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Best of Gay D.C.: Dining

Favorite food spots in the District and beyond

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Rice, Washington Blade, gay news, Best of Gay D.C.

Best Ethnic: Rice (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Ethnic: Rice
1608 14th Street, NW
202-234-2400

Level One, Cobalt, Washington Blade, gay news, Best of Gay D.C.

Best Brunch: Level One Disco Brunch (Washington Blade photo by Pete Exis)

Best Brunch: Level One
1639 R Street, NW
202-745-0025

Cork, Washington Blade, gay news, Best of Gay D.C.

Best Wine Bar: Cork (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Wine Bar: Cork
1720 14th Street, NW
202-265-CORK

Annie's Paramount Steak House, Washington Blade, gay news, Best of Gay D.C.

Best Late Night: Annie’s Paramount Steak House (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Late Night: Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse
1609 17th Street, NW
202-232-0395

the Pig, gay news, Washington Blade, Best of Gay D.C.

Best New Restaurant: the Pig (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best New Restaurant: The Pig

Logan Tavern, Commissary, The Heights and Grillfish are all neighborhood favorites operated by EatWellDC, which is run by gay business partners, David Winer, Winer’s nephew Josh Hahn and Antonio Oquendo. Now their newest addition, The Pig, joins the list of favorites as the Best New Restaurant in D.C. This pork-centric restaurant focuses on snout-to-tail dishes from locally sourced ingredients and ethically raised animals.

The Pig is still a socially conscious neighborhood restaurant but it is not an American Tavern, “meat-and-potatoes”-type venue. Instead the restaurant specializes in small plates.

“The coursing and rhythm of the meal is different and it is a more service-oriented type of establishment,” Hahn says. This 72-seat establishment has quickly become a favorite in Logan Circle and hopes to become a mainstay like other EatWell restaurants. (JH)

The Pig
1320 14th Street NW
202-290-2821

Sticky Fingers, red velvet cupcake, Washington Blade, gay news, Best of Gay D.C.

Best Dessert: Sticky Fingers’ red velvet cupcake (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Dessert: Sticky Fingers’ Red Velvet Cupcake

Sticky Fingers was born in 1999 in Doran Petersan’s Kitchen. Now her creations are available in her Park Road location and dozens of wholesale locations up and down the East Coast. Petersan, who dubbed herself a “junk-foodie genius”-turned vegan, was determined to create animal-free counterparts of some of her favorite guilt-laden items.

This cupcake is a completely vegan classic Red Velvet cupcake coupled with cream cheese-style frosting. And when Petersan and her team aren’t busy winning Best of Awards, they are competing to win Cupcake Wars on the Food Network for the third time. (JH)

Sticky Fingers Bakery
1370 Park Road, NW
202-299-9700

Jamie Leeds, Hank's Oyster Bar, Washington Blade, gay news, Best of Gay D.C.

Best Chef: Jamie Leeds (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Chef: Jamie Leeds — Hank’s Oyster Bar

Jamie Leeds has been having a good couple of months — opening Hank’s on the Hill, winning her fight to expand her patio in Dupont and winning Best Chef. Hank’s Oyster Bar came to fruition in the spring of 2005. In 2007, she opened a second Hank’s in Old Town Alexandria. This year, Leeds expanded the Alexandria location and opened a third Hank’s on the Hill. Leeds, a lesbian, says opening Hank’s on the Hill while expanding the Alexandria location is her “most exciting accomplishment.”

It is hard to dispute this honor if you have ever had the fried oysters at Hank’s, one of the best things I’ve eaten all year.  Leeds serves up fresh and delicious seafood every day at all of her locations, making this a well-deserved honor. (JH)

Hank’s Oyster Bar
1624 Q Street NW
633 Pennsylvania Ave SE
1026 King Street Alexandria
202-462-HANK (Q Street)
202-733-9171 (Penn)
703-739-HANK (Alexandria)

Logan Tavern, Washington Blade, gay news, Best of Gay D.C.

