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Made in DC: 5 Local Food Brands To Support

DC is a constantly growing city of culture, people, and most important, FOOD! As a Foodie, I love this area because I can pretty much walk to any street and take my pick of several types of cuisine.

While chains are great, local restaurants truly capture the essence of the area, so be sure to check out five of my favorite local food brands ASAP!

NuVegan Cafe 
2928 Georgia Ave NW

This spot started during a time when being a vegan or vegetarian wasn’t so big in DC. Although they have gone through a few names, they have stayed true to their vision and constantly put out great meat-free salads, sandwiches, and entrees. They also makes great fresh juices and smoothies. You won’t be disappointed because the portions are a nice size. Come hungry and ready to enjoy some healthy dishes.

Soupergirl
314 Carroll Street NW

I remember when this place first opened with the Soupergirl logo. I was drawn to it and the wonderful smells coming out the kitchen. At the time, they didn’t have a actual sit down shop and once that opened, I went in to try my first cup of soup. The kind slips my mind, but it was filled with so much flavor. I love that this is a locally owned shop. Her story of a comedian turned Soupergirl is pretty cool. Check it out!

Timber Pizza Co  
809 Upshur Street NW

I actually went to junior high with one of the owners so I’m very excited to support this brand. DC stand up! Okay, anyway this spot was started because these guys hated their jobs, but  loved lunch. Both co-owners were working at a local tech company and became buddies. They both shared a passion in pizza and basketball and pretty knew they would never be pro-basketball players and from that love the pizza brand was built. Their menu changes seasonally. A fan favorite seems to be the Green Monster which contains pesto, fresh mozzarella, festa cheese, zucchini, and kale. Yum!

Broodjies Bier

This is a Dutch-inspired sandwich and salad company based in DC. The ideas sparked when Sarah Frimpong travelled to Amsterdam for a year to study abroad and had her first bite of a Dutch broodjie. She tried as many as she could to really get the ingredients and taste down. Once she got back to DC after a corporate job, quit, registered her LLC, and started a kickstarter and it far exceeded the amount she asked for. That’s when it all started. They make fresh salads and sandwiches everyday to deliver to various places in her D.C. And VA area.

Turning Natural
2025 Martin Luther King Jr Ave SE
Annette Turner was the founder of Turning Natural. She came up with an idea of living holistically in your everyday life. She, unfortunately, passed away in 2010 due to breast cancer. Her daughter, Jeri Evans, decided not to let the dream fade but rather evolve by continuing her vision. They make all types of smoothies, have natural juices, and make some pretty delicious food. They have a black bean burger that I am personally curious about trying.
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3 Spots To Get Your Brunch On In The City

On the weekends breakfast is my favorite meal to indulge in; but after a night of partying, the last thing I want to do is get up at the crack of dawn to catch it being served. Thankfully living in the DC area where brunch culture is alive and poppin, I can enjoy pancakes and omelets between the hours of 11:00am and 3:00pm.  According to dc.eater.com, there are 30+ brunches in the nation’s capital. Here are 3 of my favorite from that number:


Founding Farmers
www.wearefoundingfarmers.com

Located on 1924 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, this elegant restaurant describes itself as a “co-op-owned American eatery dishing out market-driven comfort cuisine along with rustic-chic style”. The decor and the food here is amazing. From Uncle Buck’s Beignets to cocktails made with local distilled spirits, it’s no surprise to see Founding Farmer diners posting pictures of their delicious meals and drinks all over social media.  

Brunch is served Saturday, Sunday, and Holiday Mondays  from 9am-2pm. Both the DC and MoCo locations serve an “a la carte” style brunch.  To experience the Farmers Market Buffet Brunch,  go to the Tysons Corner location in Virginia.

 

Gryphon
www.thegryphondc.com

Nightly, Gryphon is one of the best places to party, and on Sunday afternoon it’s one of the best places to brunch! Please do not underestimate brunch being held at a “club”. The buffet is great and the bottomless mimosa option makes this brunch a winner with me. Besides the food, the energy is awesome: a stylishly dressed room enjoying themselves, dancing while the DJ does their thing in the background.  After brunch hours, the true turn up begins so feel free to stay for the after party.

The Gryphon is located at 1337 Connecticut Avenue NW IN Washington, D.C.  Brunch hours are between 11 am -4 pm. Reservations are highly recommended.

 

Mad Hatter
www.madhatterdc.com

Matter Hatter is a “lively tavern known for beer & pub fare channels Alice’s Wonderland with an upside down room & more”. The mythical atmosphere and decent prices are what make this place great.  Brunch offers standard  breakfast american fare: steak and eggs,  chicken and waffles, pancakes, or French toast.  My favorites on the menu are Mad Man’s Breakfast or the Hatter Skillet. They’re both magically delicious! (I couldn’t help myself, I had to say it lol)

Brunch hours are between 11:30 am and 2 pm. It is located at 1319 Connecticut Ave NW.

