Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Alfie's to close, move downtown; TBD for what replaces it and takes their Upshur Street space

If you want to get some tasty Thai food and cocktails, you better make a reservation soon. The City Paper reports that Alfie's, the Thai popup from Food Network Star chef Alex McCoy, is closing at the end of July to move somewhere "more downtown."

The original plan was that Alfie's was a pop-up while McCoy and group worked to fix up 845 Upshur Street NW, and then Alfie's would move there (although they also said it might stay at its current location, the former Mothership space at 3301 Georgia, too.) But the CP reports that the kitchen at the Upshur location seems too small, so they'll move the concept somewhere else.

McCoy didn't say what will move into the Upshur location. He said he's not considering Lucky Buns, the burger pop-up that is inside Alfie's on Sundays, for the Petworth location and may move it downtown somewhere as well. He added that he was thinking of a neighborhood American concept for the Georgia Avenue space, with a burger. Although the CP article doesn't explicitly say he's not considering Lucky Buns for 3301 Georgia, so maybe that's a possibility.

It's too bad to lose Alfie's, the place has been going gangbusters with reservations needed a few weeks in advance, unless you wanted to dine at 11 pm. I've been in a few times late and just sat at the bar and had cocktails, which are fantastic -- using Thai ingredients and even some Thai spirits like Mekhong, which is sort of but not quite whiskey.

I hope they're successful elsewhere, and I hope something cool and successful comes to 3301 Georgia and 845 Upshur. Opening three restaurants seems like a lot for one person to take on, especially considering DC's painfully slow permitting and inspection process, so I wish them luck.

UPDATE: The Alfie's folks say they're happy to answer any questions on Twitter.

Photo from their Instagram

Monday, June 27, 2016

PupusaFest last Sunday: a great idea but super crowded

On Sunday some friends and I went to PupusaFest, the fundraiser at Sacred Heart Church at 16th and Park. It must have been a successful fundraiser because there was a huge crowd, but that also means really long lines.

The way it was organized, you had to wait in one line to buy tickets for pupusas, then wait in another line to cash in those tickets. We got there at about 2:30 and the lines were massive, stretching the entire length of the street in front of the church, and very slow, so after about 20 minutes we gave up and went to Mt. Pleasant.

It seems other folks had the same ideas as us, Ercilia's Pupuseria and Pupuseria San Miguel were both packed too. There was another, separate line for drinks as well. We ended up at Dos Gringos and sadly did not get pupusas. When we came back around 4:15 the lines were a bit shorter but still significant.

It was a neat scene though, lots of music, lots of people from all backgrounds, and good smells.

It was neat to see so many people, but I hope they can get a better system for next time -- maybe more volunteers who are taking money, or more booths, or something.

Those who managed to get some flat, cheesy goodness, how was it?

Here's a few more photos below.

The band
The ticket line. The little tent in middle was the goal.

The little tent on the left side was the destination

The line goes back around the sidewalk past the bandstand

Look inside: Slim's Diner opening Wednesday at Georgia and Upshur!

We've been waiting for this for a while: Slim's Diner, the diner from the Room 11 folks, is opening to the public on Wednesday. They posted last month on Facebook about only needing a few permits and inspections and have been holding soft openings last week, so this time it's for real. I'm excited.

They've previously talked about having traditional brunch fare, cocktails and beer, and an in-house baker making "pies, cakes, biscuits, brownies, doughnuts and much more."

Last I heard, they'll be open early and late, like a true diner: from 7am-midnight Sunday through Thursday and 7am-2am Friday and Saturday.
I'll update when I hear more. Sounds great! Here's more photos.

All photos by Seth Kaplan

Friday, June 24, 2016

Whoa: Banneker Pool will have a DJ & night swimming on Saturday!

This is awesome! The Banneker Pool at 2500 Georgia Ave NW will have what they're calling a #SplishSplashSummer pool party tomorrow night, with a DJ and night swimming. The event, from 7 to 11 pm, is free but they ask you to RSVP.

It's free for residents and non-residents alike, and there's no outside food or drink, so that means no booze. The pool does have a snack bar with a few items but it's not clear if it will be open for the party.

