Every year, the City Paper publishes their Best of D.C. report, which includes the best food & drink, arts & entertainment, and people & places, just to name a few verticals.
April 10, 2013: The Washington City Paper hosted their first “Best of D.C. Fete.” to highlight the best of the best in food & drink. Now, there are a LOT of food-focused events in this city. I’ve been to good ones, bad ones, well-organized ones, and even some poorly organized events. This one, though, was one of the best I’ve been to thus far. The number of food options, the free-flowing cocktails, and the venue made for a memorable experience.
Let’s talk food & booze. There were over 50 restaurants represented, some with food offerings, some with cocktails. You can see pictures of almost everything in the slideshow above. I tried to create a Top 5 list, and then a Top 10 list, but I couldn’t narrow it down! So, here are the places I found most memorable and most delicious:
El Centro D.F.: Pork Carnitas Tacos
On top there is pickled red onion and salsa verde, in a homemade soft corn tortilla. They also had 3 sauces that you could put on to. I chose the orange sauce– dubbed “super spicy” according to the gentlemen serving up the tacos. They were shocked that I wanted to try the extra-spicy sauce, and they watched me intently as I took a bite. I love spicy, and have a pretty high spicy tolerance. This was AWESOME! Definitely hot, really really good. The guys were pleased I think that I didn’t explode or something from the spiciness.
Bar Dupont: Gin Cocktail
This “Taste of Spring Cocktail” had gin, lemon juice, muddled strawberries, fresh basil, and balsamic reduction. This, along with the Ping Pong cocktail, were my two favorites at the whole place. Fruity, not too sweet, not bubbly! (I’m not into bubbles, ya know, carbonation. Just not my thing.) Despite the fact that I live in Dupont, I’ve never actually been to Bar Dupont and honestly never have really heard much about them. After this, I’m intrigued to go check them out at the restaurant!
BLT Steak: PB&J Panna Cotta
What is Panna Cotta exactly? I get that question a lot. It’s a cream-based Italian dessert. Kind of like pudding-consistency, but I really shouldn’t say that because anyone who makes Panna Cotta would likely be offended by that statement. It’s really smooth and delicious. And THIS panna cotta was PB&J! Amazing! It truly tasted like PB&J! It was unique and really stood out.
Ping Pong Dim Sum: Lemongrass & Lime Cocktail
I’ve had this cocktail MANY times. It’s vodka, lychee liqueur, lime, lychee juice, and fresh lemongrass. (Lychee is tropical fruit, sort of similar to a strawberry in taste.) This cocktail is smooth, light, non-bubbly (of course). It doesn’t actually taste of alcohol, it just tastes wonderfully refreshing, which of course could be dangerous! As I’ve said, this was one of my top two cocktails of the night, and it’s definitely one of my favorites when going out in the city.
Darlington House: Lemon Ricotta Cavatelli with Rock Shrimp & Arugula
YUM! As an Italian, I love my pasta. This cavatelli dish was creamy and flavorful. The shrimp was perfectly cooked and went really well with the other elements.
P.J. Clarke’s: Burgers
P.J. Clarke’s serves up really good American cuisine. It is fitting, then, that they brought burgers here! Super good and perfectly cooked (Thanks Thomas!) I appreciate a good burger for sure.
Georgia Brown’s: Shrimp & Grits
Shrimp & grits! I love shrimp & grits. It’s such a wonderful, savory combination. I love the seafood, I love the cheesy grits, and I love it all together. Really well seasoned too.
Cafe Saint Ex: Pork Belly
I wasn’t sure if I really liked pork belly. I’ve had it before, I think, but couldn’t remember if I really liked it. Well, let me say, it was delicious! The pork belly was served with bacon-wrapped apple butter, picked ramps (wild onion), Thai chilis, and basil. Worthy of eating the whole plate. (Also, the man serving these dishes was very, very attractive. There were a lot of very good-looking people here. We’ll touch upon that later though.)
Room 11: Pork Shitake Dumplings
Honestly? I had never heard of Room 11. Which is one reason why these events are so great! I’m a big fan of sauces. Dipping sauces, pasta sauces, sweet sauces, savory sauces. Really, they’re so fun! This dumping was really tasty, as was the sesame ginger sauce with it. Really really yummy! I’d eat another, and I’d love to go try out the restaurant now too!
Harth Restaurant: Ghost Pepper and Bacon Jam Glazed Wings
Who doesn’t love some good chicken wing? These were finger-licking good. Slightly sweet, touch of spicy, juicy, crispy. mm mm good! The only reason I only had 1 was because of how many other dishes there were to try, but if I was out to eat, it would be very easy to eat an order. Delish.
Boy, this list doesn’t end, does it? It was all just so good! A good “problem” to have for sure! I’ll go faster.
Pearl Dive had an amazing raw bar:
Hank’s Oyster Bar brought a variety of fresh oysters:
Red Velvet Cupcakery had a bea-Utiful display of assorted mini cupcakes!
Luke’s Lobster Shrimp Rolls– YUM
MAN it was all so good! Really every place is worth mentioning, but I will stop here. Truly an amazing food & drink experience.
- Seafood: Lots of seafood! I LOVE seafood, so I was in fish heaven.
- Pork Belly: there were a few different places serving up pork belly. Interesting just because it’s not super common. Unique & delicious choice.
- Ceviche: Lots of different places had ceviche. This makes sense too, since it’s a dish that is served cold. If you’re going to bring something to an event like this, cold items tend to be easier to plate and get out to consumers than hot stuff. I am partial to the “hot stuff” though; just more comforting and satisfying, in my opinion.
- Cocktails: so so many! That was probably less of a trend and more of a prerequisite, considering there was a whole speakeasy room. It was really fun to try different things, and there were lots that I didn’t even get to taste!
An aspect of the event that was unique was its location. It was held in the Carnegie Library in Mount Vernon Square. Really cool! The event was in multiple rooms. There was the Main Hall, which had a bunch of restaurants and a live band; to the left was the Adam’s Morgan room, made up of mostly AdMo restaurants and complete with a DJ; to the right was the Speakeasy room, which contained all cocktails; downstairs was the Wine Cellar level, with even more restaurants; and upstairs was the VIP area with special VIP restaurant offerings and the VIP bags. All of the different spaces made it really fun to explore venue as well as the restaurants.
Last thing, because I said I would mention it. The number of good-looking people here was, well, quite impressive. The majority of the folks there were enjoyable to look at, whether they were serving the food or attending the events. I’m not trying to say anything…I’m just saying. Definitely doesn’t hurt the experience! Looking for a place to meet someone? This is a pretty good option!
If you’re looking for a quality foodie experience, with delicious food, lots of drinks, and a lively atmosphere, I highly recommend this event. And this was just the first year! I’m eager to what the event is like next year! Also, word on the street is that the City Paper is conjuring up more events. Based off of this one, I have a good feeling about future ones!
Were you at the Best of D.C. Fete? What do YOU think of as the best restaurant in D.C.?