Thursday, March 31, 2011

Construction on D Street update: New retail coming.

You may have been wondering about the construction on D Street between 7th and 8th Streets.  The old Union Hardware building has been torn down, and construction has been going on for some time.

The old Union Hardware building that is being renovated

It appears the building will still be an office building; however, there will be retail on the bottom level.  There are two retail spaces available, both about 3,500 square feet.  Retail space in Penn Quarter is hard to come by, and we'd imagine this would be valuable; though, D street is a little secluded, as 8th Street dead ends into the Navy Memorial there.  The retail space is going for $55 per square foot.

Above the possible retail space is two available office spaces.  One is slated to open March 2011, leading us to believe construction was to finish this month, but it appears it has not been completed.

New floors are being added, as well as floor-to-cieling windows.  Each floor is going to be twelve feet high and the top two floors will have private terraces.

A marketing flyer for the space (with floorplans) is available here.

A rendering of what the completed building will look like:

We expect it will brighten up a fairly dark portion of D Street.   We are looking forward to seeing what retail fills the space.

Taste of the Nation is on Monday

Monday the National Building Museum will be bustling with Taste of the Nation

Taste of the Nation is an event in which all of Washington's finest chefs and mixologists gather under one roof.  Then you eat their food and drink their drinks.

There will also be a live cooking competition featuring Bibiana’s Nicholas Stefanelli, Peter Smith of PS 7’s, and Victor Albisu from BLT Steak.

VIP tickets are $150 and general admission tickets are $95.  They can be purchased here.  The event begins at 7:00 p.m. and ends at 10:00 p.m., but there is a VIP reception from 6:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m.

Photos from the 2010 event can be seen here.

100% of the proceeds go to feeding the hungry.  Find out more about Taste of the Nation at their website, twitter feed, or facebook page.

FREE FOOD at Bojangles today

We didn't realize that the food at Bojangles today is FREE.  You heard right.  Go grab all the chicken and biscuits you can.  But hurry, they close at 6pm!

A look inside Graffiato

Graffiato under construction

The Feast got an inside look at Graffiato, Mike Isabella's restaurant opening soon on 6th Street.  Here is a video walk through of the space, still under construction:

You can see a slideshow of more construction photos here.

Previous Posts about Graffiato:

Bojangles Opened at 2:00 p.m.!

The first Bojangles in D.C. opened today in Union Station, and Penn Quarter Insider was there.  So were a lot of other people.

A small group of people were there about an hour early:

But by 2:00 p.m., a legitimate crowd had formed.  Black curtains covered the space with a red ribbon and bow in front.  There were speeches, and a lot of cheering.  People are excited about this Bojangles.

They have a lot of space in the lower food court level of Union Station, and the line weaved back and forth through kiosks and in front of other vendors.

The Bojangles chicken mascot walked around giving people high fives:

A tipster tells us that Anwan Glover, who played Slim Charles in The Wire was also on hand for the opening.

Update: Representative Mel Watt (D-NC) was also at the grand opening.

Hill Country's Rock N' Twang Karaoke in review

Yesterday, we told you about Hill Country's Karaoke event that features a live band.  Called Rock n' Twang Karaoke, it was rocking the downstairs of Hill Country last night, and Penn Quarter Insider was there.

Karaoke with a live band is a fantastic idea, and being on stage with a drummer and a couple guitarists sure beats a karaoke machine.  It also allows the band to slow down when the singer slows down, or accommodate the singer after missing a few beats, and that makes it a better show for everyone.

Last night the downstairs was packed, even before the Wizards game let out.  There was a large group there from our neighbor, Living Social.  One of their employees did a great rendition of Sweet Home Living Social. 

There was a line of people to sing on stage, and Hill Country provided an array of costumes, wigs, and hats to make sure you fit the part for the song you wanted to sing:

The band was very good (though we wish they had drowned out some of the singers - just kidding if you were there), and they knew a wide variety of songs.   We didn't expect to hear Miley Cyrus at a Texas BBQ joint, but we did.

