Capital Pride (DC)

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Parade 2009

 

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Pride 2006, sophomore year of college. I don’t even know. And I don’t look anything like that anymore. I DID love those shorts.

Ahh, Capital Pride is upon us! It is a true marker that summer has arrived. Pride was one of my first impressions of the city. The summer after freshman year of college, my college roommate and a few other friends decided to make the pilgrimage up for the occasion. After living in a small, conservative southwestern Virginia town for my entire life- this felt like Mecca. We spent the day just hanging out in Dupont Circle, being among “our people.” We excitedly watched the parade, had some dinner, and then spent the evening dancing away at Apex because it was the only bar we could get into being under 21.

We decided to make this a tradition. Every summer, just a few weeks after school was out, we’d caravan to the city to celebrate. We’d get a hotel out in Vienna (to save money, I guess?) or crash with one of our many friends from the area. We just wanted to be here. It’s these trips that helped me to fall in love with this city and ultimately why I moved here.

I moved up the weekend before Pride (and in with two of the people who had made the college trips with me) in 2008 and was SO EXCITED to be able to just metro into the city and then back home to sleep in my OWN BED that night. We invited a shit ton of friends to stay with us that weekend. We had people sleeping all over our new giant apartment. It was incredible TO BE AN ADULT. And to LIVE HERE.

Flash to this weekend. This is my 9th DC Pride. While the novelty has worn off a bit, and dancing until all hours doesn’t hold the same appeal that it once did, I still find myself getting a little wrapped up in the excitement of the weekend. What surprises me the most is how the weekend isn’t just about the gays anymore. The whole city celebrates the occasion. Restaurants have specials, bars throw parties, the celebration is everywhere. Pride is just a yearly reminder of how amazing this city is, that I belong here, and how glad I am to call it my home.

Happy Pride Everyone!

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Mission (DC)

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The opening of Mission was on my radar because of their sponsorship of my team in the DC Gay Flag Football league. To show our support, we planned a team dinner there in the first week they were open. I was looking forward to some tacos and margaritas all week! Then, when InTheCapital, posted about the mahi-mahi tacos, I knew what I had to order. I usually avoid places in the first week of their opening because it’s not likely to be optimal service, but I had to make an exception for this one.

A few of us met there early to grab a drink. I was thankful that my friends are over 6 feet tall, otherwise I would not have found them at the PACKED downstairs bar. Once I got there, we moved to the upstairs bar where it was much less crowded to wait for the rest of our crew. I started with the pineapple jalapeno margarita. As I have mentioned before, I’m totally down with this pineapple trend. It’s been a long winter, and nothing makes it feel like a warm day like a pineapple drink. Speaking of, this drink menu will complement Mission’s outdoor patio seating very well in the warm months. The drink was good, might be better with just a touch more kick. The slice of pineapple on the rim and the jalapeño in the drink were a nice touch.

Most of our party arrived and we were seated. Since we were a larger group of 8 people, they put us back in a little nook with a table just the right size for us. It was nice to be slightly separated from the hustle and bustle and loudness of the rest of the restaurant. We started with the chips and salsa and Queso Fundido. The chips and salsa were pretty standard, and happily enjoyed by our hungry table. The queso was a little different. It was basically a hunk of warm cheese in a tiny crock served with tortillas rather than chips. I’m down for cheese in any form, so I dug in. It was a bit comical to try to scoop or separate the cheese.

I was thankful for the appetizers to tide us over, as things were moving a touch on the slow side. This was to be expected in their first week, I suppose. There was plenty of time for a couple of rounds of drinks between each course. For my second round I had the Sparkling Strawberry Champarita. Basically a strawberry margarita with sparkling wine. I was pretty sure this was going to be the best thing I ever had, and while it was good, it didn’t knock me over. Well… enough of them probably would have. Knowing it was going to be a long night out with my football guys and that many more of these $9-12 drinks would to bankrupt me, I switched to beer.

So when it came time for food, most of us went with the tacos. There were 3 other orders of the fish tacos at the table, a couple other kinds of tacos, and one went for the chorizo burger. The tacos were definitely dish of the week worthy. The batter on the fish was a touch sweet, with a little bit of crunch. The mango and pineapple salsa on top, perfect complement. The tacos were so good that even though 3 of the were just a bit too much food, I ate it all anyway. They were definitely worth the long wait.

We wrapped up our dinner and headed out. But not before getting the super cheerful, new-in-town-from-Alabama(?), host to take a team picture. The picture is terribly off-centered, but she sure was awful nice.

