Thursday, December 31, 2009

Other useful stuff for NYE -- buses, Sober Ride taxi

Couple useful things for folks going on tonight: the Circulator bus through Columbia Heights runs til 3 am in case you need to ride back from a bar.

And if do too much celebrating, there's the Sober Ride cab service, which provides free cab rides up to $50: 1-800-200-TAXI

New Year's Eve in the neighborhood

A few local joints are having New Year's Eve festivities:

Room 11 has a 5-course cocktail and food pairing created by bartender Dan Searing and chef Ben Gilligan, with two seatings -- 7 pm and 10 pm. It's $100 per person. The cocktail menu includes Dutch Fizz, Walla Walla Bing Bang, Vieux Carre, Blackberry Cabernet Caipirinha, Highland Alexander.

CommonWealth has a 3 course dinner for $45/person from 5 to 9 pm, reservations recommended. After the dinner, there's a Vicars & Tarts costume party with prizes, plus a champagne toast. The pub menu is also available, and there's no cover.

Social opens at 8pm with regular service and will have 3 complimentary toasts to celebrate New Year's in other time zones -- Xingu Brazilian beer at 10, rum punch at 11, and champagne at midnight. There's no reservations and no prix fixe, plus diners get a 50% off coupon for brunch on New Years Day.

Wonderland has DJs Meistro and Deepsang for a $10 cover.

Tonic over in Mt. Pleasant has $50 open bar all you can drink or $30 all you can drink draft/rail, plus a late night brunch/breakfast from 12:30AM- 2:30AM.

Red Rocks and Pete's are both open til 10 pm.

Know of any others? Let me know in the comments.

New Year's Resolution: Past Tense Yoga

The new year is almost upon us, which means New Year's resolutions. To get some ideas for resolutions, check out some of New Columbia Heights' advertisers, who help me keep the blog going.

The first one I'll be talking about is Past Tense Yoga, located at 3253 Mt. Pleasant St. NW. They have a number of special New Year's deals coming up:

Happy Hour
At 6:30 on New Year's Eve we're hosting Happy Hour, a high-energy yoga class set to R&B, pop and other modern music, to get you ready for your night out.

Good Moon Rising
Launch an abundant 2010 under the Full Moon. This special New Year's Eve class, which starts at 10:00 p.m., includes mixed-level Asana, rejuvenating guided deep relaxation, empowering breathing exercises and guided visualization/meditation. Approaching midnight, we'll howl at the moon with uplifting Kirtan chanting. Stick around for a potluck snack feast. Please bring a mug for tea and water and snacks to share.

Yoga Chaser
After you ring in the New Year wring out the remnants of the old year. Once you've gotten up and cleared away the after effects, get your detox/retox engine in motion with a not-too-invigorating, all-levels practice at 3:00 p.m. on January 1 that will start 2010 right.

January 16. Many of us make resolutions on New Year’s Eve, only to forget about them by Valentine’s Day. Ready to make real and lasting changes? Join us at 3:00 p.m. for Goaled Over: Setting and Keeping Intentions. We will use different yogic practices — including postures, breathing, and meditation — to help us accept where we are, envision where we want to go, and figure out how we might get there in 2010 and beyond.

If you're interested in advertising on the blog, let me know.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ready to pay for your bags at Giant, CVS?

You may have heard about DC's new plastic bag tax, where each plastic bag you use at a store will cost you 5 cents.

The rule starts Friday, so get ready to pay an extra quarter or so -- or you can bring your own bags, which is part of the idea. Giant, Harris Teeter, and CVS will be giving out reusable bags, which is pretty cool, and Target is planning on giving a 5-cent credit for reusing their own bags.

I kind of like this idea, since whenever I go to Giant it seems like I come home with 100 plastic bags. They already let you bring them back and drop them off, too.

Street Booze: Sutter Home at 13th and Girard

Here's the latest installment of Street Booze, where I document the various bottles of booze found tossed around the neighborhood.

This find was a big bottle of Sutter Home wine at 13th and Girard -- getting classy! Factoid for you, White Zinfandel was created at Sutter Home. There's also an empty Capri-Sun near the bottle, perhaps in case the wine's aftertaste is too much.

(And yes, I threw them away).

Pho 14 to expand, go for liquor license

Good news for pho lovers -- Pho 14, the popular and often crowded Vietnamese restaurant on Park Road, will be expanding upstairs this summer and then applying for a liquor license.

Yesterday I was getting some food and asked about the license, and a friendly staff member told me about the plans. He said they were working on drawings with an architect and planned to start work in the summer, when the restaurant is less busy. Once the expansion is finished, they'd probably apply for a liquor license.

Sounds good to me! I'm a big fan of the place, though it is often crowded. Having a Vietnamese beer with my meal would be a good addition too.

I took this photo to give you some idea of the upstairs space. I assume it would about double the restaurant's size.

Pho 14 is at 1436 Park Road NW

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Did you lose a memory card during the snow?

During the snow (on Sunday, to be specific) I found a memory card that looks like it's from a camera or cell phone on the hill next to Cardozo High School, on the 13th Street side. People were sledding there, so that's my guess.

If it's yours, please email me with a brief description of what the card looks like.

Post article on a Columbia Heights charter school

The Post has a nice piece on YouthBuild Public Charter School, a school which teaches kids who dropped out of high school how to do construction work, while getting their GED. The students have rehabbed apartments and homes, which are then sold to low income folks, and they also get a stipend and child care.

Pretty neat program. Here's their website.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Dog found on 1300 block of Kenyon

Got an email today from a reader who found a dog on the 1300 block of Kenyon Street last night. The reader took it to the vet, but it didn't have a microchip. Here's what the email said: "the vet thinks she might be a mix of chihuahua and Jack Russell...  She is a small, probably 5 years old, not spayed, wearing just a small collar with no tags."

If this sounds familiar, email me for more info:

More tax breaks for Columbia Heights developers

It's tax deal time if you're a developer in Columbia Heights. DCUSA got one, Ellwood Thompson's got one (but I have no idea what their status is, despite multiple attempts to contact them), the View 14 condos at 14th and Florida got one, and now Highland Park at 14th and Irving looks to receive one.

