Category Archives: Restaurants

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]

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Restaurants Finally Making up for Lost Ground

3000 block of R St.

Last year Georgetown continued to grow out of the Great Recession downturn. But one notable exception was the restaurant scene. Between the beginning of 2012 and 2013, there was a net loss of 15 restaurants in Georgetown. While we probably haven’t made up all that loss, recently we’ve made up a lot of it and will gain even more soon.

This year has seen a bunch of new restaurants open here. Here are the ones GM could think of in no particular order:

  • Capitol Prague (and cafe)
  • Malmaison
  • Rye Bar
  • the Grill Room (both of these are in the new Capella hotel)
  • Good Stuff Eatery
  • Noodles and Co.
  • Kintaro (in the old J. Chocolatier space) Continue reading

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New Japanese Restaurant Comes Full Circle

1000 block of 33rd St.

 

In 2005, just below M St. on 33rd, the charming Chez Mama San restaurant opened. It offered a Japanese spin on European dishes (hence the bilingual name). Despite receiving mostly good reviews, the owners of the restaurant, Izumi and Miki Yoshimoto, decided to close a few years later. Keeping the upstairs space as a gallery for Miki’s art, the first floor was converted to J. Chocolatier.

Sadly J. Chocolatier decided to close up shop several months ago. The upshot is that we get a nice Japanese restaurant back. Early this month, Kintaro quietly opened up. GM hasn’t had a chance to try it out yet, but Yelp reviews look pretty good so far. Continue reading

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Georgetown 2028

What will Georgetown look like in 2028? More importantly, what do you want it to look like? Wider sidewalks? Easier parking? More restaurants? Better transit? You may soon have the opportunity to answer those questions, and actually have an impact.

Yesterday the Georgetown BID announced an ambitious new effort dubbed “Georgetown 2028”. The project is designed to take a deep look at what the neighborhood needs to do over the next fifteen years to face the challenges of a city growing and changing at an incredibly fast pace.

From the project’s website:

Future Georgetown must compete against new and “coming soon” commercial areas in the District and nearby areas so it remains home to fine dining, distinct retail opportunities, great hotels, and major businesses. Future Georgetown must have the transportation strategies and system to efficiently move people in, out and around. Future Georgetown, as a riverfront neighborhood, must have the forethought to protect itself from the impacts of a changing climate, including rising water levels. It must understand its future infrastructure needs and decide how it wants its public infrastructure to be designed, used, and managed. And finally, future Georgetown will need to manage all these issues as efficiently and effectively as possible.

The effort is a breathtakingly broad look at all the changes that need to be made to the physical and business environment in Georgetown. The project is organized around a task force of business, educational, governmental, and residential representatives (full disclosure: GM is on the task force representing the Citizens Association of Georgetown). Supporting the task force are three working groups addressing, respectively, transportation challenges, economic development, and the public space. Those topics give you a good sense for what sort of broad-based topics the project will consider.

And the project is also very wide-open in terms of solutions. And consistent with that, the project is seeking input from the public. There will be a community engagement meeting on June 13th at 1055 Thomas Jefferson St. at 5:30 to 8:00. There will be a second community engagement meeting in September.

But the input isn’t limited to community meetings. The project has already set up a community engagement website, which allows you to log in and offers your thoughts on what you want to see change about Georgetown over the next 15 years. There’s even a rewards program! Build up 150 points by logging in, referring a friend, and contributing enough ideas and you win a lunch with the BID CEO Joe Sternlieb, during which you can share your thoughts on Georgetown and what ideas you have to make it better.

Basically this is exactly the sort of comprehensive and ambitious planning effort that GM has been calling for for years. GM is absolutely thrilled that it is finally happening, and he’s honored to be taking part.

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Is Georgetown Properly Prepared for the Future of Sweets?

Photo by Stephane ❤.

Over the last eight years or so, Georgetown has really gone whole hog into the sweets business. But can that last?

While mainstay T. Sweets has held down the fort for decades, Georgetown truly began to tie its fortunes to the dessert-trade with the auspicious opening of Georgetown Cupcake in 2008. Between Georgetown Cupcake and Baked and Wired, Georgetown regularly saw one or more of its own on the top of cupcake ratings around town. Not to mention the arrival of the original cupcakery, Sprinkles, a couple years ago. Continue reading

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Irish Pub to Take Over Mei n Yu Space

Update: it’s going to be a Ri Ra.

GM heard a rumor from a reliable source over the weekend that an Irish pub was planning on taking over the old Mei n Yu space on M St. GM did not learn the exact name of the restaurant, but was informed that it was, sadly, a chain.

While pretty much all chain Irish restaurants lack authenticity, at least some aren’t that bad. Ri Ra and Fado’s come to mind. But many are pretty terrible. Just look down Pennsylvania Ave. to McFadden’s (which, when it opened, the owners laughably tried to claim would not become a college bar).

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Czech Yourself

GM was ready to deliver a big scoop about a new restaurant, then he did a little digging and saw that the Georgetowner beat him to it: We’re getting a Czech restaurant. It’ll be called Capitol Prague and it will take over the old Morso space at 3277 M St.

The Georgetowner writes that manager Petra Foist promises “Czech and Slovak cuisine—schnitzel, goulash, braised pork and dumplings—as well as various beers.” GM is particularly interested in that last part. Apparently the restaurant will be the first restaurant to offer Czechvar on tap. For those unfamiliar, Czechvar is the original Budweiser. In fact, in Europe it is sold as Budweiser (and our St. Louis swill is sold as “Bud”). As decided in one of the few cases GM can still remember from law school, Anheuser-Busch successfully kept the Czech brewery from selling its beer here also as Budweiser. Continue reading

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