May 25, 2018 at 5:08 pm EST | by Evan Caplan
Petworth Pride offers restaurant specials, games and more June 3
Petworth Pride, gay news, Washington Blade

Spot any familiar faces? Gay Petworth-area residents gather last year for a Pride luncheon at Taqueria del Barrio. (Photo by Jai Williams)

Pride is no longer relegated to one weekend in June — it’s taken over the entire month. This is no more apparent than up in Petworth. A tidy neighborhood of row homes, over the past decade, it’s blossomed into a social and cultural destination, especially the chic stretch of Upshur Street N.W. just east of the Metro. For the second year running, the bars and restaurants populating the street will be hosting Petworth Pride, set to take place this year on Sunday, June 3.

Anna Bran-Leis, owner of Taqueria del Barrio, organized the event.

“The LGBTQ community is really important to me, and to the restaurant,” she says. “When I opened last year, I saw that that there was big LGBTQ community in Petworth, among my customers and among nearby businesses. I wanted to celebrate this diversity and bring people together in neighborhood.”

Last year, three restaurants participated, donating a portion of proceeds to area organizations serving the LGBT community. This year, the festival is bigger, better and more fabulous.

The restaurants and bars on the block of Upshur Street N.W. between 8th and 9th will take part in Price festivities: Himitsu, Ruta del Vino, Petworth Citizen, Timber, Hank’s Cocktail Bar, Taqueria del Barrio and Pitch Tavern. There will also be sales at Willow & Fia’s Fabulous Finds.

Each establishment will have branded window decor, offer Pride-themed cocktails and have outdoor activities. Drag queens will be roving the street, along with other entertainers, all led by local queen Kristina Kelly.

To participate, festival goers will be able to purchase drinking glasses for $5. All proceeds from the purchase will go to charity (Whitman-Walker Health, SMYAL and the Friends of Petworth Park). The glasses can be filled with various drink specials at each spot.

At Taqueria del Barrio, Ban-Leis will be slinging happy hour cocktails for the duration of the event, including the famous house margaritas on tap. There will also be food specials, like “gringo” tacos and house-made mole nachos.

For its part, Hank’s Cocktail Bar (819 Upshur St. N.W.) will be hosting “Gay Games.” The bar will set up life-size Jenga, Connect 4, beer pong and Twister; it’ll also offer themed cocktails just for the event.

When Bran-Leis approached of the bars and restaurants about participating, she received nothing but support.

“It’s great to get together with the neighborhood. Even though we’re all very busy and have different businesses, this is bringing us together as a wonderful way to collaborate.”

For example, she’s worked closely with Shane Mason of Hank’s on organizing the festivities and Carlie Steiner of Himitsu designed the logo for the T-shirt. They’re even getting support from outside the community — Effen vodka is a sponsor.

For her, hosting this Pride event “is really important to me because I’ve witnessed discrimination against the community, treated as less than equals. To me, pride is such a big deal. As far back as I can remember, I’ve been going with family and friends to festivals to celebrate and it’s important today for young people to know the struggle of older generations. I love seeing equality and inclusiveness and everybody embracing who they are.”

And outside of Pride, Taqueria del Barrio, a neighborhood-style Mexican restaurant run by the owners of D.C. Empanadas, also hosts drag brunches every other Saturday, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” viewing parties and other events geared toward the community.

Next year, she hopes to close the area to cars for a street festival.

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