Monday, November 16, 2009

Washington Post Express - Best of 2009

We've both made clear our love for the Washington Post Express. In fact, many of our posts are about places we first learned about through the Express. As part of my daily commute (it is available for free outside Metro stations), I look forward to catching up on what's going on in the world, whether thousands of miles away or in my own backyard. Speaking of the latter, the Express recently released a "Best of 2009" edition that included every category imaginable, and relied on reader input. As faithful readers, J and I decided we'd use this space to bring you our own (not nearly as comprehensive) Best of 2009 list. Obviously our experience is significantly less expansive, but if someone were to ask us, "In your opinion, what is the best...," this is how we'd answer. Need more information? Click on the links for our reviews of many of our suggestions.

Food and Drink

Bar (Express winner: Wonderland Ballroom) Brasserie Beck - we aren't big bar people but you can't argue with a bible of Belgian beer that can fit any taste. It is probably the biggest reason J has begun to like beer... at least a little.
Cocktails (Express winner: Founding Farmers) Co Co Sala - again, we're not big drinkers but we, and the many guests that we've taken here, have never had a drink that didn't make us say, "Mmmm!"
Sports Bar (Express winner: Penn Quarter Sports Tavern) Bar Louie - clearly letting our bias show (this is the UCLA bar), Bar Louie is big, clean, and right outside the Verizon Center for a quick pre- or post-game drink.
Restaurant (Express winner: Zaytinya) Komi - just read our gushing review. Others that come to mind: Charlie Palmer Steak, BLT Steak, MiniBar, CityZen, and Adour.
Meal Under $20 (Express winner: Ben's Chili Bowl) Teaism - can't argue with the Express' choice but for us, variety carries Teaism to the winner's circle.
24-Hour Eatery (Express winner: The Diner) Steak 'n Egg Kitchen - quirky and cheap, this is what a 24-hour joint should be. The Diner is good but almost too well known for this category.
American (Express winner: Old Ebbitt Grill) Poste - not to knock Old Ebbitt, because it is worth the trip, but we'd opt for fresh and local foods any day.
Bakery (Express winner: Cakelove) Sticky Fingers Bakery - the best bakery despite having one hand tied behind its back (it is vegan). Cakelove's cakes are great, but their cupcakes are below average.
Brunch (Express winner: Tabard Inn) Market Lunch - no single TwoDC picture has elicited more feedback than that of the blue buck pancakes. Believe it or not, they taste even better than they look.
Burger (Express winner: Five Guys) Ray's Hell Burger - NO CONTEST! I'm still puzzled how so many people could get this one wrong.
Chinese (Express winner: Meiwah) Meiwah - authentic flavors in heavy sauces that should please American palettes, and some of the nicest owners in town.
Comfort Food (Express winner: Ben's Chili Bowl) Five Guys - it kills us to overrule another BCB selection but for us, nothing is more comforting that a burger and fries that can be found all over town.
Cupcake (Express winner: Georgetown Cupcake) Baked and Wired and Hello Cupcake - maybe the most fun post we've written... reviewing cupcakes. No losers here but certainly some winners.
Farmer's Market (Express winner: Eastern Market) Eastern Market and Penn Quarter - Eastern Market is king but Penn Quarter's location is perfect for us.
Frozen Yogurt (Express winner: Tangysweet) Mr. Yogato - Another one they got wrong. You want frozen yogurt? Go where the experts go (growing up in Southern California makes you an expert). Hint: fro-yo is more than a frozen treat... personality counts.
Gourmet Food Store (Express winner: Trader Joe's) Trader Joe's - don't know if TJ's is a "gourmet food store," but we couldn't miss an opportunity to hype it.
Ice Cream (Express winner: Cold Stone Creamery) Larry's Ice Cream - seriously, people chose a chain for best ice cream? You just can't beat homemade.
Indian (Express winner: Rasika Restaurant) Rasika - this ain't cheap Indian food - which we love - but it is awesome... Awesome!
Italian (Express winner: Filomena Ristorante Georgetown) Filomena - nothing beats fresh, homemade pasta except gigantic portions of fresh, homemade pasta.
Kebob (Express winner: Moby Dick House of Kabob) Mayur Kabab House - here's that "cheap Indian food" we love so much.
Pizza (Express winner: 2 Amys) 2 Amys - they seem to have slipped from the spotlight of a few years ago, but they're still the best in DC if you don't mind the wait and lack of Metro access.
Place to Take Your Parents (Express winner: Old Ebbitt Grill) Mitsitam - parents and really, any out-of-towners, should drop into the National Museum of the American Indian to try food inspired by Native American cuisine from around the country. Perfect location for a quick bite while sightseeing.
Restaurant Bathroom (Express winner: Mie N Yu) Charlie Palmer - completely odd and indescribable, I've been tempted to bring my camera in on multiple occasions. Would that be weird, especially when you can see into the other gender's facilities? The answer is yes.
Seafood (Express winner: DC Coast) Tackle Box - simple but great seafood, and the best fried shrimp ever.
Steakhouse (Express winner: Ray's the Steaks) Charlie Palmer - we've yet to find something to criticize here.
Street Food (Express winner: Julia's Empanadas) Fojol Bros. of Merlinda and the Bulgogi Cart. We love Julia but we don't consider her emps to be street food since we usually visit her store locations (her emps are also sold via On the Fly's Smartkarts).
Sushi (Express winner: Sushiko) Kotobuki - no frills sushi is the best we've found... and we've looked!
Vegetarian (Express winner: Sunflower Vegetarian Restaurant) Java Green - not only vegetarian, vegan. Good enough to open the mind of the most die-hard carnivore.