Still sounds like a lot of fun. Here's the press release from the city:

(WASHINGTON, DC) – Come out, swim and socialize during the evening at four of DPR's popular outdoor pools!! Today, the DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) announced plans to offer late night, community pool party events for the third year in a row. 
Four #SplishSplashSummer pool parties will be offered as part of the 2016 outdoor pools season series. The event series is free, open to all ages and will have a DJ/music. Please note that patrons are not allowed to bring any outside food nor drink onto the pool deck. 
The locations, dates and times are as follows:
  • Saturday, June 25: 7 pm to 11 pm: Banneker Pool (2500 Georgia Ave., NW - Ward 1)
  • Saturday, July 16: 7 pm to 11 pm: Oxon Run Pool (501 Mississippi Ave., SE - Ward 8)
  • Saturday, August 6: 7 pm to 11 pm: Fort Stanton Pool (1800 Erie St., SE - Ward 8)
  • Saturday, August 20: 7 pm to 11 pm: Francis Pool (2535 N St., NW - Ward 2)
Please note that attendees are asked to RSVP online for this free event and there are no non-resident admission fees, however photo ID is required for entry (youth will not need photo ID, however they must be accompanied by a parent or guardian with a photo ID). All standard pool policies and rules will still apply. Please visit DPR's website for more information regarding DPR's policies on Pool Rules and Safety and Admission and Fees.
h/t Borderstan for the scoop

Patio party at Colony Club on Saturday: Timber Pizza, karaoke, beer specials and more

Colony Club, the coffee shop and bar at 3118 Georgia Ave NW, is hosting their monthly patio parties again, and the first one for this summer is tomorrow. They'll have pizza from the Timber Pizza Co. food truck (who are opening a brick and mortar location on Upshur in a few weeks), karaoke, German beer for $4 or a mini-keg for $10, and tarot card readings.

Sounds like a fun event at a cool spot. If you haven't been, Colony Club is a coffee shop until 5 pm when it turns into a bar. It's a modern space and there's a great rear patio plus a ping pong table on the second floor.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

PupusaFest this Sunday in the neighborhood: 10,000+ pupusas!!

Oh man, this sounds awesome. The Shrine of the Sacred Heart Church at 16th and Park has organized their second PupusaFest for this Sunday: last year's was a big hit, they had more than 10,000 pupusas but they were sold out by mid-afternoon.  This year they'll have more, all handmade by local experts.

If you've never had one, they're pretty delicious -- they're traditional food from Central America, kind of like thick corn tortillas stuffed with cheese, beans and sometimes chopped chicharron (fried pork) or other meats. They come with a tangy, spicy red sauce and some pickled cabbage called curtido, kind of like cole slaw or sauerkraut but crunchy and with a little kick. Both are great accompaniments to the pupusas.

The fest will sell 3 pupusas for $5, a good deal, and runs from 8am-5pm. I assume they'll have drinks and such too, there's not much info on Sacred Heart's Facebook page.

DCist has more about the fest and the background:
A predominantly Central American parish, Sacred Heart has been a center of the Latino community for generations, serving as a cultural hub for the area’s 250,000 Salvadorans. Many of them came here in the 1980s, fleeing the civil war in their homeland, and pupusa-making is an important part of preserving their Salvadoran heritage. “The new generation is learning the tradition of pupusa making,” says Father Villalta. “This is something that mothers are passing down to their daughters.”
I'm a big fan of pupusas and was lucky enough to have some in El Salvador and Honduras, where they are both awesome and delicious.  There are some tasty ones in our area too -- the ones at Bravo Bar and Lyman's Tavern are good, as are the ones at Susana's Pupuseria which is just across from Lyman's and Gloria's Pupuseria at 3411 14th.

I'm definitely looking forward to this event though, which also serves as a fundraiser for the church.

Photo by Jeremy Noble

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Bar and restaurant Homestead opening Thursday next to Qualia Coffee on Georgia Ave

More new things! Homestead, the bar and restaurant from the Blaguard folks coming to 3911 Georgia Ave NW is opening on Thursday, according to a press release. The spot, next to Qualia Coffee, will be focused on American food in family-sale portions with seasonal cocktails and local ingredients, including herbs they'll grow there.

