Vendetta (1212 H Street, NE) opened earlier this week in the space that used to be the Red Palace until it closed last New Years. The restaurant had been planned for several years by H Street titan Joe Englert, and many in the neighborhood were quite excited to see it open. We stopped by the second night it was open to check it out.
Outside of Vendetta
We were very impressed with redesigned space–it was almost impossible to recognize that it used to be the Red Palace (check out a Frozen Tropics post here for more details on the space). Vendetta is an Italian restaurant with a strong focus on pasta (check out their menu here). To start, we tried Vendetta’s bread which was served with an unusual, but quite good, peach jam. Their olive appetizer was fine but only as exciting as a plate of olives can be.
For entrees, diners are encouraged to try one of the different preparations of pasta featuring a variety of proteins ranging from pancetta to pork meatballs to squid as well as several vegetarian offerings. Once you have selected a preparation, you pair it with one of their many different types of pasta (there are seven different types ranging from penne to gnocchi). We sampled two of the different pastas. We tried the squid ink with seared squid accompanied by penne pasta. While the appearance of the dish might be off-putting to some because of the squid ink sauce, the dish’s taste made up for it. Tender squid combined with a savory sauce made for quite an enjoyable evening. We also sampled the meatball and turnip ragu which featured somewhat spicy meatballs in a garlic and pepper sauce.
When Tru Orleans (400 H Street, NE) first opened in the neighborhood, we thought that it had great potential. In fact, based upon our experience on opening weekend, we gave it a glowing initial review. It had a great atmosphere, attentive service, and quality food.
Patio at Tru Orleans
Since it opened almost two years ago, something has happened. The restaurant still has a very cool set up with its large patio and open second floor that has a New Orleans-esque railing and balcony. However, it doesn’t have much else going for it anymore. Over the past two years, our experiences have ranged from mediocre to just bizarre. One time during brunch, we watched in horror as a server argued with a table full of customers for several minutes when one of them mentioned that he had messed up their order. Another time during brunch our eggs benedict came out with an alleged “special” sauce on the side: it turned out to be caesar salad dressing. Cajun food that was initially promising (if somewhat expensive) has turned into overpriced dishes that lack freshness and taste (based upon their website it appears the initial chef has departed). Continue reading
Sol Mexican Grill (1251 H Street, NE) officially opened on Friday for lunch, dinner, and late night service (open at 11am everyday until 9pm during the week and 3:30am on the weekend).
Chorizo and al Pastor Tacos at Sol Mexican Grill
Currently only the first level is open until they open their second floor and patio in a few weeks. When they open the upstairs section, it will feature a more expansive menu and table service.
We stopped by on Saturday to enjoy our first lunch. We tried several of the tacos and were very impressed. The chorizo and al pastor tacos reminded us of the authentic tacos that we used to enjoy out in L.A. and were quite delicious. We also recommend the fish tacos as well. Even though it was 1:30pm, Sol was doing a steady lunch business on its second day. We look forward to many more trips in the future.
We were told earlier today that Sol Mexican Grill needs to make a few minor adjustments before passing final inspection and will not open this weekend as previously planned. Instead, they plan to open next Friday, April 12th. In the meantime, you can check out our preview here and their menu here.
At the beginning of the year we took a look at what new bars and restaurants were planned for H Street in the coming year. Now that a quarter of 2013 has gone by, we wanted to provide an update on new openings, newly announced concepts, and progress towards opening. For each of these categories we list the establishments in order of going west-east down H Street. If we’ve missed a place, please let us know in the comment section.
Opened this Winter
- Batter Bowl Bakery (401 H Street)–delicious new bakery from the owners of Ethiopic (next door) that is open all day and serves a variety of baked goods, sandwiches, and salads (see menu here).
- Hikari Sushi and Sake (644 H Street)–new sushi restaurant with two floors and extensive bar. See our initial review here.
- Thaaja Indian Food Bar (NoMa region, 1335 2nd Street, NE)–features customizable Indian food in a format similar to Chipotle. See our opening night review here. Continue reading
Entrance to Sol Mexican Grill
After quickly completing a full renovation of its space, Sol Mexican Grill (1251 H Street, NE) plans to open next week for lunch, dinner, and late night service. Sol currently operates two food trucks serving tacos, burritos, and burrito bowls in the downtown area. Sol took over the space previously occupied by Danny’s Carryout and transformed the space into a beautiful two story restaurant, featuring an upstairs bar and patio area.
Upstairs Bar at Sol Mexican Grill
Sol’s new restaurant will have two parts: a downstairs area featuring quick and takeout service much like its two trucks and an upstairs area (including the patio) that will feature table service and a full bar (and tableside guacamole service). You can view the extensive full menu here.
Patio at Sol Mexican Grill
The owners plan to open Sol in two phases. The first phase next weekend will be for the downstairs area. They plan to have a soft opening Friday night and then a full opening for the downstairs area on Saturday night. In approximately three weeks, they will open the upstairs section and patio for complete service. Continue reading
Here is a copy of the menu at Sol Mexican Grill at 1251 H Street.
Menu for Downstairs Section at Sol Mexican Grill
Upstairs Menu at Sol Mexican Grill (Part One)
We’ve confirmed that the owners of Hikari Sushi (644 H Street, NE) are planning to open a second restaurant on H Street that will be a hibachi restaurant. They are still in the process of looking for a building for the second restaurant, but we’ve heard that they are looking towards the western end of the corridor. We’ll update as we get additional details.
After opening in July of last year, H &pizza quickly developed into one of the busiest and most popular spots on H Street and around the Northeast region of D.C.. There is almost never a time when you walk into H &pizza and it does not have a line of some sort. H &pizza’s success has enabled it to announce its first expansion recently, a new location on U Street that will open sometime this year. Six months after the opening of its original H Street location, we were lucky enough to catch up with co-owner Steve Salis to ask him a few questions.
Overall he emphasized how pleased they were with the business and the H Street community, saying that their business has exceeded their expectations. He said that the top selling pizzas are the Maverick (District Cuisine’s favorite), Farmer’s Daughter, and Moonstruck. Interestingly, Salis says that when they first opened most people were choosing one of the pizzas listed on the menu board (like the Maverick, etc) but that now the majority of customers are choosing to build their own pizzas. He also said that we can expect to see a few new pizzas on the menu soon. H &pizza’s lunch business has exceeded their expectations (although dinner is their busiest time), and they believe that lunch will continue to grow as the neighborhood continues to develop. Sadly, H &pizza does not plan on doing delivery service in the future.
After much anticipation, Hikari Sushi and Sake Bar finally opened Thursday night on H Street (644 H Street, NE). Here is a copy of their opening night menu. Overall we were very impressed with both the food and the restaurant itself.
Upstairs Sushi Bar at Hikari Sushi and Sake
Hikari is a two level row house that has been completely redesigned. The first floor is a full service bar with several tall tables available for dinner service or drinks. Upstairs features a sushi bar where you can watch your sushi being made right in front of you while chatting with the chefs. It also has several booths (including two with window views) for a more intimate setting. Continue reading