Behind the stage of pomp and politics, there’s a quiet revolution happening on the streets of Washington DC. From coffee to juices, cupcakes to to craft beer, made in DC products are vote winners.
Jocelyn Pride uncovers some of DC’s best home grown brands and outlets for you to check out next time you’re in the capital.
DC Brau – craft beer
It’s been a long time between drinks. Literally. After the Heurich Brewing Co closed in 1956 due to lack of sales, DC was a city with no beer. Fast forward to 2009 when locals Brandon Skall and Jeff Hancock founded DC Brau, rolled out their first 2,000 barrels in 2011 and now employ 30 full-time staff and produce around 17,000 barrels a year. Inside the retro style factory, it’s hard to believe it’s the middle of DC. Street art is splashed across the walls, the smell of hops intermingles with the humidity and thousands of cans are stacked up like bowling pins. There’s plenty on offer in the ‘pub’ like tasting room with brews bearing names like The Public, The Corruption and The Citizen. Head to the factory any day for tastings, but if you happen to be in DC on a Saturday, you can join a guided factory tour.
DC Brau 1250 9th St NW
Dolcezza – ice-cream
The first time I noticed this gorgeous shop that looks more like a trendy restaurant, I wondered why there was a long queue. Then I realised it was an ice-cream shop. After my first taste, I knew I’d found the holy grail of ice-cream. With several outlets scattered across the district, this is the go to place for ice-cream lovers. Flavours are as creative as the décor like roasted strawberry, lemon ricotta cardamom and champagne mango sorbetto, all ticking the locally sourced, made by hand boxes. If you’re in DC during summer, check out the factory tour dates.
Dolezza, Logan Circle 1418 14th St, NW (and various other locations)
Misfit – juices
With names like ‘All Kale Breaks Loose’, 24 Carrot Gold, S.C.R.E.A.M. (Strawberries & Cash Rule Everything Around Me) and Pear to the People, you won’t be able to miss these popular juices sold around town. Brainchild of two college kids fighting the food waste problem and celebrating the oddities of the world by turning less than perfect produce into great tasting juices. Personal fave – the kale juice, the ginger, basil and lemon lift the flavour of a usual ‘green’ drink. Look for the juices at any organic style eatery and they’re also sold in the Made in DC shop.
Harper Macaw – Chocolates
Fair trade, single origin artisan chocolate is a growing market and it doesn’t get any better than this classy chocolate. Brazilian chocolate maker Sarah Hartman and her US marine veteran husband, Colin, only opened the doors in December 2015 and have quickly gained notoriety. Named in honour of the harpy eagle and the macaw, two incredible birds of South American rainforests, Sarah and Colin buy cacao beans directly from Brazilian growers, support fair labour practices and reinvest part of the revenue into reforestation. And not only is the chocolate a melt in the mouth taste sensation, the labels on each block are mini art masterpieces – almost too good to open. Tastings weekdays in the shop or you can have a real ‘Charlie’ moment on a factory tour, held on Saturday afternoons.
Harper Macaw shop and factory – 3160 Bladensburg Rd NE
Pastry chef, meets cake decorator and the result is in the pudding. Tiffany Maclsasc and Alex Mundry-Till’s cake shop is one filled with childhood dreams. Think rich butter icing swirled on top of homely cup cakes sprinkled with edible glitter, airy light macarons delicately flavoured with rosewater and lavender and gooey centred cookies. Everything is made from scratch and unique designs are a speciality. There’s also a range of breakfast goodies like savoury breakfast bombs, eggs, melted cheese and bacon rolled up inside a muffin or ‘flakies’ rich hand rolled croissants that look like muffins with surprise fillings.
Insider tip – go early as they sell out fast (as hot cakes do).
Buttercream Bakeshop – 1250 9th St, NW
Every place needs its own coffee and this is DC’s. You’ll feel the pulse of the city in their flagship café The Roastery, a bright and breezy space designed around the coffee roaster. Masterminded by Michael Haft and Harrison Suarez, after a tour of duty as US marines in Afghanistan, the focus is on simplicity. No frills. Just damn good single origin coffee. If you can’t make it to The Roastery, there’s one in Chinatown, Eye St, and 8th NW.
The Roastery, 1535 7th St, NW
This is one of DC’s hubs of creativity. An epicentre of small businesses where ideas are nurtured and companies grow from dreams into reality. Home to around 40 local producers with food stalls, pop-ups, restaurants and home wares. It’s hard to know where to start. The bottom line is you’ll need time. It’s easy to wile away a half a day (or even longer), grazing your way around the smorgasbord of flavours, from freshly shucked oysters at Rappahannock Oyster Co to Portuguese style sandwiches at Arepa Zone it’s culinary heaven. You can even dine in one of DC’s first Michelin starred restaurants, Masseria and don’t miss hanging out in the tap room of Craft Kombucha.
Union Market 1309 5th St, NE
Shop Made in DC
For the ultimate experience, head to this new part café, part boutique, all class shop that only sells goodies made in the district. The concept is the culmination of years of work by Stacey Price, founder of People Make Place in partnership with the District Government’s Made in DC program designed to support makers and creatives. Here you’ll find a selection of home wares, jewellery, fashion and produce with makers rotating every couple of months to give everyone an opportunity to grow their business. And with 250 producers on the waiting list, it’s fair to say people can’t get enough of products made in DC.
Made in DC shop 1330 19th St, NW •
Photography by Jocelyn Pride and other establishments.