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HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY WEEK! To top off our week of Valentine’s Day 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

TODAY, we have our first 50 reasons, courtesy of 10 very hard working men and women. Read, feel the butterflies in your stomach and don’t forget to  comment with your lists/check back next week for the rest….

Brian Miller and Lauren Winter – Architects at Edit Lab

these fine folks have designed all your favorite hang out spots in DC: Red Hen, Daikaya, Brixton, Dolcezza, U Street Music Hall, Baby Wale, Flight Wine Bar and more

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  • The Smithsonian of course, a magical (free) tool for helping teach my child about everything. I love the museum of natural history the best. My little man, he loves the zoo and air and space museum.
  • Fried meat dumplings from Meiwah
  • The final days of the cherry blossoms when it continuously rains pink and white petals.
  • The surge of young entrepreneurs. People I would see bar-tending and waiting tables just a few years back are now opening restaurants and businesses throughout the town. It’s really creating something unique.
  • My neighborhood. Bloomingdale is a quaint place where you run into friends at the local coffee shop / bakery or neighborhood bar. If you forget your wallet, your purchase is put on a tab for another time. Neighbors yell hello from the other side of the street rather than walk with their heads down avoiding eye contact. Fences are torn down rather than built up, and secret parks are hidden amongst alleys.


  • The Peacock Room: The most beautiful room in the city. Originally built in a London home and painted by James McNeill Whistler in 1877, the room was moved to Detroit in 1904 and finally to the Freer Gallery of Art in DC in 1923. They throw the shutters open once a month for a few hours, but it’s worth a visit either way.
  • Redeem: Now in a new larger 14th St location just up from the old space, this boutique is the east coast’s greatest source of asymmetric men’s clothing (and other great men’s and women’s clothing). They find collections from great small designers as close as DC and as far as Korea in service of the overall vision of owner Lori Parkerson. Whenever I wear something from Redeem people stop me on the street to ask about it, and it feels great to say “I got it right here in DC”.
  • Nationals Park: The Nationals are a fun team to watch, you can use the bike valet and bypass all the car and Metro traffic when the game ends, and this season there will be four local beer stands throughout the park so it’ll be easier to get something nice from DC Brau, 3 Stars, Port City, or Mad Fox.
  • Metro stations: Sure, it’s easy to complain about Metro service and maintenance, but the stations themselves have a quiet dignity that few other transit systems can approach. Designed by Harry Weese, the coffered and vaulted ceilings, recessed lighting, and bronze and granite details give the spaces a restful quality that I appreciate more every time I use a metro system in a different city.
  • The whisk(e)y list at Jack Rose: The closest thing this country has to a Smithsonian of whiskey. And you can drink them! Don’t obsess over your first choice – just pick something fast and sip it while you read the rest of the list and find something really special for your second drink.

EX HEX – Rock’n’Roll Band

(check out their debut record on Merge Records SO SOON)

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James Alefantis – Chef/Owner of Comet Ping Pong & Buck’s Fishing & Camping,Film Producer, Board President of Transformer.

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DC is my hometown so lets do this weekend five:

  • Kintaro – a new Japanese restaurant translated as “Golden Boy” – named after a legendary child folk hero – that also serves incredible sushi and ramen– LOVE Saturday lunch.
  • Then of course Darryl Dean for furniture– I want to hang out with anyone who gets things there.
  • and then to Transformer for art – especially HOMOCATS!! (plus cat adoption day!) and if lucky maybe Julia will show artwork for sale from the Flat File. HomoCats: Fight the Power (p.s. Be My Forever Valentine: Cat Adoption Day is on Saturday, February 15, 12-3pm at Transformer)
  • Run by dinner party at Septime Webre’s of the Washington Ballet – my favorite LOVE buddy, steal him and head to Comet Pong Pong for Septime’s favorite pizza The Hottie- with Fontina, Pepperoni and Jalapeños!
  • Followed by MY favorite DC activity – drinking while dancing to bands at Comet – before late night sneaking into closed Buck’s kitchen and making cheeseburgers with champagne while laughing.

