Locals Share What Gives Washington DC Its Distinct Flavor

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Locals Share What Gives Washington DC Its Distinct Flavor

Busy afternoon on the Georgetown waterfront. Photo: Thewashingtonharbour.com

Big cities mean tons of options, which unfortunately can be overwhelming when you’re hard pressed to find the best. To share what gives Washington DC its distinct flavor, we’ve assembled an A-team of insiders: some of our favorite Krrb members and resident influencers with knowledge on where to go and what to pick up. Get ready to meet the team!

Melinda House

During work hours, Melinda House is an ICU nurse in DC. Her love of personal style keeps her busy the rest of the time. When she’s not documenting outfits of the day, she’s sharing beauty tips, travel plans and home decor updates on her blog. You can keep up with Melinda’s day to day happenings on Instagram. (MH)

Libby Rasmussen

As the face behind Libby Living Colorfully, Elizabeth Rasmussen details her adventures in cooking, interior design, travel and more on her blog. Corporate law keeps this Washingtonian hustling during the work week but her weekends are dedicated to discovering DC brunch options and wedding planning at Karson Butler Events. Get inspired by her beautiful Instagram shots. (LR)

Omolayo Nkem

A proud Afropolitan, Omolayo Nkem has a thirst for justice, an eye for beauty and a bad case of wanderlust. Through her stories and by creating meaningful connections, Omolayo hopes to inspire people to reach their fullest potential. Follow along on her blog for Afropolitan focused travel and lifestyle findings. For more eye candy, check out Omolayo’s Instagram. (ON)




Locals Share What Gives Washington DC Its Distinct Flavor

Rappahannock Oyster Bar in DC’s Union Market. Photo: Bonappetit.com

If you had to explain the vibe of DC in one sentence to an outsider, what would it be?
LR: A city of young, passionate, type-A’s who work hard and brunch harder.
ON: Passionate and energetic people from around the world, coming together in hopes of making the world a better place. Whether they are from down the street or their family immigrated from Ethiopia, DC has some of the most passionate people you’ll ever find in one city.
MH: The vibe of DC in one sentence to an outsider would be: “Anything goes, you’re bound to find something you love with someone you love, because people from all over the world live here in DC!”

We know certain foods are synonymous with different cities. What foods or recipes would you say best represent DC?
MH: Weirdly enough, oysters are a huge thing here, at least in my eyes! My three favorite oyster specialty places are Hank’s Oyster Bar, Eat the Rich, and Pearl Dive Oyster Palace. There is a large selection of oysters that may include those from Massachusetts to Washington State.
LR: While most would probably say a half smoke, I think great crab dip or Hank’s Oysters and a fresh orange crush by the waterfront rep DC pretty well.
ON: Is organic, locally sourced and preferably foreign food a recipe?

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And what local restaurants do you frequent?
LR: A little bit of everything. Thip Khao for amazing Loation food in Columbia Heights. Maketto Marketplace for the best bao buns and coffee on H Street. Rose’s Luxury on Capitol Hill for the obvious reasons. (Quit complaining about the line and hire a Taskrabbit to get your food.) The Red Hen to feel like you’re getting a home-cooked meal in Bloomingdale. Fiola Mare in Georgetown for the freshest seafood tower. DC really has it all. You just can’t get stuck in the Founding Farmers and Old Ebbitt Grill tourist traps. Explore the city and try new places.
ON: Fruitive is a new restaurant that has popped up in several locations around Washington DC. They promise fresh, delicious food, fast. Such an innovative idea, and perfect for this health and environmentally conscious busy city. Busboys & Poets has become a staple in DC. It’s delicious, nutritious food with a Middle Eastern flare. All in a setting that promotes activism and important conversations—you can’t get much more DC.
MH: The absolute best wallet-friendly restaurant is pizza from 2 Amys in Cleveland Park. The staff is so welcoming and the food is simply amazing! You must get their meatballs as an appetizer, you won’t regret it. For a more upscale ridiculously delicious meal, try Rose’s Luxury. They open at 5pm and don’t take reservations. If you show up at 5pm, you’ll probably still have to wait—it’s that good! People will usually start lining up around 4:30pm.

Which music style would you say best represents Washington DC?
LR: I think was makes this city so great is the cultural and regional influences. To narrow it down, I feel as though the music scene that comes into 9:30 Club sums up the mixed bag that DC caters to. Just this past year they’ve had the range of Beach House, Years & Years, Shakey Graves, to Pusha T, and DC favorite White Ford Bronco.
ON: Maybe funk?

