By Punch Correspondent Karen Garnick
This past Sunday, 9:30 Club hosted the 4th annual Soundbites – an afternoon involving samples from over 15 of DC’s top restaurants, 7 bands, and 4 of DC’s hottest bars battling in the mixology competition. All proceeds from this event went to DC Central Kitchen.
I jumped on the opportunity to attend this event – not just because of the unlimited food, but because I think DC Central Kitchen is one of DC’s coolest nonprofit organizations (and we all know there are PLENTY). Through job training, healthy food distribution, and local small business partnerships, DC Central Kitchen offers solutions to poverty, hunger, and poor health. Each day, they provide over 5,000 meals to homeless shelters, transitional homes, and other nonprofits. They also offer a culinary job training program for the unemployed who are eager to change their lives, some of which were featured in a video clip played at Soundbites. DC Central Kitchen has a large impact throughout the city – they participate in a food recycling program, the Campus Kitchens Project, and the Healthy Corners Program. I highly suggest going to its website to see how widespread this organization is and the difference it is making in our community.
You can even check out their volunteer opportunities here.
So back to the event….knowing I was supporting this organization by eating my way through the event encouraged me to try pretty much EVERYTHING.
Some of my favorite restaurants were there – Masa14, Lebanese Taverna, plus others I had never heard of that I will definitely visit now. The variety was impressive too: freshly made mozzarella from H & Pizza (about to open up on U Street too), frozen custard from Shake Shack, pork tacos from El Centro, cookie sandwiches from Sticky Fingers, crab and shrimp campechana from Pearl Dive Oyster Bar, quinoa salad from Muse Café, empanadas from Borinquen Lunch Box Food truck, and braised beef belly sandwiches from Gordy’s. My favorite was a pork sandwich from Pizzeria Orso in Falls Church –it was so good I might dare crossing the river to see what else they can offer!
Jaleo was cooking an enormous skillet (probably six feet in diameter) of Paella that must have fed hundreds – it cooked for an hour or so, they dished it out, and then started up another batch. They even had attendees help pour in the rice!
Another showoff was DBIM – a BBQ company that caters events, parties, picnics, you name it. They were cooking chicken and pork in their smoker on site, both of which were juicy and packed with flavor.
As always the mixology competition was a popular event – competitors this year were The Gibson, Black Jack, Birch & Barley, and Bar Pilar. Local celeb judges included Todd Thrasher (PX, Bar TNT), Fritz Hahn (The Washington Post’s Going Out Guru), and Chef Anthony Lombardo (1789 Restaurant). Each round included a secret ingredient that the mixologists had to use, such as Moonshine Milkshake. The two winners – Gibson and Birch and Barley – went head and head in the final round and although it was close, Birch and Barley won the competition by a hair.
Outside, DJ Roch Morel’s Hot Sauce was playing top hits to keep the energy alive. One of my favorite local bands, Batala, really riled up the crowd with their percussion performance.
On the indoor stage, Kid Congo Power Hour kicked off performances for a very packed house. Bands that followed were The Razz with Ron Holloway, Will Eastman, Deathfix, and Lee Fields & The Expressions.
The bands played into the night, but unfortunately my food coma sent me home while the party was still going. I will definitely return next year!
Correspondent Karen Garnick is a California native trying to get accustomed to the East Coast lifestyle (and weather!). By day, she works as an event planner for a think tank, and by night you can find her out on the town. She is a world traveler, loves baby animals, and enjoys curling up to a good book and glass of wine. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.