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
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.
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.
This is the first in a new series that will look at various dining establishments that could make H Street, already a great dining scene, even better.
In the past few years, H Street has seen a wide variety of restaurants featuring different ethnic cuisines open up: Ethiopian, Japanese (sushi), Mexican, Lebanese, Indian, Mongolian, French, Italian, and even British. The diversity and uniqueness of H Street’s restaurants is part of what makes the area such a popular dining destination in D.C.. Despite all of this diversity, the corridor lacks one fairly common cuisine for neighborhoods throughout the area–a Thai restaurant. Ideally, such a Thai restaurant would have a fairly large dining room area, a bar (but the bar would not be the focus of the establishment), and would offer both takeout and delivery service.
Why does H Street need such a Thai restaurant? Thai cuisine is very popular for its spice and also the diversity of different ingredients and dishes that can be served. It would add to H Street’s already diverse dining scene in an area that is currently lacking. Such a restaurant would also fullfil a neighborhood demand for more carryout options and delivery service. Additionally, while the neighborhood has several restaurants and bars that serve great food, the neighborhood could use a few more places that focus more on their food instead of their alcohol service. A quality Thai restaurant would (hopefully) provide another option on the H Street strip that focused more on food and less on alcohol. Furthermore, a Thai restaurant would give the neighborhood a go to place for food that–while not standard American cuisine–is familiar to most people and could thus be good for larger group outings. Hopefully the Thai restaurant would be a good place to go out for dinner and a drink either on a weeknight or before going out to other H Street bars on the weekend.
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).
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.