Part art gallery, part cocoa bar, Artfully Chocolate was established in 2007 when owner Eric Nelson quit his job as an executive in order to pursue his artistic passions. Needing a little something extra to draw attention to his shop and unwilling to sound a tornado siren after every purchase, Eric called on the services of friend and chocolatier Rob Kingsbury. Kingsbury instantly infused the colorful gallery with the sweet allure Eric was seeking.
Today, the duo's handiwork takes center stage inside two different locations: Eric's masterpieces parade across the walls, and Rob's expertise reveals itself in sips and bites of decadent drinks and pastries. They also host tasting classes, including a wine-pairing class and chocolate-tasting class.
Swing's caffeine artisans craft signature blends of globally sourced, locally roasted java that have garnered a bouquet of awards and accolades, including a spot on Zagat's Buzz-Worthy Coffee Options in DC list. Fill thirsty mugs with a craft-roasted blend such as the Diplomat ($14/lb.), a dark brew that deftly negotiates sweet notes of baking chocolate into bold sips that evoke sensory portraits of leather and pipe tobacco. The Nicaraguan Los Papales ($16/lb.) teems with vanilla and malt flavors, and the Espresso 90 ($14/lb.) jolts sleepy gray matter awake with a Northern Italian roast with notes of cherry, pomegranate, and “Reveille.”
Zikrayet Lebanese Restaurant & Lounge isn't just a restaurant. It's a tiny slice of Lebanese life, distilled down into a dining room, covered patio, and lounge. Guests dine on Lebanese favorites such as succulent lamb laced onto kabobs, pitas dunked into pine-nut-studded hummus, and flaky slices of baklava. As the evening turns to night, the lights lower and the entertainment begins. Belly dancers recreate the sensual scenes and moves of their homeland as they weave through the crowd to the hum of live bands. Afterwards, DJs spin popular music while crowds swap out plates for flavorful fruit hookahs. Parties go late into the night, or until hookahs finish working their full eight-hour shift.
Growing up, Chakra Café’s owner Monisha lived two different lives. At school, she was known by her given name and spent lunch hours twirling spaghetti on a fork. But at home, Monisha’s Bengali parents only referred to her by her nickname, Hashi–or laughter–and mealtimes meant scooping up lamb curry with a piece of luchi. The duality of Monisha’s two worlds–and the food she was exposed to–left a lasting impression and is the driving force behind the Café’s menu.
Inside Chakra Café’s kitchen, chefs marry Indian flavors with culinary traditions from around the world, using recipes adapted from Monisha’s mother, according to a Patch.com article. Traditional Bengali dishes such as begun bhartha–roasted eggplant flavored with green mango–are served solo or stuffed inside quesadillas with smoked fontina cheese, roasted pine nuts, and raitha yogurt sauce. Other Indian staples are also Americanized, from the tandoori chicken that tops flatbread pizzas to spaghetti paired with lamb meatballs and a whisper of ghee. Each item on the menu is clearly marked as halal, vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free, making it easy to decipher the dishes without meat and the ones that require each bite to be chewed 32 times.
Faccia Luna Pizzeria is the kind of a place where you're just as likely to spot cozy couples splitting pasta dishes à la Lady and the Tramp as groups of friends clicking wine glasses over shared pizzas. The pies at this trio of urban trattorias bake in wood- or gas-fired ovens manned by chefs who have earned their whites at the Culinary Institute of America. Across three locations in Virginia and Pennsylvania, the kitchen crew also prepares casual Italian eats such as salads and grinder sandwiches served in an upscale bistro atmosphere.
At Occasionally Cake, pastry chefs Sabrina Campbell and Marcia Crandall get pretty bold with their cupcake flavors. So it may not come as a surprise that one of their bestsellers is called Everything But The Kitchen Sink. There's a lot going on with this vanilla cupcake—it's filled with peanut butter, chocolate, and butterscotch chips, dipped in caramel, iced with peanut butter frosting, and topped off with Heath bits. Other cupcakes, meanwhile, range from the Fuzzy Navel—an orange cake with peach buttercream—to the Grasshopper, a chocolate truffle cake crowned with mint-Oreo buttercream and capable of leaping several feet if startled. Sabrina and Marcia also craft cakes for special occasions such as weddings and birthday parties.