Capitol Cuisine

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At the District Wharf, Makers Union sports an attractive, convivial atmosphere and sensibly priced fare.

As the holidays approach, much is happening at the District Wharf, especially on the restaurant front. Among recent gustatory arrivals is Makers Union, 664 Maine Ave. SW. The lively gastropub made its splashy debut next to sister restaurant Milk & Honey. Specializing in Southern comfort food, both restaurants are part of the minority-owned Thompson Restaurants group, based in Reston, Virginia.

The house specialty at Makers Union is the Sea-Cuterie, a generous platter heaped with
mouthwatering seafood and accompaniments.

On an unseasonably warm October afternoon, we settled in the handsomely appointed dining area. The 3,550-square-foot space is bedecked with blue velveteen banquettes, exposed faux brick and comfy blue chairs. A neon “Get Nauti” sign adorns one wall. The sign refers to the restaurant’s signature item, Sea-Cuterie, a generous platter heaped with a half-pound lobster tail, a half-dozen local oysters, jumbo shrimp and lump crab cocktail, all accompanied by warm butter, cocktail sauce and Champagne vinaigrette. Feeding an entire table, the $85 price tag seems reasonable.

The kitchen at Makers Union also concocts a delicious broccoli
cheddar soup, replete with cheese and veggie chunks.

Since Makers Union touts its Southern cooking, I started with the Nashville hot chicken tenders. The crispy fried tenders packed plenty of firepower but not enough to blow me away. Accompanying coleslaw provided a cooling touch. Crowned with a lacy parmesan crisp, the cheddar broccoli soup was delicious, thick with broccoli chunks and plenty of cheese.

At the foot of Barracks Row, Las Placitas, the Mexican/Salvadoran eatery, has celebrated its 33rd year in business.

Accompanied by french fries, Peter’s fried codfish sandwich was moist and flavorful and crunchy on the outside. Other midday choices include Makers nachos with the usual toppings, “classic” burgers (real or “Impossible”), fried chicken sandwiches, Asian steak salad, poke bowl and much more.

Dinner brings New Zealand lamb chops, Alfredo pasta, more fried chicken (with waffles). And – drumroll, please! – a 42-ounce tomahawk ribeye steak for two, complete with salads and side dishes. Price: $150.

Besides enjoying a scrumptious repast, we were pleasantly surprised by Makers Union’s sensible prices. Unlike some neighboring Wharf eateries, Makers Union keeps most entrees in the $20 range, except for the $85 Sea-Cuterie and the gargantuan tomahawk steak dinner which feeds two or more.

Much of Makers Union business comes from cocktails, especially drinks made with bourbon, Scotch, whiskeys and other spirits, enjoyed at the handsome, convivial bar. There’s also a brief wine and beer listing; I sipped a pleasant pinot grigio. Makers Union is open all day, every day, including a weekend family-style brunch. For exact hours and more information, visit www.makersunionpub.com.

Pan-Asian Fare

It had been quite some time since we’d dined at Kaliwa,751 Wharf St. SW. Cathal Armstrong’s pan-Asian kitchen showcases Thai, Korean and Filipino dishes.

On another pleasant fall afternoon, we decided to discover what we’d been missing. For one thing: higher prices. (But that’s not unusual, as tabs have risen almost everywhere.) In Kaliwa’s pleasantly appointed interior, folks were watching football and soccer on several TV screens. But we opted for patio seating.

Sipping our $17 drinks (Whispering Angel rosé and a mimosa), we ordered our lunch. I had my heart set on the crispy tempura avocado with spicy mayo. But alas, the kitchen was out
of avocado. Instead, we shared the bibimbap salad, a rather lackluster
mélange of sliced lotus root, bean sprouts, kimchi and cukes on a bed of steamed rice. Spicy sauce rescued the bland dish somewhat.

Also at the District Wharf, the pan-Asian restaurant Kaliwa offers interesting Thai, Korean and Filipino dishes.

For an entrée, I sprang for the red curried rice with Maryland blue crab. The $38 price tag seemed a bit steep for lunch, but the dish was delicious, laced with big chunks of lump crab. The curry hit the balance of sweet and hot, delivering the right amount of firepower. I was tempted to lick the boat-shaped dish. Among other menu options are salmon crudo, Korean-style wings, spring rolls, bulgogi.

For hours and more information, visit www.kaliwadc.com.

Coming soon, if not already: Limani Greek Mediterranean restaurant, 670 Wharf St. SW, and Kinfolk Southern Kitchen, 685 Wharf St. SW, in the Hyatt House hotel. Watch for updates.

And Many More…
Happy anniversary and congrats to Las Placitas, 1100 Eighth St. SE, celebrating its 33 years in business. The homespun Mexican/Salvadoran mainstay was originally located up the street at 517 Eighth but decamped to its present digs in 2015.

Coming Soon If Not Already…
… to the H Street corridor: Kangnam Chicken & Seafood, 1125 H St. NE. The menu encompasses assorted types of fried chicken – including spicy wings with various sauces. Among seafood offerings are fried whiting filets, salmon, fried shrimp and steamed crabs. For hours and more information, visit www.khandc.com.

Due to debut near the H Street corridor is Pascual, 732 Maryland Ave. NE, where Kenny’s BBQ used to be (and long before that, Hogs on the Hill). For the future south-of-the-border enterprise, chefs Isabel Coss and Matt Conway will tap the flavors of their native Mexico City. Chef Coss, who previously wielded her whisk at Georgetown’s ritzy Lutece, was named Best New Chef by Food & Wine magazine in 2023.

Gone
Fancy Radish, 600 H St. NE, the well-received, five-year-old “modern vegetable restaurant,” departed last month. Opened in 2018 by James Beard Award-nominated chefs Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby, the plant-based eatery garnered positive reviews. No word yet on who will occupy that spot.

And…
As always, La Plaza Mexican & Salvadoran Cuisine, 629 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, will be open on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 23. For menu and exact hours, visit www.laplazadc.com.