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H Street Life

Every year promises fresh changes along the H Street NE corridor. This past year we saw the opening of a Whole Foods in the 600 block, and in 2016 we witnessed both the launch of passenger service on the streetcar and the sudden closure of neighborhood fixture The Argonaut. What will this new year bring? Below is a quick peek at some of the news that closed out 2017 and welcomes us into 2018.

Shawafel Closes on H Street NE, but May Open Near Eastern Market
After more than six years serving shawarma and shish taouk on H Street NE, Alberto Sissi, owner of the casual Lebanese eatery Shawafel (1322 H St. NE), closed the doors of his shop in the 1300 block for the last time. The H Street corridor has attracted many new businesses in the years since 2011, and Sissi’s landlord recently proposed a large rent increase that would take effect in 2018 if Shawafel remained at its original location. Sissi made the decision to relocate the shop near Farragut North, where he might cater to the busy downtown lunch crowds. In the next few months he should be up and running at 818 18th St. NW.

Sissi told me that he’s “very sad” to leave H Street but that he’s simply been priced out of the market along the corridor. He “really appreciates … everyone that supported Shawafel and it’s been a great pleasure serving this wonderful community.” Local Shawafel devotees take heart. Sissi told me he’s also working on opening a location near Eastern Market.

NoMa Gives a Nod to History with Swampoodle Park
The NoMa neighborhood’s newest park finally has a name, and it’s a catchy one that harkens back to a time before the construction of Union Station. The NoMa Parks Foundation (http://www.nomaparks.org) solicited name ideas through a crowd source process and then allowed online voting for the top three suggestions. Swampoodle Park handily defeated Old City Corner and 3rd and L Park with 67 percent of over 1,500 respondents choosing it. The name works for a few reasons. It has a playful sound to it, such as might appeal to the kids who will scramble around on the park’s vertical play structure. The name seems fitting for a recreation space that includes a rather prominent dog park component. Swampoodle is also the historical monicker of a predominately Irish neighborhood that occupied the eastern portion of modern day NoMa in the 19th century.

Once completed, Swampoodle Park will stretch over roughly 8,000 square feet, a significant portion of that extending into the public right-of-way. To maximize the available play area, the park will include a Wallholla, a vertical play structure like a more compact jungle gym. The NoMa version, designed for children ages five years and up, will be 16 feet high by 44 feet long by 4 feet wide. Beyond the Wallholla will be a dog park, complete with small hills and a canine agility ramp, ringed on two sides by areas with plantings and seating. Construction, due to be completed in November, has been delayed slightly. The new park should open at Third and L streets NE early this year.

Mythology Shifts Gears to Focus on Lounge
The restaurant and lounge Mythology (816 H St. NE, www.mythology-lore.com) made a big announcement early last month. The owners had decided to vacate the first-floor restaurant space in order to focus their efforts fully on the second-floor lounge. The restaurant ceased first-floor operations Dec. 3. The second floor is currently hosting a “Star Wars”-inspired popup called The Darkside Bar (https://www.facebook.com/thedarksidebars), which will thrill guests from around the galaxy through Jan. 15. If you have gift certificates for Mythology, hang on to them. You’ll be able to use them once the colorful clouds and famous fries retake the second-floor space in early 2018.

Clean Eatz (www.cleaneatz.com), a fast-casual restaurant that’s “on a mission to spread the good news of living a healthy lifestyle,” will open soon on the first floor. Clean Eatz opened its first store in Wilmington, N.C., in 2011. It has locations in the Carolinas and surrounding states, but this will be the first outpost in the District.

Clean Eatz offers a variety of options for those trying to make healthy choices about what they eat. The menu is packed with wraps, bowls, burgers, flatbreads, smoothies and energy bars. Selections include the Good for You nachos appetizer with shredded beef, guacamole, salsa, peppers and onions, on top of sweet potato “chips,” and the Thai Wrap with chicken, cabbage, carrots, edamame, spinach and Thai peanut sauce.

Clean Eatz also offers meal plans for those who might not have a lot of time to cook or just want a little help figuring out portions and variety. You can try one of the meal plan meals ready to grab at the shop, or order ahead on the website and pick up a week’s worth of meals on a designated day.

New England sports-fan bar Dirty Water will continue to occupy the third floor.

Khepra’s Raw Food Juice Bar’s Search Leads Just Down the Block
The success of Khepra’s Raw Food Juice Bar (402 H St. NE, http://kheprasrawfoodjuicebar.com) led to a search for a larger space, a search that ended just a few doors down at 408 H St. NE. Chef Khepra Anu opened his restaurant in 2011 and has drawn casual diners in search of healthy fare, vegetarian options or simply a very fresh juice. While Khepra’s has many fans who grab one of the limited seats or pick up lunch to go, the restaurant also offers a meal program where you can sign up for one raw meal a day for a one week, two weeks, or a 28-day period. Variations allow for the addition of juices or a juice-only offering. You can also purchase Khepra’s juice cleanse packages, available in durations of 3, 5, 7 or 14 days.


For more on what’s abuzz on and around H Street NE, visit my blog at http://frozentropics.blogspot.com. You can send me tips or questions at elise.bernard@gmail.com.

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