Remember bone broth? If that seems like ages ago, believe it or not, that was still part of the year that was 2015. We couldn’t believe it either, so we want back through 12 months of arts and entertainment and food and drink happenings to remind ourselves of the best, worst and most memorable moments of the Washington area’s year in leisure.


Yassa chicken in a sour, caramelized onion sauce at Chez Dior, a Sengalese restaurant in Hyattsville. (Deb Lindsey/For The Washington Post)

Best meal for less than $20

Back in Senegal, yassa chicken doesn’t stand on ceremony. It’s a big, sloppy communal dish of chargrilled chicken smothered in a caramelized, slightly acidic sauce and served over white rice. Sheer palate-tickling pleasure, not plating, is its allure. But at Chez Dior, proprietors Mamadou Fall and Binette Seck add an element of chef-driven style to their yassa chicken ($13.99), serving the dish’s component parts separately so that you can compose a bite suited to your personal tastes. You can sweeten a forkful of chicken with more onion sauce. Brighten it with more lemon juice. Detonate it with a Jamaican hot-pepper condiment. Finding your own sweet spot, in fact, is half the thrill.

Chez Dior, 5124 Baltimore Ave., Hyattsville. 240-696-5907. chezdior.com.

— Tim Carman


Nearly one million translucent plastic balls made up the ball pit ocean of “The Beach” at the National Building Museum. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Place you were most likely to lose your cash

$433.24 in bills and coins, to be exact. That’s how much money the National Building Museum recovered from the bottom of the ball pit ocean known as “The Beach,” the museum’s summer blockbuster art installation that attracted 180,000 visitors, many of whom were carrying loose currency in their pockets. And that’s not counting the euros, Canadian loonies and Thai baht that also were recovered, along with SmarTrip cards, baseball caps and four of the nine wedding rings that were reported lost during the immersive exhibition’s run.

— Maura Judkis


John Grade’s Middle Fork is part of the “Wonder” exhibition at the Renwick Gallery. (Ron Blunt/John Grade)

Most Instagrammable location

When it premiered in mid-November, it felt like you couldn’t scroll through social media more than a few seconds before coming across a shot from the Renwick Gallery’s reopening exhibition, “Wonder.” Where else could museumgoers snap selfies while lying beneath a trippy woven net? Nowhere really, which is why the Renwick’s sapling huts, shimmering bugs and towering index cards quickly became the stuff of Instagram dreams.

— Emily Codik

Most incongruous museum acquisition

The home of the Star-Spangled Banner and Thomas Edison’s light bulb welcomed a very important addition to its collection of artifacts: crystal meth. Not real crystal meth, of course, but plastic baggies of Blue Sky that served as props in “Breaking Bad” were donated to the National Museum of American History by AMC, along with the show’s iconic hazmat suits, Walter White’s Heisenberg hat and a cup from Los Pollos Hermanos. The items aren’t currently on display but could be part of a new exhibition about American culture scheduled to open in 2018.

— Emily Codik


Peter Chang at his restaurant in Arlington. (Deb Lindsey /For The Washington Post)

David Chang at his newest Momofuku outpost. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

Best surname for a restaurateur

It was a very good year in the D.C. area for chefs named Chang. Peter Chang’s eponymous Chinese eateries in Arlington and Rockville opened in March and April, respectively, joining siblings in Richmond, Williamsburg, Charlottesville and Virginia Beach. In October, Northern Virginia native David Chang opened his long-awaited Momofuku CCDC in CityCenterDC, joining a restaurant mini-empire that includes properties in New York, Toronto and Sydney.

Peter Chang Arlington, 2503 N. Harrison St., 703-538-6688; Peter Chang Rockville, 20A Maryland Ave., 301-838-9188. peterchangarlington.com . Momofuku CCDC, 1090 I St. NW. 202-602-1832. momofuku.com/dc/ccdc .

— Becky Krystal

Dish we couldn’t stop writing about

A big year for pupusas in Washington reached a climax thanks to the neurotic genius of David Chang, the Woody Allen of chefs, who turned the Salvadoran snack into an object of desire among downtown D.C. diners. The pupusa officially has migrated from no-frills suburban strip centers to CityCenterDC, where on Mondays you can spend several hundred dollars on a Kate Spade handbag and stuff it full of $12 rounds from Momofuku CCDC. Chang has put an Asian spin on the pupusa, adding rice flour to the dough and substituting kimchi for the traditional fermented curtido salad. But more than that, he’s taken a stuffed masa cake — a homely dish that keeps a nation fueled — and asked Washingtonians to treasure it like two other favorite Chang imports: ramen and pork buns.

Pupusa meals will be available while they last on Mondays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

— Tim Carman


The pancit palabok, a noodle dish with egg, shrimp, garlic and pork rinds, at Manila Mart in Beltsville. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

Cuisine suddenly showing up everywhere

Filipino food found its voice in 2015, in part because a new generation of Filipino Americans decided to embrace the otherness and uniqueness of their native cuisine, one that draws influences and ingredients from a rich collection of cultures. Filipino dishes ran the gamut: On one end, you had a homestyle serving of pancit palabok at Manila Mart in Beltsville, and on the other, an elegantly plated portion of Filipino pork barbecue at Restaurant Eve in Alexandria.

