Entries Tagged as 'To See in DC'

Fave Bougie Burgers in DC: Duke’s Grocery



the right proper burger // duke's grocery in washington, dc

The first time I heard about this burger, I was guarding Emily’s bike outside of the Safeway on 17th Street, last summer. She had forgotten her lock, and it was one of those unexpectedly warm days of September, after a cold spell. Emily inherited Joanne, a big cruiser bike — and Joanne has some big hips on her frame. Not judging — but we parked her next to a pretty nice 80s-ish road bike… the kind that super attractive hipsters who live in Bloomingdale ride. I was secretly wishing I had Barbie, my own 80s racing bike that was resting in my bedroom just a block away. You know, because when your imagination runs off, it sprints — to having a conversation with a handsome stranger about each other’s bikes, which would obviously lead to a long and happy life together. Or maybe a few weeks. Dating in real life seems so far fetched these days, but stranger things have happened to me.

Sure enough, while Emily was shopping, a super attractive hipster man with a super attractive beard strolled out of Safeway, and struck up a conversation with me about the weather and this wonderful, super attractive day. Somehow, we got on the topic of best burgers in DC — his idea, not mine. I was still starstruck by the fact that he wanted to talk to me.

His plan was to have a leisurely, breezy bike ride to Duke’s Grocery from Bloomingdale (I was right!), but the summer heat had him sweating bullets. Or maybe it was my California cool attitude. Anyway, at the time, I was very loyal to Le Diplomate’s burger… but mystery man stood by the burger at Duke’s Grocery.

So naturally, the next weekend, Shaeda and I had to swing by to see what all the fuss was about. And oh, what a fuss.

I’ll preface this entire story by the fact that we went to Duke’s Grocery on a rainy Saturday morning, and had to go again 24 hours later. No joke. The burger was that good.

the right proper burger // duke's grocery in washington, dc

We started with the Pimm’s Cups, which is my favorite light-hearted cocktail at any hour of the day. Duke’s Grocery is bright and airy inside, with an industrial Edison bulb chandelier. There’s an upstairs, but we managed to snag a couple of arm chairs on the first floor.

The burger is perfect, really. Pictured is the Brunchy burger — the menu changes regularly, but there’s always an epic burger variation on there — a double patty topped with edam cheese, house pickles, charred red onion, mayo, and arugula. We added a fried egg, because… obviously.

the right proper burger // duke's grocery in washington, dc

the right proper burger // duke's grocery in washington, dc

If you make it there on a weekend during brunch hours, be prepared to wait for your table, and to wait for your burger. It’s a tiny kitchen, and they get backed up with orders. But have a few drinks, and know that it’s worth it.

Duke’s Grocery
1513 17th St NW
Washington, DC 20036


diner en blanc, washington, dc



Have you guys heard of Diner en Blanc? It’s basically a giant flashmob dinner where everyone brings their own table and chairs, and everyone wears all white. The event started in Paris (obviously, it’s all very French) and has since spread to a whole bunch of other major cities around the world. It really looks like quite the spectacle!

Anyway, some friends of mine have been working on starting the tradition in DC (this is three years in the making) and I got looped into leading a group of Washingtonians from our meeting point to the dinner location, which won’t be revealed until the day of. In case any of you are going, or live in another city and are lucky enough to get a coveted ticket to these events, I’ve been planning with friends and colleagues — what to wear, what tables to buy, and what to have on our menu!

If you do end up heading to whatever iconic location the dinner will be at, get in touch! Would love to meet some of you — and I’ll be doing some photography and video during the event. Xo!


diner en blanc // sweetsonian

Above: hat // dress // tote // ring // wedge // necklace

First things first — I’ve been looking for a basic white dress that I could reuse for work or for parties. This v-neck will do the trick… and it’s under $100! At a splurge price point, this dress has a beautiful trim. And on the opposite end, Forever 21 has a great option — yolo.

Shoes — I’m not the biggest fan of white shoes for a few reasons, but these Topshop/Nordies wedges could end up being a comfy spring and summer staple. These neutral wedges are a close runner-up, and these kate spade gold wedges have my name written all over them.

Bag — the event calls for a “white picnic basket,” but in the videos, you see people with their neutral or multicolored carts. I’m not sure where the hell to find a white picnic basket, nor am I sure I’d use it more than once, but I already own and swear by this tote. I’m a fan of white bags for a polished look (as long as you put in the work to keep ’em clean!) so the MK will be carrying my camera, and our dinner.

Accessories — the party’s supposed to be elegant, so naturally, I envisioned a big, white, Audrey-style hat. This neutral wide brim would be perfect! Here’s an all-white version for just $10 more. As far as jewelry, I’ve been switching from my high school and college obsession with bold silver pieces to delicate yellow gold pieces, so the Satya necklace might make an appearance. I’ve been pining over that gold flower ring, which I imagine would complete the look. Two of my favorite jewelry designers are Gabriela Artigas and Gorjana — check them both out! They make gorgeous gold pieces.

