Miss Quirky

Fun Things to Do in Northern Virginia: A Comprehensive Eating Guide

In Advice, Business, Food on October 13, 2015 at 5:40 pm
Full course meal (including a wine pairing) at Restaurant Eve.

Full course meal (including a wine pairing) at Restaurant Eve.

First time tourists coming to the Washington D.C area often exclude much of Northern Virginia on their itinerary.If it doesn’t house the President, what’s the point of visiting? Well, I am here to tell you that Northern Virginia is worth visiting. I’ve met up with friends in the area, and was introduced to several delicious restaurants, fun hikes, and memorable nightlife spots. If you Google up Northern Virginia stuff to do, you will also get a comprehensive list (more so than my own); however, these recommendations are personal and no one is paying me anything to promote them. So I guess it’s up to you to decide which article and or guide you will trust. One written by someone who loves the Northern Virginia area or one written by a travel writer who is paid to flatter businesses with fat wallets.

This was 8:30 p.m...

This was 8:30 p.m in Clarendon.

If you are java addict like me or want to eat like royalty, I recommend the following locations:

Busboys and Poets

Come to the Shirlington location and order the Morrocan stew. This location has shorter lines, more windows, and enhances a chill ambiance for both book and food lovers. Although Busboys is famous for their coffee, check out their tea too.

Restaurant Eve

This is not the right place for pedestrian foodies. I only recommend this delicious dinner spot located in Old Town to those who appreciate fine dining since much of the fare is artistically crafted with home grown peppers, Asian fusion sauces, and with care and consideration.

A desert made for a caramel princess...

A desert made for a caramel princess…

Society Fair

A Victorian style gourmet food shop that also sells fresh baked cakes, cookies, and pastries. I accidentally crashed a party there once and was able to divulge myself on charcuterie, olives, and a colorful array of cheeses. Sometimes, you don’t have to crash a wedding to have a great time. Again, I only recommend this place to those with a classy, trained palate.

Wedding crashers, eat your heart out...

Wedding crashers, eat your heart out…

Bread & Chocolate

Great spot for lunch! If you have a sweet tooth, check out their Neapolitan desserts too. You will not be left disappointed. If you are in a French mood but don’t want to shell out mad cash, this is the place for you.

Firehook Bakery

It’s pretty much a Mom and Pop shop that sells cookies the size of your head (unless you have a really big head but then again, this is not something I can help you with). Although service can be a bit slow, the cookies and pies are totally worth it.

Cafe Amouri

I really like the service here. I know I bring it up often, but let me be candid with you. Not all restaurants in Northern Virginia have great service, sometimes servers can get snooty and uptight. So when I say that service is good, it’s legit. There’s a wide-range of coffee to experiment with and if you love music, you will get impressed, like me, with their colorful posters and decor.

Anita’s New Mexico Style Mexican Food

A part of me will always miss New Mexico. What I miss most about the state is the red and green sauces. I was overjoyed when I found this restaurant and noticed that much of their cuisine has authentic New Mexico spices, sauces, and service. I tried their chicken enchilada dish and it was really good.

Sugar Shack

This is Northern Virginia’s best kept secret. Only here can you eat freshly baked donuts that use breakfast cereals, girl scout cookies, and red velvet cake batter. My personal favorites are the chocolate coconut and the samoa. You can also pair your sugary finds with black cherry soda or with Zeke’s coffee.


Java Loco

Whoah! Service is amazing, there’s like 12 different gelatos to choose from, and you can spruce up your coffee with 40 different flavors. One day I had lavendar coffee and the next day I had cake batter flavored lattes. The sky is the limit at this delicious coffee spot.

District Taco

You can’t go wrong with their steak, pork, or chicken selections. Their fresh made salsa, guacamole and chips are also too good to be true. Forget any other taco joint and just come here. I normally don’t like soft tacos but this may be the only soft taco spot I ever go to–again.

