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.
Organic. Fair trade. Sustainable. Microroasted. Plenty of adjectives describe the coffee at Pound The Hill, but the staff is most concerned about one in particular: delicious. They partner their carefully curated brews with breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus. Breakfast sandwiches—such as the Italian Elvis, smothered with Nutella, bananas, and honey—segue into lunchtime ones piled with veggies, feta cheese, pesto chicken salad, and pulled-pork barbecue. At dinnertime, chefs switch sandwich bread for small plates and entrees, such as organic chicken breast stuffed with blue crab. The restaurant also hosts daily happy hours, which happens to be what clowns call each credit they need to graduate from clown college. During this time, guests sip wine and beer while noshing on discounted appetizers.
Wisey’s offers a delicious mélange of panini, wraps, subs and sandwiches for quick eaters in Washington DC. Among the most popular are the Chicken Madness sub, with grilled chicken breast, sweet peppers, bacon, provolone cheese and cayenne pepper for a bit of a kick. Others opt for the toned-down California Panini, a croissant stuffed with chicken, avocado, Havarti cheese and sprouts. There are vegetarian options inside the diminutive storefront shop as well, and an array of fresh pastries from the case. Order off of the hanging menu boards and try to grab one of the few available tables, or opt for quick carryout to take back to your desk or home for a night on the couch. Better yet, live close enough to Wisey’s and they’ll even deliver to you.
It’s the little touches that count when dining at Odeon Cafe, an Italian bistro. The dark-wood accents, upstairs loft seating, and wood-burning oven lend the restaurant a European vibe. The Washington Post says you’ll note the “savory aromas” right away, which “confirm the decision to stay and sample the Italian cookery.” Some of those scents come from Odeon’s famed lobster dishes—part of several entrees made with seafood fresh from the docks. While you’re waiting for your main course, you can munch on complimentary Italian rolls, marinated olives, and pepperoncini. The restaurant also has a fine selection of Italian and American wines available by the glass or bottle.
Chinatown Coffee Company doesn't have a preferred brand of coffee to brew; it has five. On any given day, the café might be brewing beans from Intelligentsia, Heart Roasters, 49th Parallel Roasters, Ritual Roasters, or Novo Coffee, giving customers a variety of boldness options to choose from. The café refreshes its selection every few days, giving customers a chance to sample coffees that are harvested all over the world. When hunger strikes, the shop's display cases house sandwiches from Patisserie Poupon, cupcakes from Bakeshop, and muffins from Hawthorne. The shop has a minimalist aesthetic—cement floors, exposed brick, and a weathered steel coffee bar—but dark wood café tables, wooden benches, and a bright-orange statement wall keep the atmosphere warm and inviting.
Tucked away behind the Connecticut Avenue stretch of Dupont Circle, Filter Coffeehouse and Espresso Bar may be difficult to spot, but it’s worth the search. The indie coffeehouse is reminiscent of the hip cafés found in the Pacific Northwest, and in conservative and chain-filled Washington, DC, a taste of Seattle or Portland is a step up for most coffee fans. Located through an orange framed door inside of the basement of a townhouse, the intimate space features wooden tables lined up against a brick wall. There’s also a small courtyard in front with benches and tables. The coffee comes from a regional roaster, and the baristas have all the skills needed to make a perfect espresso-based drink or a french-pressed cup of joe.