There will be 175 seats on three levels with a lot of outdoor options -- the main level with a bar, a second floor with a patio and a third floor bar with another patio. They had their soft opening yesterday and based on the pictures it looks pretty nice.

Food options include lamb bacon BLT sliders, catfish nuggets, charcuterie, prime rib with garlic mashed potatoes, and more, ranging from $8 for the catfish to $40 for the prime rib. They'll have family style dinners (kind of like prix fixe) which includes three sides for $70. There's a dozen beers on tap plus other draft ciders, wines and cocktails.

They're open for diner only until July 1 when they'll start brunch on the weekends. The food looks pretty awesome based on Twitter pictures:

Here's the full press release for more info:
The team behind The Blaguard – the beloved neighborhood bar in Adams Morgan – will officially open its new restaurant, Homestead, Thursday, June 23, 2016 in the heart of Petworth at 3911 Georgia Avenue NW. The menu – developed by Executive Chef Marty Anklam – will focus on chef-inspired comfort foods in family-style portions, seasonal cocktails, and local, responsibly sourced ingredients. Homestead’s opening marks the first solo restaurant venture from Nic Makris, co-owner of The Blaguard, as well as the return of Chef Anklam to his hometown roots.  
The team of locals – who first met during grade school and have remained friends ever since – hope Homestead will become a mainstay for Petworth neighbors, District dwellers and visitors alike. “DC always has and will be our home and we want Homestead to reflect that,” said owner Nic Makris. “It’s a place where people can gather with their friends time after time because we’re here to take care of them. The food and drink you eat should be as good as the company you keep.”      
In the spirit of true home-style cooking, Homestead will rely on its relationships with high-quality purveyors such as Roseda Farms (MD, VA, PA) and Copper Penny Farms (MD) to offer diners a menu focused on fresh produce, meat, and game.   Menu highlights include Lamb Bacon BLT Sliders ($9); Catfish Nuggets with cajun sauce ($8); and Slow Roasted Prime Rib with Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Vegetable Mélange ($40), in addition to Dry Aged Braised Short Ribs and Homestead’s Roseda Farms Meatloaf, both served family style with three side dish choices ($70). Homestead’s bar program will tout a dozen rotating beers on tap. In addition to beer, the drafts will include numerous ciders, wines and house-made cocktails.  
The 4,000 square-foot restaurant will accommodate 175 diners across three levels: A main floor dining room and bar; second-level mezzanine and outdoor patio accessible by its own street-level entrance; and a third-level bar featuring its own outdoor patio. An extra 70 seats will be available on the two, upper-level outdoor patios during warm weather months, in addition to plans for a rooftop garden from which Chef Anklam plans to grow the kitchen’s own supply of fresh herbs and vegetables.  In addition, Homestead – which was built as a residential row house in 1922 – features woodwork refurbished from the original building and reclaimed artwork from local DC sources such as Bistro Francais, Community Forklift, Cochrans Lumber and even a Park View row home throughout the space. 
 Homestead will accept reservations for dinner by phone at 202-627-2371.  The restaurant’s opening hours will be 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. from Sunday to Thursday, and 5 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Brunch service will begin on July 1.
 For more information, please visit www.homesteaddc.com or check them out on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) at @homestead_dc. 
 ABOUT CHEF MARTY ANKLAMA graduate of Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, Chef Marty Anklam began training at the ripe age of four when he received his first knife set on Christmas morning. Flash forward a decade or so later – including many hours spent cooking alongside his mother Cissy - to Anklam’s first kitchen stint at Bistro Bistro in Arlington, Va. where his fascination with the restaurant industry was even further cemented. Anklam’s passion for hearty, seasonal cooking took him across the U.S., including posts at the critically-acclaimed Downtown Grill in Oxford, Ms. and Devil’s Thumb Ranch in Tabernash, Co. before returning to his native DC to join Homestead’s opening team. 

Photos from TroyalTAA PR and Homestead. Rooftop pictured here.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Cannonball! City pools now open during the week; check out their programs too

It's officially summer now, and right on time the city's public pools are now open during the week as well as the weekends. Most pools in the city are open every day but one: in our case, the Banneker Pool at 2500 Georgia Ave NW is closed every Thursday, and the Upshur Pool at 4300 Arkansas Ave NW will be closed every Monday.

