Much like last year, Borderstan saw its fair share of winners at the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington’s annual awards gala, known as the RAMMYs. With the vibrant theme “Restaurants in Bloom,” many finalists, awardees, and gala-goers alike showed up in garlands, boutonnieres and floral prints. It was in this festive atmosphere that our neighborhood was honored multiple times over.
The burgeoning 14th Street Corridor and its rapid transformation into a revitalized restaurant destination was a running theme throughout some of the acceptance speeches, most notably from the team from Hottest Restaurant Bar Scene winner Bar Pilar, who commented “when we first were doing the build-out for Bar Pilar, we had pimps come into the restaurant and ask, ‘what are you doing?’ And we’d say ‘building a restaurant.’ And they’d ask, ‘For who?’ Now we know.”
Neighborhood RAMMY Winners
The following Borderstan restaurants were winners last night:
- Upscale Casual Restaurant – Estadio
- Casual Restaurant – C.F. Folks
- Neighborhood Gathering Place – Nellie’s Sports Bar
- Hottest Bar Scene – Bar Pilar
Borderstan also saw its fair share of nominees. Joining Estadio in the Upscale Casual category were fellow 14th Street neighbors Birch and Barley and Cork; and C.F. Folks had to squeeze past Bar Pilar for its Casual Restaurant award. Additional nominations also went to Dupont Circle newcomers Boqueria and DGS Delicatessen, and Estadio’s manager, Justin Guthrie.
Taking home the big prizes last night were Blue Duck Tavern for Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year, Mintwood Place for Best New Restaurant, and Fabio Trabocchi for Chef of the Year. Congrats to all the winners!
This week, Washingtonian‘s Todd Kliman gave readers an in-depth look at a new Southeast Asian restaurant planned for 14th Street NW.
And while we think you should definitely go read all of the details in the original article, we thought we’d give you the breakdown of Kilman’s piece, so you have an idea of what to expect.
- The Name: Doi Moi.
- The Location: 1800 14th Street NW (at S Street NW).
- The Boss: Mark Kuller, the mastermind behind Proof and Estadio.
- The Food: Dishes and flavors from Vietnam and Thailand.
- The Plans: Scheduled to open early summer. The location will expand to two buildings, one of which is the old Whitman-Walker clinic. Griz Dwight of Grizform Design is designing the space.
- The Details: The restaurant is inspired by Kuller’s eating tour of Southeast Asia. He is partnering with chef Haidar Karoum for the new venture.
Stay tuned to Borderstan.com for more information.
Last week, neighborhood favorite, Estadio, landed on Zagat’s list of the top five Spanish restaurants in the DC area for its “bustling energy” and “big creative flavors.”
The restaurant, which Mark Kuller opened in 2010, serves contemporary Spanish “small bites” cuisine with a focus on dishes from northern Spain for brunch, lunch and dinner. Estadio also has an impressive drink menu, including its famous slushitos, or alcoholic slushees.
Other Spanish restaurants on the Zagat top five list include:
- Isabella’s in Frederick, Md.
- La Taberna del Alabardero at 1776 I Street NW
- Cacique in Frederick, Md.
- Jaleo at 480 7th Street NW
From Alejandra Owens. You can find her at her food blog, One Bite At A Time. Alejandra also writes for City Eats DC, a Food Network site, where you can book dinner reservations. Email her at alejandra[AT]borderstan.com and follow her on Twitter at @frijolita.
When it comes to best/worst lists, DC always seems to find a place. In 2010 we were among the fittest cities in America thanks to all you crazy running people. We were also one of the happiest cities according to a Gallop pole. Not surprisingly, we were also among the most expensive cities to live! But last week we topped another list – this time coming in as the 9th Drunkest City In The US!
So here’s the break down: according to The Daily Beast, the average DC adult consumes 15.6 alcoholic beverages a month (rounding up, that’s four drinks a week, give or take), 14.5 percent of us are binge drinkers and 5 percent of us are considered heavy drinkers.
I mean, are we really surprised? DCers have a penchant for rooftop drinking, patio drinking and dirt-cheap-happy hour drinking. We bestow our finest bartenders with a demi-god like status. We even have classic cocktail death matches! Bottom line: cheap, neat, classic, it doesn’t matter, we like our booze!
So it got me thinking, where did I drink the most in DC this year? In no particular order:
- Fiola – I’ve lauded Jeff Faile’s manhattan for awhile now.
- 1905 – Lyn and Joel serve up cocktails with a friendly “in your living room” kind of vibe.
- Estadio – They serve my favorite rose in the whole city.
- Stoney’s – A favorite spot to meet friends and have a bourbon & ginger.
