Earlier this month, the Port of Piraeus location in West End (1155 21st Street, NW) closed its doors permanently. The Greek restaurant had been at the West End location since 1989; however, owner Frankie Doyle tells us that it was time to streamline operations by closing this location and consolidating the business in the restaurant’s other location in Franklin Square. The other location will continue to offer breakfast and lunch as well as catering across the city. No word on what might replace the restaurant.
Back in July, Marvelous Pizza on H Street was raided by the FBI due to a massive fraud ring and had shut down. Several weeks ago without any real explanation, the restaurant reopened and appears to be back to normal. The status of the fraud investigation is unclear as is whether or not ownership of the restaurant has changed.
Currently H Street’s restaurant scene is divided into two sections: the Western end and the Eastern end without almost any restaurants in the middle. The Western end runs from Ethiopic in the 400th block to Hikari Sushi in the 600th block. The Eastern end starts with the Atlas Room in the 1000th block and runs to the 1400th block. In between there are not really any restaurants (the new Chupacabra being the exception). There is a lot of development planned for that section (including three apartment buildings and a Whole Foods) but not much has materialized so far. Continue reading
Our first trip to TD Burger in NoMa (250 K Street, NE) almost didn’t warrant a return trip. It was very disappointing as the restaurant has a great outdoor seating area and a Top Chef contestant as the chef (Timothy Dean). Yet, the fast casual burger restaurant had a weird set up, confused service, and unimpressive food. Since that, our most recent return trip saw some improvement. However, we hope that this trend continues and accelerates as the restaurant still needs help.
Customers order their food at the counter and then go sit down with a number card for food to have their food delivered to them. But there’s a catch: you can’t order any alcoholic drinks at the counter and instead have to go to the bar or get the attention of the cocktail waiter/waitress (only one or two employees had the ability to serve alcohol even though there were close to ten employees serving customers). It took us around seven minutes to order drinks once we sat down even though the restaurant was empty and we’d already asked a different server for help. This was after waiting several minutes to order food (there was no one in line in front of us) due to a combination of the server being completely confused and the computer system being down. Additionally, this set up is not ideal as it requires customers to open a second tab for alcohol even if they only want to order a beer.
The food did not improve the night. The “Sonia from the Bronx” burger sounded intriguing: avocado, cheddar cheese, mushrooms, and grilled romaine. The burger probably would have been great if it had been served as a salad without the bun. The grilled romaine was tasty and the burger had promising flavor. Unfortunately, all of this was overshadowed by a soggy bun that fell apart and could not hold the burger properly. We were a little confused at how the bun was so soggy as it had clearly been thrown on the grill for a few seconds and had light grill marks. Regardless, it ruined the burger. The allegedly “beer battered” onion rings tasted like onion rings we could have picked up in the frozen section of the grocery store.
Energy Kitchen (1901 L Street, NW), a fast casual restaurant focusing on “healthy fast food,” closed earlier this week. No word yet on what might replace it.
Tru Orleans, the troubled cajun restaurant on H Street that was recently shut down by the D.C. Government due to unpaid taxes, will not reopen according to co-owner Brad Howard. The restaurant had a history of trouble with its neighbors, which had prompted a major challenge over the renewal of its liquor license. There had also been a significant physical brawl at the restaurant (including several arrests) involving patrons and wait staff after a large party of customers refused to pay their check. You can read more about the restaurant’s history of financial and legal problems from the Washington City Paper and see our take on the food here.
District Cuisine sat down with co-owner Brad Howard in the days after the fight in July. Mr. Howard expressed frustration with the business and told us that major changes were coming to turn the restaurant around. According to Howard, Tru Orleans had just hired a new chef, was changing its menu, was ending sponsored events at the restaurant that had caused problems in the past, and was going to change its name. While these changes seemed promising, ultimately the restaurant’s problems were too great and it is now closed for good as Mr. Howard confirmed to District Cuisine today.
Smashburger, the Denver based better burger chain, will open its first location in D.C. today at 10am and will then be open daily from 10am-10pm. Smashburger already has a location in Fairfax and plans on rapidly expanding in the coming months (they already have five locations lined up).
The burger restaurant has a unique cooking process for its burgers that is one of the ways that it sets itself apart from the competition. The burgers begin as large meatballs that are handcrafted every morning in the restaurant.
When a customer orders a burger, the large meatball is placed on the grill and then smashed down for ten seconds on the grill to make the burger flat and to lock in the juices and flavor of the burger. Overall, the cooking process takes two minutes and thirty seconds, and every burger is cooked to order. In addition to burgers, Smashburger also serves a wide variety of chicken sandwiches. Continue reading