To accompany our eighth annual Best Of issue, we asked the people who are making D.C. great to tell us their favorite things about This Town. They shared the kind of D.C. day they dream about, where the weather is perfect, the farmers market is always open and the museums are free (-er than normal, that is). Follow their itineraries, or tell us about your own perfect day in D.C. on Twitter at @WapoExpress.
Meek-Bradley, 32, is the executive chef at D.C. institutions Ripple and Roofers Union, and she put in a stint on “Top Chef” earlier this year. She opened her pastrami-focused sandwich shop, Smoked and Stacked, in Shaw last month.
I would go to Maketto specifically to get coffee from Vigilante Coffee Company in the morning. I love Vigilante coffee, and that’s why we have it at Smoked and Stacked. It’s such a good space to hang out and get some work done. It’s something about the light.
I definitely love going to SoulCycle. The one in Mount Vernon Square is close to my house. I know it sounds cliche or whatever, but it puts you in a positive place to go about your day. Basically, I just eat on my days off. That’s why I have to go to SoulCycle!
I love going down to the Mall. I’m a sucker for the National Museum of American History. If I’m in a funk, I go to see Julia Child’s kitchen or the ruby slippers.
I definitely love the Mandu on K Street — they have an awesome late-night menu, the bartenders are all super-nice, they never close early. They’re definitely my favorite late-night spot in D.C., with a great fried chicken sandwich and kimchee quesadilla. If I’m wanting to die, I usually text Danny [Lee, Mandu’s chef] and ask, “Are you there?” and he always makes me feel better. The chef community is so tight-knit and so positive. I’ve never lived in a city where everybody helps each other so much. —As told to Lori McCue
Rachel Gardner & Pia Carusone
The founders of Republic Restoratives, D.C.’s only women-run distillery, spend most of their days in their Ivy City facility working on their whiskeys.
Gardner (left): Preferably, my perfect day would involve sleeping in. Then I would probably head over to Maketto and get myself a strong, delicious coffee and one of their croissants.
Then I would scoot over to the National Arboretum. I’d take my dog, Zuni, a Texas Lacy, around there for a solid two to three hours. Then I’d probably do some gardening at home, because I have to live up to my name. I have a relatively ambitious garden that’s suffering because of my distilling lifestyle.
For dinner, I’d end up at The Dabney. because I love the atmosphere. It’s one of the few places I’m happy to sidle up to the bar and eat a full meal. And I love the smell of that place — even when I just order a cocktail, it feels like I’ve eaten a delicious meal.
Carusone (right): When the season’s running, I’ll head to the FreshFarm Market on H Street, which generally means buying some berries and eating the whole pint.
At nighttime, I’ll head to my friend’s restaurant Tail Up Goat. [Co-owner] Bill Jensen is a friend from my past political life. I can’t get enough — I’ll probably go tonight.
I love live music, so I tend to buy tickets to random shows at the 9:30 Club for bands I’ve never heard of. It’s worked out well for me. Alt-J, I saw them a couple years ago. I said, “Three nights of sold-out shows — they must be good.” And now they’re my favorite band. —As told to Lori McCue
A musician, lawyer and D.C. native, June, 29, is best known for “But Anyway,” her hip-hop song about gentrification.
I will wake up and have a smoothie of bananas, spirulina, almond milk and frozen blueberries — all things I probably bought at the Petworth Yes! Organic Market. And then I would probably go for a walk in Malcolm X Park. I think that’s the best park to walk around in the city. You have waterfalls, you have flowers and there’s a lot of places where you can just sit down and people-watch. There’s a huge grassy area in the middle, and a lot of times you can catch a soccer game there. On Sundays, I like to go to the drum circle there. It starts around 3 p.m.
As far as eating lunch, I really like The Greek Spot at 11th and U. People don’t believe me, but that’s the restaurant’s actual name. It’s very small and does carryout. I usually get the salmon platter, but they also have the best french fries. Highlands is one of my favorite places too. It’s on 14th Street in a really quiet neighborhood. Their food is good and you almost never have to wait for a table.
If I were music shopping, I’d go to Joe’s Record Paradise in Silver Spring. It’s a really cool place with a lot of records and books on music and music history.
For shows, I’ve been going to The Fillmore a lot lately. They’ve been booking a lot of the types of acts that used to perform in the city. Especially on Sunday, you can see people who are local or little-known. They get big acts there too, like Wale and Christylez Bacon, who is a progressive rapper like me. —As told to Sadie Dingfelder
My favorite place to get brunch is Ted’s Bulletin. I love watching “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” [which is usually] playing in the background on the big screen, and I always get the Jon’s Omelet, which has a little bit of everything. Their Reuben is to kill for, too.
Then, I might go to Eastern Market and people-watch. On the weekends, you can see artisans from all different countries and cultures, and everyone is out and about with their animals and their babies.