 

 

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4 Late Night Happy Hours To Keep The Party Going

We all have those nights where wish the happiest hour went a little later and just a tad bit longer. I know I’ve had nights where a $13 drink would have been so much more satisfying if it was a little less expensive. I’m here to let the cat out of the bag by helping you all catch some of those amazing and magical late night happy hours.

 

Fare Well – 406 H Street NE

This new veggie centric comfort food spot offers a great happy hour Thursday to Saturday from 9pm to 1am. They offer $5 beer, wine, and cocktails. The fact that you can pair an inexpensive drink with a healthy dish is a good trade off. This place will be a good addition to your palette.

Fare Well Bar [Image credit www.eatfarewell.com]

The Royal – 501 Florida Ave. NW

The Royal, that got its name from The Royal Liquor Store that previously occupied the same space, is a true hidden gem. They have a happy hour every night of the week from 10pm to close! The Royal has different closing times throughout the week so check their website before venturing out.

 

 

[Image: www.theroyaldc.com]

El Chucho – 3313 11th Street NW

This small Mexican themed spot might look like a hole in the wall upon passing, but when you go inside, you will be pleasantly surprised! On Mondays, El Chucho hosts an All-Night Happy Hour beginning at 4pm. On Tequila Tuesdays they offer 20% off Tequila and Mezcal all night long. Last but not least, they offer nightly beer and shoot specials Sunday through Thursday from 10pm to close. This sounds like a place that you could get into a lot of trouble, so tread lightly.

[Image: Foursquare.com]

Eighteenth Street Lounge – 1212 18th Street NW

Many clubs don’t know what a happy hour is, but Eighteenth Street Lounge gets it and keeps the party going! They have a happy hour from 5:30pm to 9pm from Tuesday to Friday and Sunday. If this is not on your list of places to party, it should be.

[Image: http://www.eighteenthstreetlounge.com]

**Pricing listed in this article are subject to change without notice from venues. Please check directly with restaurants listed for updates about happy hours and promotional beverage pricing.

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Farewell to Darnell’s

As a symptom of changing times and a reminder that nothing beautiful lasts forever, Darnell’s closed its doors this weekend. Darnell’s Bar is a small but comfy bar/lounge just off of U street, so discrete you might not even notice it if you weren’t looking. It was a reliable home for good music and great jerk wings and mac & cheese.

Darnell’s was a bubbling black hub: it was cozy, refined and consistent. Every Friday night was good for a fun night whether with friends or on a date; the dimly lit, homey vibe and mix of the best music from the 80s to today was perfect for any mood.

The results of  D.C. changing while trying to “broaden” its horizons, seems to affect the black mainstays; they always seem to be the first to go. When black businesses come and go, it hits harder than the closing of a store branch or corporate entity. Black businesses can easily become a proto-home with enough time and when they leave you they take a part of you with them. It may be business as usual but for the people who spent time there it’s a somber fact of life. So farewell to Darnell’s, your last night was like every night before it: a fun time with a good meal as a bonus.

 

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Mumbo Sauce: What Is It and Where to Get it

To those that have tried it, Mumbo Sauce is the secret ingredient that will change your taste-buds life forever. Well, for me at least. As a junior high school kid in the city of D.C I had my very first chicken and​ french fries topped with mumbo sauce (and salt and pepper)​ experience. After that, I was hooked for life. That unforgettable experience is something that I can’t quite compare to anything else.

Some say the taste reminds them of barbecue or plum sauce. For me, it’s a combination of flavors creating the unique mumbo sauce. It is said to have started in Chicago and somehow transitioned into Chinese carryouts across the D.C and Maryland area. I suppose I’ll have to give the Chicago version a shot to see if the rumors are true.

Now, I wouldn’t say all of that just to leave you drooling. Here are a few of my personal favorite mumbo sauce hangout spots.

Jerry’s ​2016 Georgia Ave NW

For many, Jerry’s has served as the after party food spot. They are extremely quick and efficient. Back in the day it was an adventure walking inside but with the recent gentrification, it’s empty of extra stragglers outside of those actually placing orders.

Mayflower Chinese Food 4427 Wisconsin Ave NW​

Mayflower has managed to last in a neighborhood that’s perceived as uppity; bougie if you will. Let’s just say this place has been here since I was in junior high school, and I’ve been out of high school for over 10 years, yikes! Mayflower is a definite staple that will not leave you disappointed. Be cautious of the time you decide to drop in, as it’s surrounded by a few schools so there’s the possibility of an after school crowd.

