The DC Style Salsa Academy with Luz Rodriquez and James Yoon) in DC. We are lucky, because you can’t get that everywhere.
  • One of my favorite places to see a live show is Tropicalia. I like the unique bands they bring and that it’s small and the vibe is friendly and lively. At some places, people don’t interact, but overtime I’ve gone, people have been happy and friendly. Saw two great local acts there – Black Masala on Halloween and Congo Sanchez on New Years Eve.
  • SpeakeasyDC and so many other arts organizations and individual artists would not be what they are today without the support of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. We started without a single dime and a $26,000 grant from the DCCAH in 2006 gave me the boost I needed to get things rolling. Almost ten years later we are more than ten times the size and continue to thrive, in part, because of the ongoing (and growing) financial support from the District government.
  • D.C.’s storytelling scene!! OK… that’s a bit of shameless self-promotion, but it’s true. DC has more going on than most cities in the way of storytelling. We have four groups producing regular storytelling events and more ways to learn the craft and try it out for yourself than probably anywhere. So… props to DC for supporting such a thriving storytelling culture.

Steve Salis & Michael Lastoria

&pizza, Co-Founders, Chief Executive Officer & President respectively

&pizza_Steve and Michael_HiRes

Steve’s answers:

  • H Street is home to me and to our first &pizza location so it will always be special.
  • Capitol Hill has some of my favorites like District Donuts, Beucherts and Rose’s Luxury and I’m looking forward to &pizza being a part of the community soon. It doesn’t hurt that out corporate office is located on the Hill as well which makes these destinations within the community accessible!
  • Green area! I’m a transplant of New York City and there are not many green open areas. Thats not a problem here.
  • Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden- I’m really excited to see what new director, Melissa Chiu is going to bring to what I consider an already captivating art space.
  • Most people would be surprised to know that I was an All-American high school basketball player and still love to catch pick up games at Kalorama Park from time to time. You can meet the most interesting people during pick up games here in DC—from senators to students.

Michael’s answers:

  • The weather: our cold ain’t too cold
  • Cycle-friendly: bi- and motor-. Particularly my Royal Enfield
  • Startup city: everybody’s doing something worth watching
  • Oyster-oriented happy hours: Life by the bay has its advantages
  • Culture capital: politics, sure, but culture is making its push to the forefront

Church Night

A DTF (Devoted to Faith) community coming together, at the same time, in the name of The Lord.


  • The Washington Animal Rescue League. Reverend Bidet just goes down there when he’s not Preachin the Word to frolick amongst The Lord’s furry miracles. One of these days he’ll take home another cat and name it Nicolas Cage, after his other cat Nicolas Cage, who’s named after the actor Nicolas Cage.
  • Move over Little Rock! Warshington DC is the new IT place for great food at unbeatable prices! For example, we here at Church Night like to call the salad bar at Fudruckers “Free Chopt!” A few other local favorite dishes of ours are The Rooty Tooty Fresh N’ Fruity pancake stack at iHOP, Moons Over My Hammy from Denny’s, and the #2 at McDonalds. We are, however, extremely saddened by the death of our beloved Ruby Tuesday in Columbia Heights. RIP Samp Platt.
  • The 2nd floor mens room in the Rayburn House Office Building. There’s always something exciting going on there.
  • The praise artist community here is the second best in the nation surpassed only by the intense scene in Corpus Christi, Texas. We thank The Lord every day that our alter has been blessed with performances from some of DC’s best music, comedy, and burlesque.
  • The National Air and Space Museum Food Court. Because food just plain old tastes better when you’re in the same building as a Moon rock.
Peter Chang + Brandon Hill
Co-founders No Kings Collective and Hierarchy Art Space + Full time Knuckleheads 
  • The growing ramen scene here in DC. I have to say hands down that Sakuramen and Toki Underground are my favorites. Its also great that I have other choices like Chaplin, Daikaya, Kintaro and soon to open Momofuku. Just a few years ago there were no choices. Being asian and growing up on ramen I appreciate that.
  • D.C. roots in Hip-hop, Hardcore punk and Go-go music. I remember going to crazy shows when I was in high school/college and the music scene in DC really forged who I became as an adult.
  • Kochix – A burst of fried chicken heaven in your mouth.
  • I love all the incredible Artists + Musicians + Creative entrepreneurs who are really building this cities reputation as a cultural hub and destination. There are more opportunities than ever before for artists to make a living off of full time art gigs.
  • I love supporting locally owned bars and restaurants. These are the spots that really give this city a soul that you cant get from some large template restaurant group. Some of my favorites include Napoleon, Smith Public Trust, Slipstream, Petworth Citizen and Eat the Rich.
  • STEVE’S BAR ROOM: Steve’s Bar Room is still in my heart, very seldom do you have a spot that had that much talent play a venue that small and random. It was not just a just a super cool spot for DC in the dive category, it legitimately would be one of any cities coolest spots. Had a members only feel, but was for anyone.
  • PETWORTH: Petworth is one of those few neighborhoods that felt like a Neighborhood. But was still cool in its own right.
  • FISHMARKET: Love all things from the OCEAN and DC’s connection to it. Lovin’ the whole deal with it being on a Barge, and smelling salty. That’s good ocean + Chesapeake funk.
  • MOSQUITOS + BLACK SQUIRRELS.. Na just playing about the mosquitos, Black Squirrels are cool as hell.
  • MUSEUMS: You’d be hard Pressed to find this is much cool free awesome educational institutes really anywhere in the world. I’m a solid mix of NERD, JOCK, ARTIST, HISTORY BUFF so Air and Space, National Gallery of Art, and American History Museum plus the other 100 museums are amazing.

