28 Dec 2011

In the Reariew – 2011 in Dining on the Hill

uploaded to flickr.com by "clairity"

What an eventful year on Capitol Hill – and I’m not even talking about the warped and wishy-washy politics that went on in the big white domed building.  We here at The Hill Is Home attempted to bring you timely coverage of our neighborhood politics, cultural events, developing stories and (probably more than anything else) food options. So we realized as a staff we like to eat. And drink. Judging by the number of restaurants opening in our area the whole neighborhood likes to eat too. And drink.

So let’s take a look back at some of the highlights of food and drink in 2011 on Capitol Hill. 

H Street NE has blossomed into a destination where you can easily find a lovely dinner, head out to a bar and dance the night away, and then find an eatery for fourth meal.  The year opened with the opening of Church and State, the cheeky second floor bar from the owners of Fruit Bat and Wisdom.  Toki Underground opened a few months later.  Who knew a tiny second-floor eatery calling itself “underground” would become one of the hottest tables to snag in DC?  We also welcomed Shawafel, The Big Board, Khan’s Bar & Grill, the Queen Vic, and TruOrleans to the diverse array of restaurants already calling H Street home.

Over in Southeast we gained Senart’s Oyster & Chophouse and Lavagna as night-out dinner options, and many specialty food shops including 32 Below, the Sweet Lobby, Spring Mill Bakery, and Pitango Gelato. Do Hill residents have an addiction to baked goods?  Or just a more acute sweet tooth?  We added to our coffee options with Pound (and were introduced to the sinfully delightful Nutella latte), while teas and juices now abound at the B Spot.

The Tune Inn reopened in 2011 after a massive fire damaged or destroyed most of the interior.  I’m not sure if a completely remodeled and fully-sprinklered bar counts as a dive anymore, but I am sure the Tune Inn will do its best to live up to its reputation.

And near the Southeast Riverfront options are starting to multiply.  Justin’s Café and Lot 38 Espresso opened for the hungry masses heading to ball games or moving into new high-rises.

Also in Southeast, the DC food truck frenzy created a cult phenomenon known as Truckeroo.  One Friday a month the food trucks circle up in “Das Bullpen” right by Nationals Park like some sort of technicolor, aroma-ed caravan making camp.  Live music and beer added to the festive atmosphere, and urban foodies could sample the wares of many mobile kitchens.  I would imagine this tradition will continue in the warmer months of 2012.

We lost a few establishments along the way too.  Sadly we said bye-bye to Ba Bay; whatever the reasons for its closure, we lost our Vietnamese option on the Hill.  We also said so-long to the Hawk & Dove, though with major renovations already underway we may be able to say hello to it in a different reincarnation next year.

Speaking of next year, 2012 brings us even more options for dining and drinking on the Hill.  We expect Boxcar to open across the street from Eastern Market, and construction is moving swiftly on Chipotle on Barracks Row.  We also expect Ima Pizza to open on 8th Street SE in the spring.  I know multiple dining and drinking options are in the works on H Street, including Sweet Charleston’s restaurant/lounge/bar/live entertainment venue (wondering if they might have a gift shop too?).  Maybe, just maybe, Crepes on the Corner will open on 15th Street SE (a neighbor can dream, can’t he?).


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