Killer ESP

The teas have a fragrant taste, and the coffees pack a rich, bold, flavor. I recommend snacking on their crumbly, dark chocolate cookies caked with powdered sugar. Your sugar cravings will get quenched.

Eating out is always fun with a great friend!

Eating out is always fun with a great friend!

Larry’s Ice Cream

The company’s name may be prosaic but the ice cream flavors are quite the opposite. Only here can you get lavendar, mango, Cleopatra, lychee or Vietnamese coffee flavored ice cream. They often close on 11 p.m. on weeknights and it’s the perfect snack after bar hopping around Clarendon.

Northside Social Coffee & Wine

Often voted as the number 1 coffee shop in Arlington, I don’t know if I can attest to that. Their scones are delicious but theirservice was very poor. The coffee was decent but  I didn’t like the store’s ambiance. The furniture was outdated, the store was a bit overcrowded/ overrated, and I just wasn’t feeling it.

Pita House

The gyros were remarkable. The lamb had a nice roasted finish and service was stellar. They not only made my order fast (under 10 minutes) but the store’s interior suggested that they wanted to give customers back a slice of Lebanon.

The Majestic

If you love Southern cuisine and also love fine dining, this place is right up your alley. Their fire roasted okra and hand fried calamari will make you weep. It was so good. I can see why this is a great spot for dinner.


T.J Stone’s

Well, I wouldn’t recommend this spot for dinner. I do recommend it for Happy Hour. They have great wings, veggies, and appetizers for those hungry enough to get their bellies full.

Lost Dog Cafe

So many hot dog choices, not enough time to decide. I often get the groovy dog because I love olives, spinach, and anything Greek. Apparently, they are also known for having a wide selection of beers, ales, and ciders. Who knew?

Mason Social

My favorite happy hour joint. I had scrumptious meatballs, tacos, nachos and the entire world at the palm of my hand. The drinks are reasonably priced and are made using unique ingredients. If you want to catch up on Football, this is where you should really go. I highly approve it.

Osteria Da Nino

I can easily see why people on Yelp love it. This is the best Italian restaurant that is reasonably priced in all of Shirlington. I had the best bolognese pasta there and I am still missing their mushroom soup dish.


Buzz Bakery

I wouldn’t call this place the best but they do have memorable sticky buns. Service can get pretty slow and cumbersome in the mornings, but, all in all, it’s a decent spot to get Starbucks coffee.

Circa at Clarendon

If you are a wine, and cheese snob than please go here. I had a delicious Riesling from here and paired it with their brie, goat, and gouda cheeses. The prices are a bit exorbitant but the atmosphere is beyond fitting. I felt like a princess inside and the service was remarkable. Totally go here if you want fine dining!

Highly doubt you can bring any furry friends to places like Circa.. it's just a heads up..

Highly doubt you can bring any furry friends to places like Circa.. it’s just a heads up..

Cassatts Cafe

I really love their Flat White Coffee! This is the best (probably only) New Zealand coffee shop I have ever gone to. The service is top-notch, coffee tasted sweet, even bodied, and had a rich texture and the atmosphere is breezy.


Portion sizes may be small but everything else was grand. I recommend saving $$$ to come here though since there is a wide variety of hand-crafted dishes to choose from. Moreover, their top chef won a James Beard award for their pastry-making skills, fyi.



This is the one of the best fancy-schmany Russian restaurants I have ever gone to. I love the Uzbekistan meat dish I tried, and love the caviar encrusted appetizers too. You really do feel like you are in Russia when you walk inside.


Although this is a comprehensive guide, it doesn’t mean that I have visited every single restaurant, bakery, or cafe in NoVa. Is there a spot that you love that I didn’t mention? Do you have any recommendations for tourists? Comment below!