Arts and Entertainment

Dance Club (Express winner: Black Cat) Town - knowing the owners makes us biased but even a straight couple can enjoy a night at Town.
Gallery (Express winner: Hillyer Art Space) National Gallery of Art - there are so many great ones to choose from, and this one is free.
Indie Bookstore (Express winner: Kramer Books & Afterwords) Kramer Books & Afterwords Cafe - great location, cool indie vibe, and pie. Let me say it again. Pie!
Museum (Express winner: National Gallery of Art) National Museum of American History and National Air and Space Museum - free and expansive... so expansive that in the case of Air and Space, there are two locations.
Theatre (Express winner: Kennedy Center) Ford's Theatre - most theaters are only as good as the production that is playing there at the time. Ford's is a great, intimate space, and nothing can match its history.

Stores and Styles

Men's Haircut (Express winner: Hair Cuttery) Spa/lon - I've got difficult hair to cut with any kind of style (stick straight) and I've been to a range of different places from the cheap (Hair Cuttery) to the expensive (Grooming Lounge). In my experience, Ben at Spa/lon does the best job. The shop doesn't look like much, but the guy can cut some hair...
Women's Haircut (Express winner: Bang Salon) Spa/lon - J's hair is the complete opposite to mine which is to say it is very curly. To prove he is more than a one trick pony, Ben does a nice job with her hair too. J has been to Bang Salon on several occasions, and has tried out a variety of stylists there and has not been impressed.
Amateur Sports League (Express winner: Happy Hour Kickball) WAFC - is it the best sports league? I wouldn't know since I've not tried them all. But I can say that WAFC (that's ultimate frisbee to you kickballers) is very popular (100s of teams) and rather well run for a bunch of frisbee-throwing hippies.
Biking Trail (Express winner: C&O Canal Towpath) Mount Vernon - to quote myself, "This is my favorite bike path, not only in DC, but probably anywhere."
Hiking Trail (Express winner: Billy Goat Trail) Great Falls - so close, yet it makes you feel so far away.
Gym (Express winner: Washington Sports Clubs) Vida Fitness - J here to put in a good word for Vida. I joined in May because I was looking for a gym that offered a variety of classes. I've gone to several classes a week every week since then, and love it. The Verizon Center location is big and clean, and offers a ton of different classes. I also pop into the Renaissance Hotel location when I need a quick (and very conveniently located) cardio fix.
Race (Express winner: Race for the Cure) Avon Walk - ok, it isn't a race but there's something to be said when thousands of pink-clad women (mostly) walk 40 miles in the rain for a cause...

Sports and Recreation

D.C. Team (Express winner: Capitals) Capitals - the lack of competition in this category notwithstanding...
Local Athlete (Express winner: Alex Ovechkin) Alex Ovechkin - the Great 8 has enough star power to make some hockey converts in this city.
Stadium (Express winner: Verizon Center) Nationals Park - the stadium is almost as good as the team is bad.

Home and Away

Local Blog (Express winner: District of Sound) duh...
Monument (Express winner: Lincoln Memorial) Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial - J loves the Washington Monument for its simplicity, the view from the top, and use as a navigation device. As for the Jefferson, you have to love its pairing with the Tidal Basin and that it is underrated and off the Mall enough to thin the crowd. Plus who doesn't like an underdog?
Neighborhood (Express winner: Dupont Circle) Dupont/Logan Circles - we both instantly thought of Capitol Hill but if you tracked where we go the most, the evidence clearly points to Dupont and Logan Circles... and everything in between.
People-Watching Spot (Express winner: Dupont Circle) The National Mall - it is a perfectly named place for the seemingly millions of tourists from every corner of this country that gather together with a collective look of awe and confusion, while clutching a camera in one hand and a map in the other (and some awesomely terrible patriotic t-shirts!).
Reason to Travel Outside the Beltway (Express winner: Shenandoah National Park) Butler's Orchard - I can't believe we're disrespecting Skyline Drive but for a quick escape from the city, plus added benefits like fresh produce, Butler's is a great choice.
Unintentionally Funny Thing About D.C. (Express winner: Marion Barry) Washington Nationals - again, there's no arguing with the Express' winner, but we've yet to go to a Nats game (and we've been to many) where we haven't hung our head in shame and laughed at their best Bad News Bears imitation.
Volunteer Organization (Express winner: So Others Might Eat) One Brick - they make it almost too easy to do something good in the world.
Weird Landmark (Express winner: The Awakening) Einstein Statue - not so much weird as it is unexpected... a giant Einstein statue across the street from the Vietnam Memorial. It seems to be a big hit with all our friends on the B&J 5-cent tour. (J says - this statute is flat out weird because it looks like Einstein is made of poop. B hates when I say that but it's true. Go check it out for yourself and let us know if you agree).

1 comment:

Amy said...

Tackle box=best fried shrimp ever.