2011 saw the opening of many new restaurants in the Capital Hill area. Ramen. Burgers. Shawarmas. Cajun. Pho. Pretentious drinks. And much more. Below I rank the new ones I visited throughout the year.
My continuing goal is to eat at all the restaurants on or near Capital Hill. I define this as anything south of H St NE, west of 15th NE/SE, north of I St SE, and east of 1st St NE/SE. This is a big area, and includes such destinations as Barracks Row (8th St SE between D and I Sts), Eastern Market (7th St SE between Pennsylvania Ave and Independence Ave), the Atlas District (H St NE between 9th and 15th Sts) and much more.
Check out the map here: Capital Hill and Surrounding Areas.
Obviously the task doesn’t get easier when new places keep opening left and right. 2012 is already shaping up to be a big year as well. On the horizon: Boundary Road, Sweet Charleston’s, Sol Mexican Grill and much, much more.
Location key: (H) = H St NE, (A) = The Atlas District, (B) = Barrack’s Row, (C) = Capital Hill other, (E) = Eastern Market, (U) = Union Station
19. Khan’s BBQ (H) – The food is fine as a Mongolian BBQ stir-fry, but I don’t like the set-up nor the atmosphere.
18. DC3 (B) – Now serving trendy hot dog concoctions. I probably wouldn’t order the same dog again and I wasn’t enamored with the other options.
17. Inspire Bar-B-Q (H) – Good pulled-pork BBQ and sides courtesy of Groupon. I think the space is too small, even for a walk-up counter, and the staff was friendly but apparently still learning what to do. Will try again.
16. Church & State (A) – I’m not a big fan of pretentious drinks (e.g. those that cost more than $12) and that is about all you can get here. If you want to take a date for a drink before having dinner in the Atlas District, this is your place. It is small and intimate.
15. Red Palace (A) – Combines the old Red & Black and Palace of Wonders into one venue with a decent size concert venue upstairs.
14. Pho Bar & Grille (A) – Really good dumplings and decent pho (based on my limited experience with pho), but they can’t figure out how to serve people. The first time I went, it must certainly rank as one of the most annoying ordering experiences ever.
13. Bojangles (U) – Good fried chicken!
12. Marvelous Pizza (H) – A new late night pizza joint on H St. You can also order egg rolls with your slice.
11. Shawafel (A) – Good shawarmas. Didn’t have the falafel.
10. Impala Tacos (A) – Tacos served in the winter at the Philadelphia Water Ice counter (since it’s closed for the season, why not serve tacos?). I hear they are developing a permanent place for this on H street.
9. Bullfeathers of Capital Hill (C) – This place completely remodeled and is nice space and good food.
8. Tru Orleans (H) – A New Orleans themed restaurant. Have the catfish reuben and Hurricane slushies.
7. Smith Commons (A) – Three levels with couches and patios. A nice place for a drink upstairs. The one time I ate there, the fish and chips were not what you might expect but still not bad.
6. Chipotle (U) – The old lunch stand-by. Meat and beans and cheese rolled up in a tortilla. When they have the A team serving, the line zips along.
5. Pound the Hill (E) – A new coffee shop near Eastern Market. They make their mochas with Nutella…mmmm.
4. The Big Board (H) – A small bar a mere two blocks from my house that serves good burgers (try the Chicago Fire) that tries to sell its beers by giving discounts (shown on The Board) to the most popular selling options. Not sure that the concept works yet and they need to get better beer.
3. Senart’s Oyster and Chop House (B) – Didn’t have the oysters. A nice looking building and interior. The menu was a bit pricey, but the Beer Battered Cod Sandwich was the right price.
2. The Queen Vic (A) – Styled as a British pub, it has good, traditional British fare (have the Sunday roast!) and is a fine place to watch a game with a pint of cider in hand.
1. Toki Underground (A) – Excellent ramen noodles and tasty dumplings in a small kitschy space filled with anime figurines and skateboards for footrests. It only seats 20 people at a time, so it seems to always be busy.
Bonus: Biergarten Haus Roof Deck (A) – Though Biergarten Haus is not new in 2011, expanding the capacity of the already largest restaurant in the area by 1/3, it makes for a formidable beer swilling and German food noshing destination.