Road Trip Experiences: 49 States Done, One More To Go

In Travel on October 6, 2015 at 11:29 pm
South Dakota, Montana and Michigan

South Dakota, Montana and Michigan

Wanderlust affects Millenials hard. Don’t believe me? Go on Buzzfeed (Millenial verbal snack food) and read some of those posts, several relate back to road trips, foreign travel and even back to the Peace Corps.

As an atypical Millenial, I’ve been hit with the travel bug since I was 19. At that age, I studied English literature and Theatre abroad in England. Naturally, I gravitated towards visiting Shakespeare’s birth home, eating scones during tea time, and visited Stonehenge like a boss. If you don’t know me well, then let me elaborate why I naturally gravitated to those aforementioned spots. For starters, I like to write so, duh, Shakespeare. Second, i’m a gourmet fiend. Third, i’m an inquisitive person so, why not Stonehenge?

Anyways, from then on,  I wanted to see more of the world. So I started with taking road trips across the U.S the following year and as the years rolled by, I was able to cross off each state off my bucket list. At this time in my life, I can safely declare that I have visited 49 states. Hawaii, which is the last state I have not visited, was saved last on my list. I’ve already been to the Virgin Islands, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Marten and other tropical islands so i’m not completely itching to go just yet.

This Summer, I pulled an almost impossible feat. I went to 14 states in 8 days, and didn’t break a sweat. I used all modes of transportation available (plane, train, bus, car, and on foot) to get this done in time. In many ways, I felt like Lewis & Clark in that I was discovering uncharted territory and grew a passionate love for nature and wildlife. I even drove 200+ miles via the Lewis & Clark trail to get to renown spots.


Nature is boundless in Iowa

Each state holds a dear spot in my heart especially South Dakota. If you ever decide to take a road trip across the U.S, I highly recommend going to Mount Rushmore. It was a breath taking sight to see four great Presidents etched on stone. Not only that, 100 miles before you get there, you will guffaw for Wall Drug signs. Each mile has a unique sign that poorly sells you on why you should visit this deathly tourist trap. After two hours of driving, it’s hard not to fall for this trap since curiosity can get the best of any road tripper.

Those signs don’t lie.You do get free ice cold water and donuts at Wall Drug. You also get unique photo opportunities too such as taking silly pictures by a million foot green dinosaur and by a Jackalope (not a real animal, by the way). This stop was just one of many wonderful attractions I visited across the U.S.A. When it comes to going on a roadtrip, it’s imperative to make an itinerary.

Each day I created one that covered unique locales with hidden treasures. The U.S is a beautiful country to visit and each state has something unique to bring. It’s highly recommended to plan ahead, or you will waste money on gas, confusion, and more confusion.

For those who don’t see any credence, joy or merit with taking a road trip across the U.S (don’t lie, there are many of you out there) I agree that international travel is fun, memorable, and a unique experience but when you travel to states like Iowa, Montana, and Alaska you see inimitable wonders such as elk naturally grazing in front of one’s home, mountains as high as the sky, and magpies that screech like a tropical monkey.

Only at Yellowstone..

Only at Yellowstone..

Have you traveled across the U.S? Or better yet, have you  traveled, period? Comment below any advice you have!

Startup Weekend DC: What I Gained From That Experience

In Advice, Business, Women on October 6, 2015 at 9:45 pm
DC Startup weekend 2015 Collage

I worked with PhotoRight who was the winning team for DC Startup Weekend (Media Edition) 2015.

From July 31, 2015 through August 2, 2015, I spent 54 hours with a group of entrepreneurs on a business prototype that would accelerate the advancement of technology in the way users can comprehend the legalities behind images they find online. Within that three day weekend time frame, I helped pitch ideas, form a team, validate the concept,  be a parting of building the product, get valuable insight from mentors, and present the final product to a panel of notable judges. Startup Weekend, which is also an international movement, gives participants not only real world experience on creating a business but the confidence to make an idea into a reality.