Originally proposed in May, the bill is about to be passed. The bill gives tax breaks to the Highland Park building, as well as the Park Place building in Petworth, both developed by Donatelli Development.

Now I'm ok with giving tax breaks to new businesses coming in, but giving them to businesses already in the area seems a little odd. Then again, the Allegro building faced foreclosure recently after the developer couldn't pay their bills, and was sold. Maybe this is aimed at averting those sorts of problems.

Video of the camel on 14th Street

If you missed it or were out of town, there was a live Nativity scene on the Columbia Heights Civic Plaza before Christmas, including a live camel. Fox 5 has a video:

DCist has more on it.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Some Christmas cheer from Run DMC

My favorite Christmas song:

Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to everybody, and thanks to all the readers.

Hope it's a good one, whether you're in Columbia Heights or not.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Bands in the Neighborhood: Citizen*

This almost Christmas installment of Bands in the Neighborhood features the foursome of Citizen*. The guys play on December 26th at Jammin' Java and then January 9th at Iota in Arlington. Here's what they had to say: How did the band form?
Jimmy, Brian and Lane all played in a band called Everyone But Pete. The original guitarist left and VH came on board with that band. We were all feeling a new vibe with the songs we were writing as a new band, so we did a big regroup and spent several months hashing out songs in the basement. We came out of the "woodshed," if you will, with Citizen*.  

How did you all come up with the band name?
It was the first name we all thought sounded cool that we could all agree on. The name's the hardest part, really. It took months.  

Why the asterisk? 
  Haha, we're just missing a footnote.  

How many members live in Columbia Heights? Whereabouts? VH lives in Columbia Heights, around 16th and Monroe, right on the cusp of MtP. He's like our ambassador to the District. Lane and the twins (Jimmy and Brian are twins, by the way) live in Fairfax.  

Do you practice in CH? How about play any gigs in the neighborhood?
We practice in Fairfax, since we can make a lot more noise out there, although they're starting to build McMansions all around the house, so it's only a matter of time. We've played Midtown Loft and 930 Club, but so far nowhere in CH proper.  

What are your band's influences?
Our sound is pretty much pop-rock, and we like a lot of those acts. We all have Pretty varied influences from pop to post-rock, but we really just love a well-crafted song. Some bands we're all into are Kings of Leon, Butch Walker, Foo Fighters, The Killers and MGMT.  

Any crazy and terrible tour stories?
We got caught in a tropical storm on the way back from North Carolina once, and the windshield wipers on our old van broke. To make matters worse, the windows and windshield were fogging up because the air didn't work, so we had to roll the windows down. It was like 3am and we were driving in gale-force winds with raincoats on because the rain was pouring in. It took us 18 hours to get home.  

What's your take on the local music scene in Columbia Heights and DC?
There is some serious dedication here. Fans come out show after show and support all the local bands (and bands from out-of-town), which is really awesome. Bands here really stick together regardless of style, supporting one another and coming out to each other's shows.  

And if you had to rename your band for something in Columbia Heights, what would it be?
 VH always heard, possibly incorrectly, that Fugazi's bassist lived in Columbia Heights, and he always wanted to know where, so "Stalking Lally." Barring that, "Mission of Target."  

You can hear more of Citizen* at their website (player in the upper right corner).

Decorating the Neighborhood: 13th and Fairmont

Kind of hard to see thanks to my iPhone camera skills, but I think this house's decorations are probably my favorite in the neighborhood -- it's tasteful, with trees wrapped in white lights, and there are electric candles in each window. Looks better in person, I promise. You can also see the Christmas tree through the window (though not in this picture). Nicely done.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Volunteer to shovel snow for people in the area

Saw this on some listserves, sounds like a nice way to help folks who are unable to shovel.
Dear Volunteers,

We are in need of volunteers to assist senior citizens with shoveling their sidewalks, walkways, cars, etc. We are expected to be deployed over the next 72 hours...

If you are able to volunteer today and/or over the next three days, please respond by calling Serve DC at 202-727-7925 or email Shilpa Sharma at In the subject line, write "Snow Removal Volunteer" and in your message please include: First Name, Last Name, Contact Number, Email Address, Availability and what quadrant (NW, SW, NE, and SE) you live in or nearest to.

Thank you for your willingness to serve!

First look at Pho Viet

Last night I went to Pho Viet, the new pho place at 14th and Parkwood that's been open since Thursday. The verdict: pretty good.

The brisket and meatball pho was large but bland at first. However, after some fish sauce, sriracha, and tearing up the basil leaves into the soup, it got very tasty. The brisket was flavorful and the meatballs were alright (though to be fair I'm not a huge fan of the meatballs at Pho 14 either). My friend had the beef eye round and meatballs, and enjoyed the beef eye round especially.

We also got the vegetarian summer rolls, which was also a bit flavorless -- I think the meat version would be better as the veggie version had a lot of unflavored tofu. They don't have banh mi, the Vietnamese sandwiches that Pho 14 has, which is too bad, they have one banh mi sandwich, but they had some interesting sounding non-alcoholic drinks, like Vietnamese espresso and various fruit drinks. Like Pho 14, they don't have a liquor license.

Service was friendly although a little slow and inattentive, but considering the place has only been open 4 days, that's not too surprising. There was a bit of a communication problem as well. It was very also inexpensive -- the most expensive thing on the menu was $8.95, and our dinner for two was $21, including a pot of tea.

I'm not sure it's better than Pho 14, but it is a good alternative, and they do deliver (minimum $15).

Pho Viet is at 3513 14th Street NW. Ph. (202) 629-2839

Kids shop with a cop at Target

Here's some Christmas spirit for you: a nice event at Target the other day: MPD officers took kids from low income homes in DC on a shopping trip, giving them $100 to spend and taking them to see Santa. The money, totaling $17,000, was raised by the DC Police Foundation.

Always nice to see this kind of thing.

Tons of snowmen in the neighborhood

What with the heavy snowfall and nice packability, a bunch of snowmen popped up around the neighborhood, from the huge to the weird. Here's a few I spotted.

13th and Harvard, and Clifton Street:

13th between Girard and Fairmont:

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Target now open 7 am-midnight

If you still need to do some last minute shopping, all Target stores are open 7 am to midnight. I called to confirm that the Target at DCUSA is doing it as well, and they are.