Best Date Restaurant: Logan Tavern (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Date Restaurant: Logan Tavern

Logan Tavern is located right in the middle of the Logan Circle neighborhood and is a great location for a date. After all, you can hit the gym before the date and if the date goes well, you can even hit up a bar to extend the date. If it goes poorly, it’s not because of the restaurant but you can hit the bar anyway.

Logan Tavern is owned and operated by EatWell DC and combines friendly prices with a hip, laid-back atmosphere. Logan is a great go-to place for delicious, un-fussy food. It’s a place where you recognize the ingredients, the flavors and the dishes you are being served. There is no need to worry about what the wait staff delivers. The drinks are affordable and the service is excellent with friendly and accommodating staff. Plan ahead so that you can get one of the cozy booths to cuddle up in. The only thing you will need to worry about is connecting with the guy or girl at the table with you. (JH)

Logan Tavern
1423 P Street NW
202-332-3710

Tryst, gay news, Washington Blade, Best of Gay D.C.

Best Coffee Shop: Tryst (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key

Best Coffee Shop: Tryst

Tryst has been a part of the Adams Morgan community since 1998 and gives Washingtonians the opportunity to get together over a cup of great coffee, a sweet treat or two or even a cocktail. David Fritzier, beverage manager, says, “Combining coffee and booze comes from a place of inclusion and community.” Tryst aims to be your “third place” — that place that you go after your home and work, the place that balances out your life.  (JH)

Tryst
2459 18th Street
202-232-5500

Best Restaurant Outside of DC: Hard Times Café in Old Town Alexandria

Founders and brothers Jim and Fred Parker opened Hard Times Café in 1980, not really knowing what they were getting into. Now, 30-plus years later they are a successful regional chain, cooking award-winning chili, and winning Best of Awards (in 2005 USA Today named Hard Times as one of the top 10 places to get chili and now they are Best Restaurant Outside of D.C.). The chili has a story all its own that dates back all the way to 1874, to a recipe that comes from their grandfather Ira.

Jim and Fred refer to their food as “all the food you love to eat” like chili, wings, char-grilled burgers, nachos and ribs. There is even a chili taster in case you can’t decide which of the four chilies they offer you want to order. (JH)

Hard Times Café
1404 King Street, Alexandria VA
703-837-0050

Best Caterer: Q Caterers

Q Caterers has been serving the Washington area for five years, but its owners have 15 years of experience in the catering industry. They offer traditional as well as creative and innovative cuisine for their clients. Q Caterers, co-owned by Paul Herndon, offers catering for a wide variety of events and does all its baking on site.

Clients rave about the food from Q Caterers and guests are always looking for more. (JH)

Q Caterers
2144 California Street
202-640-4828

Best Food Truck: Curbside Cupcake

Food Trucks have been all the rage for several years in D.C. and this year, the best food truck of them all is Curbside Cupcake. It started with one truck in November of 2009 and was D.C.’s first mobile cupcakery. It operates weekdays from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. and some weekends in the spring and summer.

Today Sam and Kristi Whitfield have three trucks bringing “cupcake bliss” to D.C., Arlington and Montgomery County. When Sam was working as a lawyer in 2009 some co-workers wanted cupcakes, but nobody wanted to go out and pick them up. That got Sam thinking that cupcakes should come to people, people shouldn’t have to come to cupcakes. When he got home that night he asked his wife Kristi, and that set the wheels in motion and just a few years later they own and operate D.C.’s favorite food truck. (JH)

Curbside Cupcake

Half-smokes, Ben's Chili Bowl, Washington Blade, gay news, Best of Gay D.C.

Best Local Dish: Half-smokes at Ben’s Chili Bowl (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Local Dish: Half Smokes at Ben’s Chili Bowl

The Half Smokes are famous in D.C. and are the most popular item on the menu at Ben’s Chili Bowl. Ben’s widow Virginia Ali, who has retired from the restaurant business, happened to be working the floor of the restaurant the afternoon I stopped in to enjoy a Half Smoke. She “is thrilled to be chosen as the winner of Best Local Dish,” and is “so excited that people still love all the food that they serve everyday.”

The “original chili half smokes” are the signature dish of Ben’s Chili Bowl. It’s a one-quarter pound half-pork and half-beef smoked sausage on a warm bun topped with mustard, onions and spicy homemade chili sauce. It’s served up in a basket with some fries and plenty of napkins. Famous fans include Bill Cosby and the Obamas. (JH)

Ben’s Chili Bowl
1213 U Street NW
202-667-0909

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Real Estate

Spring market readiness: buyer’s edition

Get ready for more inventory and faster sales

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The spring market technically gets underway next month.

Here in the D.C. metro area there are historically two cyclical “busy” times in the market. Spring market, which falls between February through June/July, and fall market, which is around August until about November. Honestly, the D.C. metro market is historically always pretty active, however the spring and fall markets are those times where we see an increase in inventory, open houses attendance, open house traffic and properties selling quicker. As we are heading into the spring market time (historically begins after the Super Bowl, aka the Rihanna concert for my non-sports folks that is Feb. 12) I wanted to go over a few tips to do NOW in order to make sure you are ready to go.

PICK A QUALIFIED REAL ESTATE AGENT

It is vital to work with a real estate agent that you can trust. I often tell my clients that we are about to get real intimate and basically start dating. The home buying process involves many late night phone calls, weekends spent driving around looking at properties and learning truly what a client wants. For this very reason you should feel comfortable with your agent. You need someone who will speak your language as well as speak the language of negotiating and get you into a home.

Where do you start looking for a real estate professional? For starters, I am sure you know one real estate agent in D.C., but if you don’t, look to friends and family. Ask if they know of a great Realtor and then go from there. It’s not always the agents that are plastered all over bus stops or grocery carts that you should gravitate to; do some homework and seek an agent who writes for the Washington Blade, was voted Best DC Realtor by the Washington Blade readers (aka me – and this is totally a joke – maybe).

PRE-APPROVAL

This is almost more important than selecting a real estate agent. Find a lender who will fight for you. One thing as a listing agent that I love to see is when a buyer’s lender calls me when a purchase offer is submitted to tell me how wonderfully well qualified their clients (aka you) are and that they will fight to keep the transaction on the estimated timeline. This illustrates that you have a team behind you that supports you and your goal of purchasing a home. When I get a call from a buyer’s agent that they have submitted an offer for their clients and this is why they are the most well-qualified buyers and love the home right before I get a call from a lender who speaks highly of their buyer clients and the buyer’s agent — chef’s kiss — it truly does make a difference.

Where do you start looking for a lender? Well once you meet an amazing real estate agent, ask who they would recommend. Please note that we as real estate professionals are not allowed to receive any kickbacks from lenders or service providers. I always provide a list of lenders that I have worked with in the past that have performed well – it’s your duty to research and speak to those lenders, and more, in order to select the one that is best suited for you.

UNDERSTAND YOUR CURRENT LEASE

This is one that is often overlooked. You should have a look over your current lease. Reviewing your lease will give you timeline info as to when you can start your search and what timeframes you are working with. For example, if you are on a month-to-month lease currently then you can begin your home search now. You will need to give your current landlord a 30-day notice that will likely line up with a 30-day closing period, which is pretty standard here in the D.C. metro market. If you have a lease with a few months left, it’s important to understand what a possible lease break would look like from a financial perspective or if you are not willing to break your lease then it will give you a timeframe of when you can start the home buying process.

DON’T LOSE SIGHT OF THE GOAL

This is super important. While the market has changed in the past few months, we are still not out of the water completely. The ripple effect of COVID and the constraints on the housing market will be seen for a while longer. While you might not have 15 offers on a home it’s likely you could still expect two or three. Even though we are heading into the spring market where there is historically an increase in inventory, we are in such a shortage currently that it’s even more vital now than ever before to ensure you are ready to rock and roll.

The home buying process can truly be a fun process. By following the steps above and ensuring that you are well equipped and positioned to start off the spring real estate market there is little doubt that you will meet your goal of becoming a homeowner this year.

Justin Noble is a Realtor with Sotheby’s international Realty licensed in D.C., Maryland, and Delaware for your DMV and Delaware Beach needs. Specializing in first-time homebuyers, development and new construction as well as estate sales, Justin is a well-versed agent, highly regarded, and provides white glove service at every price point. Reach him at 202-503-4243,   [email protected] or BurnsandNoble.com.

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Real Estate

Affordable home renovations for successful selling

From paint to floors, a few simple fixes to boost value

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Refreshing your home’s paint job can add instant value.

Without question, the 2023 housing market is off to a slow start, particularly in comparison to the red-hot market that existed during the pandemic. This can understandably be discouraging for those who need to sell their home and hope to obtain a favorable offer. The good news is that one constant truth about the housing market is that it will change – eventually. In the meantime, there are steps that hopeful sellers can take to increase the value of their homes and their chances of obtaining the offer that they want. 

One step that some sellers consider is making minor upgrades or renovations that will increase the sale value of their home. This leads to the question – what are some fairly easy upgrades a homeowner can make without breaking the bank that may be appealing to potential buyers? Let’s take a look at a few options together.

Refresh the paint: This is a simple and very cost-effective option for giving your home a new, fresh look. A quick coat of paint can truly work wonders. It helps the home look brighter, cleaner, and newer, and can be appealing to the eye of many potential buyers. When considering which colors to choose, it’s important to keep in mind that selecting more traditional, neutral colors is often advisable. After all, you don’t know what a potential buyer may like, so choosing colors that appeal to many and are more subdued may be a wise choice. You may want to also consider repainting the trim and the ceilings to complete the fresh new look.

Make some easy kitchen upgrades: Many have heard that upgrading the kitchen is one of the most popular renovations to a home and one with the best return on investment. As the kitchen is often the hub of the house, this is certainly true. The good news is that homeowners often need not do a complete and expensive kitchen renovation to get some bang for their buck. Some more simple tasks like upgrading older appliances to newer ones, changing out light fixtures, or repainting cabinets and adding new hardware may go a long way toward increasing your kitchen’s appeal to potential buyers.

Landscaping: Landscaping is the literal “curb appeal” that many homeowners need to give their house that extra sparkle to attract potential buyers. Upgrading your landscaping may sound intimidating at first, but it can truly be a cost-effective option for increasing the value of your home. It may be worthwhile to pay for a consultation with a landscaper regarding some steps you can take to increase your home’s appeal from the outside. Often these options can be very simple – things like removing debris, planting a few shrubs here and there, pruning trees, and other similar tasks. After all, the first step to getting a buyer to appreciate the inside of your home is to draw them in from the outside.

Refinish hardwood floors: While replacing your flooring entirely is an expensive and time-consuming process, the good news is that refinishing your floors is a fairly simple and cost-effective option for increasing your home’s appeal. It can add extra shine and a little bit of wow factor, without breaking the bank. 

These are only a few options of many for cost-effectively updating your home. Regardless of the market conditions, there are always steps that potential sellers can take to add to the appeal of their home and hopefully catch the eye of potentially interested buyers. Another important step that sellers can always take is consulting with a knowledgeable and experienced real estate agent who knows their particular community and what attracts buyers in that community.  At GayRealEstate.com, we are here to help you find the perfect agent to achieve your real estate goals.

At GayRealEstate.com We’re Here for You

The current real estate market may seem intimidating to those hoping to sell their home for the best possible price – and that’s understandable. While it may be intimidating, however, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. By marketing your home well, investing wisely in renovations and staging, and finding the right real estate agent, you can greatly increase your chances of obtaining a favorable offer, even in a difficult market. 

At GayRealEstate.com, we’re here to help you find that real estate agent. You need and deserve an agent who understands the unique needs of LGBTQ home buyers and sellers, and who understands the market in your local community. If you’re ready to get started, get in touch with us today. We look forward to learning how we can help. 

Jeff Hammerberg is founding CEO of Hammerberg & Associates, Inc. Reach him at 303-378-5526 or [email protected].