Twin Dragon Carry Out 5504 3rd Street NW

If you’re looking for an out of this world egg roll, Twin Dragon is your spot. I know we aren’t discussing egg rolls here but I had to throw that in there. However, I highly suggest their chicken wings and mumbo sauce!

Let’s all agree to throw out those New Year resolutions just this once! I would love to hear which, if any, of these place you tried and loved, or any suggestions that aren’t listed here. Be sure to tag @DCWKLY

(#DCWKLY) in your mumbo sauce posts!

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Chopped Bartender Competition Powered by (BELVEDERE)RED

4 Mystery Ingredients, 3 Bartenders, 1 Great Cause.

What better way to kick off the holidays than a party for a cause. The Chopped Bartender Competition powered by (BELVEDERE)RED was held at the luxurious SAX Restaurant and Lounge. Organized by Candice Nicole PR, the event was filled to the brim with light bites, beautiful people, and of course cocktails provided by Belvedere.

Party goers kicked back with their drinks, enjoyed party favors, and mingled as the competition began. Finalists Frank Mills of Jack Rose, Tyler Hartman of Joe’s Seafood, and Crystal Altizer of Soundcheck not only mixed their best cocktails with the provided ingredients, but also put on quite the show. The DJ kept the energy going as the bartenders did their thing. It was super entertaining to watch these three finalists in their element; it was easy to see that they take pride in their craft.

When it was time to announce the winners, all eyes were on center stage. You could feel the anticipation in the air as everyone gathered around with their drinks and their smartphones to capture the winning moment. Frank Mills of Jack Rose was crowned the undisputed winner on the night. The panel of three judges praised the way he used the ingredients, and it was apparent he had quite a support system in the house. Apparently this isn’t the first time Frank has won a bartending competition, either. Check him out this past summer at CÎROC’s Drink Of Summer Mixology Contest.

If you are still looking for a way to give back before the year ends, gather your friends, grab a bottle of (BELVEDERE)RED, and have your own bartender battle. As members of the DC community, the battle against AIDS is one that should be close to all of our hearts. Join the likes of Bono and John Legend to lend your helping hand in a unique and fun way.

Belvedere proudly donates 50% of their profits from each bottle of (BELVEDERE)RED to the Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa. Belvedere continues their partnership for (RED), the organization founded in 2006 by Bono and Bobby Shriver to engage people in the fight against AIDS through collaborations with the world’s most iconic brands. Visit their website for more information.

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3 Holiday Cocktails To Try

It’s that time of year again, so soon! The time where we come together with family and friends to celebrate the year and what’s to come. Most of us would prefer to add a few holiday themed cocktails in the mix; so for those of ‘us’, I’m here to tell you where to go for a few of my favorite festive drinks! The season is almost over so get to it!

Service Bar: Baked Apple & Pear Gin & Tonic; made up of equally great ingredients that create an even balance and mix well together. The recipe includes Gin, apple/pear tonic, clear lime, and soda. For only $10, I promise you won’t be disappointed! 928 U Street NW

Miracle on 7th Street: This place is amazing! It’s definitely a must-see! There’s a possibility that the line will be trailing down the street so I’d suggest a mid-week rendezvous. I recommend their rum ham, made with a Christmas Rum blend, pineapple Bud Light syrup, and lime. For $13 you can enjoy great drinks and an enjoyable experience. 1843 7th Street NW

The Gibson: Let me begin by saying that this place is a hidden gem. Any drink from The Gibson will have you blown away, however, I’d recommend starting with the Cat’s Meow. The name alone tickles me; made up of red wine, Cruzan Black Strap Rum, vanilla, lime, and champagne. (You might only need one of these ;)) 2009 14th Street NW

 

Although it’s slowly coming to an end, I hope everyone has an enjoyable holiday season with your loved ones! Drink up, be merry, and tell them Dana sent you!

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Service Bar : The New Gem on U Street

Gather ‘round, gather ‘round, I have exciting news! As we prepare ourselves for the gut wrenching DC winter, we’re welcomed with a little warmth in the form of the all new Service Bar! Located on U St, this little gem was created with the concept of a service bar; in which bartenders prepare an assortment of well-made drinks for patrons of the restaurant.

When I tell you these bartenders were creating magic, they really knew what they were doing! On top of the amazing cocktails, Service Bar has the most phenomenal mushrooms I’ve ever had in my life! No exaggeration. The two-piece chicken meal with fries wasn’t too bad either. The meal was well seasoned and was just enough food for a quick stop for drinks with friends or a cute little date (hint, hint).

