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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

Below, you will find our first batch, courtesy of some very hard working men and women. Read, feel the butterflies in your stomach and don’t forget to  comment with your lists and check out pt. 2 here.

Robin Givhan

 Washington Post fashion critic and author of “The Battle of Versailles: The Night American Fashion Stumbled Into The Spotlight And Made History.”


  • Driving down Pennsylvania Avenue towards the Capitol, at night, sometimes I go out of my way to do it. It’s just a beautiful view.
  • Rock Creek Park. It remains a beautiful mystery that I love to explore.
  • A springtime jog around Capitol Hill and along the Mall.
  • Union Market. I love the energy, the food and the people-watching.
  • Blue Iris Flowers at Eastern Market. The owners always have an interesting mix of blooms and gorgeous, huge, willow and cherry blossom branches.

Zack Friendly

Co-Founder, All Things Go. Native Washingtonian. Enthusiast of new music and hometown #SPORTS teams.


  • The roof decks at DC9 and 1905. Doesn’t get much better than inexpensive beers and good company to cool off during the oppressively humid months in DC.
  • The chocolate chip cookies at Blind Dog Cafe, one of our favorite spots to do some bloggin’. We recommend stopping by on Country Western Mondays or Reggae Thursdays.
  • The parks in, around, and nearby DC, specifically Montrose Park, the National Arboretum, and the Billy Goat Trail. Perfect Spring/Summer/Fall picnic locations.
  • ‘Ritas & ‘Jitas on Sunday nights at Cactus Cantina. We’ve all been going there since we were in high chairs, and I got my first job hosting there. Nothing puts an exclamation point on a weekend like excessive Tequila and skirt steak.
  • The 9:30 Club, duh. Best venue in America? Best venue in America.

Marjorie Meek-Bradley

Executive Chef, Ripple, Roofers Union


  • I love all the great late night pop ups like at Mandu and Daikaya. It’s fun to have good food and drink when is industry folks get off.
  • I love the mall. Weather it is going for a run, or wandering from museum to museum, or just people watching – it’s such a great out door space.
  • I love the zoo. Animals just make me happy.
  • I love Solidcore. It is seriously addictive and I love having the opportunity to support a local female business owner.
  • I love our restaurant scene. I have met some of the most amazing chefs here. It is like a family. Sure we have friendly competition, but in the end everyone really supports each other.

 Carly Wheaton

The Washington Ballet Company Dancer

Carly Wheaton by Paul Wegner - Press must use all credits

Photo by Paul Wegner

  • Eat: Dukes Grocery – This East London style eats is my kind of place…very chill, quaint with an absolute sweetheart of an owner. Anything on the menu is good, but I always order the bloody mary. The great thing about this place is that the menu is ever-changing and always high quality.
  • Drink: Bourbon Glover Park – I love hearing about the knowledge of so many different craft bourbons…and this staff knows what they are talking about. They have a fun happy hour, great music, hip staff…and good noms.
  • Go “out”: Heist, Cobalt, or any posh gay club – I really like a safe place to just dance with your friends, and these places have it. They always have good music, and I always leave with new friends and new great memories.
  • Exercise: Bikram Yoga Tenleytown – Awesome expert staff. It is my “happy place” because it is where I can test my physical limits outside of the ballet studio. Solid sessions there make ballet work better. It is my ultimate stamina and cross training technique. It is also really important to have another social outlet outside of the ballet.
  • Explore: Roosevelt Island – It is hard to access nature without a car if you live in the city. The island is a quick escape…a good place to listen to music and meditate.

Greg Engert 

Beer Director of ChurchKey, Birch & Barley and the Neighborhood Restaurant Group.