The event appears to be happening about every other Wednesday. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Karaoke with a live band tonight at Hill Country

Hill Country's live music seems to be doing quite well by the crowds we see going in and out of the restaurant.  They have a lot of space and a constant calendar of performances, which shows just how vibrant and lively this neighborhood is.

But tonight they will have something a bit different, the Washington Post reports.  If you've ever dreamed of taking the stage as a singer, tonight is your night.

Tonight Rock N' Twang Karaoke is the entertainment - that's karaoke, but with a live band.  It's a rare opportunity to sing with a live band, and now you don't even have to go far from home. 

There is no cover charge.  So go sing your heart out or go have a few drinks and make fun of everyone else.

Food Trucks team up with brick-and-mortar in Chinatown

Chinatown Coffee Company is teaming up with several food trucks in the area to provide you with a warm place to eat that delicious food, particularly on these overly-cold spring days.

The Triangle Blog reports tipped us off on the partnership.  From 6:30 until 8:30 on Thursdays, there will be a food truck parked in front of Chinatown Coffee Company.  Customers can purchase their food and take it into Chinatown Coffee Company to eat.

As the icing on the cake, Chinatown Coffee Company will be offering their selection of wines and absinthe.   Lobster and wine in a restaurant . . . from a truck outside. 

The schedule is above, but also available here.

Paul to open May 2nd

Paul, the french bakery going in the former Dacqua space at 801 Pennsylvania Ave N.W., is opening May 2nd, according to a company press release.

Paul has 500 stores in 25 countries, but this is its first in Washington, D.C.  A second store is expected to open in Georgetown in the future.

They promise that "scents of freshly baked bread and the irresistible aromas will fill the restaurant."  Their bakers apparently use a special water filtration system and a seven-hour process to bake their bread

Some of their most popular breads are Le Charlemagne, a baguette bread made from whole wheat flour featuring a thin crust and dense center; pain 7 cereales, a fiber-rich, flavorful bread made with seven healthy grains; and fougasse aux olives, a bread from Southern France made with olive oil and chunky green and black olives.

And you can enjoy that bread in their outdoor terrace seating overlooking the fountains of the Navy Memorial. 

There will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony on April 26th, and it will be open to the public on May 2nd.

See our previous posts about Paul for a peek inside: here and here.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

More details on Fiola

Not only has Fiola increased their online presence, the restaurant has been written about in Zagat.

Zagat gives us more details about the interior space, which we have shown you a few photos of in progress (here).  The restaurant will be "burnished with gold and ivory, dramatic spiral  chandeliers, delicate leaf motifs on gilded columns and a stone wall that adds a bit of rusticity. The inviting bar/lounge with cushy chocolate-colored leather sofas features windows opening to a courtyard that will be filled with colorful umbrellas and tables in nice weather."

Zagat calls the menus "affordable and approachable."  They are expected to include "half and full-portion pastas and entrees under $30 including his father’s favorite dish – a brined and grilled double pork chop - along with seasonal specialties, like spring lamb and goat."  There will also be a bar menu with appetizers and snacks.

Read the full Zagat profile here.

Fiola amps up their online presence

Fiola chef Fabio Trabocchi poses on the roof of the building housing his restaurant

In anticipation for their April 5th opening, Fiola has increased their online presence.

Fiola has a new website up, which features chef Fabio Trabocchi posing in a number of glamor shots from the roof of 601 Pennsylvania Ave, where his restaurant is located.

Trabocchi also has a blog, where it is clear that English is his second language, which only makes us more excited to try his food.

He is also, of course, on twitter and facebook -- where he says he is in the kitchen cooking this week.

Perhaps most exciting is that Fiola has popped up on OpenTable, though they aren't accepting reservations yet.

All of this publicity is working - we are very excited to try Fiola.


