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.
Tomorrow evening Indigo (243 K Street, NE) will open for its first dinner service and will bring authentic Indian cuisine to the corner of K and 3rd Street, NE. The restaurant will be open for dinner service Monday-Friday and will be open from breakfast through dinner on the weekends. They will also offer takeout and delivery service in the region. There will not be a set menu, but instead there will be a rotating menu of Indian dishes that will change every 3-4 days. Diners will enter the restaurant and order food at the main counter and pick up their meal when it is ready at the counter. Initially, Indigo (a name derived from “Indian food on the go”) will also have a limited alcohol menu of beer and wine, but they hope to expand their selections in the coming months and have a freestanding bar in the restaurant. However, authentic Indian street food that highlights the spices and flavors of the region and uses the freshest available ingredients will always be the focus of Indigo.
Indigo is the culmination of many years of work in the restaurant industry for husband and wife owners Dinesh and Nidhi Tandon. The Tandons owned a restaurant in India for several years prior to moving to the United States in 2003. While they took a few years off from the culinary industry when they first moved to this country, they began operating a food truck in 2010 that served Indian dishes right outside of Union Station. As Dinesh explained, they had a very strong response to their food and soon they had a large enough fan base that they expanded their operation to a stall at Eastern Market that has been operating for the past two years. They also began to do a strong catering business and last year began operating a stand once a week at Georgetown University’s market. During this time of expansion, they rented an industrial kitchen in Virginia and were having to work incredibly long hours (many times waking up at 3am) to go from market to market picking up ingredients, bringing them back to their rented kitchen, cooking the dishes, and then transporting them to Eastern Market (or the Georgetown University market) to sell. Throughout this time, they dreamed of finding a place where they could establish a brick and mortar restaurant.
Their search for the ideal location took a while. Dinesh looked at several places on H Street and entered serious negotiations, but none of them worked out. He kept searching everyday for potential places. The Tandons have a house near Trinidad in NE, and Dinesh would frequently pass by the Franklin Carryout located at 3rd and K Street, NE. While the market was fairly rundown, Dinesh believed that it would be a great location to establish a restaurant. One day the owner of Franklin Carryout put the place on the market; Dinesh responded within hours of the listing. Continue reading
A new Ethiopian restaurant called “Addis Ethiopian Restaurant” recently received a construction permit for 707 H Street, NE, as first reported by ANC Commissioner Tony Goodman on Twitter. A peek inside the window at 707 revealed that they have already made significant progress in gutting the inside of the building. Until recently, this location had been occupied by Casual Corner, a popup clothing retailer. In 2011 it had been announced that a nightclub called Xclusive was planning on moving into this space; however, that nightclub faced significant resistance from neighbors and eventually pulled out.
We’ll add more once we learn details from the owner.
The FBI and D.C. Police raided Marvelous Pizza (941 H Street, NE) after its owners appear to be involved in a $3 million fraud scheme. The takeout pizza place was located next to the 7-11 in the strip mall in the middle of H Street and it offered late night takeout and delivery. Titan of Trinidad broke the story this afternoon and DCist got the details of the bizarre multimillion dollar scheme that is well worth the read.
After significant permitting and zoning delays with the D.C. Government, RedRocks (1348 H Street, NE) has moved into the final phase of zoning permits and hopes to open prior to Labor Day. The restaurant has been ready to open for the past several weeks but was held up by the District Government. Earlier this week, they received good news on the zoning front and should be able to open up all three levels for dinner when they open in the coming weeks. RedRocks features Italian food and pizzas and has three other locations in Columbia Heights, Old Town Alexandria, and Arlington.
We stopped by Bardo (1200 Bladensburg Road, NE) on Tuesday to check out their second night of being open. While the bar was sparsely attending during the traditional happy hour timeframe, it does have great potential to become a nice neighborhood spot in the months ahead. Bardo eventually will be a large outdoor brewpub that will brew several of its own beers onsite and will have many more on tap. They already have picnic tables and cornhole and plan on showing outdoor movies and serving food in the future. A concept similar to Bardo was previously operated in Arlington by the same owners. Check out The Washington City Paper’s excellent profile of Bardo from several months ago to learn more about its background.
Bardo is a definite work in progress as one of the owners explained to us they simply wanted to get open as quickly as possible. The District government would only issue them one permit at a time, so for right now they have not built their onsite brewery and are only serving a few beers on tap. The next immediate step for Bardo is installing a canopy-like roof that will drape over the area in front of the bar to protect customers when it rains. The owners anticipate this canopy being up in the coming days (currently there is no cover if it rains). The owners already have much of the brewing equipment on site and plan on applying for the brewery building permit as soon as possible. One of the owners said that they planned to have the brewery part of Bardo open in three months. Continue reading
Sol Mexican Grill (1251 H Street, NE) is set to open its long awaited second floor tomorrow and will celebrate with a grand opening party including a mariachi band. The downstairs section of the restaurant opened in April (you can see our coverage here), but the upstairs section and bar was held up for several months due to permitting delays with the D.C. government. After finally navigating through the District’s regulatory maze successfully, the owners are very excited to debut the upstairs section.
The upstairs section features a seating area overlooking H Street, a bar, and then an outdoor patio with several tables. While the downstairs section has a menu that is more fast casual style like Chipotle, the upstairs section has full table service throughout. You can check out the complete menu here.
The upstairs section is open for dinner and late night service starting at 5pm (the downstairs section is also open for lunch) and going until 2am on the weekends. The kitchen will remain open until 11pm on the weekends. Continue reading