Chris Naoum

Listen Local First


  • Kingman Island Bluegrass and Folk Festival – April 25 Live music everywhere on an island in them middle of and Anacostia in Spring. A magical location for a local music festival.
  • Funk Parade – May 2nd – Amazing day that features a street fair and parade and a music festival. One of the most unique DC music, dance and art festivals.
  • Millennium Stage – for producing amazing free shows 365 days a year and being huge supporters of local artists.
  • DC DIT and the DC House Show community. The Paperhaus, Bathtub Republic, Above The Bayou, Hole in The Sky and so much more… all amazing places to hear live music with an enthusiastic crowd of local music supporters.
  • Rock Creek Park – The biking, hiking and running trails in Rock Creek Park are such a special part of DC and let you escape the cityfor an afternoon whenever you want.

Loud Boyz

Your favorite punk band

photo by Franz Mahr

photo by Franz Mahr

  • DC Medical Marijuana Program – Devin
  • Peter Tsouras’ Historic Cupula Circa 1859 in Brightwood – Rory
  • Meats & Foods – Alex
  • Fresh DC Brau everywhere – Mitchell
  • Bryce’s Writing – Kenny

Tom Meyer

President of Clyde’s Restaurant Group

Tom Meyer Head Shot 2013

  • Big Fan of The Washington Nationals – you can’t be a legit big city without a baseball team.
  • C&O Canal – you can be on your bike and in 10 minutes, you can be in the country. It’s a beautiful artery out of the city. I love the C&O Canal.
  • Vibrant Live Music Scene – 9:30 Club, Wolf Trap, and of course, The Hamilton.
  • National Portrait Gallery/ The Smithsonian American Art Museum – Gallery Place at 8th & F Streets NW.
  • Inauguration – no matter how heated the race, it’s an orderly transition of power, and then we throw a party.

Ariana Austin

Founder and Creative Director of Art All Night

Ariana (2)

  • Meridian Ball – The best party in the city. A beautiful mix of diplomats, politicos, and some of the best-dressed Washingtonians you’ll see.
  • The Metro. Red Line antics aside, such an extraordinary public space. Gorgeously designed by Harry Weese, the pylons designed by Massimo Vignelli who also named it “Metro”, it was conceptualized by two of the greatest architects (and graphic designer) of the 20th century.
  • The layout of the city, even the story of the layout of the city. L’Enfant’s vision of broad avenues connected by a series of circles, strategically placed federal buildings, and ample public space including his “public walk” (The National Mall). Love that it’s become a site for Americans to both stroll casually or assemble en masse to rally and protest.
  • Lost In The City. If you live in D.C. and wonder of a different time in this same place, read these incredible stories by Edward P. Jones.
  • Art All Night ☺ – A free, best-of-DC nighttime arts and culture experience.

