To say Capital Teas’ founders, Manelle and Peter Martino, know tea might be a bit of an understatement. Fifth-generation tea merchant Manelle’s great-great-grandfather, Francis Van Reyk, was a Dutch tea planter who immigrated in the 1870s to present-day Sri Lanka, where he planted and managed the Diyagama Tea Estate, from which the Martinos now source their Great Grandfather’s tea. Manelle’s family has been in the tea trade ever since, a tradition she has carried to her own specialty tea business, which has boutique locations throughout the Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland area. Additionally, Peter has become a popular speaker at World Tea Expos, where he frequently educates and inspires the tea world.
In addition to tea from Sri Lanka, Capital Teas carries more than 200 loose teas and herbal infusions from 18 countries including India, China, Japan, Malawi, and Kenya. A sniffing wall dispenses wafts of black, oolong, and green teas, and knowledgeable employees drift around the store’s tasting stations to explain each flavor’s nuances.
Capital Teas also pairs customers with accompaniments such as teapots, infusers, treats, and artisanal honey. In-store patrons may sample free tea samples—which are brewed fresh daily—while online purchasers receive a free sample with every order.
Sowing the seeds of garden-fresh deli fare, Nature's Table Cafe has sprouted 75 locations in 10 states since its founding in 1977. Health-conscious menus bloom with vegetarian and gluten-free dishes alongside classic sandwiches filled with roast beef and grilled chicken breast. Cheesy paninis melt under the heat and meaningful glances emanating from a hot press, while more modest wraps conceal Mexican-, Mediterranean-, American-, and Thai-style fillings. Suffused with the essence of jasmine, rice bowls offer bellies a refreshing salad alternative, though Nature's Table Cafe's salad selection draws in loyal taste buds with fresh veggies and surprising combinations of grilled chicken, fruit, and chèvre cheese. Catering services unfailingly fill bellies at office parties, family get-togethers, and black-tie duck soirees.:
A product of longtime best friends and entrepreneurs Lonnie Moore and Mike Malin, whose The Dolce Group has launched successful eateries across the globe, Ketchup reinterprets childhood favorites in a sleek, contemporary atmosphere. Diners saunter through a space alive with a red, white, and black color scheme, relaxing in curvy, red banquettes or futuristic-looking chairs designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. The tabletops and slatted room dividers boast comic-book-style pop art, ready to transfer onto any on hand Silly Putty, and the walls talk with whimsical portraits of ketchup and mustard bottles holding hands and Heinz bottles fading into clouds of pointillism.
Meanwhile, in the kitchen, chefs spin memories of Shake ’n Bake and macaroni washed down with Kool-Aid, creating gourmet masterpieces. Lobster finds its way into mac ‘n’ cheese, and hot dogs benefit from Kobe beef—both in the dog itself and in the chili on top. And there are plenty of options when it comes time for french fry dipping. Ketchup flavors such as root beer, ranch, and chipotle pay homage to the restaurant’s moniker, livening up Angus burgers topped with market-fresh heirloom tomatoes and Irish cheddar cheese. Moore and Malin's jazzed-up comfort food has even caught on at a sister location in Saudi Arabia, and the duo is opening another site in Istanbul, Turkey.
More than 150 varieties of wine, beer, and spirits flow freely into souvenir glasses, slaking thirsty throats with unlimited sips as guests nibble artisanal snacks at the National Harbor Wine and Food Festival's tasting stations. More than 100 international wines and local libations activate palates, and guests venture to the tasting theater to take in a seminar from wine pairers and gourmet chefs. Live steel-drum music sets the beachy airwaves quivering as attendees relax in the whiskey-and-bourbon lounge and experts demonstrate how to hand roll cigars, a skill that impresses friends and stops rival spies from secretly filling the cigar with live wolverines.
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.
BGR The Burger Joint’s burgers start with high-quality ingredients—most importantly, all-natural beef from grain-fed cattle, free to run in the fields and given zero hormones, fillers, or antibiotics. The prime beef is dry-aged, blended, and ground fresh to form patties that are grilled over an open flame, and then placed atop buttery, locally made brioche buns delivered fresh each day. The menu focuses on the Legendary Burger, which includes gourmet toppings such as avocado, applewood bacon, and grilled jalapenos. For nonbeef eaters, the menu's selection of burgers also includes turkey and veggie varieties, as well as The Greek, a seasoned lamb patty topped with tzatziki and feta. Burgers are also available in a lettuce wrap or on a salad in a healthy salad bowl.
Diners can request all of BGR The Burger Joint's freshly made fries—from thick-cut yukon gold potatoes to asparagus fries—be topped with parmesan, rosemary, roasted garlic, or a tiny tiara. The staff hand-spins shakes with Gifford's or Breyers ice cream to create extra-thick treats for finishing off meals, and some shops curate their own selection of bottled vintage sodas and offer beer and wine.