The 2013 Best of Washington Party hosted by Washingtonian Magazine at the National Building Museum on July 17, brought its attendees to a spectacular world of food and drink. With dozens of the District’s finest restaurants and fun diversions hidden around every corner, Washingtonian’s annual party was one to remember for foodies and revelers of all kinds.

The theme for this year’s Best of Washington event was global travel. This was showcased with mini hot air balloons which were suspended around the massive party room, bartenders dressed as flight attendants, manning a central bar replete with vintage style luggage, world clocks and train departure boards, a cruise style entrance way with a Bon Voyage banner and more.

As seems to happen every year, certain dishes and ingredients seemed to captivate the chefs of the city more than others. Last year, guacamole and ceviche were popular from one table to another. While sashimis and ceviches were popular again, the go-to food of choice this year was gazpacho, with no less than half a dozen different variations of the chilled soup being served.

Boqueria served a watermelon gazpacho, as did J&G Steakhouse, while 701 served a yellow-tomato gazpacho with watermelon, and Matchbox offered a gazpacho with shrimp, feta and watermelon. Blacksalt made a vine-ripened tomato gazpacho and Graffiato offered a white gazpacho with coconut, tomatillos and honey yogurt.

Other popular options and themes for the evening including octopus dishes, sandwiches and sandwich spinoffs, and house-made charcuterie stations.

Just a few of the standout dishes which left a lasting impression included the velvet corn soup with wontons from The Source by Wolfgang Puck and Regional Executive Chef Scott Drewno; the prosciutto and mozzarella spring rolls from Tesoro; lobster dumplings from Ping Pong Dim Sum; Rasika’s samosas with pineapple chutney; barbecued pork belly lettuce wraps from Charlie Palmer Steak; and fried chicken with Greek yogurt from Cava Mezze.

While crowd favorites such as Georgetown Cupcake and Red Hook Lobster Pound were back, attendees, and certainly myself, were saddened to find not a single bacon-based bite anywhere in the room. What were the chefs and restaurants of Washington, D.C., thinking?

Many establishments were also offering their own craft cocktails. This of course included Todd Thrasher and his speakeasy PX, with a cocktail called “I know it sounds like pisco punch but it’s really not”, featuring Macchu Pisco, pineapple and sage syrup and house-made lemon bitters. Sidebar, the sister bar to Silver Spring restaurant Jackie’s, was offering a saffron-infused gin cocktail called Melisseus.

Besides eating yourself to oblivion and enjoying the open bar, guests had any number of ways to enjoy themselves. The most popular of which was to visit the party’s photobooths, one of which displayed its pictures on a large projection screen throughout the night.

Guests could have their caricature drawn while sitting in one of several brand new BMWs parked around the facility, or visit the Qatar Airways lounge, to recline in a display of their business class seats and eat a sampling of the food they serve on their flights.

Patron Tequila was another sponsor for the 2013 Best of Washington party, garnering huge lines while offering guests a chance to make their own margarita from scratch. Guests could choose between one of several recipes and use a juicer to squeeze their own limes, oranges and grapefruits, while also receiving a custom engraved juicer to bring home and add to their barware. Patron also had the event’s three signature cocktails, with names such as The Jetsetter, The Anchor and The Caboose.

The event and its silent auction benefited the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Silent auction items included various food and drink packages and events, nights on the town, signed memorabilia, and more, topped off with the big ticket item of 7 nights in Antigua for up to 4 people, valued at $6,500.

From the indulging and imbibing, to dressing up and hitting the town, supporting a charitable cause while you’re at it and bringing home memories of all the sights and bites, the 2013 Best of Washington party offered something for everyone and a great D.C. experience.

This article was first published on Yahoo Voices on July 23, 2013