Sarah Gordon and Sheila Fain

Gordy’s Pickle Makers

photo by Kate Warren

photo by Kate Warren

  • We love that DC is extremely collaborative (Congress get on board!)
  • We love the burgeoning creative community.
  • We love that the city feels increasingly alive with each passing day.
  • We love all the greenery (parks on parks).
  • Oh and the food is quite delicious these days!

Ayana Zaire 

Editor and Creative Director of DISTRIKT (A quarterly zine showcasing the art, style, and culture of the young creative community in the DC metro area)/student at the University of Maryland, College Park


  • #JungleFeverDC parties at Tropicalia with DJ’s Mista Selecta and Mane Squeeze spinning until the AM. This is somewhat three favs wrapped into one. The Jungle Fever parties Mane Squeeze and Selecta host are always a crazy amazing time. Good crowd and bomb ass music. I usually wake up the night after with sore legs because I literally danced all night. Tropicalia is a fav because of the vibez and soul vibrating sound system. And the DJ’s Selecta and Mane Squeeze are a hometown fav, because they’ve been spinning at almost every party I’ve actually enjoyed myself. They’re a dope duo.
  • Velvet Lounge because I can wear whatever, do whatever, and be whoever. So many good memories there, I just turned 21 and this spot instantly became a fav. One time me and my friend stayed in the bathroom for like 30 minutes with this other group of girls comparing/having an analytical conversation about our breast shapes. I hate dancing and having a few drinks in my system in heels so I love how it always feels like an ideal basement party. The outside patio in the back is also nice when you need to cool off. And it’s free…we love free.
  • Nomad Yard because the owner, Desiree, is the shit and so is their collection of curated, international vintage. We (Distrikt) just did our latest interview over in their spot and we felt right at home. They also hosts amazing community engagement events and listening parties for some of the area’s nicest DJ’s such as, DJ Underdog and Native Sun.
  • Hirshhorn because it’s free, they let you take pictures (for the most part), and I’m a fan of contemporary art and sculpture above all. I come here when I need to do research for school or when I need to just recharge spiritually and creatively.
  • Busboys and Poets at 14th&V, because Busboys and Poets at 14th&V. The constant conversation surrounding art, race, politics, and culture happening in their space is so vital and necessary. Busboys is probably one of my first DC loves, I kinda grew up there. I’ve seen friends perform their poetry on stage, I’ve cried, I’ve changed my mind about a social issue, I’ve educated myself on a social issue, I’ve had brunch, I’ve had chills, I’ve bought some of my favorite books, I’ve attended political panel discussions, etc. all in that space. The open mic nights and panel discussions are why I go. For me, DC just wouldn’t be the same without it.

Lisa Gold

Director of Washington Project for the Arts


photo by Tony Hitchcock

  • DC’s artists and art! Check out wpadc.org/artists to see a sample, visit 52 O Street Studios to meet some incredible creative people…
  • Maine Avenue Fish Market…floating fish barges!
  • The international culture mash up fueled by so many embassies here (especially love that the Finnish Embassy has an awesome sauna)
  • The best landing view from an airplane — flying into DCA is like looking at a pop-up history book!
  • The crosswalk at 14th & S Streets NW. It’s not in the best shape anymore, but it was the best looking piece of asphalt in the city.
  • Bonus love: Kojo Nnamdi!

Miles Gray

Owner of Smith Public Trust, Director of DC Beer Week

Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 8.18.23 PM

  • I love Chuck & Billy’s on Georgia Ave., across from Howard U. It’s my favorite bar in DC. The wings are killer, and the music is even better. I don’t really want people to know about it, so I’m probably making a mistake here.
  • I love the Library of Congress. That’s pretty self explanatory.
  • I love DC’s local craft beer and craft distilling communities, and that we have folks like DCBeer.com that champion them.
  • I love the DJs here in DC. Too many to rattle off, but the various crews who curate the sounds of DC’s dance halls are a pretty impressive..
  • I love that we have the ability to research the super weird, esoteric history and symbols built into the fabric and architecture of the city, like some of our proposed monuments–like how the Lincoln Memorial could have been a pyramid or a temple.
  • Or Washington as Zeus in the Capital.
  • Fasces everywhere–see this (1), (2), (3), and this (4).

