On June 9th, it was “challenge accepted” as over 2,000 DC area foodies, friends, and philanthropists descended on Penn Quarter to Dine ‘N’ Dash their way through the most restaurant-saturated section of the city.
Now in it’s 3rd consecutive year, the annual culinary tour benefits World Central Kitchen, a local non-profit founded by Chef Jose Andres and dedicated to a mission of ending hunger and poverty around the globe. Hosted each year by the “Man Behind The Mad Dash” himself, the popular fundraiser is quickly making its way up the list of top DC food festivals.
The event kicked off promptly at 6:00pm, and guests could start their dash by checking in at any one of the 12 participating restaurants (Click here for a full list) to receive an all-access wristband for food and drink specials at any location along the tour. Armed with a neon wristband, a map of Penn Quarter, and an appetite, guests had three hours to explore new restaurants or hit up old favorites.
All locations served cocktail specials and bite-sized portions of their signature dishes. Some venues opted for a buffet style sampling, where guests helped themselves, while others sent the food out with smiling waiters at the ready with extra napkins. Suprisingly, every single venue featured live music, from a full band to a solo violinist. This was a nice effort, and it created a twilight festival atmosphere for a happy party-hopping crowd.
Our dash began at Ping Pong, who offered generously sized portions of their new Bao sliders, which featured succulent pieces of fried chicken in a doughy mini-pancake, marinated cucumber and onion, and a well-paired signature cocktail option. Del Campo chose to showcase their meat-centric menu with an outdoor barbecue pit where they grilled chimichurri, beef empanadas, and short ribs to perfection. Their Pisco Punch cocktail with fresh pineapple won as my event drink of choice. Zaytinya had a spread that included dessert options, such as almond cookies, honeyed greek yogurt, and apricot pudding. Roving waiters also treated guests to lettuce wraps stuffed with lamb and tzatziki. Later on at Proof, we kicked off our dashing heels and socialized amongst the other event guests, who were all enjoying the same delicious basil punch cocktail and lively conversation.
Food trucks were also included this year, with crowd favorites like Red Hook Lobster Pound, Pepe, Rito Loco, and DC Empanadas parked directly outside the Verizon Center.
All roads lead to Rome. The magnificent Carnegie Library loomed as a beacon lit to guide us in from our journey. The after party was the highlight of the evening, featuring desserts from Dog Tag and Buzz Bakeries, and coffee from Madcap. It was club #DineNDashDC, a magical place where the signature cocktails continued to flow, courtesy of 2 Birds 1 Stone, El Camino, and Mockingbird Hill.
Through Dine ‘N’ Dash, guests were able to experience the charm of a progressive dinner backed by all the incredible food Penn Quarter has to offer. The night held a variety of joys. The first of which was kindness, when we learned that we helped raise over $300K for World Central Kitchen. Above all, guests shared in the joy of eachother’s company with a night of conversations and laughter that rivaled any food or drink. The evening ended on a perfectly whimsical note of happy dancing, satisfied expressions, full hearts, and empty trays.
About World Central Kitchen:
World Central Kitchen (WCK) is an initiative led by Chef José Andrés. As a non-profit organization WCK operates in countries affected by humanitarian crisis and chronic food insecurity by cooking for and feeding vulnerable people, supporting the local agriculture economy through local food purchases, and promoting nutritious foods, recipes, and environmentally sustainable cooking fuels and technologies.
Want to help? Visit WCK on the web to learn more about their mission to create a world free from hunger. http://www.worldcentralkitchen.org