Greg Engert 3

  • THE THRONE OF THE THIRD HEAVEN OF THE NATIONS’ MILLENIUM GENERAL ASSEMBLYThis epic structure has come to symbolize, for me, the singular experience of museum going in the District. The Smithsonian Museums that museums need no longer be solely associated with school outings or vacations; we can spend hours discovering objects and ideas that can be easily revisited. Permanently housed in the more centrally located Smithsonian American Art Museum, James Hampton’s lone work, which he spent 14 years building in a rented, Northwest DC garage, has a monumental, visionary vibe that seems to demand repeated viewings. And we can happily oblige.
  • ANGLES – Located smack dab in the middle of the Adams Morgan chaos, Angles has always been an oasis of sorts, .Even today, as the street rebounds with newer spots (many of which are worth braving the masses to visit), Angles abides, decidedly unchanged. Classic bartenders, cheap drinks, no frills, and never busy. Never. You can roll in with a crew, take over the (pretty great) jukebox, maybe play some pool on the one tiny and almost ceremonial table in the way back, or bust into their stack of classic games, but—no matter what—everything is in order. The stripped-down décor, drinks and service all hum along and remain satisfyingly secondary to the experience of actually getting to spend time with your people.
  • EUROPEAN STYLE CHOPS – That Eastern Market, a seemingly modern commercial enterprise, has actually managed to survive, and now thrive, for 150 years or so is impressive, but that it has done so with long-standing, now classic, purveyors is equally cool. Union Meat Company has been in the market for almost 70 years, thankfully clinging to a number of old school meat offerings. My favorite, the Rib Cut Pork Chop, here called the “European Style Chop”, is known as the prime rib of pork, and Union Meat Company’s rendition, all thick and marbled, delivers on the comparison.
  • WEATHER – DC’s stifling summer heat gets all of the attention when we talk about weather down here, and not enough credit is given to the rest of our seasons. We may not have the foliage of New England, but autumn is beautifully temperate. Spring is too, and our winters are way more manageable, lacking the bitter cold and piles of snow that marked my upstate New York youth. Best of all are the weird, unseasonable pops of unexpected warmth in the coldest months (it’s 65 degrees as I write this…in February), and the surprisingly cool stretches that punctuate our summers from time to time.
  • SHAKESPEARE – Since leaving academia for a career in beer, DC’s theater scene has consistently fed my literary fix. I love seeing new work at Woolly Mammoth and Studio Theater, but DC seriously spoils us when it comes to Shakespeare. The Shakespeare Theatre Company offers acclaimed interpretations at both the Lansburgh Theatre and Sidney Harman Hall, while the Folger Shakespeare Library houses the single largest collection of Shakespearean materials in the world (in addition to staging exceptional performances of their own).

Melissa Chiu 

Director of the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden


Photo Credit: Xuejun Bao, Smithsonian Institution

  • My #1 pick?  Obviously the Hirshhorn! #sorrynotsorry for the shameless plug, but our nation’s modern and contemporary art museum is my sanctuary in the District. Of the free Smithsonian museums, it’s probably the best for locals, as we change out our world-class exhibitions frequently, host coveted After hours events, and even offer refuge from the rest of the Mall bustle with our gorgeously offset Sculpture Garden.
  • Union Market Union Market is my go-to weekend spot. After perusing the local fare I usually can’t forgo a trip to Dolcezza, the gelato bar/coffee lab nestled in the building right behind the market. Few know about the Angelika indie-movie pop-up theatre right next door to that, so you often get a showing all to yourself or with an intimate crowd of fellow gelato-lovers.
  • BRUNCH. I didn’t believe it when Ted’s Bulletin on 14th St. boasted of their sticky buns, but they really are AS BIG AS YOUR HEAD. Monstrous and delicious, these were built to share with your favorite brunch-mate as you catch up over the week’s news.
  • Ok, ok, so you have to take the Metro out of DC to get there, but Synetic Theater is well worth the trip to Crystal City.Artistic Directors Paata and Irina Tsikurishvili are Georgian artists who twist classic stories into kinetic masterpieces, using insanely creative dance choreography to convey emotion and passion in ways you couldn’t imagine.  Don’t miss their signature silent Shakespeare pieces, they are the best!
  • For down time and on my wish list, I am looking forward to ice skating at the National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden. I can see the skaters across the Mall from the Hirshhorn…

