My DC // Alejandra of Frijolita

I met Alejandra while shooting my very first My City with Nikki. Managing Editor of AARP’s blog and a social media advisor by day and blogger by night on her site Frijolita. Not big on the word foodie, Alejandra is definitely a connoisseur of food considering that is the main topic she writes about on her blog and for other websites. She knows all of the great places around town, and she took me to a few places that I may have to make regular stops at now.

Alejandra: I spend most of my week in Dupont Circle and Chinatown/Penn Quarter, which are incredibly vibrant, exciting parts of DC. But come the weekend, I’m usually craving something a little quieter and low key. Woodley Park is a completely underrated neighborhood in DC, and it embodies that low key, casual vibe I need sometimes. 

First we stopped by Allen Woods Flowers. Alejandra enlightened me about their happy hour on Friday when their amazing selection is much much cheaper. Upon walking in I was immediately overcome with the most amazing aroma of flowers.
Alejandra: Allan Woods Flowers has what I like to call a “flower happy hour” every Friday. From 1-7pm all his cut flowers are 50% off! So that’s anything that isn’t in dirt…50% off! Sorry, I’m still totally impressed by this. Allan orders some of the most beautiful hydrangeas and roses I’ve ever seen, which I happily scoop up every Friday at a discount.

Next door to Allen Woods is Manhattan Market, just your ordinary neighborhood market, but on accident Alejandra discovered a delicious frozen ciabatta bread. She bought me a loaf to try, and she was right. It is delicious.

Alejandra: Manhattan Market is an average neighborhood bodega, but it holds such a little gem: my favorite loaf of bread in the whole city. Yes, the whole city. I’m a carb hound, so I’ve tried them all – loaves from the farmers market, Whole Foods baguettes, gourmet focaccia. This loaf of olive oil bread in the frozen foods case near the front of the store is my favorite thing to bring to dinner parties, serve as a snack when I have guests over and it always accompanies my mom’s meat sauce. Warmed in the oven at 375, it’s airy, flaky, buttery and moist.
We didn’t go in, but she told me I had to try District Kitchen so it’s on my list to try.

Making a beeline for coffee, we headed over to Open City. A place I’ve been wanting to try but just haven’t been into yet. On a drizzly Friday morning the place was packed.

Alejandra: Open City is my favorite breakfast spot for those early Sunday mornings, or those Fridays when breakfast for dinner is just what you need. The caramel latte (made with whole milk, of course) is delicious and indulgent and an absolute must.
Love the cup sizes.

 My latte and guava pastry hit the spot.

Alejandra tried to take me to these Spanish Steps, but this is what we saw.
Under construction. I’ll have to back to see them!
She said it’s a super romantic spot in the evening.
Obviously not when it’s under construction.

 Bright from the summer rain, Mitchell Park in Kalorama is in Alejandra’s neighborhood.

Alejandra: The Spanish Steps and Mitchell Park, located just a couple blocks from my apartment, are my go to spots when I need some fresh air. In the summer, Mitchell Park is the perfect spot to sun yourself and read a book. At dusk, The Spanish Steps are a gorgeous place to bring a date or girlfriend for a post-dinner chat or linger with a cup of coffee on cool evenings. My daily metro commute ends and starts in Dupont Circle so my evening and work-from-home Friday routines frequently involve these spots. 

Every time I shoot a My CityI learn about little spots and parks in the city.
Alejandra is wearing: Target Shirt / JCrew Cami (similar) / JCrew Pants (similar) / Target Sandals / Dooney & Burke Purse (similar)
We headed to Fuse Pilates, where Alejandra frequently attends classes each week.
To be honest, having done Crossfit and multiple types of intense yoga,
I thought this will be a piece of cake.

But there was one move in particular that I was sore from for days.

Real sore … for days.
Alejandra: Fuse Pilates and Sweet Green go together like peas and carrots for me. Fuse is my go to spot for workouts that kick my butt but are easy on my joints (a needed break from running and weights). After I’m done working out I want a healthy, tasty meal and Sweet Green’s Chick P salad or a warm grain bowl always hit the spot. 

