Date Night in Del Ray

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, and who better to outline the perfect date night than Capital Couple?! Don’t worry, coffee is definitely involved. Already have plans for the big day? Their suggestions would work for any date night (or day). So grab your sweetie and enjoy exploring one of the cutest neighborhoods in the area! And don’t forget to keep caffeinated!

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Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, and if you’re anything like us, you’re probably really busy with life and haven’t planned anything yet! Honestly, you may be too late to get a reservation at that “hot” spot in DC – or maybe you just don’t want to deal with the hassle and expense of the crowds and menu prices at most of DC’s best eateries for an occasion like Valentine’s Day. Well, if you want some quality time with your beau or gal to celebrate V-day and (a little) less craziness, might we suggest a date night in Del Ray? Or if going out on a week night isn’t your thing, a date day in Del Ray over the weekend?

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Nestled away near Potomac Yard and just north of Alexandria, Virginia, many of our D.C. followers have probably never even heard of this charming neighborhood. Del Ray consists of quiet streets lined with beautiful homes, spacious yards (by DC standards), dogs being walked, community fundraisers selling used books or Girl Scout cookies…it just feels like home. Walk or drive a few blocks in and you’ll find Del Ray’s “Main Street” – Mount Vernon Avenue, lined with bustling coffee shops, handfuls of popular restaurants, and cute little shops.

Del Ray is a popular neighborhood, but it’s likely you can still squeeze in a Valentine’s Day reservation if you act now. According to OpenTable, there are still spots available at several Del Ray favorites.

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For dinner, there are several great options. Feeling a sushi date? Taylor is always down for a spicy tuna roll (or 2) at The Sushi Bar in Del-Ray, an adults-only sushi lounge. They even justify the no-kids rule “to create the perfect environment for…couples out on ‘date night.’” Last time we visited, we ate outside to enjoy the nice weather, but the inside offers a cozy respite to February’s cold.

Not a sushi fan? Taqueria el Poblano is a fun alternative with delicious margs and tacos to make for a boozy celebration!

Or for a more casual atmosphere, Pork Barrel BBQ serves up the best BBQ we’ve found in DC – truly a great place to have a few craft beers and some smoked meats. We’re both from down south, so you won’t hear us say it’s the best BBQ we’ve ever had, but it certainly gets the job done!

If you’re looking to eat somewhere a little nicer, check out Cheesetique, a gorgeous wine and cheese bar. Walk through the adorable wine shop to the bar and restaurant area in the back. Plus, Valentine’s Day falls on a Wine Down Wednesday, where you can get “wallet-friendly offerings by the glass.”

After dinner, grab a sweet treat at the Dairy Godmother, where you can grab a cup or cone of delicious frozen custard.

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Don’t have a sweet tooth? Continue your dinner conversation over a cup of coffee or tea at St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub.

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How cool is this mural?!

So you might be thinking going out on actual Valentine’s Day on a Wednesday night sounds like a hassle, so consider heading out to Del Ray on Saturday or Sunday to celebrate your love. Rather than a post-dinner cappuccino, head to St. Elmo’s for a latte and pastry to start your day. St. Elmo’s has a great vibe in the mornings – students studying, book clubs meeting, friends catching up.

St. Elmo’s serves up some tasty pastries, but Del Ray residents swear by Stomping Ground, a “down-home” coffee shop located just across the street from St. Elmo’s that serves “a biscuit that will change your life,” according to one Yelp reviewer. We’ve yet to withstand the constant long line out front of this uber-popular spot, but the crowds and reviews suggest you won’t be disappointed!

After you’ve had your daily dose of caffeine, walk around all of the cute shops up and down Mount Vernon Avenue.

Want to cook a nice Valentine’s Day dinner at home? Head to Market 2 Market to buy various local brews or pick up a new bottle of wine. We always enjoy picking from the local brew and wine selection.

