Georgetown Circa 1999

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GM moved to DC in 1999, a couple months after graduating from college. A child of the pre-Internet world, GM looked to the bookstore for information about his new home. With the magic of time, this dog-eared book is now a time capsule for turn-of-this-century Washington.

And what does this time capsule have to say about Georgetown? Most of what was open is no more. Of the nineteen restaurants it recommends, only five remain open. Here’s how it describes some of the dearly departed:

  • Hibiscus Cafe ($$) – 3401 K St.”Nouvelle Caribbean cuisine with unusual mints, spices, and sauces” with “a 3 ft. can opener hanging from the ceiling” [You could still see the mural for Hibiscus Cafe until relatively recently, when Malmaison painted over it]
  • Furin’s ($$) – “You could make most of the food yourself, if you had the inclination to whip up pancakes, breakfast sandwiches, salads, or spoil-the-kids-rotten slabs of cake.” [Soon to be Chophouse]
  • The Little Cafe ($) – “Small cafe with Mediterranean flavor” [Now Waterworks in Cady’s Alley]

  • Houston’s ($$) – “Meals for defensive linebackers” [The space formerly occupied by Rugby]
  • Zed’s Ethiopean Cuisine ($$) – “”Good Ethiopean food if you’re in the area and in the mood.” [Nothing is here any more, it’s the walkway down to Leopold’s]
  • Enriqueta’s ($$$) – “Lightly spiced Mexican cuisine…Try the mole.” [Actually, this is Don Lobos. So this is probably the same place under a different name, although it’s hardly $$$ expensive]

But really not that much has changed: “the majority of Georgetown’s dining options line M St. and Wisconsin Ave., where they vie for attention and patronage of tourists, power-lunching execs, and suburban youth.” The only thing that’s changed about that is that power-lunching execs are much more likely to eat downtown. Not sure that’s a loss.

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