Apparently, on Fridays, lunch at Charlie Palmer's Steakhouse is a big deal.

Last Friday, Yeas & Nays reports that former Governor, Senator, and Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne was there for lunch with a friend.

At the same time, but at a different table, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito was also dining at Charlie Palmer's with a group of men.

Best Of Award winners announced

Washington City Paper has announced their Best Of Awards, a collection of the best of D.C., as voted on by their readers.

In our opinion, Penn Quarter should have won all of the categories.  But we didn't do too shabby.  Here is a sample of some PQ award winners and their "best of" category:

  • Kushi - Sushi
  • Kushi - Asian Restaurant
  • Jaleo - Tapas
  • Rosa Mexicano - Guacamole
  • Rasika - Indian Restaurant
  • Fado - Irish Pub
  • FrozenYo - Yogurt/Smoothie
  • Vapiano - Italian Restaurant
  • W Hotel - Roof Top Bar
  • E Street Cinema - Place To See a Movie
  • Shakespeare Theatre Company -Theatre Company
  • Starbucks - Public WiFi
  • National Mall - Place To Smoke Weed Outdoors (real category)
  • National Mall - Place To Take An Out-Of-Towner (because of above category?)
  • Marco (at W Hotel Bar) - Best Mixologist
  • AARP Legal Counsel for the Elderly - Best Place to Volunteer

Corner Bakery coming to Penn Quarter

Some very good sleuth work by The Triangle Blog, indicates that a Corner Bakery is coming to Penn Quarter.

The restaurant is expected to take 3,500 square feet of space at 6th and H Streets Northwest.

6th Street seems to be the new hot street in the neighborhood.   Graffiato will be on the same block, and Daikaya will be next door to that.

No word on when this Corner Bakery will open - but it can't come fast enough!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Bojangles not opening until 2:00 p.m. on Thursday

While we were excited to announce that the Bojangles in Union Station will be opening on Thursday, we have found out via their twitter feed, that it will not be open until 2:00 p.m. that day.

That's just after the lunch hour, so don't waste your time trying to beat the lunch-hour rush.

Though we wouldn't be surprised at all if the line started forming well before 2:00 p.m.

They will be open for breakfast starting April 1st (though we're not entirely convinced yet that having a Bojangles in the district isn't some elaborate April Fools jokes).

CityCenter construction set to begin

The CityCenter complex--which will feature offices, retail, condos, and apartments (and maybe a grocery store)--is set to break ground next week.  Construction preparations have already begun on this long-anticipated project.  

A fence has been erected around the lot and several tractors and a crane are already in place. 

The trailers commonly seen at construction sites where contractors set up their base of operations are in place, as well.   As expected for a project of this size, there is a village of trailers in the lot:

For now, part of the lot is still being used for parking--though a substantially smaller portion than before.  However, that will not last forever.  CityCenter is expected to be completed by 2014.

Rumors confirmed: comedy club coming to Penn Quarter

We reported a couple weeks ago about rumors that a comedy club is coming to Penn Quarter.   Those rumors are true.

The Washington Post is reporting that Geoff Dawson, the owner behind Buffalo Billiards, RocketBar, and Iron Horse Tap Room, is opening a comedy club.

The club will be opening at 801 E Street N.W.

The comedy club is expected to be up and running soon - by this June, which gives Dawson just a few months to get everything in order. 

The Club is going to be called Riot Act and their website is already live.  It will be open six or seven days a week and will feature live performances, comedy school, and open mic nights.

They also have a facebook page and a twitter feed.

This will add to the several live performance venues in Penn Quarter we have been blogging about recently, including Hill Country, Sax, and The Hamilton.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A week after spring begins, snow plow spotted in Penn Quarter

Although Spring started exactly one week ago, and the cherry blossoms are blooming, it is cold today!