At some point, I’ll probably go for a jog. My favorite running route is going down Pennsylvania Avenue. My ending point is the Capitol Building. It’s so beautiful and majestic. I just like to stop and take it in.
After I go home and shower, I’ll go to Suitsupply in Georgetown. It’s one of the few places where I buy suits off the rack. When I need alterations, they’ll do them right there, in the store.
For dinner, I’ll probably go to Kruba Thai and Sushi in Navy Yard. Their pineapple fried rice — you will smack your mother if she tries to eat the food off your plate because it’s so good. And they serve it in an actual pineapple. —As told to Sadie Dingfelder
Morgan H. West
My ideal day is a Sunday for sure, and I’d start by walking down to the Dupont Farmers Market. I’m a big fan of FreshFarm Markets in general and the Dupont Market on Sundays has amazing community vibes. First stop is always the Zeke’s Coffee of DC tent for an iced coffee, then Tree and Leaf Farm for greens and sunflowers. The cajun okra from Gordy’s Pickle Jar is a staple at our house, so I’ll usually grab a jar or two on the way out.
Next up, a late breakfast or lunch situation at Meats & Foods. Their “biscuit Sunday” sausage breakfast sandwiches are insanely good, and otherwise my go-to order is the salt and pepper chicken sausage. The owners, Ana [Marin] and Scott [McIntosh], are always playing something amazing on the record player.
I always love to visit Be Clean Studio. It is a tiny delight. They carry Mischo Beauty nail polish, which is made in D.C., comes in great colors and is vegan/cruelty-free. Because life is about balancing sausage breakfast sandwiches with the rest of your day.
Upshur Street Books is another favorite. I went recently with my 4-year-old niece and walked out with a set of dominoes and a book about a cactus who just really wanted a hug.
That night, my husband and I would head up to Suns Cinema in Mount Pleasant for whatever they happen to be showing. The tiny little theater seats maybe 20; there’s a vintage popcorn machine and great decor.
I’m ending every ideal D.C. day with a late dinner at the bar at Room 11, which has an amazing seasonal menu. The in-house bakery, Paisley Fig, makes incredible desserts and the taco choco is my favorite. Seven years’ bad luck if you pass it up.
—As told to Sadie Dingfelder
A yogi of global renown, Hunter runs Embrace Yoga DC, a yoga training and community center in Adams Morgan.
I have a dog, a 9-year-old Shih Tzu named Sebastian, so one of the first things I do in the morning is take him for a walk. He loves the grassy fields at Malcolm X Park. Then I make myself breakfast, usually a Shakeology shake with added strawberries and banana and a little cumin and cinnamon for inflammation. If Sebastian wants a treat or needs a bath, I’ll probably hit Doggy Style on 18th Street.
Then I’ll get in my yoga practice and meditation. My studio, Embrace Yoga DC, is just a few blocks from my apartment, and it’s so full of natural light and color it always puts me in a good mood.
If I’m going to meet friends for coffee, one of my favorite spots right now is The Potter’s House. Their gluten-free chocolate chip muffin is so moist and tasty you can’t even believe it’s gluten-free. I also love Le Diplomate. Their french fries are just off the chain, and they have an amazing selection of French wines.
I might do a little shopping, too. One of the cutest stores in D.C. is Violet Boutique, in Georgetown. They are kind of retro, and I can always find an adorable purse or funky earrings there that aren’t super-expensive. If I want to treat myself or get a unique present for a friend, I’ll go to Lettie Gooch. They have clothes that are urban mixed with boho with a slight edge of hipster.
Then, I’d probably make dinner at home. I’ve been grilling lots of veggies that I get from the Mount Pleasant Farmers’ Market. I just moved back to D.C. from New York, and I love that my apartment here has a real kitchen. In New York, all I had was a stovetop. —As told to Sadie Dingfelder
The 32-year-old Wizards center is a native of Lodz, Poland, which explains his nickname: the Polish Machine.
I’d wake up at noon and rest. No, seriously — we’ll probably just rest at home, watch a movie [or] go to the movies. Obviously, if we have more time then [I might] check out one of the museums. I like the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. I like the International Spy Museum here. I definitely like to go to different concerts and shopping centers.
To eat, we have this one Polish restaurant in Arlington. I don’t know exactly the street name.
[I go to the movies] right here, the one attached to the [Verizon Center] arena [Regal Gallery Place Stadium 14]. I see everything. I watch all kinds of movies, everything that’s good, everything that’s new. “Warcraft” was a recent [one that was] a really good movie. I watched the new Bourne, “Jason Bourne,” and the new “Mechanic,” which was bad. I’ve seen a lot of movies.
To relax, I lift. I play some video games. I sit in my office, check everything, what’s going on with my foundation [MG13, which, grants scholarships to young Polish athletes] — just take care of the businesses and marketing in Poland.
Between the games and the practices, you’re resting a lot. I’m just resting most of the time and meeting with friends. —As told to Gabe Hiatt
Want to see the places D.C. voted for? Click here.