Carl Pierre 

The head of D.C. operations for  WeWork 

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  • Walking – it’s easy in D.C. I love this city because I can often walk everywhere I need to go. I’ve always hated cities that require a car to get everywhere (LA is the worst), and being able to hoof it around the District has been extremely appealing. Whether it’s running between WeWork buildings, grabbing a decent cup of joe, or brunching with friends until I go comatose – everything is a 20-30 min. walk at most. Which kicks ass.
  • I can dress up and dress down and still fit in anywhere D.C. is great because it has variety; if I feel like slicking my hair back, rocking a suit, and getting my House of Cards on, there are a bunch of different bars/restaurants I can go to and have no one bat an eye at what I’m wearing. This also applies to when I decide to dress like a dirty hipster; I can be decked head to toe in denim and flannel with an American Spirit in my mouth and there are plenty of bars where nobody will care. D.C. is just a special place like that.
  • Distractions for when family visits, as much as we might hate tourists/the monuments/downtown in general, D.C. has a lot of stuff to distract visiting family or friends – which is awesome. My favorite is probably the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. It’s gorgeous in the spring or summer (even fall and winter too, actually), which is the reason why it’s my happy place when life gets a little too real…which is all the time.
  • Whiskey…whiskey everywhere…whether it’s a Friday night at Jack Rose or post-work drinks at All Souls (also my favorite bar in the city), the District has a ton of great places for hitting the sauce. D.C. has a bar scene that continues to grow and develop, as well as keeps my liver hating the part of my brain that makes poor decisions.
  • The nerds are taking over: the startup scene is blowing up in the city, which says a lot about the direction D.C. is going in terms of being able to support a tech economy. With more and more small tech companies and businesses popping up, people now rarely have to ask you to repeat yourself when you say you work for a startup. The burgeoning tech scene is definitely a tell-tale sign that the District is heading places.
Architectural/Urban Designer and Colorblock Champ
SatOne LEnfant Plaza
  • 5. Walkable neighborhoods with district identities separate from the federally owned and operated monumental core, where District residents live and go about their businesses everyday. They are often more colorful and quirky than expected and are ripe for explorations on foot.
  • 4. Vast program offerings from a diverse international community that contribute greatly to the city’s cultural discussion.
  • 3. Vibrant creative community that is ever growing and supportive of its individuals.
  • 2. Continuous emergence of original services and establishments that resulted from the infusion of a younger demographic.
  • 1. Major infrastructural projects of a significant public and cultural nature, such as the 11th Street Bridge Park and the Dupont Underground, that have the potential of establishing the District as a vital and globally competitive urban center.

Bernard Farley 

Electronic music producer and vocalist for Outputmessage, math nerd and Renaissance Man™


  • Rooftop of the Cairo – I’m very fortunate to live in this historic (and notoriously tall) building that has a 360 degree view of the city from the rooftop. I love going up there with friends to have a drink and chill while taking in the skyline.
  • The Saloon – Whenever I have a friend visiting from out of town and want to catch up, I take them to the Saloon and have a glass of Urbock 23. It’s one of the most laid back bars in the city, a place where you can grab a good beer AND hear yourself talk.
  • SW Waterfront – I lived in this neighborhood for almost 4 years and fell in love with the quiet, but quirky scenery. From the oddly spherical streetlights to the boat community on the water, this unique part of the city inspired my first music video, “Heisenberg“. Sadly, a giant new shopping/condo complex is being built there so go visit the area before it totally changes.
  • Black Squirrels – When I first moved to the area, the black squirrels scared the crap out of me, but now I love them.
  • The Needle Exchange at Velvet Lounge. Bil, Baronhawk, and Tommy put on a great mixture of house and disco edits for a queer friendly crowd. You can totally chill or get sweaty on the dance floor. We need more parties like this!

