Best of D.C. with D.C. icons surrounding it
Credit: Illustration by Ronan Lynam

I’ll be the first to admit that it feels a bit odd to celebrate the best things while our city—and, let’s face it, the world—grapple with a deadly pandemic and the anti-Black racism and violence police officers and White supremacists perpetuate on a daily basis. This issue was initially scheduled to come out in May, and when we set the schedule late last year, we thought it would remind readers of all the great things D.C. offers in late spring and early summer: long, meandering strolls in and out of museums on the Mall, concerts at 9:30 Club and on Kingman Island, a round of drinks with loved ones at a new bar one night and brunch the next day. All of those things that once felt interwoven into D.C. life now seem like distant memories.

The City Paper staff stopped working in our downtown office and shifted to remote operations in mid-March. In the intervening months, we’ve discussed what to do about Best of D.C., a mammoth operation that requires the participation of everyone on staff and many freelancers as well. At one point we discussed only releasing the results of the Readers’ Picks, which had been voted on and tabulated between early February and early March. During one particularly dark and exhausted moment, we thought about scrapping the issue entirely and trying again in a post-pandemic world. But as we continued to report on the news of D.C., we also saw the resilient people of D.C. begin to reinvent their work and their worlds in ways that made us feel hopeful or excited, at least for a moment.

We saw dark theater lobbies transformed into resting and refueling stations for protesters demanding justice and equality. We saw young people create new organizations aimed at helping those in need. We saw restaurateurs become grocers and bar owners start delivery services in order to keep people fed and employed. These people love the imperfect city we call home. So do the writers, editors, designers, photographers, sales people, and operations staff that make up the City Paper team. So, we assume, do you, reader.

So here’s to those making the best of a miserable year—the booksellers who do the browsing for us, the bagel makers who fill our bellies, the musicians who still play for us on social media, and so many other people who keep our city going. For now, we’ll celebrate you in print and online. When we can finally gather in person again, we’ll raise a glass in celebration with a simple toast: Thank you. —Caroline Jones, Interim Editor

Past winners can be found here.

If you’re a winner or runner-up and haven’t heard from us directly, you can download graphics to promote your win here and you can also order your plaques, banners, and labels here. If you’d like for us to mail you your physical certificate, please send us a note with your mailing address at