Locals Share What Gives Washington DC Its Distinct Flavor

2016 Kingman Island Bluegrass and Folk Festival. Photo: Beta.wjla.com

Are you fans of any local bands or musicians?
LR: I was actually just introduced to music by Aaron Estes of Black Hills not too long ago. I love a good synth album now and then for summer rooftop relaxing and his song, “Glass” sets the scene perfectly. I’m also a big fan of folk and bluegrass and try to make it to the Kingman Island Festival in DC every year. It’s a great way to hear more local talent, even if it’s just a random group sitting in a circle jamming.
ON: On my way home from work, I have to catch a bus at Farragut Square and once a week, when I come out of the Farragut North metro stop, there is a band blasting their own renditions of modern favorites. Their lead singer has a beautiful voice and the whole band has so much energy and funk! They always draw a huge crowd. And for a city that is always bustling and brushing past each other, it’s nice to see everyone pause and enjoy their music in the middle of one of the most workerbee areas of DC.

If you had to describe one design style or local designer as best representing DC, what or who would it be?
LR: Traditional and predictable. Not in the worst way but I’m always reminded of how vanilla DC’s style is when I go up to NYC and see the variety.
ON: Simply Cecily is a clothing brand created by designer Cecily Habimana. She is the epitome of DC style because while running her business, she still works full time as a fundraising specialist for an artsy organization. She takes African print and makes beautiful, modern styles with it.
MH: Honestly there isn’t! DC has turned into a mini “melting pot” with so many different types of people here from all over the world. No “one” style can truly represent DC, because the amazing thing about DC is the diversity. You can find a J.Crew lookalike model walking down the same street as a thrift store fiend.

Locals Share What Gives Washington DC Its Distinct Flavor

Georgetown, DC. Photo: Shahsofstyle.com

Which stores or shopping destinations would you say summarize the fashion/style of DC locals?
MH: The best place to go shopping if you want to stay in DC would be Georgetown. It’s usually very crowded on the weekends, but they opened up the street to pedestrians on the weekends to help with the large crowds on the small sidewalks. Although Georgetown is dubbed as a “preppy community,” it still has shops for everyone. It’s the only place in DC where there are multiple stores all right next to each other. My favorite Georgetown stores are Club Monaco and the DC-based company Tuckernuck.
LR: J.Crew is the first that comes to mind. It’s a great one-stop shop for suits and office attire and also a fun sundress for the weekend. I also love Tuckernuck for both men and women’s clothing and accessories. It’s preppy, it’s professional, it’s very DC. It can be a challenging place to find inexpensive antiques and flea market finds in the city. When I want to go on a “hunt” I head straight for Loudon County, Virginia to my all-time favorite, The Old Lucketts Store. You can find everything from deer antlers to crystal decanters to a clawfoot bathtub. I highly recommend taking the trip in fall when they sell pumpkins and spiked apple cider next door.
ON: There are lots of great places to shop in DC, but I know my friends enjoy being at the Anacostia arts center. There you can find Nubian Hueman, a boutique that stocks Afrochic clothing, accessories and other awesome things.

And lastly, where do locals gather to hangout and enjoy the best of DC?
LR: You can usually find my girlfriends and I on 14th Street enjoying a glass (or four) of rosé or an Aperol Spritz at Pearl Dive. Sunday brunch at Le Diplomat is always a must. And I can’t get enough of the burrata and burgers at Duke’s Grocery. Extra truffle oil please.
ON: It really depends on where you work and live: there are so many neighborhoods in DC and right outside of DC. But my circles enjoy: the Anacostia Arts Center, the eateries in downtown Hyattsville, the District of Columbia Bar, which is right in the middle of DC and of course, Farragut Square. On a beautiful sunny day, Farragut Square, with its benches and trees, is the perfect place to relax and get away from the bustle of the town. Best part? If you go there midday, there is an array of food trucks to choose from. Being right in the middle of office buildings, everyone loves meeting their friends there for lunch.
MH: When many outsiders hear about DC, they automatically think of Dupont Circle and Georgetown. While, those are great spots, locals usually hang around 14 Street. It has some of the best restaurants and bars in the city. Some of my favorite 14th Street spots are the patio of Barcelona Wine Bar, Garden District (where it’s mainly outdoor seating), and the Donovan Hotel rooftop bar. Oh, and if you go to Barcelona be sure to fill out a survey because you’ll receive a free wine glass token for your next visit!

Got a hankering for more of Washington DC’s best? See what residents say are the best local makers in DC Metro, our favorite AirBnb options across the district and where to go locally to get your DIY on. And it doesn’t get more local than shopping from neighbors in DC!