Kristen Lloyd and Andrew Marshall met last February at Liberty Tavern, where they challenged each other to top their lists of the most exotic places they've had a drink. Romania, Bangkok and Warsaw were on Lloyd's list; Colombia and Bolivia were on Marshall's. They're a couple that loves adventure, but their jobs as a 6th grade history teacher and a portfolio associate at a financial planning company, respectively, kept them from traveling as often as they'd like. So they decided to do some exploring closer to home: They're on a quest to go on a date at all 86 of the Metro stops in the transit system, the inspiration for our most recent Weekend section cover story. So far, they're up to 26.
The couple, who lives together near the Virginia Square Metro stop, got the idea last May when they went to a party in Takoma.
"We were kind of commenting that it was a cool little area of D.C. that we hadn’t really explored before, but since it was Metro accessible, it made sense to come back," said Marshall. "The idea grew from that, in that we realized we had access to a whole city of many Metro stops ... we figured there were a lot of mom and pop hole-in-the-wall places that we could check out."
They began their project last May with a date at Chasin' Tails, where they ate crawfish near the East Falls Church Metro stop. There have been many bars and cafes since, as well as more elaborate dates: For the Pentagon stop, they ran the Army 10-miler together, and for the airport, they decided to count a vacation to Belize towards their total.
So here's my full disclosure: I found out about their plan over drinks with Lloyd, who has been my friend for more than 20 years. Post editors thought the idea of a date for every stop was a natural fit for the Weekend section, but since reporters don't usually write about their friends in the paper, we borrowed the concept and wrote up our own map, sourcing date ideas from the entire Going Out Guide staff, as well as Tom Sietsema. (Thanks Kristen and Andrew, for letting us steal your idea!)
Our map is not as ambitious as Marshall's and Lloyd's. Because the Going Out Guide couldn't in good faith send people to stops where there are only chain restaurants, or where they might have to walk very far distances across busy roads to get to a date spot, we eliminated 29 of the stations that we felt would be too difficult. But Lloyd and Marshall are more adventurous: They went on a date near Vienna, where they had to cross several busy lanes of roadway and walk nearly a mile before they arrived at the Pan Am Family Restaurant.
They've also been stymied by the Metro itself, which has proven to be challenging at times. As they were headed to Van Ness, they sprinted to get on a train together, but "I ended up on the Metro and the doors closed in Kristen’s face," leaving her on the platform, said Marshall. Then, due to track work, their trains were delayed 20 minutes. When they caught up with each other at last, they went to the 876 Cafe, but it wasn't as fun as some of their other dates, since it was such an ordeal to get there.
But believe it or not, Metro can be romantic, said Lloyd.
"Since there’s no cell reception in the Metro, if anything, it makes it more romantic because you can’t be distracted by electronics or other things," she said. On Metro dates, they spend more time talking. "Neither of us can sit there and surf the internet if we’re going under the river. It’s a really good way to have an electronics-free amount of time."
They plan to take their time with the project, which they're tracking via a Metro map pinboard. They don't expect to be done before the opening of the Silver Line, which will present a whole new set of opportunities for them.
"The goal isn’t to just do as many as possible and just get it done," Marshall said. "The whole process, the adventure of doing it, is definitely part of the appeal to us. Some of these areas will have changed by the time we get around to exploring them."
They're also saving the stops where much of the city's nightlife is concentrated for special occasions. They dined at Blue Duck Tavern for their Foggy Bottom date on the day that Marshall completed part of his charted financial analyst exam, for example. They went to Piola in Rosslyn -- the site of their first official date before the project began -- to celebrate when they moved in together.
Our map shares only two dates with Lloyd's and Marshall's. The first is Little Serow, which is one of the best restaurants in D.C. -- so how could we not recommend it? The second is Liberty Tavern, though, the couple hasn't checked it off of their map yet. Marshall says they're saving Clarendon and Takoma for the end, so that they'll have come full-circle.