Category Archives: The Sugar Cube

Spring Break: Going Local

By Katie Garcia
Originally posted on La Cuisine’s blog and reposted with permission.

Lisa and KatieLast year my best friend, Lisa and I decided to succumb to the traditional ways of spring break and traveled to the Dominican Republic. This year we decided to go in a different path. We decided to visit local shops and restaurants here in Old Town Alexandria. With so many different choices, who could resist. It started on a Friday night. We came to Old Town and went to Rock-It Grill, a karaoke bar. It’s not the best looking bar on King St, but it was a lot of fun and there was a fun atmosphere inside. Definitely not for those who don’t like any chaos, but it’s your typical bar but of course, with singing. On top of visiting Old town during our break, we had one golden rule: No shopping at any chain stores. It wasn’t easy to follow and we did have a couple slip-ups (7-11 and CVS) but it really made the week interesting.

BugsyWe started off by having lunch at Bugsy’s Pizza Restaurant and Sports Bar We had originally planned to eat at MoMo’s a Japanese restaurant with Amazing Sushi, on Queen St. But they were closed for another hour and our grumbling stomachs could not last that long. Now, the Cuisinettes are long-time customers of Bugsy’s. Who can resist thick, cheesy pizza and yummy chocolate cake. Lisa and I had the Margherita Pizza: tomatoes, basil, garlic and mozzarella cheese. I love their specialty pizza’s and this one has become my new favorite. Fully stuffed, we walked the town for a bit, admiring attractive window displays. King Street is full of different shops but the side streets have much to offer as well. On Union St, there is The Christmas Attic, with beautiful Christmas ornaments and household decorations. We passed The Sugar Cube on North Lee St, which is candy heaven. Although we were not able to go inside because of limited time, it’s on my list of stores to visit. Before we left, we walked up to Grape and Bean, to have a delicious cup of organic coffee. I am in love with this small but cozy restaurant and now Lisa is too. They have delicious salads and sandwiches but my favorite is their flatbread with crescenza cheese, prosciutto and truffle oil. They also have a friendly staff and a nice atmosphere. We were definitely coming back to Grape and Bean., or G n’ B, as I like to call it.

Lisa and Katie celebrating St. Patrick's DayOur break happened to fall the week of St. Patrick’s Day and of course we were excited to be in Old Town for any festivities. We did not go to any Irish Pubs. We just aren’t into being in an overcrowded pub, feeling like packed sardines. So instead, we first went back to Grape and Bean to try some of the beers they carry. I’m not a fan of ales, but I actually did enjoy them and had seconds! The staff helped us find a place to go, and we headed up King St, to The Light Horse. They were not overpacked, but did have a crowd and we had to wait a bit to get upstairs to their dance room. The bartender downstairs was very friendly and let us try a bit of the beers before ordering, just in case we didn’t like the taste. After a very short wait, we were able to go upstairs, where they have pool tables, tables to sit and a dance floor and DJ. The place had a nice vibe to it and we made friends quick. Overall, it was a fun night and I was more than happy for choosing Old Town as my destination choice. The following night, I was in Old Town once again. This time for a dinner date with my sister at Grape and Bean. As I said before, it’s an obsession to go there. After dinner, we walked around King St. It was a great end to a wonderful week.

Thinking about the fun we had, Lisa and I have made Old Town our new place to go. D.C has a lot of variety and more to choose from, but Old Town has a feeling of comfort. The atmosphere is friendly and we felt safe walking up and down King St. There are so many different restaurants and shops that we are still planning to visit them, one visit at a time. -Katie

The Perfect Shopping Saturday

I have lived in the DC area for nearly seven years. Yet, even though I am admittedly a shopaholic, it is a rare weekend that I ever venture outside of Old Town Alexandria. Why should I? A quick jaunt through the Old Town Boutique District always meets my shopping needs.

When you can find a dress straight from this season’s runway at a boutique like Treat or Hysteria and a pair of handmade leather heels from an exclusive Italian designer at Shoe Hive, the argument for getting in my car to drive 20 minutes on the beltway to a shopping mall or to head to Georgetown to fight for parking suddenly loses credulity.

I am not lazy. As the owner of a new small business, I work crazy hours and am glued to my Blackberry and laptop. My weekends are much coveted free time to hang out with my husband and relax.

For me, there’s nothing better on a Saturday morning than rolling out of bed, hopping on my Dutch-style bicycle, and heading to Old Town for the Farmer’s Market followed by an afternoon of shopping in the hidden gems of the city’s boutiques.

So, over the past two Saturdays, I formulated a mini quest to chart out the perfect shopping Saturday in the Old Town Boutique District. I had intended to do this in one day. Yet, I was faced with the difficulty of this venture by its sheer magnitude because there are 28 shops in the Old Town Boutique District.

I love the idea of shopping local, both to support the city’s economy and to explore the unknown within the familiar. I’m always amazed at the selection of unique design, impeccable craftsmanship, and sheer variety available with the shops that comprise the Old Town Boutique District.

Combining data from my two samples, here is my personal ideal shopping Saturday in the Old Town Boutique District. Since I am a fashion addict, this list is exclusively clothing and accessory-related, and covers only a small fraction of the other shops in this group. There is no purchase necessary on my Saturday agenda, as most of the fun (and hence angst for my husband) is in wandering around to discover things.

  • Begin with a leisurely coffee at Grape and Bean.
  • Get a designer consignment fix at either Mint Condition or Diva.
  • Browse finds from this season’s sample sales at Treat.
  • Wander up King St to stock up on makeup and beauty products at Bellacara, then check out lingerie and sleepwear at Bloomer’s (secret: it’s also the best place in the DC area to find Spanx).
  • Walk down to Arts Afire or Fibre Space to admire their handcrafted goods.
  • Heading back down King St, saunter down St Asaph St to look in window of Fitness on the Run in order to contemplate whether or not to trade in gym membership for a private studio.
  • While pondering fitness goals, go to Red Barn Mercantile to browse their quirky and unique home furnishings.
  • Favoring the fitness value of walking via window shopping, walk five blocks to S. Fairfax St. to check out selection of designer clothes at Hysteria.
  • Walk a quarter of a block south into a cute little brick courtyard to admire (and inevitably try on) shoes from familiar and little known designers at Shoe Hive.
  • Finally, drag tired feet a few more blocks north and then east to buy a much-deserved piece of dark chocolate or other sweet treat from The Sugar Cube.

My next quest? To tackle La Cuisine and their myriad of cooking resources.

All Aboard

This shopping local thing is catching on!  Last week, I got an email from my friend Staci that said, “Three more bags of redirected dollars on a Saturday morning. Yay!”  She also included a picture taken with her iPhone of her three bags of goodies.  Excited to find that someone was joining in with the challenge, I asked her about her day.  Here’s what she had to say-

“We took karate lessons at United Studios of Self Defense…, then went down to the Farmer’s Market <at Market Square> (only buying locally grown food and flowers specifically).  Went to Why Not? and got a birthday present for a party we needed to go to, a book, a rocket toy as a reward for Donovan, and a backpack for Margaret, since hers is trashed from school.”

“Chocolates at The Sugar Cube to fortify us for the walk back to the car.  Checked out AppleSeed to get some gift ideas.  Flowers, dinner for 2, gifts, school supplies, a treat for the kids.  Three bags of products and just over $100 spent, not counting the coins in the fountain for entertainment value for the kiddos.”

Thanks for letting us know, Staci.  What a fun day!  And to anyone else out there reading this, let us know if you are “redirecting” your dollars and where.  Happy Shopping…Locally!