Here's the hours for the pools. The pools also have some programs, like learning to swim for kids, parent and kid water aerobics, and a swimming league. Banneker also has a morning lap swim from 8am-10am. Sounds like a great opportunity for those who work from home or have kids who are off school.

Pools are free for city residents, make sure to bring a valid ID or utility bill. There's more info on what you can bring here. People who aren't DC residents can pay a small fee or get a pass for a lot of visits.


General Public Swim:
Mon - Wed & Fri: 11 am to 8 pm
Sat & Sun: 12 pm to 6 pm

Lap Swim: Mon - Wed & Fri: 8 am to 10 am


The following programs will be offered this summer. To register for a program go to the DPR Registration System.

DC Summer Swim League 6/22 - 8/14 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM Mo Tu We Fr

Learn to Swim for Children: Level 1 6/24 - 7/17 3:30 PM - 4:00 PM We Fr

Water Aerobics: Mommy & Me 6/27 - 8/22 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM Sa


General Public Swim:
Tues - Fri: 11 am to 8 pm
Sat & Sun: 12 pm to 6 pm


The following programs will be offered this summer. To register for a program go to the DPR Registration System.

DC Summer Swim League 6/22 - 8/14 12:00 PM - 12:45 PM Wed & Fri

Learn to Swim for Children: Level 1 6/23 - 7/16 2:30 PM - 3:00 PM Tue & Thu

Picture: David Hockney, "A Bigger Splash"

Here's all the new things opening soon: bars, mushrooms, Italian El Chucho, doggie day care, more

It seems like this has been a busy few months with new things opening or coming soon, so here's a rundown of everything that's new. It seems like Georgia and Upshur are both especially busy.

Little Coco's, the Italian outpost of El Chucho, is aiming at early to mid July at 14th and Quincy, where the old Rib Pit Lounge was located. It'll have the same idea as El Chucho, tasty and inexpensive drinks and food, plus some higher end things.

The Midlands, the beer garden from the Kangaroo Boxing Club, is also aiming for sometime this summer. They'll be located at 3333 Georgia in the shopping center with the post office and Walls of Books.

The Perch, a mushroom and micro green farm, is opening in the old Murry's building at 3400 Georgia Ave NW soon. They had a launch event the 12th so they'll be open anytime. They'll also have classes and community space.

Jimmy John's is now open on the Civic Plaza -- tasty sandwiches for all.

La Colombe and a bar from the Bedrock Billiards folks are coming at the 1300 block of Florida. La Colombe is opening by the end of June, but the bar we don't know much about yet.

Timber Pizza Co., a wood-fired pizza joint that was formerly a food truck, is opening in about two weeks at 809 Upshur.

Petworth Liquors at 3210 Georgia has closed, and will be replaced by District Dogs, a doggie daycare.

Alfie's at 3310 Georgia is now hosting Lucky Buns, a burger pop-up every Sunday.

Domku at 819 Upshur is closing sometime around the end of this month.

Slim's Diner from the Room 11 folks at Upshur and Georgia, is coming sometime -- they last said "a few weeks" about a week ago. Their date has moved a bit, which is quite common in DC.

Slim's also has an upstairs event space, Third Floor, which is open now.

Cappy's Crabs has opened as a pop-up in the Crane and Turtle space at 826 Upshur, and will be open all summer with crabs, orange crush (cocktails, not the soda), Natty Boh and the link.

Homestead Bar and Grill, a Southern bar and restaurant next to Qualia at 3911 Georgia, is opening Thursday.

Let me know if I missing anything!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Funny sign: need an apartment? Ask for Big Bob

I always love the random weird things we see around the neighborhood. The other day my buddy spotted this on 11th Street, it's a pretty amusing apartment ad. I like how it's kind of all lopsided too, it adds something.

I wonder if Big Bob is one of those joke nicknames where he's actually a short guy, like how "Tiny" is often used for really tall people.

In any case, funny stuff. Keep doing you, neighbors.