For those of you who haven’t been to DC in a while, you must get there ASAP. The restaurant and bar scene has totally blown up. I had a list a mile long of spots I wanted to check out but sadly all I encountered were lines and lines of people waiting to be fed and liquored up. Many of DC’s hottest restaurants have a no-reservations policy and those that do take reservations, were booked solid with nothing available until 10 or 11pm.
I also discovered that most of the places I most wanted to check out were in the Shaw neighborhood – most especially around Blagden Alley.
In the meantime, since I am still despondent about all the places I couldn’t get into, I’ll start with those. Hopefully, you will learn from my mistakes and schedule long waits thru Task Rabbit – or strategize with your network to get VIP access that catapults you to the head of the line.
Here’s what I am most sad to have missed:
CHERRY BLOSSOM PUB (1841 and 1843 7th Street NW) – Open Until April 15
PHOTOS ABOVE. NOTE: There were at least 500 people in line to get in at 4:45pm on Friday afternoon – hence the tip on getting a task rabbit to stand in line for you.
This is the second pop up bar that Derek Brown has created (I’ve heard from friends that the Christmas Bar – aka Miracle on Seventh Street – was also a rip-roaring success). He is an entrepreneur and bartender extraordinaire. He owns many of the hottest bars in the area including Columbia Room, The Passenger, Mockingbird Hill, Eat the Rich, and Southern Efficiency.
The Cherry Blossom Pub is located in two of his adjacent spaces: Mockingbird Hill and Southern Efficiency . The design is a Japanese mashup of Cherry Blossoms and Super Mario Brothers and spans three themed rooms: a pink-and-white cherry blossom garden filled with waving maneki-neko cats, another dedicated to Super Mario World (complete with plucky theme music and Piranha Plants bursting from pipes), and a sinister King Koopa room in back.
Read on below for my other miss (Bad Saint) as well as my take on Espita Mezcaleria (highly recommend) and info on some of the cool spots in Blagden Alley.
Bad Saint (3226 11th Street NW)
Supposedly the hottest Filipino restaurant in the country – and only seats 24. This is another restaurant you need a task rabbit to stand in line for you from 3:30 on so that you can get a seat at 5:30. All the reviews of the food have been stellar.
Espita Mezcalaria (1250 9th Street NW)
Wrote about this mezcaleria back in April of last year. They have 85 mezcals on hand. It’s a very cool, art-filled industrial-modern cantina. Fabulous waitstaff.
The focus is on mezcal – which I love – and on mole dishes. We had Chichilo (pic above left) – a beef short rib with mole. Absolutely delicious. I also had the snapper and hamachi ceviches which were not all they were cracked up to be. The pomegranate tres leche dessert, on the other hand, was phenomenal. They take reservations and honor them. Great spot whether it’s just two of you or a big group.
And now on to Blagden Alley – where food and preservation meet! It’s one of DC’s last Victorian-era alleys and a micro-neighborhood at the center of an urban revitalization movement driven by restaurateurs and designers. Such an unexpected discovery. All row houses and stables. Totally my scene!!
Here are a few of the spots you’ll discover in the alley:
Great cocktails and beautiful outdoor and indoor space. Only downside, feels a little too precious.
This place looks awesome with a huge wood-burning hearth, very rustic. Set in a former row house.
This place is a little flashy but I’d come back to check out the medicinal herb-infused cocktails!!
My new favorite coffee shop anchors one end of the alley.