Get ready for the rush!

Awesome snow fort at 13th and Harvard

Saw this this morning, pretty rad. It's about 3 or 4 feet high.

There's also lots of neat and often very big snowmen around. I'll start posting them the next few days, along with more Christmas lights.

The city on trash, parking, alleys & street sweeping

The city has put out a number of press releases lately: namely that they're resuming trash and recycling collection where possible, they don't plow alleys, and they will be enforcing parking rules. Something else I've been asked about a few times is that residential street sweeping has been suspended, as of November 6th, which thus makes it easier to park on the street.

Here's part of the release on alleys:
The District does not plow alleys," said DPW Director William O. Howland, Jr. "We do not have the resources and in the majority of the alleys there is no place to push the snow. It would be too difficult and labor intensive to plow any type of alley, whether narrow or wide, in the District."
Not sure what that means if you have a snowy alley. What have folks done in the past? Just wait it out?

Cool Columbia Heights video

Saw this the other day on the Columbia Heights listserve, posted by Jim Graham: a nice video on the neighborhood by a realtor, Phil Di Ruggiero.

I sent it to my parents. Also like the random Daft Punk music towards the end.

Brunch at Ruby Tuesday: actually pretty good?

So my buddy has been raving about the brunch at Ruby Tuesday for awhile now. For something like $12, you get four things: biscuits, a yogurt parfait, an entree like eggs benedict with steak and potatoes or crepes, and then chocolate chip cookies as dessert. There's also lots of morning cocktails, mimosas and such.

Laugh if you want, but my buddy is a big fan and recommends it. He also notes that the staff is super friendly. Anybody else been?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sledding in the neighborhood

Lots of people had the same idea I had and went sledding the last couple days. On Saturday some friends and I went to Cardozo High School on the 13th Street side. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) the street wasn't slippery enough to sled on, but some folks were having good luck on the terraced hill next to the school using inflatable boats.

Then we went over to Meridian Hill Park, which was busy. Folks were going down the stairs in all kinds of things -- garbage bags, cookie sheets, trays, trash can lids, trash cans, some actual sleds and even a snowboard and a kayak. The best seemed to be just a garbage bag, or a lid inside a garbage bag. There was enough snow packed into the steps that it didn't really hurt your butt, and everybody was sharing their sledding devices. It was a cool, communal atmosphere.

I've also heard rumors that folks were snowboarding down the 13th Street hill on Friday or Saturday night, which is pretty funny.

How about you, did you go sledding or skiing anywhere?

Above is a video I took of some folks sledding. More photos and vids here.

Winter solstice events at Room 11

Room 11 has some neat-sounding events today in honor of the winter solstice: they're tapping a keg of Anderson Valley Winter Solstice Beer, as well as opening up some jars of nocino, an Italian aperitif made with green walnuts. The drink has been steeping for about 6 months above the bar.

They're at 3234 11th Street NW, at Lamont.

Most city services resuming today

Better put your garbage cans out. Just read on the Columbia Heights listserve that the Department of Public Works will start picking up trash and recycling Monday at 10:30 pm. Leaf collection is still suspended. Here's a bit more:
DPW officials say it may be difficult to collect from neighborhoods with narrow alleys, but ask residents to place trash and recycling in their normal collection location and to be patient.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Parking alert! Better move your cars

The Mayor just declared a snow emergency starting at 7 am. That means there is no parking starting at 7 am on any of the city's snow emergency routes, which include 16th, Georgia, Park, Harvard, Kenyon, Columbia and Irving in Columbia Heights. Our neighborhood kind of got the shaft on that. Better move your car or you might get a $250 ticket or get towed!

Here's a map of all the snow emergency routes. If do get towed, call 202-541-6083.

Here's more recommendations from the city.

Sleds & shovels update

So I went to Target, and they're out of all sleds (both kids and adults) and they have no shovels. We got a garbage can lid and one of those plastic storage boxes to see if that works as a sled.

However, Bed Bath & Beyond does have snow shovels, but I expect they won't for too much longer.

Pho Viet now open, with deals

Pho Viet, the new Vietnamese joint at 14th and Parkwood, opened yesterday. They're also offering a 20% off deal through the 20th, which is pretty cool, and might come in handy this snowstorm since they deliver!

Anybody go so far?

What to do in a big Columbia Heights snowstorm

Hopefully you don't need to go to Giant, CVS or Target anytime soon, since there's supposedly a big snowstorm coming and people tend to mob them, worried they'll be snowed in their house or something. I decided to come up with some things to do if it does in fact snow a lot.

For one, there's always sledding. Last time there was some snow, I wrote about places around the neighborhood to go sledding -- take a look. And if you have any other suggestions, post them here!

I think sitting in a warm bar would be pretty fun too -- maybe after the sledding. Wonderland seems like it'd be cozy, as does Room 11 and CommonWealth.

And you could conceivably go shopping -- the stores might not be crowded.

Photo by skpy

Northwest CH neighborhood holiday party this Monday

The Northwest Columbia Heights Community Association is hosting a community holiday party this Monday from 6:30 to 8:30. Their email says "No speeches, no meeting program, just time to relax with your neighbors and enjoy holiday food, music, and cheer!", which sounds pretty good to me. The party is at St. Stephen's Church, 1525 Newton St NW in the downstairs cafeteria.

They're having some events too, like a home-baked cookie contest with prizes, a neighborhood talent show, and a canned food drive. For more info on the talent show, email

Happy hour today for work-at-home folks

Saw this on the Columbia Heights listserve: there's a happy hour for people who work from home, a group called Green Line Professionals, on Friday afternoon at Domku.

I know of lots of folks in the neighborhood who work from home, so this might be a cool event. It's from 1-5 pm, and Domku is a great restaurant and bar in Petworth if you haven't been. Try the dill aquavit (infused vodka). Here's more:
This is your chance to get out of the house and join your fellow working-from-home folks and share tips and ticks around balancing work and home life when there are no physical boundaries to set the separation.
Domku is at 821 Upshur Street NW. Here's their website.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Holiday crime reminder from MPD

Good advice from MPD about keeping your things safe during the holidays (and throughout the year, for that matter):
HOLIDAY SEASON SAFETY ALERT: This holiday season, please be mindful of theft-from-auto crimes. Avoid leaving holiday packages, GPS Units, iPods, iPhones and other valuable items in your vehicle when you exit it, even for a couple of minutes (like stopping to pump gas). Share this and other safety tips with your friends, family and neighbors.