We worked up a good appetite after pilates and headed down to sweetgreen for lunch.

Also a wiz in the kitchen, Alejandra also wanted to make a stop in the cookbook section at Kramer Books.

Alejandra: I haven’t met a DCer who doesn’t love a bookstore yet! Kramer Books in Dupont Circle is my personal favorite for cookbooks, magazines, fiction and children’s books. (My mom is a preschool teacher, so I send her new books to read to the kids!) The café, Afterwords, located at the back of the store, makes a mean piece of cheesecake and a killer brunch – but you’ll likely find me at the bar sipping on a cocktail, reading my latest purchase.

And a quick stop at her favorite liquor store. She’s a fan of Elmer T. Lee Bourbon.
Alejandra: In addition to having a bookstore, every DCer has a liquor store. Mine is Connecticut Avenue Wine & Liquor (Connecticut Ave. & Q St.). I pop in every Monday for a bottle of wine that I’ll either enjoy at home or take to a friend’s house. Multiply that routine by 7 some-odd years and I’ve gotten to know the folks who run the shop. Not only do they make excellent recommendations, but their selection of wine (and liquor) is quite impressive.
More from Alejandra:

What are some of your other favorite places to eat and visit in DC and why or what do you HAVE to get when you go to them?
1905 RestaurantBraised Colorado Lamb Sandwich
Cashion’s Eat PlaceBrad Parker’s Goat
CorkAvocado Toasts
FiolaPappardelle or Caccio & Peppe
Zorbas CaféAegean Salad with Chicken
How did Frijolita come to be?
In 2008, a friend and coworker at the time was telling me about this Twitter thing. She was playing around with it and suggested I give it a whirl while I had some down time at work. Thinking I’d go anonymous on this newfangled platform, I chose “frijolita” as my screen name. Four years later, my online pseudonym is more well-known than my blog name or even my own name! Frijolita has so much become my brand that when people meet me at parties and events, or even see me on the street, they’ll call me Frijolita! It’s sweet, but I still prefer Alejandra. Ha!

What have you learned from the blog?
I think the most important thing I’ve learned from blogging is that even I have a limit. I say yes to just about everything, but often forget in the midst of fun, friends, trying new things or learning something new that I need time to recharge at home. I’m an extrovert with introverted tendencies at times, so I need to build in restorative quiet time. I work on building that time into my schedule and in doing so feel much less guilty about it. Taking care of yourself isn’t an indulgence, it’s a necessity!

Have any opportunities come from Frijolita that otherwise may not have?
Oh goodness! I owe a lot to my blog, to be honest. Almost three years ago I started my blog as a New Year’s resolution and in that time I’ve met the most amazing people, friends have become like family, I write for Food Network/City Eats, I write and edit for, I’ve met some of the most talented chefs and eaten some of the most beautiful food. I am beyond appreciative for all of it, but I am most grateful for the people I’ve met along the way.

Any great stories from your DC/food adventures?
I’m terrible at celebrity spotting so while I’d like to say I’ve seen or dined with someone famous, I think the most famous person I’ve seen out is Eric Holder. Oh lordy, that’s very DC of me.

We know you are a foodie, what else are you involved in?
I’m a reader and I love working out. I don’t do either of those things enough, especially considering how essential they are to making me feel like a more balanced, happy person!

You are the Managing Editor of AARP’s blog and a social media advisor during the week, what are your career goals?
I’ve always wanted to be the Chief Communication Officer of a large company, but lately I’m starting to think maybe I want to work in media. Maybe I’ll do both! I have 30+ years of working left to dabble around in things that interest me!

Have to ask, do you have a favorite meal?
Last Winter, La Strada, in the Del Ray neighborhood in Virginia, had this decadent rabbit ragu served over creamy polenta. I’ve never forgotten it, and am looking forward to attempting to recreate it!