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.
Tru Orleans, the troubled cajun restaurant on H Street that was recently shut down by the D.C. Government due to unpaid taxes, will not reopen according to co-owner Brad Howard. The restaurant had a history of trouble with its neighbors, which had prompted a major challenge over the renewal of its liquor license. There had also been a significant physical brawl at the restaurant (including several arrests) involving patrons and wait staff after a large party of customers refused to pay their check. You can read more about the restaurant’s history of financial and legal problems from the Washington City Paper and see our take on the food here.
District Cuisine sat down with co-owner Brad Howard in the days after the fight in July. Mr. Howard expressed frustration with the business and told us that major changes were coming to turn the restaurant around. According to Howard, Tru Orleans had just hired a new chef, was changing its menu, was ending sponsored events at the restaurant that had caused problems in the past, and was going to change its name. While these changes seemed promising, ultimately the restaurant’s problems were too great and it is now closed for good as Mr. Howard confirmed to District Cuisine today.
Smashburger, the Denver based better burger chain, will open its first location in D.C. today at 10am and will then be open daily from 10am-10pm. Smashburger already has a location in Fairfax and plans on rapidly expanding in the coming months (they already have five locations lined up).
The burger restaurant has a unique cooking process for its burgers that is one of the ways that it sets itself apart from the competition. The burgers begin as large meatballs that are handcrafted every morning in the restaurant.
When a customer orders a burger, the large meatball is placed on the grill and then smashed down for ten seconds on the grill to make the burger flat and to lock in the juices and flavor of the burger. Overall, the cooking process takes two minutes and thirty seconds, and every burger is cooked to order. In addition to burgers, Smashburger also serves a wide variety of chicken sandwiches. 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