Back in the spring, we looked at the new restaurants and bars that were coming to H Street. Now that several months have gone by, we wanted to take a look at what restaurants have opened, what ones have made construction progress, and what new restaurant concepts have been announced recently. 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 Summer and Fall
- Heaven & H (701 H Street)–new deli in former Grace Deli location that honors the memory of the owner of Grace Deli (June Lim) who was murdered in 2012, deli underwent some renovations and is now open but appears that renovations may be ongoing, more details from Washington City Paper
- Chupacabra (822 H Street)–taco restaurant that previously was a food truck, operates right off of H Street but has added a covered patio that links it to H Street in the last several months that should be quite popular when it is warmer
- Vendetta (1210 H Street)–Italian restaurant and bocce bar by Joe Englert, you can read our early review here
- Da Luft (1242 H Street)–initially billed as a “seafood restaurant,” now appears to be more of a club with three levels and a rooftop patio
- Sol Mexican Grill (1251 H Street)–two level Mexican restaurant with fast casual service downstairs and full service restaurant, bar, and patio upstairs, you can read our early review here
- RedRocks (1348 H Street)–full service pizza and Italian restaurant with extensive bar and retractable roof patio, three other DC area locations
- Manny and Olga’s (1409 H Street)–D.C. pizza chain offers delivery
- The Elroy (1423 H Street)–a bar concept on the eastern end of H Street, more from Washington City Paper 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.
Sonia from the Bronx Burger at TD Burger
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.
Street Map Painted on the Wall at Indigo
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.
Counter-Window Where Diners Will Order Their Food at 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
TD Burger, the specialty burger restaurant by Top Chef Alum Thomas Dean, is looks like it is getting fairly close to opening in NoMa. The signage is up and we have seen a lot of activity there recently. You can read more about TD Burger here.
Signage up at TD Burger in NoMa
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
Washington City Paper had written several months ago that Top Chef participant Timothy Dean was looking for a space to open his second TD Burger somewhere in D.C. and likely in NoMa (Dean currently has one in Maryland). ANC Commissioner Tony Goodman tweeted earlier today that TD Burger will officially be moving into the retail spot at the Loree Grand building in NoMa (3rd and K Street, NE where Zuppa Fresca was).
From the Washington City Paper preview several months ago:
The D.C. location of TD Burger will be similar to the original, which serves burgers, Neapolitan-style pies, sandwiches, milkshakes, and more, but with the addition of a full service bar. Dean will also rename the burgers after various presidents who he’s cooked for or crossed paths with over the years, including Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama. And instead of the Martin O’Malley burger, which is available at his Maryland location, a D.C. councilmember may also get his or her own meat patty.
Alfio Celia, formerly of Zuppa Fresca in NoMa, is offering a special brunch cooking class through Groupon. The deal goes on sale tomorrow and is available for one or two people. Chef Alfio’s class will feature a complete brunch menu with mimosas. You can check out the deal here.
While the restaurant has been open for awhile now, Thaaja Indian Food Bar in NoMa will be hosting an “opening” party tomorrow. The first one hundred customers at lunch time will get a free bowl or wrap (these items will be $3 the rest of the day). Our first impressions of Thaaja have been really positive so far. You can check out our preview of Thaaja here and a review of our first visit here.
We stopped by opening night at Thaaja Indian Food Bar in NoMa on Wednesday to check it out. Opening night saw a moderate but steady flow of customers despite the extreme cold outside. We tried the rice bowl with steak and added roasted corn, cheese, chickpeas, tomatoes, and topped it off with the vindaloo sauce. The sauce had a nice spicy kick, the steak was very tender, and the portion was very generous. We also tried the Thaaja roll appetizer with the samosa filling and enjoyed it. If you’re looking for a less spicy sauce, try the “Triple C” (cilantro, cucumber, and coriander) which we sampled and also liked. You can check out our complete preview here and see their menu here.
Thaaja Indian Food Bar, specializing in quick and customizable Indian food made from scratch, plans to open Wednesday in NoMa (1335 2nd Street, NE). You can see our detailed preview piece here and the menu here.
Thaaja Indian Food Bar
Thaaja will offer diners the opportunity to build their own Indian meal from a variety of different proteins, vegetables, and homemade sauces in a setting similar to Chipotle or Roti where customers choose ingredients from the display right in front of them. At Thaaja, diners initially choose between a wrap, a rice bowl, or a salad bowl and then choose from chicken, lamb, steak, Paneer (an Indian cheese), or tofu before completing the meal with different vegetables and sauces. The price ranges depending on the protein, but all are reasonably priced around the $7-8 range (with unlimited toppings).
Counter at Thaaja
Thaaja will also feature several different sides/appetizers, including Thaaja rolls (available as a samosa or with a tikka filling) and naan and chips; all of the sides will be priced at $2.75. Thaaja will also have freshly made Lassi shakes (an Indian drink with a yogurt base) in a variety of flavors for $2.75. Continue reading