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.:
CakeLove's baking staff, led by owner and Food Network's Sugar Rush host Warren Brown, specializes in cupcakes and cakes, baking batches from scratch daily with fresh, natural butter, sugar, eggs, and more. Each location's rotating selection of vanilla, chocolate, red-velvet, banana, carrot, and pumpkin cake bases is smothered with a variety of flavored buttercreams. Chocoholics can silence grumbling sweet tooths with creative concoctions like Cynthia's sin (chocolate cake dipped in chocolate ganache, topped with peanut butter buttercream, drizzled with chocolate and caramel, and sprinkled with candied peanuts), while those longing for a tropical getaway can abduct their tongue to a farflung locale with the lime on the coconut (shredded coconut and lime zest on a vanilla cupcake with lime buttercream). Cupcakes are $3.25 each, $19.50 for a half dozen, and $39 for a baker's dozen. Other sweet forms of gourmet baked goods ($2–$5), as well as the bakery's six-inch to 12-inch layer cakes ($25–$130), can sugary-up birthdays or candy-coat a van full of Shriner cars.
Though they all share the same name, all eight of McLoone's Restaurants' locations have their own interior charm. With dining rooms adjacent to off-track betting facilities, McLoone’s Woodbridge Grille and McLoone’s Bayonne Grille are peppered with an energetic ambiance that fills their brightly colored spaces. Televisions at every table keep diners abreast of the results of each race, and the big screens plastered around the restaurants also broadcast NFL, MLB, and college games. Like an indecisive bride’s wedding, each location’s bistro-style menu includes both casual and elegant dishes, from seasoned thai chicken wings and Black Angus burgers to new york strip steak and mango salmon.
At Henry's Soul Cafe, the smell of crispy, lightly breaded chicken mingles in the air with the sweet scent of signature sweet-potato pie—just as it's been doing since 1968. Amidst this mouthwatering perfume, chefs concoct down-home southern soul food such as fried fish, smoky ribs, smothered pork chops, and mounds of creamy mac 'n' cheese. Each day, they lovingly bake their specialty sweet-potato pie, which is as wholesome, famous, and orange as Santa Claus after a bad spray tan. When Henry's green T-shirt-clad staff isn't doling out plates of rib-sticking fare, they strive to better their community by supporting charities that help the homeless, the blind, and children in need.
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.