Justin Rood

Co-Founder Funk Parade

i-a1b6b9cfdf98b5deabc7d98c8dde7fa5-Justin Rood

  • The Howard University Homecoming Parade. If you think heaven is a place filled with African American marching bands and cool cars, and I do, then this is heaven.
  • People who still call DC’s airport “National Airport.” Because no matter what you change its name to, that’s what it’s called.
  • Street corner brass bands with go-go flair.
  • Taxi drivers who listen to C-SPAN radio. And who will argue politics with you – local, national or international, take your pick.
  • WPFW 89.3 FM. Jazz, old soul, funk, classical guitar — they play everything you might think you’d never hear on the radio, and we’re all better for it.

Pranav Vora and Philip Soriano

co-founders of Hugh and Crye

PS_PV_Chelsea Gallery


  • Boundary Stone – I love this place. It’s what I want in a neighborhood bar. I don’t live in Bloomingdale, but I try to visit once a month.
  • Yates Tennis Courts – Four indoor courts on Georgetown’s campus. I love tennis, and being able to play year-round.
  • Creative Mornings – My friends Joel, Jackie and Colin started up the DC chapter of CM. It’s once a month, usually early on a Friday morning. The speakers are great, and it’s an inspiring way to start the day.
  • WeWork – Our company (Hugh & Crye) had an office in the Wonderbread location until recently. We’re excited to move to the Yards, but do miss how easy WeWork made everything: internet, coffee, etc – everything works on day one.
  • Shenandoah – Obviously not in DC, but so close. A new discovery for me, Shenandoah is so beautiful for a weekend away. I highly recommend hiking Old Rag – it’s moderately challenging and the vistas are amazing.


  • Red Hen – Around the corner from my place, co-owned by my friend, Sebastian Zutant, and designed by his wife Lauren Winter. Great ambiance, one of the best meals in town.
  • DC UnitedBen Olsen used to practice with us, when I played at American University, back when he still played for them – now their head coach. Also, the late Shawn Kuykendall, a former AU teammate played for them. They’re my favorite team in the MLS.
  • The Yards – Home of the new Hugh & Crye store and office. We’re getting to know our neighbors and loving the vibes of the area.
  • Beuchert’s Saloon – ‘Art Deco meets Rustic’ interior. Excellent food and drinks. The perfect spot for one-on-one conversations. The type of place that a lot of bars in DC strive for but always miss (*Cough* Clydes). I rarely make it to the Hill, but when I’m close by, I make sure to stop by here.
  • The Billy Goat Trail – Two words: Trail runs. And the best views of the potomac river that this area has to offer.

Paul Ruppert

owner of Petworth Citizen, Crane & Turtle and Upshur Street Books.


  • I love to experience a wide range of art. Anytime Norm Veenstra puts on a show at his alternative art space, Studio 1469, in Columbia Heights, I try to attend. It is a blank space at the end of an alley just off 15th Street. Norm curates a wide range of exhibits and concerts and you never know what to expect.
  • Anacostia Playhouse is really starting to develop into a first-rate theater space. Performances by Theatre Alliance and Scena Theatre are at the top of my list. I am looking forward to “Occupied Territories”, an adaptation of Seneca’s “Trojan Women” coming in June.
  • I enjoy visiting with the artists at the 52 O Street Studios. Lisa Marie Thalhammer and Matt Hollis are two of my favorites. Definitely don’t miss the semi-annual Open Studios.
  • If I find myself anywhere near Brentwood during lunch time, then I head to MGM Roast Beef, near the post office on Brentwood Road. I recommend the hand-carved Top Round sandwich. And good news – they just expanded and added more seats.
  • When I need a break from hectic life, I pay a visit to Old St. Mary’s Catholic Church on 5th Street. My great, great grandparents were part of the German American community centered on that church. A visit lets me connect to my past and focus on something outside of my daily responsibilities.


don’t forget to leave us your lists in the comments and click here for part 2