Then head to Let’s Meat On The Avenue to pick up some meat to cook for dinner. There’s definitely no shortage of options – we’ve never seen so many types of meat at a butcher before!

Lastly, head into Cheesetique for some cheese and prosciutto to make a Charcuterie board to enjoy before dinner. And maybe even pick up a nice cheese board or knife as a nice Valentine’s Day surprise!

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Capital Couple is a couple of attorneys, Ethan & Taylor, living in our  
nation’s capital. We are your local guides to DC, showing you the best  
food, drinks, shopping, sights, and adventures the city has to offer.  
Follow along with @CapitalCouple on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and  
on CapitalCouple.com.

 

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Irish Coffee on St. Patrick’s Day

The first time I tried Irish coffee was actually within my first few months in DC. Classmates and I got to campus at 6am on a frigid November morning in hopes of scoring a coveted seat to an event at which Hillary Clinton was speaking. Around 9:30 we were turned around, told the venue was full. Feeling cold, tired, and dejected, I was in need of two things: coffee and alcohol. So what did I order when we were finally seated at Kafe Leopold? An Irish coffee…and another…and another…

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Irish coffees at Kafe Leopold in Georgetown

What is an Irish coffee? Well, it wasn’t actually named as such until the mid-20th century, but drinks of the sort have been around for ages. However, it was officially “invented” on a stormy night in 1942 at Foynes, an airbase near Limerick, Ireland. After one plane was diverted back to Foynes due to the storm, the recently-opened restaurant at the base was prepared to warm up agitated passengers with food and drink. Chef Joe Sheridan created a warm concoction of coffee, sugar, whiskey, and cream for the passengers, supposedly resulting in a silence among the crowd while everyone imbibed. As legend has it, one man piped up, “Is this Brazilian coffee?” to which Sheridan responded, “No, that’s Irish coffee.”

Travel writer Stanton Delaplane brought the recipe back to his bartending buddy at the Buena Vista Hotel in San Fransisco, and that is really where the drink took off. However, the bartender couldn’t get it to work – the cream would always sink to the bottom of the mug. So he made the trip to Foynes and learned from the master. Buena Vistas are now famously known for their Irish coffees, and this is how we got the drink in the States.

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You can’t go wrong with Jameson in your Irish coffee.

The best places for an Irish coffee in DC are cafes with both a coffee and bar program, such as The Coupe or Busboys & Poets. However, it’s also easy to make at home, which is exactly what I’m going to do when I get off work today using the following recipe.

IRISH COFFEE RECIPE

-one cup of hot coffee (I recommend something chocolate-y)

-one tablespoon of brown sugar

-three tablespoons of Irish whiskey (Jameson is my go-to)

-heavy cream, slightly whipped

First warm up your mug by sticking it in the microwave or flushing it with hot water. Add coffee until your mug is about 3/4 full. Stir in brown sugar until fully dissolved, followed by whiskey. Top with cold heavy cream, slightly whipped, pouring it over the back of a spoon or gently spooning it in. Drink your coffee through the cream and enjoy! If you’re not a whiskey person, try substituting Bailey’s instead. This will result in a sweeter, creamier drink.

Where’s your favorite place to get Irish coffee in the District? Do you have a secret to making it at home? Let us know in the comments below! And have a fun, caffeinated, and safe St. Patrick’s Day!

Keep caffeinated,

Lauren

Celebrating Valentine’s Day the Caffeinated Way

It’s just around the corner, and whether you love it or loathe it, you can’t ignore it… Valentine’s Day! I for one am kind of a fan of the holiday (if nothing else for the sale on Valentine candy at CVS the next day), though I see how it can get a bit overwhelming. For those choosing to celebrate, District of Coffee picked out a few places to enjoy your Valentine’s Day – while also getting your caffeine on – depending on your relationship status.