Restaurant Week in the neighborhood? Not so much

DC's Winter Restaurant Week is January 11 to 17, but there isn't much local participation. The deal is, you get a three course meal for $20.10 at lunch or $35.10 at dinner, not including drinks. Could be a good deal and a good way to check out some local spots.

However, in our neighborhood only Eatonville at 14th and Florida is participating, although Policy on 14th Street and T is in, as is The Grill from Ipanema in Adams Morgan.

I'm kind of surprised places like CommonWealth, The Heights, and Social aren't in it, but maybe that's because they're really not that expensive anyway -- you might have trouble finding three courses that are much more than $35 anyway -- just take a look at all their menus. Most Restaurant Week places are generally fancier joints that folks don't normally go to (and thus, why some restaurants don't like participating).

Decorating the Neighborhood: Rudolph on Girard

Today's edition of Decorating the Neighborhood is a house on Girard Street between 13th and 14th, featuring Rudolph (with red blinking nose) and other reindeer.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dance Institute of Washington celebrates Kwanzaa

Always like writing about local institutions and the arts: the Dance Institute of Washington, which is located at 3400 14th St NW, is having its annual dance celebration for Kwanzaa, the African American heritage and culture celebration, on December 21 and 22 at the Gala Theatre (14th and Park). The event, called The Magic Kente Cloth, will feature DIW's Youth Repertory Ensemble, their students, and another troupe, the Washington Reflections Dance Company.

The events are at 3PM and 7PM and is directed by the founder and artistic director of DIW Fabian Barnes and rehearsal director Ralph Glenmore, a former principal dancer of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Tickets are available online.

Change in leadership at MPD's 3rd District

Looks like the head of the MPD's 3rd District, which covers Columbia Heights and surrounding areas, is changing. On the 3D Listserve, the current commander, George Kucik, posted this:
Effective Sunday, December 20, 2009, I will be assigned to the Forensic Science Division. Jacob Kishter will take over as Commander of the Third District. Commanding the Third District has been one of the most challenging yet most rewarding assignments in my career. I have had an opportunity to work with many agencies, associations, neighborhood groups, and individual citizens and I thank each and every one of them for their support and assistance.

I wish everyone a happy, safe Holiday season.
Kishter came to 3D in June after apparently being demoted (according to the Examiner), and I haven't seen anything else about this most recent change, so it's impossible to tell if this is just a promotion or something else. There hasn't been much negative said about Kishter as far as I have seen, and using the city's Crime Map website, it looks like crime in the neighborhood has gone down over the past year for the most part.

Decorating the Neighborhood: Blue lights on Irving Street

The next in the Decorating the Neighborhood series is this house on Irving Street between 13th and 14th. I like the blue, it's kind of subdued. I supposed these could be Hannukah lights, since blue and white are Hannukah colors, but there's also a Christmas tree, so I dunno. Either way, I like it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bus shelters going in on 14th Street

Good news for people who take the 14th Street buses: it looks like WMATA or DDOT (not sure who actually does that) is installing bus shelters along 14th where before there were none.

A few months ago they put in shelters at 14th and Clifton and Euclid and they've been making their way north: Fairmont and Girard jut got them, and now they're working on ones at Harvard.

I would assume they're going to continue to be put in going north. Should make a winter bus ride a little more pleasant.

First impressions of Chipotle

Long line at Chipotle
Originally uploaded by squidpants
On Sunday evening my buddy and I decided to check out the new Chipotle at 3113 14th Street NW. The first thing we noticed was the line. Apparently it's been packed since opening.

I counted and there were 43 people in line, but we decided to stick it out. It went fairly quickly, about 15 minutes from door to ordering. However, a couple people recommended ordering online and then picking it up, and there's also a free iPhone app for Chipotle.

Despite the long line, most folks were getting it to go, so we found a seat. As for taste, it was what we expected, solid Chipotle.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Jokes at the Looking Glass tonight

Just saw this via Respect Music: there's a comedy show and open mic night at the Looking Glass Lounge today, including a contest for best joke, which wins a $25 bar tab. Pretty cool! Here's the flyer:

Drop off Toys for Tots at DC fire stations

Just saw this via the DC Fire EMS Twitter: all DC fire stations are drop-off points for Toys for Tots, the program that gives new toys to underprivileged kids.

There are a number of fire stations around Columbia Heights: 2531 Sherman Ave NW, 3420 14th St NW, and 1923 Vermont Ave NW (at U Street). I think the one on Park Road across from Giant is closed. There are also other locations, including the Dorchester House and Camden Roosevelt apartments on 16th Street.

From the FAQ, the toys should be new and unwrapped and starting at about the $10 price range and can be for kids of all ages, from babies to 18 year olds.

New pho place opening this week on 14th

Via PoP, there's a new pho restaurant opening this Thursday: it's called Pho Viet and is located at 3513 14th Street NW, which is at Parkwood Place.

If it's anywhere as good as Pho 14 on Park Road, then I'll be there. Plus I don't think there's a danger of the new place hurting Pho 14's business, as Pho 14 is basically packed all the time. Pho Viet also delivers with a $15 minimum.

One interesting thing out of this is that there seems to be a lot of duplication in our neighborhood -- independent coffee shops, Peruvian chicken places, Latin American bakeries, pho joints, etc. Maybe once one opens and is successful, other folks know they can do something similar. Or maybe there's just lots of demand for everything in Columbia Heights.

Decorating the Neighborhood: Harvard Street

With the holidays upon us, I decided to start a series on the Christmas and Hannukah decorations in the neighborhood, lights and otherwise. Here's the first in the series, some stick-ons and garland on Harvard Street between 14th and 15th.

