Restaurants Target 14th Street in 2013
This year has been a bonanza for D.C. foodies. 2013 saw many restaurant openings, a few sad goodbyes and more than a little drama.
Without a doubt, most of the attention in 2013 was focused on 14th Street NW. You just can’t argue with a list stacked from top to bottom with trophy winners like Le Diplomate, Kapnos/G, Ghibellina, Pearl Dive, BakeHouse, Doi Moi and Garden District. Plus, Ted’s Bulletin has tip top doughnuts and there’s Peregrine for killer coffee.
There is no other neighborhood with the number of restaurant openings that has created a huge impact on D.C.’s restaurant scene, even drawing national attention. From out-of-towners such as Stephen Starr and local chefs Ari Gejdenson, Mike Isabella, Peter Pastan and Amy Morgan all opening up shop.
With the empty buildings dwindling, we can’t imagine we’re going to see too many more new establishments opening in there in 2014, although we reluctantly anticipate a few closures — competition and all — but it’s not easy to get a table without a hefty wait, even on a weekday.
It’s too early to say the 14th Street corridor is the “best” neighborhood for dining. There are too many newcomers who will have to prove they can flourish with the increased competition. But 14th Street is the most exciting dining neighborhood of the year. But Penn Quarter with Jaleo, Rasika, The Source, Minibar, Fiola and Zaytinya are in for the long haul and will give the new 14th Street establishment a run for their money. And the Shaw neighborhood with its new food offerings like Baby Wale, Tally, Southern Efficiency, Mandalay, Mockingbird Hill and Right Proper Brewing Co. will challenge the 14th Street eateries as well.
Come and gone
Two notable restaurants opened and closed in 2013. The first was Fat Shorty’s, the sausage grill with mussels and Belgian beer from Hell’s Kitchen winner Chef Rahman “Rock” Harper and restaurateur Aaron Gordon, which opened in Clarendon in April and had closed by October. Gordon is also the owner of Drafting Table, which opened on 14th Street NW in October 2012, and Bar di Bari, both of which opened in the same neighborhood in June of this year. Gordon said he had a buyer for the building and had decided to concentrate on his other ventures.
The other closing was Azur, the three-story seafood restaurant in Penn Quarter from chef Frederik De Pue. It opened in June, but by October it had also closed. De Pue said the number of diners just wasn’t enough to keep the large restaurant open. The chef, who owns the building, will next try a multi-concept plan to get customers in the door. Set to open in January, Menu will be a market on the ground floor, serving up produce, sandwiches and soups. A bar will open on the third floor with a lounge component during later hours. There will also be a 40-seat restaurant on the top floor serving pastas and American fare, with a bigger beer program than Azur had. The second floor is all kitchen.
Coming in 2014
This week is a time to reflect on 2013. But it’s also an opportunity to look ahead to next year, which should still provide plenty of restaurant excitement.
Some restaurants set to open this winter in addition to Menu include:
- Lupo Verde from Med Lahlou and Antonio Matarazzo at 1401 T St. NW, is expected to open any day now. The intimate 100-seat restaurant, from the owner of Ulah Bistro and Tunicliff’s Tavern, will serve authentic, rustic, Italian fare.
- Flight Wine Bar from Swati Bose, Kabir Amir, Bradley Curtis will open in early January at will open at 777 6th St. NW. The casual, neighborhood wine bar will focus on wines by the glass from all over the world, as well as light fare such as flatbreads.
- Roofers Union from Marjorie Meek-Bradley, Roger Marmet and Daniel Lobsenz at 2446 18th St. NW is scheduled to open in January. The restaurant, in the former Reef space, is the second project from the Ripple team. Expect dishes like sausages, corn dogs with homemade Whiz and more.
- Bidwell, from John Mooney and Edens at 1309 5th St. NE is scheduled to open in January. It will be Union Market’s first sit down, full-service restaurant. New York chef Mooney is leading the operation, which will have a local, American bent.
- Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak and Stone Crab from Mike Rotolo at 740 15th St. NW is set to open in January. This is the first D.C. outpost of the Florida-based chain, particularly known for its seafood and key lime pie.
- Pinstripes, a chain, is expected to open at 3222 M St. NW in January. The combination restaurant, nightclub, bowling alley and bocce court is opening in the Shops at Georgetown Park. The restaurant leans Italian, with dishes like pizzas and chicken marsala.
- GCDC, a grilled cheese restaurant at 1730 Pennsylvania Ave. NW from Bruce and Steven Klores and Sophie Slesinger, is set to open in early February. In addition to various spins on grilled cheese, there will be options like tater tots and egg creams.
- Nicoletta from Michael White and the Altamarea Group at 301 Water St SE is projected to open in March. White has already made a splash in D.C. with his Osteria Morini restaurant. Nicoletta will sell pizza out of two kiosks in Navy Yard.
- Toro Toro from Richard Sandoval and Ivan Iricanin at 1300 I St. NW is expected to open in March. Sandoval’s new project is a Brazilian-inspired steakhouse. The restaurant will also feature a selection of small plates.
- Maketto from Erik Bruner-Yang, James Wozniuk, Ansuron Plyraharn, Chris Vigilante and Angel Franco at 1351 H St. NE is expected to open sometime this winter. Bruner-Yang and company are opening a combination restaurant and Asian market in the building. Vigilante Coffee will also make its home there. Diners can sample dishes from the Cambodian- and Taiwanese-influenced restaurant at the pop-up, now running at Hanoi House.
Also expected in January are Ivy and Coney, TKO Burger, Carolina Kitchen and Ri-Ra. February’s expected openings include Compass Rose and Heavy Seas Alehouse. Other expected winter openings include STK, Lunchbox and Fiola Mare. Tentatively set to open in the spring are American Eats, China Chilcano, District Doughnut, Gypsy Soul and Mad Fox Tap Room.
Which are you anticipating? Let us know in the comments, on Facebook or on Twitter.
Editor-in-Chief Mark Heckathorn is a journalist, movie buff and foodie. He oversees DC on Heels editorial operations as well as strategic planning and staff development. Reach him with story ideas or suggestions at dcoheditor (at) gmail (dot) com.