Startup Weekend (Media Edition) took place at The Washington Post, and it was such a great experience. I interacted with  several writers, editors, and new media shakers from Discovery Communications, The Washington Post, NPR, National Geographic, and other notable publications. Plus, I learned about new technological trends with mobile apps, what the podcast movement is all about, and on how publications access interpret legalities for images they use online.

I also walked away with fun swag (mugs, lunch bag, books, pens, stickers) and ate top-notch food (District Taco, Peets Coffee, Buca di Beppo) that weekend too but that’s beside the point.

What I Gained From That Experience:

  • In order for a potential investor to take your business seriously, your company needs to identify a problem, target how your business solution can solve it, and on how your solution can turn profit.
  • Investors want pitches to be realistic and it’s up to the entrepreneur to cover as many gaps as possible. The best pitch sums up the business plan, details your market, why you will succeed, value proposition, and make sure your presentation gets to the point. Investors don’t have time to dawdle.
  • Being able to work successfully in a team means to have the openness to collaborate, and to respect what your team mate’s viewpoints are. It’s not the easiest skill to have but with effort upfront, it will lead you to life long success. Moreover, successful teams often have a leader, a team player, the researcher, the creative, and the communicator.
  • Valuation is important. If investors can gather market information straight from the target demographic on how their product can help solve a problem, you will be able to sway an investor on your side. Consider using survey monkey, Quora, or face to face interviews to gather that information.
  • Journalists, media giants, think tanks, and all others who need free content to add value to their articles must be wary of ramifications. If an image is used without permission from the photographer who takes it, punitive damages between $500- $2,000 will ensue. Make sure you have a lawyer handy if you want to walk down that cumbersome route.
  • The Podcast Movement is for real. All professional and amateur podcasters meet once a year to turn their creative ideas into podcast realities. There are sessions that teach users how to perform technical setups, how to improve their foundation, and on what the best  trends are.
  • It’s not always about Millenials. Often times, public relations firms, content marketing companies, and journalists streamline their content for this age range; however, I learned from an app guru who works for a nation-wide publication that Generation X (who is now entering retirement) that they are heavy app users. They have time and extra money on their hands thanks to retirement so why not cater to them?
  • My new favorite apps are Periscope and Blab. Both apps are free, and you can interact with users in real time. Download it today and let me know what you think. I assure you will not be disappointed.

I am so grateful to DC Media Makers Meetup group for this experience. If it wasn’t for their weekly e-mails, I never would have known about this fun movement.

My Team Experience

Anyways, I gained all of these experiences by working on PhotoRight’s team. Our concept which was to help bloggers and journalists with finding images online for free that are legally sound really struck a chord with me. After I heard our team leader’s passionate pitch, I knew this was the right team for me. As a blogger, I have had online writer’s take my images without my permission and it always unnerved me.  It was a fruitful experience to work on a dynamic team consisting of a clever entertainment lawyer, a renown  travel writer, and three erudite developers. Each person had an important role and I was also proud of my own contributions. I was assigned to help shape business development, and to gather valuation for the team.

I interviewed 30 participants and employed outreach efforts online to get online users to fill out our survey monkey questionnaire. The information gathered helped finesse our presentation and strengthen how our product solves a growing need.

On Sunday, our team leader and lead developer presented our idea to a panel of powerful media giants. Our presentation was succinct, colorful, and presented well enough to win. Over 77 participants, PhotoRight took the grand prize of:

  • An hour meet and greet from a top executive from Discovery Communications (he makes Shark Week awe-inspiring)
  • $100 towards General Assembly classes
  • 1 month free Cove Membership

Just so you know, I recently cashed in the prize. I had a wonderful conversation with the  executive on how to save mad cash when you travel (stay at a friend’s abode), took two General Assembly workshops for fun (Intermediate SEO/Intro to Python), and checked out the Cove by Dupont Circle for a meeting.

All in all, I highly recommend you should check out startup weekend. Not only do you gain business experience, but you also meet some creative folks who can help shape or change your life–forever.


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