If you know of any good decorations, let me know!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Social hosting Christmas Day, New Year's events

Social, the new bar and restaurant at 14th and Meridian with the shareable food, is having some holiday events. For Christmas Day, there are specials in the Cellar, the downstairs bar:
Generous drink specials will flow, along with the merriment, to mark the end of the Hanukkah and Christmas holidays. Guests are encouraged to bring their entire holiday party, Social is happy to host the whole family.
And for New Year's, they'll have their usual full menu and three complimentary toasts.
At 10p.m., flights of Xingu, Brazilian beer, will toast the New Year in Rio de Janeiro. Followed by Rum Punch at 11p.m., to commemorate new beginnings in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Finally, at midnight, a champagne toast will be enjoyed to celebrate the arrival of 2010 in the nation’s capitol.
They note that they won't take reservations and there won't be a prix fixe menu. In addition, folks who go on New Year's Eve will also get a 50% off coupon for New Year's Day brunch. They also have gift certificates, which are 18% off til Christmas.

Pleasant Plains Civic Association Christmas party Saturday

The Pleasant Plains Civic Association is hosting a Christmas party for neighbors tomorrow afternoon from noon to 2 pm at the Banneker Rec Center, 2500 Georgia Ave NW. Of course, I've had some issues with the PPCA before, who claim that basically all of Columbia Heights is actually part of Pleasant Plains.

But anyway, Christmas parties are always fun, and this would be a good way to meet your neighbors.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Want a tree for your yard?

The District Department of the Environment has a deal running currently where they'll plant a tree for $50. Not a bad deal at all, since trees keep houses cooler in summer, warmer in winter, and look nice.

The tree deal is part of their RiverSmart Homes program, where homeowners get up to $1200 to plant vegetation or do other things to reduce stormwater runoff. There's already one of these houses on 13th Street near Columbia Road.

Chipotle hosts soft opening last night

Post by Martha

Dozens of Kenyon Square residents, DC USA employees and other neighbors attended an invitation-only soft opening of the Chipotle on 14th last night. Chipotle's East Coast PR Director Katherine Newell Smith said the company especially wanted to thank residents of Kenyon Square for putting up with the construction.

Kenyon Square resident Ryan Cathcart, 27, said it was less the noise than the intense "vibrations" he experienced over the last few months: "It vibrated up the building but wasn't anything like the jack-hammering that was going on outside for a while." Ryan was more ambivalent about the Chipotle finally opening, saying, "It's better than nothing."

Chipotle offered beer and wine to guests last night but an area manager told me they will not be pursuing a liquor license. My burrito, however, was delicious.

Shoutout to Fatima Guidel, 23, (left) who's joining the CH team from a Bethesda location.

Chipotle will open to the public tomorrow.

Darth Vader lives in Columbia Heights

And he drives a Mini Cooper. Spotted this the other day on 14th Street. I'd like to meet this character.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Biscotti at Tynan

Spotted this on Mr. T in DC's photostream. It looks delicious.

Tynan Coffee & Tea also has pretty tasty sandwiches and all day waffles to go with their coffee offerings. Check it out if you haven't been, they're at 1400 Irving Street NW, next to Five Guys.

A lot of excitement for Chipotle

As you may know, the Chipotle on 14th Street opens on Friday the 11th. It seems like most people fall into two camps: those who can't wait, and those who really don't care at all.

However, it seems like the excited folks outnumber the others -- here are some samples from Twitter, for example: @24GoldenChild "When the #Chipotle in Columbia Heights opens I'ma be out there dancing around in aluminum foil HEAD TO TOE!!!" @Starmoon "Hollerrrrr. Grand opening of #Chipotle Columbia Heights is THIS Friday!!!" with a photo. Anything I've written about Chipotle has also been retweeted like crazy.

To be honest I'm a little surprised about it. I like Chipotle a lot, and I'm looking forward to it, but it's not like there aren't burritos elsewhere in the neighborhood -- Pollo Campero has them, for example, and there are other good Latin American joints in Mt. Pleasant and up 14th Street, like Taqueria Distrito Federal.

Is it because the burritos are quick, and thus an easy lunch or after work dinner? Is it quality control, or the size? If you're a Chipotle fan, let me know why you're so excited. Or if you're an anti-Chipotler, give us some alternatives.

New Year's at CommonWealth

Saw this on the Columbia Heights listserve, it's the first New Year's party I've heard of so far. CommonWealth is having a three course dinner for $45 per person, not including tax and tip, from 5 to 9 pm.
Afterwards, come in costume for a night of dancing and revelry at our 2nd annual Vicars & Tarts fancy dress party! Prize for the best costume. Pub menu available and don't miss the champagne toast at midnight.
They'll also be open New Year's Day for brunch.

CommonWealth is at 1400 Irving St NW, around the corner from Five Guys.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Power outages in the neighborhood

Yuh oh, looks like some folks won't have power when they get home. PEPCO's online map shows a power outage at about Girard and Sherman and another at roughly Spring and Georgia. (If you click "locations" instead of "areas" you see the actual spots.)

DDOT's Twitter also says traffic signals are out on 11th and Sherman.

Hope your place isn't one of them!

UPDATE: DDOT's Twitter says the signals are back on, but not sure if that also means the houses are back on.

What We're Missing: A bookstore

This was mentioned in the last open-ended What We're Missing post, but I think it's worth repeating -- wouldn't it be nice to have a bookstore in the neighborhood? I contacted local chain Olsson's about it a awhile ago (when they were still in business) but that's obviously off the table now since they are bankrupt.

But I think it'd be a good idea -- maybe a bookstore and cafe or coffee shop would be best, since local independent bookstores are not always doing too well lately. Selling CDs would be cool too.

As far as I know, the only place in the neighborhood that has both is Target, and their selections are lacking -- mainly the bestsellers. Target does, however, have a nice selection of classic books for about 6 bucks each -- I got Fahrenheit 451 there.

Some good models for the bookstore would be Sankofa Bookstore and Cafe on Georgia Avenue, The Potter's House in Adams Morgan, or Afterwords/Kramerbooks in that they sell books and have a cafe or coffeeshop.

I wouldn't mind a Borders type either, but an independent one would be best, in my opinion.