In fact, there were reports for snow, and D.C. was taking them seriously.  Last night, Penn Quarter Insider spotted a snow plow in the neighborhood:

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A peek inside Fiola

The new restaurant coming to Indiana Ave, Fiola, is making considerable progress.

As it should be, as its target opening date is April 5th.  That's just a week from Tuesday.

Chandeliers already hang from the ceiling:

And it appears that the bar is already in place:

Previous posts about Fiola:

Penn Quarter resident Geraldine Ferraro passes away

Geraldine Ferraro, the former Vice-Presidential candidate, member of Congress, and Ambassador, has passed away.

She recently sold her condo in Penn Quarter at Market Square.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Weekend reminders

It's about time to leave work for the weekend.  A few reminders:

  • The National Marathon is tomorrow and streets will be closed throughout Penn Quarter, particularly before 11:30 a.m.  For more information on street closures and times, see our previous post here.

  • If you are crazy enough to be running in the National Marathon, remember that Metro doesn't begin service until 6 a.m., and you may have to leave earlier than that to be at RFK Stadium on time.

  • The Cherry Blossom Festival is this weekend, which is sure to fill Penn Quarter with tourists.  Keep this in mind as you make restaurant reservations and remember Metro will be more crowded that normal.

  • Also remember that there will be street closures in Penn Quarter for the Cherry Blossom Festival and Parade.  You cannot walk through as you used to without paying the $5 admission fee (new this year).  For more information, see our previous post here.

Have a great weekend!

USAToday profiles Washington, D.C.

People in hotel rooms across the country will wake up tomorrow to an article about Washington in USAToday.   The article says Washington was "once known for bland cuisine and sidewalks that rolled up before midnight," but now "the city hums with nightclubs, name-chef restaurants, funky boutiques and newly hip neighborhoods."  

The article mentions that the President eats at The Source in our neighborhood before going in depth about Penn Quarter later in the article.  It says Penn Quarter was "once sketchy" and is now "more vibrant."
"The once-sketchy Penn Quarter  downtown gets more vibrant yearly. Anchored by the Verizon Center  sports arena (home of the Wizards basketball team and Capitals hockey team), you'll find the popular International Spy Museum, theaters including Ford's Theatre  and dozens of restaurants including currently red-hot Rasika . Its upscale Indian cuisine and sophisticated décor fills it nightly . . . Try lamb Roganjosh with caramelized onions and Indian spices . . . For Mediterranean tapas, sample the work of D.C. star chef José Andrés at spacious Zaytinya , which has a bar overlooking the dining room made for people-watching."
You can read the full article here.

Bojangles in Union Station opens next Thursday

The Bojangles coming to Union Station announced a few months ago they would be opening in April.  After about ten months of construction and "coming soon" signs, people didn't seem to believe it.

But now, DCist reports, the Bojangles is set to open before April - by a day.  The grand opening will be next Thursday, March 31st.

The Bojangles has a large space in the lower-level food court at Union Station, in the back corner near Taco Bell.

The menu is available here

Bojangles is known for their fried chicken, biscuits, "fixin's," and "legendary" sweet tea.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ward 6 sees growth in the Census

It should come to no surprise to you that Penn Quarter is growing.  Census figures released today show that our city council ward, Ward 2, is the fastest growing at over 16%.  Of course, other neighborhoods are also included in Ward 2

Neighboring Ward 6 is the second fastest growing at 12.5%.  Ward 6 includes Judiciary Square, Capitol Hill, and the Southwest Waterfront.

According to the Washington Post, that means redistricting is upon us -and Ward 2 has too many people in it.  Wards 7 and 8 are the only ones declining, which do not border Ward 6, so some shuffling will have to take place--and it's sure to be a political battle.

Here is the Washington Post's chart of growth by ward:

And to help, a map of the wards:

Perhaps even more helpful is a list of neighborhoods in each ward, which is available from Wikipedia here.

