French tire manufacture and restaurant critic Michelin released its much-anticipated guide to Washington restaurants. No restaurants earned the top three-star rating, but three restaurants earned two stars, nine earned one star, and 19 restaurants, three of which are nearby, earned “Bib Gourmand” status for their “exceptional good food at moderate prices.”
LeDroit’s very own Royal (501 Florida Avenue NW) earned Bib Gourmand status. I frequently visit the royal for breakfast on weekends. Their coffee is decent and the breakfast pastries and arepas are great. A friend in West End routine visits for breakfast.
Red Hen (1822 First Street NW), just one block east of LeDroit Park, is another Bib Gourmand venue and is one of my favorite dinner spots. The menu is Italian and the pasta is deliciously fresh. Red Hen can get crowded, but you can often squeeze yourself around its peninsular bar, where you may eat dinner and drink.
If you’re looking for eclectic Chinese-French fusion, walk over to Kyirisan (1924 8th Street NW), one block west of LeDroit Park. The Tim Ma restaurant opened in March and the Post’s Tom Sietsema gave it a good review.
The nearest starred restaurants are the excellent Dabney (122 Blagden Alley NW) and Kinship (1015 7th Street NW), both near the Convention Center. Such proximity to highly rated restaurants would have been absolutely unthinkable when I moved to LeDroit Park in 2009. How times have changed.
On Tuesday LeDroit Park’s newest restaurant, HalfSmoke opened at the corner of Florida and Georgia Avenues, having already received a good deal of press. HalfSmoke bills itself as a “fine casual” restaurant featuring half-smokes, which are smoked sausages made with beef and pork. HalfSmoke also serves a hybrid diner-carnival menu of milkshakes, funnel cakes, tater tots, and mac-n-cheese pops. And of course no restaurant would be viable outside of Utah without a bar.
The restaurant is the brainchild of Andre McCain, who comes to the business from investment banking in New York (now that’s a career move!). Mr. McCain has carefully curated the carnival-like experience not just with food, but also by stocking the restaurant with a free photo booth, board games, and televisions for watching sports. On my way out, I spied cornhole boards on the almost-finished patio on Florida Avenue.
You can celebrate the arrival of our newest restaurant by joining the LeDroit Park Civic Association for its monthly happy hour at HalfSmoke on Tuesday, October 11 from 6:30 to 8:30.
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You may recall the building as the former home of Pharmacare, which shut down in 2013 when a Federal grand jury indicted its owner, Reddy Vijay Annappareddy, for Medicaid fraud. Although four of his employees pleaded guilty, last month a Federal judge in Maryland threw out the charges against Mr. Annappareddy.
The LeDroit Park Civic Association has organized some social events for everyone to attend.
The next neighborhood happy hour will be on Tuesday, September 8 from 6:30 pm to 8 pm at BKK Cookshop (1700 New Jersey Ave NW). BKK, named for Bangkok’s airport code, is located in the former Beau Thai space, which recently decamped for 7th Street in Shaw.
The Civic Association will also host a neighborhood block party on Saturday, September 12th from noon to 6 pm. The party will be held on the 300 block of U Street. Everyone is welcome to attend and bring additional food.
The Royal, the new restaurant at Fifth Street and Florida Avenue, is offering two new happy hours. I typically get breakfast at the Royal on weekends since they serve hot breakfast items and an array of coffee drinks. I’m always surprised how many strollers I see in that place; the Royal’s breakfast is popular with the sippy cup set.
For adults the Royal is offering a new happy hour from 3 pm to 6 pm daily and 10 pm to 1 am Sundays through Thursdays:
- $5 house vermouth (the vermouth in the vintage copper fire extinguisher)
- $5 Narragansett tallboys
- $7 classic cocktails
- Old Fashioneds
- $7 wine by the glass: one red, one white (daily rotating selection)
Doug Brown, the co-owner of Bloomingdale’s Costa Brava restaurant, drowned in the Chesapeake Bay on Friday evening.
Mr. Brown had hosted LeDroit Park happy hours at his restaurant and welcomed the LeDroit Park Civic Association’s executive board to meet in the restaurant. Many remember Mr. Brown as the friendly guy managing operations upstairs at Costa Brava. Mr. Brown’s generosity and his friendly and welcoming personality will be sorely missed.
Neighbors will be signing a condolence card on Thursday; please feel free to add your name.
The Royal, the new cafe/bar that opened at Fifth Street and Florida Avenue last month is receiving a lot of positive press coverage.
- “Colombian-ish Restaurant The Royal Now Open in LeDroit Park.” Washington City Paper.
- “The Royal brings South American flavors and homemade vermouth to LeDroit Park.” Washington Post.
- “Take a Look Inside Ledroit Park’s Exciting New Restaurant: The Royal.” Washingtonian.
- “First Look: The Royal Opens in LeDroit Park.” Zagat.
- “Another Peek Inside The Royal now Open in LeDroit Park.” PoPville.
Two restaurants open this week on Florida Avenue, continuing the transformation of intermittently vacant properties into food establishments.
The first is the LeDroit Royal (501 Florida Ave NW), which opens today (Thursday) at 7 am. The Royal has been under construction for months and I was able to attend its soft opening on Tuesday night. The interior renovations are remarkable and the menu provides a wide array of cocktails, on-tap vermouth, and Colombian and Guatemalan food. Like Bistro Bohem, the Royal opens as a coffee shop during the day and transforms into a bar at night.
Read the Post’s review for more details.
Just up the street, Rito Loco (606 Florida Ave NW) opens on Friday at 11 am. Like the Royal, Rito Loco has been under construction for several months. Rito Loco is the brick-and-mortar incarnation of the popular burrito food truck.
The shop is more of a fast-food operation with limited seating, but it may expand. I talked with the owner two weeks ago and he said he would eventually like to add a roof deck once he gets financing for it.
Meet your neighbors and check out Bloomingdale’s newest pub! The next LeDroit Park happy hour will be at The Pub and the People (1648 North Capitol St NW) in Bloomingdale on Tuesday, July 14 from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm.
We hope to see you there.
Local grocer Glen’s Garden Market will open a second location on Florida Avenue just west of LeDroit Park. Glen’s first store, which replaced the “Secret” Safeway on 20th Street in Dupont several years ago, is a small market specializing in locally grown food.
The new location in the new Shay apartment building at 8th Street and Florida Avenue will only cover 2,100 square feet. Unlike the Dupont location, the new space will forgo the pizza oven and smoker, but will cordon off an area for a beer garden, presumably on the spacious 8th Street front.
Read the City Paper story for the full details.
The Post reports that next month LeDroit Park will get an all-day cafe and restaurant that will morph into a bar at night. After many months of renovations, the Royal will open at 501 Florida Avenue (photo above, far left), and will be run by the Carlson family. The son, Paul, has run Vinoteca (1940 11th St) for many years.
The Royal’s menu will focus on Colombian plates like arepas, empanadas, blood sausage, and plantains and will serve Counter Culture coffee, which currently fills coffee cups at Big Bear Cafe, Peregrine Espresso, and Tryst. If you’re tired of walking five minutes to Mockingbird Hill for sherry, consider stopping by the Royal for vermouth, which they will serve on tap.
The telework/freelancer set can also rejoice. Paul Carlson tells the Post that the Royal will beam wifi into both floors during the day for neighbors who come in to work. So if you find any typos in future posts, blame the vermouth!