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.
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)
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.
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!
A new restaurant is coming to the short-lived hair salon (pictured right) at 5th Street and Florida Avenue NW. From Paul Carlson, the owner of Vinoteca, comes The Royal, named for the Royal liquor store that once occupied the building many, many years ago.
Mr. Carlson described his forthcoming 40-seat restaurant as a place “where people can stop by on their way home, the price points are lower, and people know each other and know the staff.”
Though Mr. Carlson doesn’t expect the Royal to open for a few months, interested neighbors are invited to visit on Sunday, January 26, from 2pm to 4pm. If you can’t make it on Sunday, come hear Mr. Carlson’s presentation at Tuesday‘s civic association meeting. The association will likely vote on the Royal’s request for an alcohol license.