— Tim Carman


Hoya peers down at the crowd gathering at Crumbs & Whiskers in June. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

Furriest business plan

Kanchan Singh became a professional cat lady when, in July, she opened Crumbs and Whiskers, D.C.’s first pet-by-the-hour cat cafe in Georgetown — thanks, in part, to an enthusiastic public that donated more than $35,000 through Kickstarter. Except it wasn’t really a cafe: The health department wouldn’t permit food to be prepared in the same premises as pet dander (and other excretions), so guests initially ordered coffees and pastries from a cafe across the street. In August, Singh raised prices and provided free coffee and cookies, until October, when Crumbs and Whiskers was briefly shut down by the health department for multiple violations, including “food being dispensed in an area containing cats, creating a high potential contamination due to cat fur/dander.” So it’s back to the original business model, albeit with the higher prices intact. But cat love comes in many forms: In December, Singh launched a “kitten delivery” service that would bring a basket of kittens to your door for 30 minutes of playtime. It sold out in two hours.

Crumbs and Whiskers, 3211 O St. NW. 202-621-7114. crumbsandwhiskers.com.

— Maura Judkis


The crowded bar scene at Convivial in Shaw. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

Best new restaurant

Convivial, in increasingly delicious Shaw, lives up to the promise of its name while reminding Washington what a talent it has in chef-owner Cedric Maupillier. Right now, no one is serving more interesting, affordable food than the French native. Among the marvels: scallop boudin blanc staged with julienned snow peas and tangy sauerkraut.

Convivial, 801 O St. NW. 202-525-2870. convivialdc.com.

— Tom Sietsema


The Taiwanese fried chicken at Maketto. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

Finger-lickingest advancement in the world of fried chicken

We’re still just as happy as ever to dig into a bucket of Popeyes, but 2015 brought some riffs on the American classic that boasted a variety of global flavors. At the top of our list: Erik Bruner-Yang’s Taiwanese twist at Maketto, coated with five-spice powder and potato flour and served with fried shallots and sliced chilies; Edward Lee’s Korean-by-way-of-the-South creation at Succotash, coated in Korean chili paste and honey; and Cedric Maupillier’s French-accented reinvention of coq au vin at Convivial.

— Becky Krystal


Taylor Swift performed two sold-out concerts at Nationals Park in July. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Biggest concert event

Taylor Swift’s “1989” tour included a ridiculous list of surprise guests as the singer crossed the country, but the D.C. leg of the tour featured no genre-jumping duets with Mick Jagger (Nashville) or Idina Menzel (Tampa). Instead, Washingtonians got a special guest that’s way more entrenched in Swift’s glittering universe: Lorde, one of the pop superstar’s best friends, who traveled 19 hours from New Zealand to perform a duet of “Royals” with T-Swift at Nationals Park on July 13. So while Los Angeles saw Justin Timberlake (and even Lisa Kudrow’s live rendition of “Smelly Cat”), we witnessed something way more precious: an Instagram-famous friendship IRL.

— Emily Codik

Best concert

Wanna know what stings? Figuring out that the best concert I saw all year was merely the third-best concert Prince gave in the District that weekend. The maestro was exceedingly generous with his purple magic at the Warner Theatre on June 14 — and then he reportedly outdid himself at the late show with Stevie Wonder in tow. The night before? He was jamming at the White House. Man, it still stings! But it’s a familiar sensation for those of us who believe that Prince is our greatest living pop star. His genius lies in his ability to give so much from up on that stage while making us feel like he’s still holding something back.

— Chris Richards


Kendrick Lamar performed with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in October. (Kyle Gustafson/For The Washington Post)

Best sonic mashup

How’s this for a pairing: Kendrick Lamar, one of hip-hop’s most critically acclaimed artists, on the mic; and the National Symphony Orchestra, with conductor Steven Reineke, creating the soaring, jazz-inflected music behind him. Put that 75-minute October jam session in the Kennedy Center’s sold-out concert hall, and you have the recipe for one of Washington’s most surreal scenes of the year, featuring a young audience standing, jumping and shouting along with the rapper’s often profane, if thought-provoking, lyrics.

— John Taylor


Ben Ashworth demonstrated some skate tricks while testing out the newly completed bowl he helped design and construct outside the Kennedy Center. (Amanda Voisard/For the Washington Post)

Best trick for luring millennials

Kendrick Lamar’s night with the National Symphony Orchestra wasn’t the Kennedy Center’s only attempt to draw younger patrons. The decision to install a full-fledged skate park on its front plaza trumps them all. With free concerts and public skate sessions, September’s “Finding a Line” jazz, art and skateboarding festival attracted a slew of 20-somethings, who probably couldn’t believe they were welcome to shred the NSO’s home.