- Iron Horse Taproom – A regular after work spot, any bar with a $5 Makers Mark night is a bar I’ll like.
- Cork – Wine flights. Enough said.
Then there were dinner parties – many, many dinner parties. So that means weekly visits to Connecticut Avenue Wine & Spirits where I pick up a bottle or two for those “just in case” moments. So Borderstanis, where do you booze… or buy your booze? It’s really not hard to imagine how one might get to four drinks a week – at minimum. Or, dear lord, is it?
If the current boom state of 14th Street wasn’t enough to tell you that our fair neighborhood and city is on the cutting edge of the restaurant scene, then maybe some glitz, glamour, and glass obelisk statues will? Borderstan came up big last night at the RAMMYS, the yearly awards gala of the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW).
With many more area eateries in the neighborhood nominated, congrats are in order for:
- Cork Wine Bar: Wine Program of the Year
- Cafe Saint-Ex: Neighborhood Gathering Place of the Year
- Estadio: Beverage/Mixology Program of the Year
- Blackjack: Hottest Restaurant Bar Scene of the Year
- Black Restaurant Group: Restaurateur of the Year (Black Jack and Pearl Dive Oyster Palace are part of the group)
As Mike Benson of Cafe Saint-Ex emphatically stated about DC in his acceptance speech for Best Neighborhood Gathering Place, “our restaurant scene is kicking ass. We’re turning heads.”
Borderstan’s wins last night reflected the growing importance and attention that restaurants and restaurateurs are giving to things besides the food. Cork Wine Bar won for their outstanding wine program, and Estadio followed up its 2011 Best New Restaurant RAMMY with a win for its Beverage/Mixology program, edging out fellow Borderstan nominee Birch and Barley/Churchkey.
“Ultimately DC is a really small town doing really big things,” mused the ecstatic winners from Estadio upon accepting their award. “We’re in a city that is the most beautiful city in the world for beverages right now.”
But the big winners last night at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel were Jeff and Barbara Black and their Black Restaurant Group, taking home the award for Restaurateur of the Year. The owners of Best New Restaurant Nominee Pearl Dive Oyster Palace also claimed the hardware for Hottest Restaurant Bar Scene for Blackjack. In one of the moments of the night, Chef Black pushed through the wrap-it-up music to acknowledge that this award came from the people in the industry, “the ones doing the hard work, not the bloggers.” (The Young & Hungry at the Washington City Paper has more as does The Examiner where Black clarified his statement.)
The gala itself was full of other great moments: restaurants throwing their support behind embattled Hank’s Oyster Bar in their fight against “the gang of six,” which earned notable applause from the audience (Hank’s was a nominee for Best Casual Restaurant of the year); Estadio winning (at least in this writer’s humble opinion) the cocktail of the night with their gin-based Dia de Descanso; and some of the biggest hats and fascinators on a night that never disappoints for wild fashion. Always a great time, and our neighborhood is looking even stronger and stronger for the upcoming year. See you all at the 2013 RAMMYS!
From Mike Kohn. Have an urban etiquette wrong that needs to be righted? Drop Mike a line at [email protected] or find him on Twitter @mike_kohn. This week he takes a break from his regular urban etiquette column to outline a perfect Valentine’s Day.
Ah, yes, Valentine’s Day. The time of year where we proclaim our love for our significant others on this hallmark of Hallmark holidays. Admittedly, this holiday would be much more entertaining if I had a significant other to share it with (and for that matter, I’d be way more into celebrating it), but I digress…
The best part about February 14 is that it gives all of us the opportunity to chart a course for a great evening with that very special someone. So what would I do to celebrate my magical Borderstan Valentine’s Day with my guy?
After a rousing Tuesday at work, I’d meet up at Masa 14 at 14th and Swann Streets NW for happy hour. Not only do they generally have a great bar, but as a friend proved to me, they have the best mojitos in town. And for $4, can you really go wrong? The happy hour is usually 5 to 7 pm on weekdays, but on Tuesday happy hour drinks last all night long.
With a few mojitos downed, it’s time to make the short walk to Estadio at 14th and Q Streets NW for a romantic dinner. If you like that idea, just be prepared to wait — the place is one of the most popular restaurants in the neighborhood, so it’s unsurprisingly always packed, and they don’t take reservations past 6:00. Alejandra Owens did a great job profiling the place a few months back.
Everything I’ve had at Estadio has been delicious. On my last visit there I had the pork belly bocadillo, the crispy duck breast and the wild mushrooms, all of which were amazing. In case the mojitos weren’t enough, I’m all about their G&Ts, particularly the Old Raj Gin & House-made Orange Thyme Tonic. Delicious.