For the casually dating

So maybe you’re like Ryan Howard and have found yourself in a bit of a pickle. Or maybe you just started seeing someone and want to spend Valentine’s with them while keeping it chill. Personally, I really can’t think of a better date than playing board games over a cup of coffee or a beer (unless it’s Monopoly, then you will see my ugly side…) The Board & Brew in College Park satisfies all those needs and more, making for a fun outing. Songbyrd Music House & Record Cafe is a great place for a memorable Valentine’s date, and on 2/14 there will be live music provided by Sweet Earl Green and Aaron Abernathy- tickets here. It’s also a good time to find out what kind of music your date is into, because we all know that can be a deal breaker. For something more casual, take a self-guided walking tour around darling Old Town and end the night with some espresso, sorbet, or pie (or all three) at Killer E.S.P. Or, if you’re looking to impress your date with one of the newest coffee shops on the scene, take them to Colada at 14th & T. It just opened on February 1st, so it’s possible your date hasn’t even heard of it yet, making you look super hip.

For the more serious relationship

If you really want to treat your sweetheart, Cafe Bonaparte is a pricier option in Georgetown that your date is bound to appreciate. Dine on delicious French cuisine and finish your meal by ordering one of their divine coffee drinks such as a nutella espresso with whipped cream. But be sure to make a reservation! If you want to keep the night a little more low-key (and inexpensive), why not hit up Bakers & Baristas and take a walk around the mall? I can’t think of many other things as romantic as the monuments at night. Sit on the steps of the Lincoln with a cappuccino in hand and your love by your side. What if you want to have a fun Valentine’s date, but you also want to be home in time to catch the newest episode of This Is Us while in your pajamas? Drop by La Colombe in Blagden Alley around sunset and accompany it with an artsy photo shoot, or visit the one in REI and plan your next weekend getaway together. And for all of you in Baltimore, Pitango Bakery is holding a special chocolate and wine tasting event on 2/14 for only $20. Click here to RSVP. Okay, there’s no coffee involved, but chocolate and wine!

For the “Happy Singles Awareness Day” folks

Wherever you damn well please. You ain’t gotta impress anyone!

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No matter how you celebrate, I hope you all have a brew-tiful Valentine’s Day!

Keep caffeinated,

Lauren

Resolutions for a (More) Caffeinated New Year

“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.” -The Great and Powerful Oprah

It’s a new year, and you know what that means…New Year’s Resolutions! The most common resolution for 2017, according to Statistic Brain, was eating healthy/losing weight, followed by self/life improvements (admittedly pretty vague), making better financial decisions, and quitting smoking. We’re already six long days in, so I wouldn’t be surprised if some people have already broken their resolutions by now. It’s a nice idea though, don’t you think? – making a cognizant commitment to better yourself and grow as a person in the new year. I can get on board with that. In the words of Barney Stinson…

In addition to being better about putting up my laundry, I’ve compiled a short list of New Year’s Resolutions that revolve around – what else? – coffee. Coffee has become a huge part of my life over the past two years; however, until fairly recently, it’s been a more passive relationship. In 2017 I am making a commitment to continue being active in the coffee community and allowing my appreciation of coffee (especially local coffee) to really flourish:

  • Wake up earlier so I have time to actually enjoy my coffee at home – this will be the hardest one because I reallyyyy love my sleep, but it is also the one I’m most determined to make happen
  • Attend more cuppings and tastings
  • Learn how to create (better) latte art
  • Master various Aeropress recipes (yes, there are more than one!)
  • Explore more coffee shops, especially those in Virginia and Maryland that I’ve been putting off visiting
  • Grow our following on District of Coffee so we can share the local coffee culture with even more coffee lovers
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My last attempt at latte art. There’s definitely room for improvement!

It may not seem like much, but I am excited to put these resolutions into action. And now since it’s out in the blogosphere, hopefully that will hold me accountable. What are your New Year’s resolutions? And what do you hope to see from District of Coffee in 2017?

Keep caffeinated,

Lauren