Photo by brewbooks

Both escalators working at Columbia Heights Metro east entrance

The planets aligned! For the first time in I don't know how long, both escalators on the east entrance of the Columbia Heights Metro were working, as of Sunday night. However, that could mean they're down again. Those things must be made of tissue paper or something.

I haven't been to the west entrance, are those working too? If so, I'd be shocked.

UPDATE: Looks like all the escalators are now off, on both sides. Wow. We are 0/5.

Beer tasting at Red Derby on Thursday

The Red Derby is hosting a cool event this Thursday at 8 pm, a beer tasting hosted by Orr Shtuhl, who's the Beerspotter for the Washington City Paper.

The event will have 8 beers, which are all currently available from the bar, so you might learn something about what's on offer or find a new fave. The beers will be in 4 pairings so you can compare them. Shtuhl anticipates the event will be "a fun, laid-back neighborhood night." The event $20 and tickets available in advance from the bartenders. It will be in the back room.

Photo by gingher

Monday, December 7, 2009

DDOT discusses Columbia Heights parking tonight

If you park in the hood, you might want to take note: DDOT is hosting a meeting tonight to discuss their Performance-Based Parking Pilot -- "The goal is to protect neighborhood parking, spur regular turnover of metered spaces around commercial establishments, promote other modes of transportation and reduce congestion using a variety of tools including variable parking meter rates and time limits."

To do this, there will be 6 blocks with multi-space meters that DDOT will track to see usership and such.

The meeting is tonight (Monday) at the Columbia Heights Community Center, 1480 Girard Street NW.

Greater Greater Washington has more on the meeting and on DDOT's plan.

Missing cat from 11th and Monroe

Got this the other day: "we missing a black cat with orange eyes. He is a young male (maybe 6 months old), neutered, and is VERY friendly. He is missing from his home near 11th and Monroe St NW. His family misses him very much! We can be reached at 703-304-5109 or you may e-mail me."

Best sledding spots in the neighborhood?

The dusting of snow we had this weekend got me thinking: if we do get enough snow, where are some good sledding spots in the hood?

First and foremost would be the southern end of Meridian Hill Park, which is generally hilly. Watch out for trees, however. A smaller hill would be the one next to Fenty Field at Harriet Tubman Elementary School -- better for little kids or the faint of heart, I'd think.

The fields around Banneker High School would also be good spots, and Cardozo High School has some terraces on the east side which would be fun -- lots of jumps if you could go fast enough. And If you wanted to go farther afield, there's Rock Creek Park with lots of hills.

Any other sledding recommendations? Obviously this is more hope than anything else since we haven't had much snow in the past few years, but you never know. I'll be out there if it's possible!

Photo by kptyson

Be careful if you park on the street

This is probably pretty well known, but make sure to be smart if you park your car on the street. This evening, my friend's car was broken into on 13th Street, and it looked like another car just up the block had also been broken into.

Just a reminder that if you do park on the street, make sure any valuables are not visible, including the mountings for a GPS unit, iPod, etc, as those might show crooks that other things are in the car.

Friday, December 4, 2009

New Peruvian chicken place open on Park Road

Have you been to the new Peruvian joint? Peruvian Chicken and Steak, located on Park Road on the north side of DCUSA has been open for a little while. My buddy went there the other day and said it was pretty tasty: "Pollo Sabroso has some competition." The atmosphere looks... lacking, but hey, most Peruvian chicken places aren't known for their interiors.

There's no Yelp reviews so far, but another place with the same name in Arlington has 4 stars, so I'd assume they use the same recipe. Have you been?

Backyard chickens coming to the city?

I've heard a little bit about this before, but some folks in the city are attempting to legalize keeping chickens in the yard. Right now it's illegal, but councilmember Tommy Wells is proposing a bill to allow it.

However, you can't just go out and buy a farm: roosters would be illegal because they're noisy, you'd have to get 80% of households within 100 feet to agree to let you have them, and if one neighbor objects, no dice. In addition, the chickens must be in enclosures and those must be kept clean.

The DC Food For All blog has a personal story about people with chickens in Capitol Hill, which they enjoy and say aren't noisy and don't smell.

What do you think? Nice extension to urban farming, or terrible nuisance?

Photo by transguyjay

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Columbia Heights condos on video

It seems like the new thing on Youtube is videos about condos in the neighborhood. I've found a few recently, some by owners, some by realtors, and they give you a pretty good idea of what you might get.

Some of them aren't the most fascinating videos I've ever seen, but hey, if you're looking for a condo in the neighborhood they might help.

Bands in the Neighborhood: Lucky Dub

This edition of Bands in the Neighborhood is on Lucky Dub, a reggae/dub group with members in Columbia Heights and elsewhere.

Bassist John Baker and two others formed the band in summer 2007 and then had some turnover. One person left, a Rasta from Jamaica joined for awhile, and soon vocalist Gordon Daniels joined. Daniels had just moved back after living and playing music in the Virgin Islands for a year and was looking for a reggae band. "After meeting a few of the guys I came to the next show they were playing at Asylum in Adams Morgan," said Daniels. "The singer literally just didn't show up. I was in the crowd, and they asked if I knew enough songs to make it though the night. I jumped on stage, and we just clicked." The band picked up a horn section in January.

Daniels and Baker both live in the neighborhood, around Georgia and 15th respectively, but other members "span from students in the city from around the country, and professional musicians from as far as Baltimore and Virginia."

The band played the most recent Columbia Heights Day and other venues in the area, like Wonderland and even Morgan's Seafood at Georgia at Kenyon. One memorable show was at the Rock and Roll Hotel for a Greenpeace event: "There was so much energy from the crowd, just having done a successful action; I've never seen a group with more collective energy get down so hard!" said Baker. "We had so many people come up to dance on stage that the club had to make a special announcement for them to get down."

Daniels also cited good times at the now-closed Ghana Cafe in Adams Morgan. "We played through power blackouts, had the entire bar up on stage, our musicians dancing and playing in the crowd, and it would go until 2:45 in the morning," he said.

Influence-wise, band members are from around the country, and Daniels gives the Caribbean a particular emphasis. "The motto you hear from everybody and see down there is 'Positive Is How I Live,' and it’s true," he said. "...I love the feel and vibe I get from a reggae show or techno show, where everybody is just smiling and you can feel everybody loving life."

