From Cuban to Soul
At long last, someone is moving into the Barracks Row space vacated last December by the Cuban-themed Banana Café. District Soul Food & Lounge is set to debut at 500 Eighth St. SE sometime this fall, hopefully in September. The building had been vacant since Banana’s popular owner, Jorge Zamorano, retired.
District Soul Food is the second venture for proprietors Chris Everett and David Roundtree. Because of “structural issues,” they had closed their short-lived Two Brothers Soul Food on Route 1 in Alexandria, and decided to relocate on Barracks Row.
District Soul Food’s menu will focus on Southern staples like fried chicken, pulled pork, fried fish, collard greens, baked beans. Live jazz will play in the former piano bar on the second floor. The space is currently undergoing renovation, including plans for indoor trash storage to combat rodent infestation. Neighbors are welcoming this Barracks Row addition. The ‘hood has not had a Southern-themed eatery since the departure of Levi’s Port Café down the street.
Here’s something scary: By 2050, plastic debris in the world’s seas will outweigh fish. According to calculations published in the February 2015 issue of “Science,” about 10 million metric tons of plastic debris entered the oceans in 2010. That could double by 2025. Among chief culprits are plastic drinking straws, made with polypropylene (derived from petroleum). Fortunately, restaurants worldwide—and locally—are ditching plastic.
Queen Vic British Pub, 1206 H St. NE “stopped using plastic a year ago,” server Chrissy Mertz told us when our Bloody Marys arrived with paper straws. “Overall response was positive.” Down the street at 1238 H, Queen Vic’s sibling, mussel-and-frites Grandville Moore’s, is also switching to paper straws as soon as bartenders use up their plastic ones. “They won’t reorder them, but they can’t just throw them away,” Mertz said. “That would defeat the whole purpose.”
Starbucks announced that it will eliminate plastic straws worldwide by 2020; Marriott International plans to 86 them next year. This fall, the DC City Council will consider a bill which would urge vendors to replace plastic straws with something recyclable.
There’s been pushback. Critics contend that replacing plastic with bamboo or something similar would be too expensive. Also, people with disabilities might have problems. But most anti-straw measures would provide exemptions.
Bar None: Mission Possible
Last month, just in time for the 2018 All-Star game and debut of Audi Field, Mission Navy Yard opened July 13. Located adjacent to Nationals Park, the 10,000 square foot Mexican restaurant is a spinoff of Dupont Circle’s Mission. Owners are Fritz Brogan and Reed Landry who operate Dupont’s Mission and Hawthorne on U St. NW.
One of Mission’s four bars stretches to a purported 150 feet, claiming to be DC’s longest. Flowing from 16 draft lines are 10 beers, three wines (and prosecco). Three taps dispense margaritas and other cocktails. Upstairs is Mission’s main dining area with yet two more bars. The space opens out into outdoor balconies. A fourth bar is in the private dining/event space.
Presiding over the kitchen is Miami-trained chef Roberto Hernandez, who has wielded his whisk at Miami’s now-shuttered Blue Door at the Delano hotel and Barton G restaurants. The menu showcases a dozen taco options, huaraches, elote loco, nachos, flautas and frito pies. Open daily, Mission is located at 1221 Van St. SE, a side street across from the ball park. Call 202-810-7010 or visit www.missionnavyyard.com.
The fifth area outpost of Blue Bottle Coffee has opened at the District Wharf. Located at 1 Market Square, Blue Bottle is open from 7 to 7, 7 days a week.
State of the Union: Bagels and More
If you love bagels, you’re going to love this. Mixologist extraordinaire Gina Chersevani is unveiling a second Buffalo & Bergen this fall. If its 240 Mass. Ave. NE address sounds familiar, it’s where Bagels & Baguettes served breakfast to Stanton Park regulars for 20 years. Hank’s on the Hill patrons will fondly remember Gina from her bartending stint there.
Tucked into Union Market, Gina’s original Buffalo & Bergen serves bagels made from dough shipped in daily from New York, knishes, egg creams and boozy drinks. The spinoff will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, with reubens, chicken cutlets and lasagna. There will be a coffee bar and small patio. For updates visitwww.buffalobergendc.com.
District Doughnut, which operates sweet shops on Barracks Row and in Georgetown, has added an offshoot at the District Wharf. You’ll find it at 749 Water St. SW, dispensing toothsome creations flavored with brown butter, raspberry jam, milk chocolate and key lime pie. Call 202-688-3590 or visit www.districtdoughnut.com.
Ledo Pizza has unveiled its umpteenth spinoff at 816 H St. NE, the Atlas District space vacated by Halal Guys. Ledo was founded in 1955 in Adelphi, Maryland, and I have fond memories of scarfing their signature rectangular pies as a student at nearby College Park.
The sultry August days are here. To add sizzle to our backyard cookouts, CariBeat hawks a line of lip-tingling Caribbean-style hot sauces Saturdays at Eastern Market. Price: $5 for a 12-ounce bottle. Firepower levels vary; we tried the “medium mango peppa” on barbecued chicken and it added just enough zip. You’ll find the sauces most Saturdays at the outdoor farmers line.
DC Restaurant Week
Coming up August 13-19 is Restaurant Week, presented twice a year by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington and Events DC. The promotion is an excellent opportunity to experience our restaurants at bargain prices. Here’s the deal: Pre-fixe lunch and brunch is $22 per person; three-course dinners are $35.
Among participants on Capitol Hill and nearby are: Ambar (Barracks Row and Arlington), Acqua Al 2, Belga Café, Bistro Cacao, Cava Mezze, Matchbox, Osteria Morini, China Chilcano, Unconventional Diner and many more. For more information and a complete list, visitwww.ramw.org/restaurantweek.