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.
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.”
Though people no longer have to cross continental boundaries to sample exotic flavors, the average spice rack still tends to lack diversity. At the Spice & Tea Exchange of Annapolis, a staff of flavor-seeking specialists stocks gourmet seasonings and spices, cooking herbs, sugars, and sea salts to expand their customers' cooking horizons. In addition to fresh herbs and flavorings, the team designs signature seasoning powders that infuse dishes with medleys of chili, savory hints of cheese, or the essence of smoke. They also carry an assortment of gourmet teas, which are good to keep around the house in case a local king decides to stop by.
Cafe Sazon's cooks whip up signature dishes from scratch in 5–10 minutes, adding just enough "sazon," or seasoning, to give them mouth-watering flavor. Freshly made jalapeño hot sauce and beef-cube-laden pique macho alike are crafted from high-quality ingredients, which patrons can savor while seated on chairs or sofas. Unlimited internet access allows wireless modems to soak up radio waves until they get an even tan, and bilingual staff are on hand to help explain the menu or translate any novels patrons bring in.
South Mountain Veggies—a family-owned sustenance-delivery service—trucks parcels of local and organic produce to homes throughout Washington, DC and its surrounding areas. The medium Family Share box brims with 11–14 servings of seasonal crop ready to munch on, set aside for future cooking ventures, or wear as a hat. The carton's customizable abilities give household meal planners the option to tailor contents based on familial likes, dislikes, and crippling phobias. South Mountain's fruit and veggie varieties rotate seasonally, ensuring dinner menus stay healthy and fresh.
Cuisine Type: Smoothies, shakes, and fruit juice
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Parking: Metered street parking
Most popular offering: Green House
Pro Tip: We use fresh fruit. We do not use syrup or sugar in our products.
The folks over at DC Shakes have managed to do the impossible: blend decadence with guilt-free indulgence. Without using gimmicks, artificial sweeteners, or ingredients that devastate the delicate eco-system of Candy Land, the shop blends whole, fresh fruit, heart-healthy veggies, and a slew of nuts into thick shakes. The Green House, for example, pulls off the delicate balance of fresh pineapple, banana, and lime with hearty greens, including kale?pulled together with a helping of agave. For a drink worthy of dessert status, try the shop's namesake DC Shake. The milk-based blend delights sweet teeth with sun-dried apricots, a little chocolate, and a trifecta of walnuts, hazelnuts, and almonds.