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One thing that really caught my eye was the cocktail menu. With the amount of choices, as well as a full page dedicated to $7 all day drink options, and a buy one get one shot, I’d say this place is pretty genius. Service Bar has the potential to be my new pre-game spot!

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Owned by the co-owner of Jin, once one of my favorite ‘just stop by and see what happens’ spots, I’m super excited to see another black owned restaurant in DC! As the newest go-to bar, ran by someone who really understands the industry as well as the culture of our city, I’m anxious to see the great things that are guaranteed to come!

Be sure to check out Service Bar, and tell them Dana sent you!

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Spice Up Your Fitness Drink (Your Muscles Will Thank You)

From weekend warriors to superstar Olympic athletes, one thing they have in common is their hate for muscle cramps; a Charley Horse if you will. It can make a 300 pound football player cry out of his sleep, or stop a triathlete from reaching the end of the race (2004 Olympics).

There are many snake oil treatments, methods, rituals, and the like to battle this scourge of the fitness world. These include drinking more water, electrolytes, eating a banana, and stretching the muscle like your life depended on it.  

Possible causes:

  • Poor blood circulation in the legs
  • Overexertion of the calf muscles while exercising
  • Insufficient stretching before exercise
  • Exercising in the heat
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Dehydration
  • Magnesium and/or potassium deficiency
  • Calcium deficiency in pregnant women
  • Malfunctioning nerves.

Initially thought to be a muscular dysfunction, has recently been found to be caused from a misfiring of nerves. Nerve cells that extend from the spinal cord become hyper excitable and go haywire, then an excruciating muscle cramp forms. It has also been found that some people are predisposed to cramp easily whether they exercise lightly or intensely. Muscle cramps play a huge role in the quick abandonment many fitness journey’s; some quit within a few weeks of starting. Without warning it can hit you like a ton of bricks.

Research done within the last couple of years has provided an effective solution: Cayenne Pepper or other hot spices.  Taken prior to, during, or immediately after exercising, your chances of obtaining an intense muscle cramp is reduced by 3x.  A new company is marketing a product called HOTSHOT to improve neuromuscular performance and prevent muscle cramps at its root.  You can try your own homemade concoction, i.e cayenne, water, honey, etc. The research surrounding this topic is ongoing. As always please consult with your Doctor prior to trying new supplements.

Nothing should stop you from achieving your health and fitness goals!

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Taste of Prince George’s Wine and Food Festival

One of the most highly anticipated festivals in the DMV showed itself on one of the hottest days of this summer. On Saturday, August 13, 2016 ‘Taste of Prince George’s Food & Wine Festival’ came back for another year at Six Flags. The record setting temperatures did not deter festival goers from enjoying a day of music and food. With the stage and vendors set up right next to the water park, it felt like a huge pool party!

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The real MVPs of the day goes to the food vendors and chefs who endured the heat to prepare fresh dishes. Many local restaurants and chefs use this festival as an opportunity to increase their brand visibility as well as create new customers. You2016-08-13-22-53-40-420 could find pretty much anything you desired to eat, from fresh sushi to BBQ to fine dining. Let me highlight a couple of my favorites of the day.

To beat the heat, my favorite treat was the peach iced tea, sweet and cold, it was the perfect pair to all dishes. Freshly brewed by Cake Wich Craft, this tea was certainly not all they had to offer. If you looked around the festival, the common theme seemed to be everyone walking around with a parfait-like desserts. Once I was able to pin down where these decadent desserts were located, it was easy to see why they were so widespread. Ice cream cupcakes, need I say more? Well, I will- there were seven different cupcake flavors and three ice cream flavors, limitless possibilities. 

Chef Ryan Wallen from Cori’s Modern Kitchen + Bar was impressive with fresh crab cakes and lamb shanks. When you consider festivals, these dishes aren’t what you would typically expect to dig into, but it served as a delicious change to the run of the mill festival fare options. Chef Wallen’s attention to detail from how he managed the small cooking space to plating the dishes really paid off, with the food being fresh and delightful.

My final favorite came from Chadele’s Café & Catering, their booth had great energy and great service. I chowed down on some crab fried rice and regrettably looked at my empty bowl, wishing I had more. They also cooked up two types of chicken wings; root beer and lemon pepper, sounds a bit odd perhaps, but it worked!

Food vendors weren’t the only ones showing off their culinary skills, across the park were food and drink demos given by celebrity chefs like Chef Jumoke Jackson and Chef Padua Player. If you are a fan of any type of competition cooking shows like I am, you had the opportunity to flex your judging talents at the Collegiate Culinary Competition as well as the Sawce Lab Competition.

We all love food, (right?) and Taste of Prince George’s Food & Wine Festival did a great job of allowing food and wine lovers a closer look at the culinary arts. See you next year!

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