Table and chairsthis table rolls up into a carry-on bag, and these white chairs are just perfect. Looking for another option? This table would go perfectly with these little stools (and you could reuse them as side tables on your patio after the event).

DC Faves: Hank’s Oyster Bar



hank's oyster bar, dupont // sweetsonian

The first time I ever went to Hank’s Oyster Bar was just a few days after I moved into my apartment, which is about 100 feet from Hank’s, we called in a last minute, late night reservation, and pretty much ordered half of the menu for three people. We did collectively drink a few bottles of champagne that night, so I don’t remember much about that first meal (other than every moment of it being delicious), but it set the stage for my regular stop for drinks and sometimes dinner. I love the marble bar in the front room — it serves as a great starting point for date night, since I could continue elsewhere if the date was good, or retreat to my apartment if the date was bad — and the windows in the main room open up when the weather is nice, so it’s more like an open-air restaurant.

Last week, I was having drinks in the upstairs bar, hidden away, and we ordered the squash blossoms as a snack to accompany our whorishly dirty martinis — they were served stuffed with goat cheese, on top of watermelon cubes, arugula, and radishes.

Over the weekend, Rachel came to visit, so we opted for an easy stroll around the corner for a farewell dinner before she flew off to California again (rude). We lucked out with a table on the coveted patio as dusk hit, so I snapped a few photos while I still had an ounce of light. I saw someone walk by with a plate of squash blossoms from just a few days before, and salivated.

Pictured above is Megan’s punch, a light and refreshing alcoholic citrus punch, served in a tea cup. I’d drink 8 billion of those if I had the time, money, and tolerance. And below is the Hanky Panky cocktail, which is a mix of citrus vodka, housemade Limoncello and a splash of sparkling wine.

Overall, it’s one of my favorite casual date spots, whether you’re deciding if it’s worth a third date or you’re meeting a long-time bestie to vent about work drama over martinis. If you can get a seat on the patio on a crisp summer night, well, that’s my favorite. Have your choice of menus here.

hank's oyster bar, dupont // sweetsonian

hank's oyster bar, dupont // sweetsonian

Some people think it’s weird to order non-seafood at a seafood restaurant, but after years of working at a seafood restaurant, that’s just silly. I settled in with some spectacular molasses-braised shortribs, chilled beets, and fresh coleslaw. Other dishes below.

Fried oyster po’ boy }

hank's oyster bar, dupont // sweetsonian

Thai coconut mussels with coconut milk, ginger, and lobster stock }

hank's oyster bar, dupont // sweetsonian

Sauteéd softshell crab with local vegetables }

hank's oyster bar, dupont // sweetsonian

DC Faves: Union Market



union market // sweetsonian

One of my favorite spots in DC is Union Market — a perfectly collection of artisan food vendors, ranging from cheese and charcuterie to knife specialty shops to Salt & Sundry, which happens to be my own personal heaven. The market site itself dates back over a hundred years, but Union Market as we know it today opened in 2012. Back then, I happened to be living just three blocks away from it, so I was able to check it out before vendors really started to occupy it. Even then, we knew that the empty tables wouldn’t be empty for long.

I don’t make it out there as often as I would like to these days, but it’s still a great spot for a photo shoot, with its warm interior and long wall of windows. These photos are actually from a Good Food Awards morning event last weekend, so while I struggled from one too many drinks the night before, I had a spicy bloody Mary from Gina Chersevani to nurse me back to life. And, if you’re there in the summer for Crafty Bastards, well, it’s DC’s once-a-year version of Artists & Fleas, and the source of almost all of my jewelry.

Read a bit about my five favorite Union Market spots below. And if you have some favorites, feel free to leave a note in the comments!

union market // sweetsonian

union market // sweetsonian

Takorean — Korean barbeque style tacos; the brick-and-mortar shop for my favorite DC food truck (and one of the few truck-to-shop success stories in DC). My usual order? Three tacos. One bulgogi beef, one chicken, one tofu, all with the romaine slaw, lime crema, and sriracha. To die for.

Buffalo & Bergen — one hell of a bagel. If I’m there in the evening, you’ll find me at the bar with a beer.

Peregrine Espresso — a favorite DC coffee shop. Open counters, so you can see exactly what they’re doing when they make your caffeine order. Very photogenic.

union market // sweetsonian

DC Mediterranean — I used to come here, purchase za’atar, fresh labneh, and homemade pita bread… and, to practice my broken Arabic. It’s so fresh, it brings me back to my days being the adopted child in UCSB’s Lebanese Club, when all of my Lebanese friends would bring giant bags of mana’eesh for me, straight from their mothers’ kitchens. Swoon.

Salt & Sundry — think Anthropologie-style kitchen collections, but all with a personal, artisan, local touch. When I first moved to DC, one of the first food blogs I found was written by Amanda McClements, so naturally, I was smitten when her shop opened. It’s hard for me to leave that store without a new addition to my kitchen, be it a cook book, Guatemalan table linens, or porcelain salt and pepper bowls shaped like skillets.

union market // sweetsonian

union market // sweetsonian

union market // sweetsonian


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