— Emily Codik

Best frozen dessert

The Airedale co-owner Ben Jordan had been experimenting with making ice cream at home when he had a stroke of boozy brilliance. The result: The Petworth gastropub offers soft-serve ice cream made with Old Overholt rye whiskey and Angostura bitters. Put the former in a glass of alcoholic Not Your Father’s Root Beer and you have a dangerously good float, or order a swirl for an ice cream Old Fashioned. There’s an ounce of alcohol in every serving.

The Airedale, 3605 14th St. NW. 202-722-1212. airedaledc.com.

— Maura Judkis

Best new brewery

In a year when breweries opened left and right and Alexandria’s Port City was named the Small Brewing Company of the Year at the Great American Beer Festival, this area’s best and most consistent beers came from a new brewery in Dulles. Ocelot Brewing, led by brewer Mike McCarthy and co-founder Adrien Widman, released a string of stellar IPAs, all beautifully balanced between a dry, West Coast-style malt backbone and rich, tropical hop flavors. The recent See the Light Imperial IPA was a wonderfully nuanced, full-bodied beer, and less than 7 percent ABV. The only knock against Ocelot is that the owners don’t like to brew the same beer more than twice a year. This means your beer is going to be fresh, but it also means your new favorite ale won’t be in stock for long.

Ocelot Brewing Company, 23600 Overland Dr., Dulles. 703-665-2146. ocelotbrewing.com.

— Fritz Hahn


The reopening of Duffy’s Irish pub meant the return of its dry-rubbed Chesapeake wings. (Evy Mages/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

Best re-emergence

Duffy’s Irish Pub, a U Street neighborhood hangout beloved by Nationals fans and chicken wing aficionados alike, closed in November 2014, swamped by debt. But the bar received a lifeline in 2015 via a new owner, and reopened, almost as if nothing had ever happened, in September. Most important, the dry-rubbed Chesapeake wings remain unchanged.

Duffy’s Irish Pub, 2106 Vermont Ave. NW. 202-462-9464. dcduffys.com.

— Fritz Hahn

Best bathroom amusement

If you’re waiting for the bathroom at Right Proper Brewing Company’s new Brookland facility, resist the urge to bang on the door and yell “What are you doing in there?” Just listen for the sound of a sonata. Owner Thor Cheston outfitted the bathroom with an upright piano, and customers are free to tickle the ivories before they go — or after they wash their hands. While the idea of performing music in a restroom sounds weird, it’s definitely an improvement on Cheston’s original idea, which included putting bunk beds next to the toilet. His partners talked him out of that one.

Right Proper Brewing Company, 920 Girard St. NE. 202-526-5904. rightproperbrewing.com.

— Fritz Hahn


The ramen burrito at California Tortilla. (Maura Judkis/The Washington Post)

Worst food hack

For the creation of California Tortilla’s limited-time-only ramen burrito (ramurrito?), it’s almost as if the chain’s creative types got together to concoct the perfect trend-grabbing menu item by asking, “What’s squishy, looks like worms, comes covered in Sriracha, and has literally no business ever being in a burrito?” They settled, of course, on ramen noodles, which were paired with squishy avocado, way too many onions and a cloying sweet chili sauce before being smothered in tortilla.

— Maura Judkis


Upwiches (muffin-top ice cream sandwiches), from Uprising Muffin. (Dixie D. Vereen/For The Washington Post)

Best food hack

Sometimes we hear about a new eye-catching food creation and it makes us ask, “What were they thinking?” (See above.) But then there are times when, despite our hard-earned skepticism and eye-rolling, we are won over. So say hello to the Upwich, a muffin-top ice cream sandwich from Uprising Muffin Company in Shaw. Shop owner Donnie Simpson Jr. uses a muffin-top pan to create the top and bottom layer, which he then fills with Blue Bunny vanilla ice cream. Simpson says the creation is on hiatus until spring; expect a return to the menu in March.

Uprising Muffin Company, 1817 Seventh St. NW. 202-290-1196. uprisingmuffins.com.

— Becky Krystal


Band of Horses performs at the 2015 Landmark Festival, with the Washington Monument in the background. (Kyle Gustafson/For The Washington Post)

Best excuse to party on federal property

Sure, the beer lines were long and the drink selection was limited, but how often do you get to legally drink on National Park Service grounds while dancing to Drake, the Strokes and Miguel? Though it wasn’t perfect, the inaugural Landmark Music Festival, which took over West Potomac Park for two days in September, finally gave D.C. a Coachella-like festival experience within city limits. And unlike other music festivals, this one came with scenic views of the Washington Monument and the Potomac River.

— Rudi Greenberg


Eddie Murphy accepts the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center in October. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

Best moment in comedy

Would Eddie Murphy tell his first joke onstage in nearly 30 years at the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor? After a stilted, joke-free appearance during the “Saturday Night Live” 40th anniversary special, that question loomed over the Kennedy Center award ceremony. But at the end of the evening, Murphy broke his silence with a sharp impersonation of Bill Cosby that reminded everyone in the room why Murphy had earned his Mark Twain prize in the first place.

— Emily Codik