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H Street’s Horizon: What’s Coming Soon (Winter 2014)

22 Jan

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

H Street Residents and Restaurants Spar Over Longer Hours for Rooftops

18 Dec

This evening the Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6A Alcoholic Beverage Licensing Committee–which has jurisdiction over the eastern end of H Street–held a discussion about possibly changing its policy that currently prevents restaurants and bars from operating public space patios (i.e. patios on the street) and rooftop decks after 11pm on weeknights and midnight on weekends.  While the D.C. Government’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) handles alcohol licenses in the District, ANCs play a very important role in the process through recommendations to ABRA and by holding hearings to help restaurants/bars and residents come to mutually beneficial agreements that will help the establishment thrive in the community without negatively affecting its neighbors.  The current policy of ANC 6A is to require restaurants and bars to agree to not serve alcohol on patios and rooftops late at night even though the establishment can stay open until much later in the evening.  This meeting was to discuss a potential change to that policy.

Over 20 residents showed up to protest any potential change vociferously.  Most of the comments were similar: allowing later hours outdoors would create more noise and prevent residents from sleeping, later hours would encourage more drunken debauchery along H Street and in the surrounding neighborhoods, and that there was no benefit to the community for allowing restaurants to have later outdoor hours.  Several residents argued that allowing restaurants to have later outdoor hours would lead to an increase in crime.

Only two restaurants testified in favor of changing the current policy to allow for later hours.  Joe Englert–owner of several H Street establishments and arguably one of the main reasons that H Street is currently experiencing such a renaissance–countered many of the residents claims that a change in policy would have negative effects.  Englert argued that he and other H Street restaurants have invested many millions of dollars in the community and have no reason to be bad neighbors.  He offered to install any kind of noise barrier to help alleviate any noise problems that arose in neighborhoods surrounding H Street.  After several residents questioned the need to keep outdoor areas open so late (one said that there was no reason for people to be drinking or even out after midnight), Englert pointed out that many young people are going to be out late drinking “because that’s what they do.”  He implied that if they weren’t out drinking and spending money on H Street they would be doing it elsewhere around the city which would hurt the H Street economy.   Continue reading

Port of Piraeus in West End Closes

12 Dec

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.

Middle Part of H Street Begins to Attract Restaurants

11 Nov

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

TD Burger Opens with a Stumble, Begins to Improve

15 Oct

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

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.

Continue reading

Energy Kitchen Closed on L Street

19 Sep

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.

Energy Kitchen Closed on L Street

Energy Kitchen Closed on L Street

RedRocks Planning to Open on H Street Prior to Labor Day

25 Jul
Exterior of RedRocks on H Street

Exterior of RedRocks on H Street

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.

Continue reading

Newton’s Noodles Set to Open within Two Weeks

24 Jul
Exterior of Newton's Noodles

Exterior of Newton’s Noodles

Newton’s Noodles (1129 20th Street NW), the fast casual noodles concept from chef Dennis Friedman (Newton’s Table in Bethesda), is set to open in the coming days.  Friedman tells us that they are putting the final touches on the interior of the restaurant and plan to begin training their staff this week or the beginning of next week.  Friedman says that they should be open within the “next week or two,” but he does not want to rush to open until they are 100% ready to go.  Bethesda Magazine reported last year that Newton’s Noodles will feature “Fuzu” noodles, a unique “comforting rice noodle dish similar to Pad Thai” that Friedman created at Newton’s Table.

Pepe Food Truck Launches Loyalty Program

16 Jul

Chef Jose Andres’s Pepe food truck has launched a loyalty card program where you get a star for every regular sized item (ranging from Pepe’s signature flautas to a large order of soup) that you purchase.  After you get ten stars punched on your loyalty card you get one item free.  We’ve heard that Feelin’ Crabby food truck also has a loyalty program, have you heard of any other trucks that do?

Loyalty Card from Pepe

Loyalty Card from Pepe

Update: Hikari Sushi and Sake Bar Opening this Weekend

27 Dec

Friday evening update: Hikari needed one minor modification prior to final inspection today and will not be able to complete the final inspection process prior to New Years. The restaurant will now open January 2nd or 3rd.

We’ve learned from the owner that Hikari Sushi and Sake Bar (644 H Street, NE) will open this weekend (first dinner service either Friday or Saturday night). Hikari comes from owner Heesook Chun, who has opened nine Japanese restaurants over the past fifteen years, including the Matsutake restaurants located in Northern Virginia. The Matsutake Sushi located in Reagan National Airport was recently rated as one of the top twelve airport restaurants nationwide by food critic Andrew Zimmern. The interior of Hikari will have “a warm and trendy” atmosphere. Hikari is located towards the middle of H Street in a block that will see two new major residential buildings in the next few years. Hikari’s owner says that the planned future development combined with the future streetcar was a major reason for choosing H Street for a new restaurant. In addition to dine in service, Hikari will feature takeout and plans to offer delivery through a third party service.

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