Musically, Daniels mentions the first reggae acts they heard like like Bob Marley, plus reggae-influenced 90s rock like Sublime and 311, and classic rock, blues, and hip hip. They also mentioned are pulling from dub like King Tubby and Augustus Pablo, world music, roots reggae likes Toots and the Maytals, and newer bands like Michael Franti & Spearhead.

Asked about records, they mentioned not an album but a Guinness Book record. "We did set the Guinness Book world record for the longest jam," said Daniels. "We have T-Shirts to prove it," added Baker. "It was a six-day jam that took place at Johns Hopkins University and we were the final closing act."

As for albums, they have a live album called "Lucky Dub Live" on iTunes, which was recorded at the Black Cat, and they're working on their first studio record.

Since the band members aren't full time musicians, most of their tours have been weekend trips, but they are planning a tour to the Virgin Islands during Carnival.

Asked about the local music scene, both Baker praised Wonderland and the neighborhood. "I think Columbia Heights is very much one of the creative centers for DC, I know lots of artists and musicians that live in the area, and I think that's been something that has made the area a tighter community than other areas of DC," mentioning the drum circle at Malcolm X/Meridian Hill Park as an example: "'s a fantastic collective of people from all different backgrounds that come together simply to make music and dance together."

And the last question: if you had to rename your band for something in Columbia Heights, what would it be? Daniels suggested Jam Down, a favorite Jamaican restaurant on Georgia Avenue. "If you haven’t been yet you have to check it out. They bump good reggae music into the street giving off good vibes all day on what is sometimes a dark street. It’s a bright spot. I mean I love the neighborhood, but when you walk by it you just kind of feel better. That’s what I’d like from the music we do..." He also thinks Cesar Chavez Elementary School would be a good name.

The band's next shows are in the Virgin Islands, but check out their Twitter and Youtube for more.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Want to help form a neighborhood watch?

This sounds like a good idea -- the Northwest Columbia Heights Neighborhood Association is working with MPD to put together a neighborhood watch for the area. They're hosting a Block Captain training on Tuesday, December 8.

As described by the NWCHCA, a Block Captain is a volunteer "who gets to know all the people living on their street, so they can keep an eye out for people who aren't normally there. They also help when a neighbor goes on vacation by picking up the mail and things like that."

The training session is at the MPD Park Road Substation, 750 Park Road NW, and it's from 7:30 to 9 PM.

They also noted that neighborhood watches have made a big difference in other parts of DC and around the country. It doesn't matter if you live in northwest Columbia Heights or not to participate, and businesses and apartment dwellers are encouraged to come too. It's free, and there will be refreshments.

To RSVP, email before Sunday the 6th.

Here's more from MPD on neighborhood watches.

Chipotle opens Dec. 11

Just got word in a press release that Chipotle on 14th Street opens December 11 at 11 am. They'll be open daily from 11 am to 8 10 pm. Let the burrito discussion begin!

UPDATE: First 100 customers to buy a burrito on the 11th after 3:00pm get a t-shirt and free burrito card.

Street music in the neighborhood

While street life has definitely gotten busier in the neighborhood, one thing we don't seem to have much of is street performers doing music. I think only once have I seen anybody, and that was a guitarist I've seen around the city at Metro stations. However, I found a couple of recent videos of some good bands playing in the area. Let's hope it keeps up!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Cool time-lapse video of Kenyon Square construction

Spotted this on Youtube. Pretty amazing to see the before picture.

The only weird part is that the sound is one of the iPhone's ringtones.

Room 11's Monday events: Awesome

So I've been to Room 11's first two Monday events, and they're great. Each Monday the bartender/owner Dan Searing serves a new kind of beer, some new cocktails, and some food to match with it.

Last night it was Scottish themed for St. Andrew's Day, the national day of Scotland, with a Scottish-style beer, a whisky cocktail, and a gin cocktail. Both were great, and the Hendricks Gin folks showed up and gave out free drinks, plus free shoeshines. Random, but cool.

The food pairing was cockaleekie soup, a Scottish chicken soup with leeks, and my friend said the duck confit and pork belly cassoulet was great.

The only problem is the place is small, but it was never too crowded last night.

Cool Washington Post cartoon on BloomBars

The Post wrote drew about BloomBars, the performance space on 11th Street the other day. Pretty neat, take a look.

Not every day you see a useful and interesting cartoon! Part of the Post Magazine's redesign I guess.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Recommended: Enterprise Rent-a-Car on Georgia Ave

For Thanksgiving I needed to rent a car, so I used my old stand-by: the Enterprise Rent-a-Car location at Georgia and Girard. The place is usually cheaper than other rental car places, they almost always have cars (I rented a day before I needed it), and best of all, it's walking distance to most of the neighborhood. It's also close to the Georgia Ave shops and such if you need some snacks or coffee for your trip (like Sankofa Coffee).

It's a good alternative to Zipcar, especially for long periods of time, so I recommend it! Enterprise isn't on Orbitz, but here's the location's website.

(In case anybody was wondering, I don't get paid or anything for the various places I recommend, they're just things I think folks might find useful.)

Enterprise is located at 2730 Georgia Ave NW. Phone (202) 332-1716

Celebrate St. Andrew's Day at Room 11

Last week I wrote about Room 11's new Monday beer series. Today's version is a bit different: it's St. Andrew's Day, the national day of Scotland (like St. Patrick's Day for Ireland). I've always thought it was weird that nobody celebrated St. Andrew's Day, even though so many folks are Scottish.

But thankfully Room 11 is doing something, starting at 5 pm:
We'll have guest tap Brooklyn Winter Ale, a Scotch-style Ale (think dark rich and malty) on
draft while it lasts. From 8:30 to 10 pm Scottish gin Hendrick's will be offering free samples and free shoeshines! We'll also have Scotch whiskey and cocktail specials from Compass Box and we'll declare the winner of the Highland Bitters Scottish Cocktail Smackdown. Will the Mel Gibson (Hendrick's Martini with house-made Highland Bitters and a house-pickled onion) or the Liam Neeson (Compass Box Asyla with sweet and dry vermouth and house-made Highland Bitters) emerge victorious? Cast your vote by ordering one then feast on some delicious Scottish food specials from Chef Ben Gilligan.