There’s no need to wander off 14th to get dessert — it’s so much easier to just walk back up the street. I’d play it by ear depending on what I’m in the mood for. For something chocolatey, I’d make a stop at Point Chaud at 14th and S Streets NW and pick up a nutella and banana crêpe. But I might be tempted to settle in at Cork Wine Bar at 14th and Riggs Streets NW, just sipping a glass of port or enjoying one of their sweeter dessert wines.
That would be the end of my night. All of that delicious food — not to mention, more than my share of beverages in each location by my recount — would definitely leave me quite satisfied.
LGBT Rights Leader Frank Kameny Passes
Frank Kameny was an inspirational leader and a force for human rights, who we sadly lost on Wednesday, October 12. His initial protest of his firing from the US Army Map Service due to his sexual orientation sparked a lawsuit that made it all the way to the Supreme Court. He became the first openly gay candidate for Congress in 1971 and made history as the first openly gay member of the DC Human Rights Commission.
Kameny also led the protests against the American Psychiatric Association’s classification of homosexuality as a mental illness. For more on his inspirational life, check out this piece in Care2.com or this memorial in the Washington Blade. In June 2010 1700 block of 17th Street NW here in the neighborhood (from Q to R Streets) was co-named Frank Kameny Way.
DC9 to be Sued by Mohammed’s Family
As expected, the family of Ali Mohammed will file a civil suit against nightclub/bar DC9, the site of Mohammed’s death last year. Washington City Paper reports that family and friends will gather outside the venue to announce the multiple claims in the suit. You may recall that while ruled a homicide, the DC Medical Examiner did not determine the cause of death was due to the alleged beating by employees but from ‘excited delirium’. We’ll keep you posted on the suit, the vigil and all other information related to this ongoing story.
Emotionally Charged… Medians?
Apparently, Connecticut Avenue NW and its medians are a hot topic these days. The block between K and L Streets NW is home to the first phase of median beautification, and now TBD has a piece on the most ’emotionally charged median’ on Connecticut Ave. between R and S Streets NW. What makes it so charged? The lack of ability for stores to hang Christmas lights, the magnolia trees, the state of the masonry — the list is seemingly endless. That long median inspires some emotions in this pedestrian, as well, namely that is is a pain to have to go up and over or around. Yep, I’m that lazy, deal with it.
More on the Lincoln Theatre
It’s not news, but Robert Bettmann, chair of DC Advocates for the Arts, took to Huffington Post to make the case for keeping the Lincoln open. Its financial woes have not been helped by city funds drying up, hence Bettmann’s call for additional funding for the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. The ‘trickle up effect’ he describes comes from less funds given to smaller arts organizations that would rent the theatre, so they lose rental revenue as well as their original funding source. It’s a heated issue, and there is much history at stake. That said, the money has to come from somewhere, and there are not a lot of areas in the city budget that are fat enough to borrow from these days.
How to Handle Lines at Estadio
I guess the prize bit of wisdom in the piece is ‘deal with it.’ That, or ‘get a buzz at the bar while you wait’, which is really just good common sense. At any rate, Eater DC has a long sit down with GM Justin Guthrie, the manager at Estadio, to assess his take on the lines. Don’t offer him money, woo him with George Brett and Royals trivia and don’t ask if Dolly Parton actually ate there are some salient points. Or head out to Two Amy’s or 75 in Arlington, Guthrie’s go-to’s, if you get tired of waiting.
Feminist Ryan Gosling
Damn, this was a depressing SYMHM for a Friday. So here’s the most important thing you may have missed this week — an effing hilarious and delicious looking collection of photos of Ryan Gosling discussing feminist scholars. Why? I have no idea, but I do know it will be an enjoyable expenditure of your 4:30 to 5 pm time at work on a Friday, or hungover morning reading. You are WELCOME.
By Michelle Lancaster. She wants your news, follow her on Twitter @MichLancaster.
Former Mayor Takes Job in Dupont
The next big crowd you see at Shake Shack may not be the FLOTUS, but could very well be former Mayor Adrian Fenty. NBC Washington reports he’s taken a position at a boutique law firm in Dupont Circle as ‘special counsel.’ Fenty has had no shortage of positions since leaving office, NBC’s count has this newly announced position as job #6.
To Ballston or Not to Ballston…
According to Greater Greater Washington, that is not the question at all with the development of condo buildings at the intersections of 14th Street, U Street and Wallach Street. The heart of the question seems to be over the size (story wise) and the lack of a setback from the sidewalk proposed by the builders. While I’m no defender of the sedate, mass-produced concrete jungle that is Ballston, it does seem hard to believe that a six story building would create such shade issues that would warrant stopping the project.