E. Brady Robinson



  • Yoga District. Favorite studio is H. Street NE. Check out Cara George Mon/Wed at 6:30pm class, amazing.
  • East Potomac Tennis Center. Fun clinics and indoor/outdoor courts. The views, breathtaking.
  • Jazz in the Garden, National Gallery of Art. Best way to spend Friday evenings in the summertime.
  • FotoDC. Because I love all things photography.
  • DC Art World. Artists, Galleries, Museums, Collections, Festivals, Embassies, endless.
  • (also include, CitiOpen, Bannekar Pool, the Capitol at Night, Indigo, Art All Night)

Robb Duncan and Violeta Edelman

Co-Owners of Dolcezza


photo by Joshua Cogan


  • ROCK CREEK PARK. The forest always was & continues to be very important to me, and to have a such an expansive green space running through our city is amazing. Violeta and I used to get lost in the creek and the woods on the weekends for hours. Now we have kids and can’t necessarily get lost in the park anymore, but still go down and play in the creek and walk in the woods, and no matter where it is that i am driving, i always choose to take the scenic route.
  • Starting the day in the DOLCEZZA FACTORY dialing in to the morning shot of espresso with An Evening Of Contemporary Sitar Music by Spacemen 3 playing over the speakers is a daily ritual for me. I don’t answer any phone calls until I complete this ritual as it sets the tone for the rest of the day.
  • Living in a 100 YEAR OLD DC HOUSE with the whole extended family. We have had my mother, my brother, my mother-in-law, my father-in-law, my two sister-in-laws and my brother-in-law stacked five deep in this house. The old wood floors creak with history and untold stories and it feels Fellini circus like a lot of the time, definitely never a still or dull moment.
  • Being an active participant in an EXPLODING LOCAL FOOD SCENE is a pretty satisfying experience. There are so many passionate and sufficiently crazy people we have come across and it makes doing what we are doing all the more enjoyable, from the farmers’ to the chefs, it is very refreshing to run in these small circles.
  • INITIATIVE 71. That one is pretty self explanatory. You fucking rock Adam Eidinger! fingers crossed!


  • The Arlington Memorial Bridge. Every time I come to DC after a trip and take this bridge back into the city I am reminded how beautiful DC is. With the Potomac running under, the magnificent golden statues of big warriors, the monument and the Lincoln Memorial in the background, it really feels like a city built with purpose and beauty in mind.
  • The people. Washingtonians are smart, driven, positive, progressive, doers and the city is so international! I really enjoy chit chatting with people and listening to their perspectives and ideas.
  • Dolcezza, not just because it is my business but because I get to work with Robb, the love of my life, and many other family members, and I get to take my daughters to the office whenever I want. We are a tight nit bunch.
  • Mundo Verde, my kid’s school, the first green focused school in DC, Spanish immersion, bilingual and free.
  • Smithsonian. I remember taking my daughter, Pema, to the National Portrait Gallery as a baby to play in the big atrium, and as a toddler we visited the Museum of Natural History over and over. She still talks about the butterfly that landed on her shoulder, and now she goes with me to see Degas’s little dancer at the National Gallery of Art.

 Design Army Team


  • The population changes constantly, which means there are always new faces. Sure, your friends move away eventually, but so do your frenemies.
  • Panda cam at the National Zoo. How else do you fill those empty hours at work?
  • Free museums. Thanks, taxpayers!
  • Motorcades during rush hour. No, seriously — we use that extra 30 minutes of gridlock to meditate.
  • The amount of open space. We’re grown-ups, and we need room to think.


 don’t forget to leave us your lists in the comments and click here for yesterday’s edition: