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Best of Gay D.C. 2017: DINING

Winners from the Washington Blade’s annual poll

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Gay D.C., gay news, Washington Blade

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

Best Ethnic Restaurant

Rasika

Popular Indian restaurant in Penn Quarter. Also won in 2015.

633 D St., N.W.

rasikarestaurant.com

Editor’s choice: Thai Tanic

Rasika (Photo by T. Tseng; courtesy Flickr)

Best Bottomless Mimosa/Bloody Marys

Level One

Brunch is served a la carte every Sunday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

1639 R St., N.W.

levelonedc.com

Editor’s choice: Commissary

Level One, gay news, Washington Blade

Level One (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Place in Union Market

Salt & Sundry

Editor’s Choice: Mason Dixie Biscuit Co.

According to the store’s social media, food writer Amanda McClements is proud to bring her passion for stylish entertaining to life at Salt & Sundry in D.C.’s bustling Union Market. She opened the shop in November, 2012 to share her love of cooking, entertaining and design, and says that she and her team “are constantly on the hunt for new pieces that reflect the shop’s urban bohemian aesthetic.”

According to McClements, “our ever-changing collection of goods for good living features handcrafted furniture, dinnerware, linens, covetable vintage finds and a pantry stocked with small-batch foods and craft cocktail ingredients.” She is also proud to offer farm tables hand-made by her father, a North Carolina craftsman who creates furniture out of salvaged and locally milled wood. She brags that, “his pieces are one-of-a-kind and showcase the rustic beauty and patina of aged wood.”

The store also hosts special events and demonstrations with local chefs, mixologists and food personalities.
In addition to the Union Market location, Salt & Sundry has added stores in the Logan and Shaw neighborhoods and has been featured in such notable publications as “Better Homes and Gardens,” “The Best of Southern Style,” “Southern Living,” “House Beautiful, “Food & Wine,” “Washingtonian” and “Martha Stewart Living.” (BTC)

Salt & Sundry

1309 5th St., N.E.

@saltandsundry

shopsaltandsundry.com

Salt & Sundry (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Locally Made Product

Mason Dixie Biscuit Co.

Approachable, affordable and portable Southern staples.

2301 Bladensburg Rd., N.E.

masondixiebiscuits.com

Editor’s choice: Compass Coffee

(Photo courtesy of Mason Dixie Biscuit Co.)

Best Michelin Star Restaurant: Pineapple and Pearls

Editor’s Choice: Inn at Little Washington

In a time when fast casual is king, Pineapple and Pearls chooses to reign supreme in the realm of special occasion restaurants — the kind of place where you go with the love of your life to celebrate a milestone.

The details are worthy of true fine dining, from fine china to edible parting gifts, and the acoustics are so good that you’ll even be able to hear your special someone cooing at you across the table. You’ll splurge, of course, but Chef Aaron Silverman and his stellar staff will make it worth every penny, with a sumptuous 11-course tasting menu that will absolutely live up to the hype.

Expect to pay $280 per person when seated in the dining room, which includes wine pairings, gratuity and tax, or $180 per person at the bar, where drinks can be ordered a la carte. Past menu highlights have included roasted potato ice cream with caviar and crispy potato threads, sweetbread tacos on handmade tortillas, and a playful PB&J made with foie gras butter and cherry preserves.

If the price tag is too rich for your blood, go ahead and reserve a spot on the patio, where you can order a few snacks and drinks at more modest prices of about $16 each. Because Pineapple and Pearls is usually not open on Saturday, it also means that weeknights just became cool again. (KH)

Pineapple and Pearls

715 8th St., S.E.

pineapplesandpearls.com

Chef Aaron Silverman (Photo by Kate Warren)

Best Food Festival or Event

Taste of D.C.

The largest culinary festival in the mid-Atlantic ran Oct. 7-8.

thetasteofdc.org

Editor’s choice: RAMW Restaurant Week

Taste of D.C. (Photo public domain)

Best Craft Cocktails

Columbia Room

Editor’s Choice: Five to One

The moment you enter the hushed environs of Columbia Room, you’ll immediately know that this is no ordinary bar. Recently named America’s best cocktail bar at the 2017 Spirited Awards, Columbia Room offers drinks that hover somewhere between intellect and fantasy — playful twists on classics, from a Manhattan crafted with “zombie vermouth” to a Sazerac spiced with roasted star anise.

The cozy Spirits Library is a perfect spot to curl up with a cocktail and a friend or two with a jazzy soundtrack, and there’s a fun punch garden out front for hanging with a crowd, but the gem is the elegant tasting room tucked away in the back. Go for either a three- or five-course tasting menu ($79 and $108, respectively, gratuity included) of cocktail and snack-sized food pairings — the themes change with the seasons, offering an interesting little flavor journey that turns an ordinary night at the bar into something a little more elevated. (KH)

Columbia Room

124 Blagden Alley, N.W.

columbiaroomdc.com

Columbia Room (Photo by Whiskeywarrior; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Best Fast Casual Dining

CAVA

Editor’s Choice: Ted’s Bulletin

It’s no secret that fast casual dining has taken over the restaurant landscape, but few have done it better than CAVA, the offshoot of Cava Mezze, which got its start right here in the region.

If there’s a secret ingredient that accounts for the chain’s success, it’s that the flavors taste authentic, probably because they are a true reflection of the Greek roots of the company’s founders. The assembly line format so popular these days works well with the fresh ingredients, from grilled meatballs spiked with lemon and oregano to garlicky braised lamb, topped off with some of the standouts that originally appeared at Cava Mezze, like the spicy Crazy Feta and the roasted eggplant and bell peppers mixed with tangy Greek yogurt.

Garnishes like pickled banana peppers from locally owned Gordy’s Pickle Jar and fresh mint provide just that touch of brightness that makes lunch at your desk feel a little less sad. (KH)

CAVA

Various locations across DC, Maryland and Virginia

cava.com

CAVA (Photo courtesy of CAVA)

Best Local Brewery

D.C. Brau

“Popular craft brewery offering free tours and tastings.” Third win in this category!

3178-B Bladensburg Rd., N.E.

dcbrau.com

Editor’s choice: Right Proper Brewing

DC Brau (Photo by Steph Harding Photo)

Best Local Distillery

District Distilling Co.

Reclaimed barn doors and brick walls are the backdrop for American fare and drinks crafted from spirits made on-site.

1414 U St., N.W.

district-distilling.com

Editor’s choice: Republic Restoratives

District Distilling Co. (Photo courtesy of District Distilling)

Best Burger

Shake Shack

Locations in Dupont Circle, F Street and Union Station.

shakeshack.com

Editor’s choice: Duke’s Grocery

Shake Shack (Photo by Shake Shack burger and fries; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Best Caterer

Rocklands Barbecue and Grilling Company

Editor’s Choice: Patrick Vanas Events

Craving something big and beefy for your next event? Look no further than Rocklands Barbecue, which dishes up stacks of wood-smoked baby-back ribs, brisket, chicken and leg of lamb, not to mention their Mason-Dixon macaroni salad, homemade apple compote and barbecued baked beans.

Their full-service catering operation offers everything from table rentals to ice cream sundae bars, and you can get as refined as you like with passed appetizers of brown sugar bacon skewers or avocado toast, or go whole hog and literally opt for a whole smoked pig to anchor your holiday table. (KH)

Locations in Washington, Arlington and Alexandria.

rocklands.com

Rocklands BBQ and Grilling Company (Photo courtesy Facebook)

Beat Cheap Eats

&pizza

Third consecutive win in this category!

1215 Connecticut Ave., N.W.

1250 U St., N.W.

1400 K St., N.W.

andpizza.com

Editor’s choice: Amsterdam Falafel

&pizza (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Chef

Jose Andres

Spanish-American chef often credited for bringing small plates to the U.S. America Eats Tavern is coming soon to Georgetown. Other locations include Barmini (501 9th St., N.W.), China Chilcano (418 7th St., N.W.) and Jaleo D.C. (480 7th St., N.W.).

joseandres.com

Editor’s choice: Jamie Leeds

José Andrés (Photo by Blair Getz Mezibov)

Best Coffee Shop

Compass Coffee

Second consecutive win in this category!

1335 7th St., N.W.

compasscoffee.com

Editor’s choice: Tryst

Compass Coffee (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Date Restaurant

Floriana

“Intimate, white-tableclothed bistro offering lasagna and other Italian classics with weekly specials.” Second consecutive win in this category!

1602 17th St., N.W.

florianarestaurant.com

Runner-up: Busboys and Poets

Floriana (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Ice Cream/Gelato

Dolcezza

1418 14th St., N.W.

dolcezzagelato.com

Editor’s choice: Ice Cream Jubilee

Best Farmer’s Market

Eastern Market

Second consecutive win in this category!

225 7th St., S.E.

easternmarket-dc.org

Editor’s choice: FARMFRESH Dupont Circle Market

Dolcezza (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Eastern Market (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Food Truck

Peruvian Brothers

Editor’s Choice: Far East Taco

Frequently landing at the top of favorite food truck lists, Peruvian Brothers offers up authentic homestyle flavors based on the dishes that brothers Mario and Giuseppe Lanzone grew up eating on the coast of Peru.

Pan con chicharrón, fried pork tenderloin and slices of grilled sweet potato on a French roll and topped off with the duo’s signature criolla sauce — made with vinegary thinly sliced red onions — is a perennial favorite, along with a baked tilapia filet sandwich and hearty empanadas stuffed with beef, chicken or spinach. Be sure to try the Peruvian wild rice, studded with bacon, raisins and walnuts, and save room for alfajores, a traditional sandwich cookie filled with dulce de leche. (KH)

Peruvian Brothers food truck

peruvianbrothers.com

Peruvian Brothers (Photo courtesy Facebook)

Best Pizza

Comet Ping Pong

Hip crowd eats pizza and wings while playing ping pong and listening to bands in warehouse-chic digs.

5037 Connecticut Ave., N.W.

cometpingpong.com

Editor’s choice: Matchbox

Comet Ping Pong (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Rehoboth Restaurant

Blue Moon

Bright, remodeled Craftsman cottage serving upscale American fare with regular live entertainment.

35 Baltimore Ave., Rehoboth Beach, Del.

bluemoonrehoboth.com

Editor’s choice: Fable

Blue Moon (Washington Blade photo by Daniel Truitt)

Best Local Winery

Breaux Vineyards

Second consecutive win in this category!

36888 Breaux Vineyards Lane, Purcellville, Va.

breauxvineyards.com

Editor’s choice: The Winery at Bull Run

Breaux Vineyards (Photo courtesy of Breaux)

To see winners in other categories in the Washington Blade’s Best of Gay D.C. 2017 Awards, click here.

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Photos

PHOTOS: “Portraits”

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington performs at the Kennedy Center

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A scene from "Portraits," as performed in a technical rehearsal at the Kennedy Center on Saturday, June 15. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington performed “Portraits” at the Kennedy Center on Sunday, June 16.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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Theater

Sophie Zmorrod embracing life on the road in ‘Kite Runner’

First national tour comes to Eisenhower Theater on June 25

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Sophie Zmorrod (Photo courtesy of Zmorrod)

‘The Kite Runner’
June 25 – 30
The Kennedy Center
$39-$149
Kennedy-center.org

Newly single, Sophie Zmorrod is enjoying life on the road in the first national tour of “The Kite Runner,” Matthew Spangler’s play with music based on Khaled Hosseini’s gripping novel about damaged relationships and longed for redemption. 

“It’s a wonderful time for me,” says Zmorrod. “I’m past the breakup pain and feeling empowered to explore new cities. A lot of us in the cast are queer, so we figure out the scene wherever the show goes.” 

What’s more, the New York-based actor has fallen in love with the work. “I love how the play’s central character Amir is flawed. He is our antihero. He has faults. As a privileged boy in Kabul, he bears witness to his best friend’s assault and doesn’t intervene. He lives with that guilt for decades and gets that redemption in the end.” 

“He does what he can to right wrongs. For me who’s regretted things, and wished I could go back in time, it resonates. Watching someone forgive themselves and do the right thing is beautiful.” 

Via phone from Chicago (the tour’s stop before moving on to Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater on June 25), Zmorrod, whose background is Lebanese, happily chats about sexuality, ethnicity, and acting. 

WASHINGTON BLADE: Looking at your resume, I see you’ve been cast in roles traditionally played by men. And have you played queer characters? 

SOPHIE ZMORROD: Oh yes, both. Whether or not they’re written on the page as queer, they sometimes turn out that way. And that holds true for this show too.  

With “The Winter’s Tale” at Trinity Rep, I played Leontes — the king who banishes his wife — as a woman. So, in that production it was about two women and touched on the violence that women sometimes inflict on other women.

And there was Beadle Bamford in Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd” also at Trinity Rep; I played him as a woman who was masculine and wore a suit. It was a great opportunity to explore myself and gender expression. That was a really good experience. 

BLADE: Are you an actor who’s often be called in for queer roles? 

ZMORRAD: Not really. I’m what you might call straight passing. Sometimes I’ve had to advocate for my queerness. To be a part of something. 

Similarly with my ethnicity. I’m called in to audition for the white and Arab roles. It gets tricky because I’m not the exactly the white girl next door and I’m not exactly Jasmine from Disney’s “Aladdin” either. 

This is one of the reasons, I really want people to come see “The Kite Runner,” Audiences need to experience the reality of the wide diversity of Middle Eastern people on the stage. We’re all very different.

And not incidentally, from this 14-person cast, I’ve met some great people to add to those I know from the Middle Eastern affinity spaces and groups I’m connected to in New York.

BLADE: In “The Kite Runner” what parts do you play?

 ZMORRAD: Three characters. All women, I think. In the first act, I’m an elderly eccentric pomegranate seller in the Afghan market, waddling around, speaking in Dari [the lingua franca of Afghanistan]; and the second act, I’m young hip and sell records in a San Francisco market; and at the end, I’m a buttoned-down American immigration bureaucrat advising Amir about adoption.

BLADE:  Your training is impressive: BA cum laude in music from Columbia University, an MFA in acting from Brown University/Trinity Repertory Company, and you’re also accomplished in opera and playwrighting, to name a few things. Does “The Kite Runner” allow you to flex your many muscles? 

ZMORROD: Very much. Playing multiple roles is always fun for an actor – we like malleability. Also, there are instruments on stage. I like working with the singing bowl; it’s usually used in yoga as a soothing sound, but here we save it for the dramatic, uncomfortable moments. I also sing from offstage. 

We are creating the world of the play on a very minimal set. Oh, and we do kite flying, and I’m able to use the some of the languages I speak. So yeah, lots of challenges. It’s great. 

BLADE: It sounds like you’re in a good place both professionally and personally.

ZMORROD: It’s taken a long time to feel comfortable. My being gay was never something I led with. But I’m on the journey and excited to be where I am, and who I am. 

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Out & About

Orioles to host Pride night on June 27

Baltimore faces off against reigning World Series champion

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The Baltimore Orioles host the annual Pride night Thursday, June 27. (Washington Blade file photo by Kevin Majoros)

The Baltimore Orioles will host “LGBTQ+ Pride Night” on Thursday, June 27. There will be a live DJ at Legends Park before the 6:35 p.m. game against the reigning World Series champion Texas Rangers.

The event, co-sponsored by the Washington Blade, will feature Pride-themed activities such as Pride face painting, a 360 photo booth, Pride temporary tattoos, and more. All these events will be in the Bullpen Picnic Area. In addition, the first 10,000 attendees receive a free Pride jersey.

For more details, visit the Orioles’ website

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