Building housing Brasserie Beck is sold

In November, the New York-based real estate firm The Rockefeller Group opened a D.C. Office.  Now, they have made their first aquisition.

1101 K Street N.W., the building that houses Brasserie Beck, has been sold to the Rockefeller Group by JBG, which is based in Chevy Chase.

The Washington Business Journal reports that the building is almost 300,000 square feet, and although the price has not been disclosued, it is rumored to be just under $200 million ($686 per square foot).

Penn Quarter Farmer's Market Opens Today

As we reported several weeks ago, the Penn Quarter Farmer's Market re-opens today.

It will take its usual place on 8th Street between D and E Streets from 3:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m., and will be open every Thursday until December 22, 2011.

The clouds should be gone in time for it's 3:00 p.m. opening, though it will only be about 48 degrees.

You can see if your favorite produce are in season here.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sleep in on Saturday - street closures for National Marathon

Don't forget the National Marathon is this Saturday morning.  It begins at 7:00 a.m., though many street closures will begin as early as 6:30 a.m.

As you can imagine, it will run right through the heart of Penn Quarter (and just about everywhere else).  Streets are expected to be re-opened by 1:30 p.m.  However, most Penn Quarter streets will be open by 11:30 a.m. (just don't leave the neighborhood).

A highly detailed map of street closures is available from DDOT here and a list of street closures and the route in text form is available here.

A list of exact times for street closures is available from the marathon here.  Relevant to you:

  • 3rd Street N.W. between Constitution and E Street closed from 7:00 a.m. until 8:15 a.m.
  • Constitution Ave N.W. from Pennsylvania Ave N.W. to 22nd Street closed from 7:05 a.m. until 8:20 a.m.
  • Pennsylvania Ave N.W. between 6th Street and Constitution Ave closed from 8:15 a.m. until 11:25 a.m.
  • Constitution Ave N.W. between Pennsylvania Ave and the 9th Street Tunnel closed from 8:15 a.m. until 11:25 a.m.
  • 9th Street Tunnel will be closed from 8:15 a.m. until 11:30 a.m.

Our advice?  Sleep in on Saturday morning.

How the beer dispenser that fills from the bottom works

In February, we posted about the new beer dispensers at the Verizon Center that fill from the bottom.  With help from the manufacturer's website, we tried to figure out how it works, but we just aren't that smart.

Fortunately, Nick Elgin of Aramark, the contractor that handles food and beverage for the Verizon Center, knows how it works.  He tells NBC Washington, and the video is available here.

The Hamilton to add to Penn Quarter's music scene

Hamilton Square, built in 1929, will house The Hamilton, which will feature live music.

Hill Country has live music every day.  SAX will feature live performances and its own in-house dance troupe.

Penn Quarter is becoming the center of a live music and entertainment scene.

As we reported three months ago, there will also be a spot called The Hamilton at 14th and F from the Clyde's group that will feature live music and be open 24 hours a day.  It was originally rumored this space would be called Hamilton Square Grill.

The Hamilton is going to have a 15,000 square foot nightclub on the basement level with a 20,000 square foot restaurant on the ground level.  There will also be a 96 seat outside patio.
The space that The Hamilton will occupy is the older Borders Book Store.  The building is over 80 years old and originally housed Garfinckel's Department Store

According to The Hamilton website, which is now live, Penn Quarter "has been re-energized and re-invented as a major arts and entertainment district."

The restaurant has also already launched a twitter feed and a facebook page.  The space will be huge, holding more than 400 people.

As the owners put on the website, "The Hamilton will offer local, national and international musicians the unique opportunity to entertain a city that is never short on opinions, all within earshot of The White House."

SAX adds to performance dinner scene

Photo of SAX in progress from the Washington Post.

The owners of Sei and Oya, two trendy Penn Quarter restaurants, are opening a third in the old Posh space on 11th Street (734 11th Street N.W.).

If you've been to Oya and SEI, you know that these restaurants are known for their interesting spaces, and this new restaurant--called SAX--will be no different.