Jim Graham launches re-election campaign

Jim Graham, the Ward One councilmember (which includes Columbia Heights) has launched his re-election campaign. In my opinion, he's done a good job, but he's also had some scandals in his office, with former chief of staff Ted Loza involved with some shady stuff.

I presume that Graham will win, but he does face some opposition: Adams Morgan ANC commissioner Bryan Weaver.

So far on the blog, there's been one pro-Graham comment and one anti-Graham comment. What do you think? More bowtie or new blood?

Photo by dbking

Lost Dog! Have you seen Bindi?

Sad story: got an email from some folks who lost their dog on Thanksgiving day at 14th and Newton. Bindi is a black and white Tibetan terrier. If you see Bindi, just call 202.365.7250 or 703.402.2973 or email me and I'll pass on the info. There's a reward as well.

Attached is a photo.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Is the BP gas station a drug dealer hangout?

Recently on the South Columbia Heights listserve there's been some discussion about the BP gas station at 14th and Euclid. Apparently a bunch of guys were loitering after the owners asked them to leave. The police responded and everybody left, but a few days later the same people were there, so the police banned them from the premises. The implication on the listserve is that the gas station is a hangout for drug dealers, which I'd never really heard before.

I have seen guys meet other guys there and pass them money, but I (perhaps naively) figured it was just some guy who owed some other guy money. But this is the first I've heard -- has anyone else heard about this?

I posed the question on the listserve and got a response from one person who had recently been to a meeting with MPD where the BP station and two other problem areas (1333 Euclid and 11th and Clifton) were discussed. MPD's Lt. Pearce gave her cell number and asked people to text her if they saw anything that concerns them, such as aggressive people, people doing drugs or under the influence, and so on, especially around those three problem areas. Her number is 202-498-9833.

Lt. Pearce then asked people to call 911 after alerting her even if it's not an emergency, as 911 calls are logged to see where more police presence is needed.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

DC rapper Wale to appear at Target on Friday

In case Target wasn't crazy enough already, DC rapper Wale, who's featured Columbia Heights in two videos, will be at every Target in DC and PG County on Friday signing albums and giving away mixtapes. Since the only Target in DC is the one in our neighborhood, I expect he'll be there. His debut album, Attention Deficit, came out this month.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope you're having a good one with friends or family. If you're going out to eat somewhere in the neighborhood, let me know how it is!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Black Friday is going to be crazy at DCUSA

I have a feeling that DCUSA is going to be completely bananas on Black Friday: I've seen ads on tv today for sales at both Best Buy and Target starting at 5 am, and a poster on Twitter just told me that they're setting up port-a-johns outside. I'm out of town for the holiday, but if you take any pictures or have any tales, please let me know in the comments.

Hopefully everybody has a good time and the city makes lots of dough from tax revenues!

Update: I also saw commercials for Radio Shack of all places too, with sales starting at 5:30 am.

Art on 14th Street: Cherif Mamadou

Walking down 14th near the Target a week or so ago I saw an artist selling his paintings, which is different from street vendors in the area. The artist's name is Cherif Mamadou, who's originally from the Ivory Coast via Paris but lives in DC now.

I've seen him before painting at the triangle park in Mt. Pleasant, he tends to paint quickly while listening to music. He said one of the goals is to get kids interested in art, which is a good one, and I've often seen kids watching him at work. He had a bunch of different works for sale, and he's a pretty friendly guy.

Here's a bunch of pictures of him working, and a video below.

Manny and Olga's coming to Georgia Ave?

Saw this the other day on Georgia Avenue, just south of the Looking Glass Lounge. Since they seem to be looking for a franchisee, which require a fair amount of cash, I would assume this is a ways off. The pizza from Manny & Olga's is ok, but they do deliver very late.

Free English classes for families

If you or anyone you know is looking for English classes, check this out -- there's a free family literacy program at the Carlos Rosario School at 1100 Harvard Street NW with all kinds of classes: English, computers, reading, etc.

Here's the flyer, in English, Spanish, Amharic, and Vietnamese. Spread the word!

Pictured: Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Wild Post story about a wrongly convicted CH resident

The Post has a great article about a man who was wrongly convicted of a murder, jailed for 10 years, and recently exonerated. He then accepted a scholarship from the George Washington University and lives in Columbia Heights. There was a documentary made about him too. Interesting stuff, have a look.

I'd heard about this story before in the GW Hatchet, but I didn't know he lived in our area.

Recommended: Mom & Pop Antiques (& Records)

Mom & Pop Antiques
Originally uploaded by squidpants
The other day I was going to Looking Glass Lounge with some friends and we noticed the antique shop about a block down. It's called Mom & Pop Antiques and we decided to take a look. Now I'm not normally a fan of antique stores, but this one is neat.

There's a lot of interesting doo-dads, plus tons of cool old records (Tempations, Commodores, New Edition, etc). Lots of old school funk and R&B, mostly for $2, and the owner says they get new ones in all the time. The store isn't very big but there's a lot of things packed in there, so you could definitely spend some time. It's not super upscale or pricey like Goodwood, but it's not junky either -- just neat items. The owner was friendly and helpful as well.

Check it out! They're open 12-5 most days and closed Tuesdays.

Mom & Pop Antiques is at 3534 Georgia Ave NW, near Otis Place. Ph: (202) 722-0719

Drug bust on 1300 block of Columbia Road

Nice to see this especially since it's on the same block as the shooting of 9-year old Oscar Fuentes. Let's hope that means the block and gang problems associated with it are getting cleaned up. From the 3D Listserve:
The Metropolitan Police Department Third District announces the arrest of three adults in the 1300 block of Columbia Road, Northwest, following the execution of a search warrant on Saturday, November 21. There was a significant amount of drugs and money recovered as well as two handguns.

These three arrests are as a result of on-going drug investigations in the Columbia Heights Neighborhood.

Unicyclist in the neighborhood?

This is random -- the other day my friend said they saw a unicyclist going down 13th Street and that they've seen this before. Mopeds, scooters, and bikes I've seen, but unicycle, not so much. Plus that hill starting at 13th and Clifton would be pretty tough on one wheel.