From Alejandra Owens of One Bite At A Time.
Got a craving for a glass of wine? How about you upgrade that to a porron?
Thinking tapas tonight? How about jamon croquetas, small bites of quince, mangchego and jamon and sweet breads?
Need a break from the heat and want a childhood favorite: a slushee? Forget cherry… they’ve got scotch slushees.
That’s Estadio at a glance–I can’t wait to hear what you guys think over the next few weeks. Check it out and share your favorite dishes, stories or hilarious pics of friends trying the porron.
Where Am I Going: 1520 14th Street NW (corner of 14th and Church).
When Am I Going: Monday-Thursday 4 to 10 pm, Friday and Saturday 4 to 11 pm and Sunday 4 to 9:30 pm for dinner service. Bar is open until midnight or later most nights!
Paycheck Pain: Single bites of interesting flavor combos start at $2.50 with small tapas-style plates reaching up to $16 for chicken or steak skewers. Glasses of wine are around $5, cocktails for $11 and porrons start at $14.
Say What?: I think this is a good spot for a group dinner–especially people who want to have fun with their food and drink (see below). Also a good date spot… the small space has intimate little corners and plenty of vantage points for people watching inside the restaurant and out on the sidewalk.
What You’ll Be Eating: Spanish food! Cured meats, cheeses, small bites (and I mean, single bites of deliciousness), small plates (read: tapas). But I think the real draw (at least for a few months) will be the drinks. Let’s call them “adult slushees” (read: laced with scotch) and porrons to separate the trendy wine drinkers from the real wine-os. Happy hour and brunch will come in due time–for now, it’s just dinner.
Happy Hour: They’re gettin’ there!
Full disclosure: When I visited Estadio with another Borderstan contributor on Tuesday evening, we received our food and drinks compliments of the restaurant.
TUESDAY UPDATE: Yes, Estadio officially opens today. Check metrocurean for a sneak preview.
From Tom Hay and Luis Gomez
Estadio got its oerating permit this week and is now conducting a series of soft openings or “mock service” events. There was one underway Thursday evening, with a sign on the door, “Closed for Private Party.”
The new Spanish restaurant at the southwest corner of 14th and Church NW hopes to open next week, according to a spokesperson–but a definite date has not been set.
From Tom Hay
Afternoon update: A spokesperson for Estadio said today they hope to open the restaurant before mid-July, but do not have a set date yet.
It appears that Estadio at 1520 14th Street NW (at the corner of Church Street) is set to open very soon. During trips by the store over the weekend workmen were moving fixtures and heavy, dark Spanish-style furniture into the space. While it would appear there is much work yet to be done, it also looks like everything is now inside the store. We were unable to get a firm opening date from Estadio’s publicist.
The restaurant is owned by Mark Kuller, who also owns the very popular Proof over in the Penn Quarter at 8th and G NW. The cuisine will be contemporary Spanish, with a focus on northern Spain. The menu lists small snacks, or pintxos as they are known in the Basque region, priced from $3 to $6; traditional tapas, priced from $5 to $11; and small entrees or racions, priced from $12 to $19.
Along the lines of Proof, Estadio will have an extensive selection of wine. Most of the wines will come from Spain and bottles will be in the $20 to $75 price range, with many by the glass for under $10.
Initially the restaurant will open for dinner only. Plans then call for it to expand to brunch service in the fall, followed by weekday lunch next year. The restaurant will seat 115 and will include communal tables and a private dining room for up to 24.
If you’ve managed to get a peek through the door during construction like I did, you will notice the extensive use of reclaimed Spanish tile, wood and iron. Based on the reputation of Proof I am convinced this will be a hit right away.
The restaurant space was formerly occupied by Garden District’s indoor plant store, which consolidated operations with the outdoor garden center at 1740 14th Street NW.
ANC 2F meets tonight at 7 p.m. at Washington Plaza Hotel, 10 Thomas Circle NW. Major items on the agenda are the election of officers and the voluntary agreement with Estadio.
The restaurant Estadio is slated to open at the southwest corner of 14th and Church in the former Garden District store location. It will serve northern Spanish food. Over at 14th & You, there is a good write up from the December ANC 2F meeting on issues related to Estadio’s liquor license. Some residents of the building are not happy about a restaurant opening on the first floor.
We liked the WCP Young and Hungry‘s take on Estadio. The proposal to call 14th Street Dealertown 14 is amusing, but conjures up some less than savory images. From Y and H:
Estadio: Proof owner Mark Kuller will be opening this Spanish-themed restaurant on the trendy 14th Street strip (which really needs a trendy name, like Dealertown 14, a nod to 14th Street’s history as a home to car dealerships).