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'Best Of' D.C. Found Down The Rabbit Hole; Washingtonian's Signature Summer Celebration Draws Thousands

By Daniel Swartz on July 17, 2014
Be sure to check out all 165 of our photographs from this event HERE!
The Guest List:
PENN QUARTER -- Judging by the fast moving entry line which actually began to form before the stated 6:00p.m. start time, no one wanted to be late for yesterday's very important date, also known as Washingtonian Magazine's annual 'Best Of' celebration.

The venerable publication's tent pole signature summer bash (it also hosts smaller events throughout the year), the 'Best Of' party always draws some two thousand of the District's bold, beautiful, and hungry.

As it was last year and the year before, the 2014 incarnation of the popular event was hosted inside the cavernous walls of the National Building Museum in Penn Quarter.

A challenge for organizers this year, however, was the museum's summer-long introduction of a BIG Maze attraction, which placed a 60 foot x 60 foot labyrinth at one end of the building.

And the solution to how to accommodate such an enormous obstacle, in the midst of an already crowded party, was equal parts simplicity and genius.

Hence this year's 'Best Of' celebration boasted a playful 'Alice in Wonderland' theme, which fully embraced all of the both physical and decorative twists and turns of the popular Lewis Carroll novel.

To such an end, VIP guests were granted access to a well stocked (and gratis) hat closet as part of the private publisher reception, which was hosted upstairs by Washingtonian President and Publisher Catherine Merrill Williams.

Similarly, giant cards had been hung from the National Building Museum's towering ceiling and performers had been hired to entertain everyone, with individual performances taking place every half hour on a stage that had been erected just for the occasion.

Beyond the free swag (the gift bag alone weighed in at nearly 5 pounds) and early admission, VIP guests also had the ability to mix and mingle with some of the night's special guests, which included many prominent D.C. business executives and political figures (e.g., Members of Congress).

Newly hired Editor in Chief Michael Schaffer was also, of course, in attendance. Formerly with The New Republic, Schaffer joined Washingtonian just last month after Garrett Graff capped a four-year run at the helm of the magazine.

The party really kicked-in, however, at 7:00p.m. when general admission ticketholders began to arrive and seemingly flooded all of the building's marbled nooks and crannies.

For more than 30 years, Washingtonian has invited its readers to vote on what they consider to be the area's best restaurants, services, and even people. The culmination of such polling is the much prized 'Best Of' edition of the magazine, where the year's winners are announced.

These winners, in turn, are then invited to fete the honor with their customers during the accompanying 'Best Of' party. And almost all of the 2014 honorees were present last night.

Naturally, many of the James Beard Award-winning chefs and eateries who regularly top Washingtonian's '100 Best Restaurants' list were present. But so too were plenty of newcomers, such as recently opened Dupont steakhouse STK.

In addition to the feasting, guests had numerous entertainment options at their disposal throughout the night. Sponsors, such as BMW, AT&T, the American Beverage Association, Celebrity Cruises, Patron, and Qatar Airways, ensured that everything from caricaturists to personalized cell phone cases to virtual 'test drives' were made available.

A terrific time that most decidedly grew curiouser and curiouser...

Be sure to check out all 165 of our photographs from this event HERE!
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