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Dining Notes – August 2017

It’s August, and according to popular wisdom, Capitol Hill is supposed to be dormant. Not so this year; lots of things are happening, especially on Barracks Row. Porron, a pop-up outpost of Anxo Cidery & Pintos Bar, has arrived at 525 Eighth St. SE. (For 47 years, the space housed Phase 1, the venerable lesbian watering hole, reportedly the city’s oldest gay bar.) Anxo owner Sam Fitz has signed a five-month lease for his cidery, which opened July 7. If things go well, he might stay longer. For now, Porron is only open Thursdays through Saturdays.

New on Barracks Row: Porron (by Anxo) showcases Basque-inspired dishes and freshly squeezed cider. Photo: Celeste McCall.

Porron highlights Basque-inspired fare like mixed olives, boquerones (white anchovies), salads, jamon (Spanish ham), cheeses and sandwiches. Friday and Saturday nights bring grilled specials like hanger steak with peppers and onions, rib-eye, maybe sardines. Besides Anxo’s signature cider, there’s beer, wine and a few spirits. Other Anxo locations are the original at Truxton Circle, and Brightwood Park, which squeezes the cider.

China and Korea
ChiKo has opened at 423 Eighth St. SE, where the DC-3 hot dog eatery—which flew to Dulles International Airport– used to dwell. As the name suggests, the menu encompasses such Chinese and Korean fare as chilled noodles with kimchi; fried chicken wings, pork and pot stickers. Getting high marks is house-fried rice with Sichuan hot smoked blue catfish, as well as wok-blistered pea shoots with sesame oil. ChiKo is open daily (dinner only for the time being), and is awaiting an alcohol license. Call 202-558-9934.

Sushi to Come
Sometime soon, look for Sushi Hachi at 735 Eighth St. SE. Creator is Steve Yoon, who also operates Sushi Rock in Arlington. According to Yoon, his restaurant will seat 85-to-100 and will emphasize sushi, as well as seasonal dishes. You might recall, Zest Bistro vacated that space two years ago….and Tandoor Grill, 419 Eighth St. SE, has closed, reportedly for renovation.

Shaw Redemption
He’s back. Top Chef alum Kwame Onwauchi, whom you might remember from his short-lived Shaw Bijou, has signed on as chef for the flagship restaurant at the future InterContinental. The 278-room hotel is due to open this fall in the mammoth The Wharf complex. Joining a large-scale commercial hotel project will be a major change from Kwame’s $500 per person Shaw Bijou, which folded less than three months after its highly touted debut. Since then, he has stayed busy. For culinary inspiration, he’s traveled to Curacao, Colombia and Mexico and has wielded his whisk with Danny Lee at Mandu (Mount Vernon Triangle) and with Erik Brunner-Yang at Maketto (Atlas District). Watch for details.

Lunch goers are enjoying Santa Rosa, a new Tex-Mex eatery at 313 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. Photo: Celeste McCall

Taco Talk
Spike Mendelsohn, who shuttered Bearnaise April 30, has replaced it with Santa Rosa, a sprightly taqueria run by Sunnyside Restaurant Group. Open since June 30, the “fast casual” menu showcases tacos, nachos and “Casa Bowls,” replete with black beans yellow rice, corn, cabbage and topped with choice of protein. There’s also a kids menu. Margaritas, Mexican beers and house-made sodas quench summer thirst.

We visited Santa Rosa about a week after it opened, and the place was packed. After placing our orders at the crowded counter, we awaited our food. Seated at a table in the brightly decorated dining area (there’s more seating upstairs and outside), we chowed down on tacos (three for $10): pulled pork carnitas (jalapeno slices deliver an incendiary jolt), spicy fried shrimp, pollo grillado (chicken breast with lime mojo and crema). My $5 “secret tamale” was chock full of spicy pork sausage and sprinkled with corn. Delicious! Lunch for two, with a refreshing pineapple and pear aqua fresca and tangy margarita, came to $33.33. Located at 313 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, Santa Rosa is closed Sundays. Call 202-543-8222.

Speaking of tacos: District Taco, 656 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, has reopened after a minor facelift. The Tex-Mex, quick-service favorite is known for its all-day breakfast and grilled fish tacos (including shrimp on Mondays and Thursdays), topped with mild, medium or incendiary salsas. Open daily; call 202-735-5649 or visit www.districttaco.com.

All that Jazz
At Mr. Henry’s Upstairs, 601 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, check out Wednesday jazz nights, hosted by saxophonist Herb Scott and Aaron Myers (vocalist and emcee). Doors open at 6 p.m., music goes from 8 to 11. No cover charge, but there’s a $15 minimum. Diners who order spaghetti with sausage or marinara sauce get free seconds (I could barely finish my first, even with Peter’s help). The generous, $15 bowl comes with salad. The night we went, the upstairs space, decorated with local art, was standing room only. The jazz was marvelous, but that was no surprise — Roberta Flack got her start at Mr. Henry’s almost 50 years ago. Call 202-546-8412, or visit www.MrHenrysDC.com.

Gorsha at Union Market
An Ethiopian fast casual eatery, Gorsha, has arrived at Union Market. With his taco-inspired injera pockets and customizable bowls, founder/chef Hiyaw Gebreyohannes executes a contemporary spin on traditional Ethiopian cuisine. Pockets and bowls are topped with lentils, split peas and shiro sauce. International flourishes? Corn salsa, pickled shallots and cucumbers. Protein options include berbere chicken, braised lamb, yellowfin tuna.

Before launching Gorsha, Gebreyohannes catered gourmet meals for celebs including Bill Clinton, Oprah and Tyler Perry. In 2011, Gebreyohannes founded “Taste of Ethiopia,” the first packaged Ethiopian food retail line. Closed Mondays, Union Market is at 1309 Fifth St. NE. For more information, visit www.eatgorsha.com.

Baseball and Bagels
Washington Nationals fans have a new option for pre-or-post-game noshing: Bethesda Bagels has opened its third outpost at 120 M St.SE (Navy Yard), just a couple of blocks from Nats Park. Based in Bethesda with another location at Dupont Circle, the new bagel shop is open daily from 6:30 a.m. until 5 p.m., later on game days. Call 202-804-5548.

Cluck Cluck
Earlier this summer, Farmbird hatched at 625 H St. NE, in the Atlas District. Farmbird is the first bricks-and-mortar endeavor for Don Koslow and Andrew Harris, who have operated a catering firm out of Union Kitchen. Chickens are raised humanely on local farms, and fed vegetarian diets. Look for a writeup in a future Dining Notes.

More chicken: The other night we did not feel like cooking, but wanted to stay home to watch the All-Star Game. So we trekked down to Pike Peruvian Chicken at the end of Barracks Row, 1102 Eighth St. SE. It’s next door to Las Placitas. For just $18, we bought a succulent, cumin-scented roasted chicken, along with sides of black beans and rice. We were fed for two nights. Pike is mainly carryout, with a few tables for dining in. Call 240-308-3127.

Restaurant Week
Coming up August 14-20 is DC Summer Restaurant Week. Presented biannually by Destination DC and the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW), Restaurant Week is an especially good deal for pricy restaurants. Not all participants offer the promotion at both meals. When making reservations, be sure to mention Restaurant Week. The list is too long to include here, but here are just a few: Acqua al 2 (Eastern Market), Ambar, Belga Café (Barracks Row), Joselito (Pennsylvania Ave. SE), Maketto, Sally’s Middle Name (Atlas District), Osteria Morini (Navy Yard), The Monocle (D St. NE). For a complete list, visit www.ramw.org/restaurantweek.

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