I’m not entirely sure when pumpkin spice went from being a fun fall treat to a cultural phenomenon, but I think we can all agree, it’s gone a bit too far. With brands releasing pumpkin-flavored-everything as soon as the thermostat drops below 80 degrees, what was once a rare and exciting treat has now become an eye-roll inducing pumpkin plague on our society.
There are so many flavors be celebrated–apple pie, caramel, sweet potato, ginger, butternut squash–that I think we should all agree to forego the pumpkin in favor of something new this year. Who knows, maybe we can start an apple revolution and finally put all this pumpkin BS to rest.
Bakers and Baristas
Before there was pumpkin, there was apple. Apple cider is the OG fall drink, and will always be #1 in our hearts. Bakers and Baristas take the classic drink and give it a nice upgrade with a shot of caramel to really give you a fantastic fall flavor affair (say that 5 times fast). Best of all, it pairs perfectly with a slice of coffee cake or their salty toffee oat cookie for a combo that’s sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Killer ESP – Chinatown
For something totally different for your fall sippin’ pleasure, Killer ESP’s Chinatown baristas have invented a slightly sweet and subtle raspberry lavender (aka RazLav) tea latte. The flavors combine surprisingly well together in a way that feels like you’re being wrapped up in a big fuzzy blanket. They also carry savory and sweet Dangerously Delicious Pies and Julia’s Empanadas–but get there early as the good flavors tend to sell out.
Grace Street Coffee
Cascara–aka the part of the fruit that contains the coffee bean–used to be completely discarded or turned into fertilizer. Only recently have we Americans discovered its subtle sweetness that is a perfect complement to coffee drinks, cocktails, and even sodas. Grace Street is putting the cascara to great use in their Cascara-Spiced Apple Cider, which offers a fruity, sweet alternative to your typical cider.
Colada Shop has a number of autumnal-inspired Cuban dishes on tap this fall, but one of the best is the Sweet Plantain latte. With notes of caramel, brown sugar, and Caribbean spices, this drink strikes the perfect harmony between fall and summer. Best of all, you can pair your drink with a sweet potato & queso fresco empanada to really take your afternoon pick-me-up to the next level.
Bread and Water Company
They’ve done it again, folks! Bread and Water Company is offering up one heck of a fall beverage with nary a pumpkin in sight. Their Butterbeer Cider will make you feel like you’re sippin’ on cider in Hogsmeade and is sure to warm your Potter-loving soul from the inside. Pair it with one of their super waffles or delicious pastries, and you’ve got a perfect fall combo.
Go ahead and take a second to reread the headline, but very slowly. Each element on its own is already delicious, but put them together on 1 doughnut and you’ve got a serious game changer. Be warned: this is not for the faint of heart (or those who are lacking a serious sweet tooth).
Tiramisu has long been one of those desserts that has remained relatively unchanged, but the folks at Lincoln Restaurant thought it was time to shake things up. They added a delightfully fall twist to the classic dessert, made with spice-roasted butternut squash and cinnamon ladyfingers. This is definitely not a dessert to be missed!
Fancy Radish DC
Helmed by James Beard nominated chefs Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby, this veggie-focus restaurant can appeal to both meat eaters and vegetarians alike. Their fall carrot cake cup is a cream cheese panna cotta with walnut streusel, golden raisins, and roasted carrot ice cream on the side. It’s the perfect ending to any meal!
A Rake’s Progress
The Line is a gorgeous hotel in Adams Morgan with some seriously impressive food and drink offered at their 4 unique food venues. At A Rake’s Progress–helmed by James Beard award-winning chef Spike Gjerde–they’re offering a number of fall dishes, like grilled honeynut squash and fall lettuces. But you should make sure to save room for dessert, because their apple pie–albeit simple–is as close to perfection as a pie can get. Featuring a sorghum oat crumble, candied pecans, and served with a side of laurel ice cream, you’ll taste fall in every bite.
Butternut squash is another fantastic fall flavor, and is especially good in savory dishes. Siroc does it really well, incorporating it into a super autumnal pasta dish that features honey, sage butter, and mascarpone.
You don’t have to be a vegan to enjoy Fruitive’s vegan quesadillas, which are stuffed with cashew cheese, black bean and corn salsa, wild rice, and caramelized onions. If you’re trying to cut down on carbs, you can also get it in salad form over romaine lettuce, which is a healthier alternative that minimizes calories while maximizing flavor.
Stuffed with herb-roasted turkey, sweet potato & sage ricotta, creamy brie, ginger-cranberry sauce, garlicky kale, The Colonial sandwich from Taylor Gourmet is basically like Thanksgiving in a sandwich. It’s got a bit of a healthier twist (only 650 calories per sandwich) so you won’t feel like you need to take a nap immediately afterward. Grab a side of butternut squash risotto balls for a perfect casual and fast fall lunch or dinner.
Have any strong feelings about pumpkin spice? Take a side and leave a comment or post using the hashtags #FrayLife and #DCFray to let us know where you stand.
View More Articles By Sydney Gallimore