The restaurant will be defined by marble columns, gold frames, and velvet.  There is a stage--yes, a stage--with a one way mirror reflecting another mirror, so the stage looks like it goes on forever, the Washington Post reports.

What's the stage for?  An in-house dance troupe that will perform for dinner patrons. 

The menu will be prix fixe, but will escalate in price depending on where you sit, starting at $50 per person.

They will also have the largest collection of Champagne and sparkling wine in the D.C. area.

Their official website says they are opening in Spring 2011 - and that is soon!  Though the weather today may have you thinking otherwise.

We should have more pictures for you next week.


Your kids were safe in Penn Quarter last night.  Chris Hansen, the host of To Catch a Predator and Dateline, was spotted dining at Rasika, Yeas & Nays reports.

He was seen eating with a female companion at about 7:00 p.m.  No word as to why he was in town.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

James Franco coming to Hotel Monaco

Oscar host (and Yale graduate student) James Franco will be at Hotel Monaco next Thursday, March 31st.

He will be headlining a fundraiser for 826DC, an organization that supports children ages 6 to 18, helping to foster their writing skills.  The organization also helps teachers inpsire students to write.

The fundraising dinner at Hotel Monaco will be from 7:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., with a VIP reception starting an hour earlier at 6:30 p.m.

Tickets are $250 ($1,000 for VIP).  More information is available here.

Free movie passes

Arch Campbell is giving away several free movie passes at both E Street Cinema and Regal Gallery Place Theatres.

Tickets to the following movies are available for free:

- HappyThankYouMorePlease at E Street Cinema on March 28th at 7:30 p.m.

- The Music Never Stopped at E Street Cinema on March 30th at 7:30 p.m.

- Soul Surfer on March 30th at Regal Gallery Place at 7:30 p.m.

To get your free tickets, email with your name and address by March 25th at 4:00 p.m.

One entry per household is allowed, and you can get more details here.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Charlie Sheen coming to D.C.

You may have heard that Charlie Sheen is launching a nationwide tour.  After he has been fired from his hit CBS TV show, Two and a Half Men, he has not shied away from the limelight.  Taking to twitter and gaining the most followers in the least amount of time, he has also done numerous national interviews and is now going to start making money again: on tour.  And his tour is stopping in our nation's capital.

He graces Washington with his presence on April 19th, squeezed between  Atlantic City and Atlanta.  He will be "performing" at DAR Constitution Hall.  What exactly his performance entails we don't know (is it even the same in each city?  probably not).

Tickets range from $60 to over $100, and you can get them here.

Metro Delays - again - Gallery Place packed with people

This morning, there was a "track problem" at Federal Triangle, causing the Blue and Orange Lines to share one track between McPherson Square and Smithsonian.

"Track problem" can mean anything, but TBD reports that a power cable needed to be "changed out" at Federal Triangle.

The Red Line, however, was also apparently a disaster.  One person on twitter, @bptracey, tweeted this photo of the Gallery Place Station in Penn Quarter at 9 a.m.:

TBD reports that the red line delays were the result of two trains being removed from service for mechanical problems at the Grosvenor station between 7:15 and 7:35 a.m.  That's quite a swarm of people two hours later far from the Gosvenor station that makes us wonder what is really going on?

Elephants to parade through Penn Quarter tomorrow

To promote the Circus coming to the Verizon Center, the Ringling Brothers' elephants will parade through Washington tomorrow. 

That's right - real, live elephants walking down the street.  And their final destination is the Verizon Center in the heart of Penn Quarter.  The route starts behind Garfield Park on Virginia Ave S.E.  Here is their route to the Verizon Center:

The walk is expected to begin about 2:00 p.m.  Arrival times at the Verizon Center are up to the elephants.  However, you can call their hotline at 1-866-683-3670 or follow them on twitter @DCElephantWalk.