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Autos

Mod makeovers: Kia Niro EV, Nissan Z

Carmakers add pizzazz without compromising function

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Kia Niro EV

I love New Year’s resolutions. There’s that anticipation of a fresh start — just like a first date, where everything is possible. Same for vehicle makeovers, where automakers must strike a tricky balance: Add plenty of pizzazz to an existing model, yet don’t alienate diehard purists who love their cars just the way they are. For 2023, two rides receive some spicy updates but without losing any of their old-school cool. 

KIA NIRO EV
$40,000
MPGe: 126 city/101 highway
Range: up to 253 miles on a full charge
0 to 60 mph: 7.1 seconds

For some time, Kia has been all charged up about electric vehicles. There’s the EV6 crossover, cousin of the award-winning Hyundai Ioniq 5. Both of these mid-priced, midsize rides debuted last year, and they look, whir, and pretty much drive like earthbound spaceships. Coming later this year is the EV9, based on the popular Telluride full-size SUV but with a boxy-yet-bold design straight out of “Transformers.” 

By 2027, Kia plans to offer a whopping 14 electric vehicles. Yet I still remember the thrill of driving a Niro EV— Kia’s first all-electric contender—three years ago when it arrived in showrooms. This compact four-door hatchback was fun, feature-laden and affordable. For 2023, the Niro EV gets a full redesign, with sassier styling and the same spunky performance that initially was so impressive. Battery range, which already was better than the competition, is now 14 miles more than the previous model. Using a DC fast charger, the updated Niro EV takes about 25% less time —or some 60 minutes — to charge up to 80 percent. Inside, the cockpit-like interior has been smartly revamped, with a sculpted center console, angled digital display panels and two-tone color scheme that’s vintage chic. 

Another plus: a slightly longer wheelbase means more cargo space and rear legroom. The original Niro EV offered an insanely long list of standard amenities, but this redo boasts even more goodies: smartphone integration, wireless charging, voice command functionality, forward-collision warning, automated emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and other creature comforts. Choice of two groovy-sounding trim levels: base-model Wind and more upscale Wave, which adds a sunroof, ventilated seats and power take-off. There’s also Kia’s impressive 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. “Niro” means “to rise” in Korean, and with so many splendid upgrades here, this latest EV does just that. 

Nissan Z

NISSAN Z
$42,000
Mpg: 19 city/28 highway
0 to 60 mph: 4.5 seconds

For just $28 million, you can own the most expensive car in production today. That would be the Rolls-Royce Boat Tail coupe, with a tapered rear that looks like, well, the back end of a 1930s yacht. This two-door beauty can be ordered with a pair of bespoke Bovet wristwatches, which can be used as pocket watches, desk clocks, or even the car’s dashboard clock — as well as a chic Montblanc pen in a hand-crafted case for the glovebox. 

Or you could ignore such extravagance and opt for a reasonably priced coupe that oozes sex appeal. That would be the redesigned Nissan Z, resurrected this year with a retro vibe that harkens back to the 1970s. Few cars stir your loins each time you slip behind the wheel (well, it certainly stirred mine aplenty). Perhaps the Jaguar E-Type—built from 1961 to 1975—is the only other two-door classic to evoke such nostalgic passion. 

With the latest Z, the dramatic design carries through to the interior, with its swooping dashboard, thickly padded steering wheel and bolstered sport seats. There’s a nice blend of old and new here, with conventional knobs mixed with a high-tech digital instrument cluster. And yes, for all you gearheads out there, the Z is available in a six-speed manual transmission. Alas, the nine-speed automatic actually shifts faster than any human being. Either way, stomp on the accelerator and this sports car thunders down the road. The suspension is extremely taut, as my keister can attest. Yet handling and cornering are so smooth it’s easy to be zipping along much faster than you realize. Standard features include keyless entry, 8-inch touchscreen, smartphone integration, Bluetooth and voice recognition. There also are some nice options, such as eight-speaker Bose stereo, user-friendly nav system and Wi-Fi hot spot. But if you’re expecting to find swanky wristwatches or a pricey writing pen, I’m afraid you’ll have to bring your own.  

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