Heidi Glüm – Drag Queen, Girl with the most cake, an evil genius, the Queen of Sin, and Supermodel


Spike Mendelsohn, Chef and Owner of Béarnaise, Good Stuff Eatery and We, The Pizza

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  • Eastern Market – Between the food and handmade goods, what is not to love?
  • The Friendliness – So many of us in DC are transplants from someplace else and I think that is why everyone is so open and welcoming.
  • Mumbo Sauce
  • Eden’s Center – I’ve traveled and cooked throughout Vietnam. I love getting an authentic taste of Vietnam so close to home.
  • Washington Capitals – I hail from Montreal, so I’m all about the hockey.

Nina O’Neil, Designer –National Gallery of Art By Day, CIAO NINA and CIAO Sposa By Night

nina profile

  •  Peregrine: I love having a delicious local coffee shop where they know my order!
  • 2. The most beautiful commute imaginable. (see attached photo of my beautiful commute, and Peregrine coffee!)

Commute and Peregrine

  •  Toki Underground: Yes, everyone knows the food is amazing. But for the perfect cocktail see Colin at the bar, he is a magician. Just describe your dream cocktail and voila’, it appears.
  • Free art and Talented Artists: No other city provides so many world class art collections open to the public and FREE. The arts scene in DC is exceptional and so supportive.
  • Bikram Yoga Capitol Hill: Try it once, you’ll be hooked! Super hot, YES, but an exceptional workout like this just a few blocks away can’t be beat

Ryan Bos, Executive Director of Capital Pride

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  • I love how athletic and into health and fitness the DC community is. The gay sports community in DC is was what first got me hooked on this city. We have one of the largest, if not largest, gay sports community in the country.
  • I have so much pride in the social justice and equal rights movement of DC. There is still much to do, but it’s amazing how far ahead we are, especially compared to my home state of Indiana.
  • I am excited for the development in DC and the spotlight that continues to move beyond politics and into our neighborhoods, people, entertainment, achievements and local community.
  • I love the diversity in the terrain and surroundings when I go out for a run. From the inner city, to the suburbs, trails, monuments and memorials you can’t beat experiencing all of this in one long run. It’s one ever expanding neighborhood.
  • Finally, I love the friendships, both personal and professional, that I have been able to development here in DC. They are an example of what’s great about DC with of all the passion, vision, energy and talent they possess.

Steve Lambert, Booking and Co-Owner of Rock & Roll Hotel and booking czar for DC9


  • DC Music Scene and its long history of independence..NEVER GIVE IN.
  • Tune Inn (331 Penn Ave SE) starts serving cocktails at 8am, 7 days a week.
  • Jason Hamacher (REGENTS/FRODUS/DECAHEDRON/BATTERY/COMBATWOUNDEDVETERAN), and his secret jack of trades and skills.
  • National Arboretum, year round.
  • Nationals ballpark

Olivier Servat, GM – W Hotel DC

Olivier Servat

  • Running in Rock Creek Park. It’s been an amazing way to discover the city in my first few months here (and work off all of those delicious meals at J&G Steakhouse).
  • I still haven’t gotten over the view from the rooftop of W, being able to see all of the monuments, the White House – and on a clear day – Maryland and Virginia
  • Exploring all of the locally made foods and drinks. Coming from Paris, I thought of DC as a political hub and had no idea it had such a vibrant culinary scene. Going to farmer’s markets and neighborhood shops has really opened up my eyes and tastebuds.
  • It’s been an adventure trying to keep up with all of the new restaurants on 14th Street, so far Kapnos, Doi Moi and cocktails at The Gibson are standouts.
  • Without sounding like a tourist, it’s been amazing to explore all of the museums, with great kids programming at the National Gallery of Art and exhibits like American Cool at the National Portrait Gallery.

next week-check in for part 2.