 

  • Favorite thing I had: The pineapple jalapeno margarita and the fish tacos.
  • How was the service?: The server was on top of things, he was just slowed down by the kitchen and bar.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: Once I zeroed in on the mahi mahi tacos, I didn’t look much further. I’d like to try the other tacos, or maybe the fajitas. The strawberry margaritas looked good.  If I was looking for more savory drink, I’d go for the Rattlesnake, which is basically a gin bloody mary with lemon and jalapeno.
  • What makes this place stand out: The space is really nice. It’s going to have “Dupont’s biggest outdoor patio,” there is a giant glass ceiling over the bar.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): I’d go back next week for a happy hour margarita, next month (and still probably off-peak time) to sit down for a meal. This place is going to be constantly packed, I can feel it.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): We ended up at the MadHatter for $1 beer night, but I wouldn’t really advise it unless you’re 22. Or are really broke and want to consume a lot of cheap beer.

Ping Pong Dim Sum- Dupont (DC)

I had been talking about scheduling a happy hour with a few of my high school classmates/ friends who live in the area for a number of years now. It seems like the longer I live here, the more people move here. So, I finally got my stuff together to schedule one. My criteria for choosing a place was that it needed to be centrally located, easy to get to, and have decent happy hour specials. Ping Pong Dim Sum in Dupont Circle fit the bill perfectly. It was also a place I had been meaning to check out for a number of years. So, why not check off two Get On That Already tasks on my Life List at once? I’ve never done dim sum and the only dumplings I’ve ever had have been cheap Chinese delivery. The happy hour cocktail menu also looked promising.

I have this issue where I am chronically terribly early for everything all the time. I hopped the Circulator over from Georgetown to Dupont. Planning for rush hour traffic and hating to be late, I gave myself plenty of time. It ended up being totally unnecessary and I was over 30 minutes early. It’s a blessing and a curse. Undeterred, I headed into the totally empty bar and sat down anyway. I’m sure I looked super silly saving 3 other seats at the empty bar, but you can never be too careful! Since I had perused the menu beforehand, I knew immediately what I wanted from the happy hour menu. I started with the Vanilla, Lemon, and Vodka. It was a combination of all those things, topped with soda, and it was huge. The bartender also brought over a dish of wasabi peas for me to munch on while I waited. They were a nice balance to the sweetness of the cocktail (which was very sweet). My friends arrived, and I eventually went for the honeysuckle margarita. It was also fairly sweet. It had tiny slivers of honeydew and a honeysuckle-flavored (that exists?) lollypop in the glass. Some people may be turned off by chunks of fruit in their drink, but I liked it. Nice bursts of refreshing flavor to offset some of the sweetness. We ordered food and I went for the steamed shrimp and chive dumplings. I had already eaten sort of a silly amount of wasabi peas, so these 3 dumplings were a nice little snack. They were served with chili sauce on the side. I vote they should increase the chives to give them a little more of tangy flavor, but not bad. My last drink was one that everyone else got to before me, the Ping Pong. The bartender promised it was strong, but my companions weren’t so sure. The least descriptive name of the bunch, it has martini bianco, white wine, lychee juice, and Asian basil seeds.  Following suit, it was also fairly sweet, but tasty. And fun, with the gelatinous seeds floating in it, it reminded me a little bit of bubble tea.

I wish their beer selection had been a little bit better. After the 2nd cocktail, I was ready for something not-so-sweet, but alas. Overall, a fun night with old friends. I’ll be back to try more of the food eventually.

  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: I definitely want to try more of their dumplings. I didn’t even look at the regular menu. It would be fun to sit down at a table with a few people and order and try a lot of different things. That’s the point of dim sum, right?
  • What makes this place stand out: The bar was nice and not too terribly loud for our small group. They also have a HUGE outdoor seating area that would have been really nice to enjoy had it not been 30 degrees below seasonable temperatures with ridiculous wind on this particular day.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): In a couple of months. Next time I was craving dumplings. Or a super sweet drink.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): Take your pick. If the happy hour food options aren’t enough, you could grab quick and easy dinner SweetGreen, BGR, or ShopHouse on Connecticut Ave. If you’re looking for a second bar, Big Hunt is a good place for a beer.

Bar Charley (Dupont)

Suffering Bastard

A friend of mine told me about this place just a couple of weeks ago. Then several other people raved about it, so I knew it had to be bumped to the top of the to-do list. Tucked into a basement right beside Mexican behemoth Lauriol Plaza, it’s more of a hole in the wall than anything else. As soon as we sat down and saw the Happy Hour menu, I was sold. There was a drink that included ginger beer for me and an Old Fashioned for my date. Great cheap food specials. We had a small dinner (her a burger, me the mussels, split the curry dates- all above average in tastiness) and got out for under $40.

  • Favorite thing I had: The Suffering Bastard cocktail, served in a tiki cup. Bourbon, gin, ginger beer, lime. The mussels were good.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: Sitting on the patio out back. Their all you can eat BRUNCH.
  • What makes this place stand out: They open at 4pm. It was cozy. And the server was very nice and charming.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): Next week, for happy hour.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): Larry’s Lounge, Glen’s Garden Market, anywhere in Dupont, on U St., or Adam’s Morgan