Thursday, April 28, 2011

New restaurant coming next to Corduroy

Corduroy, the restaurant near the Convention Center, by Chef Tom Power will soon have a neighbor - albeit a related one.

Tom Power is opening a new restaurant next door to Corduroy, Washingtonian reports.

The place will be bare-bones (or "down and dirty," as Powers describes it) with exposed brick and steel bordering concrete floors.  The restaurant will also be cheaper than Corduroy, with nothing over $20.

He has purchased the building, but expects the restaurant to open in another year or so.   It should bring much-needed life to a block that has dragged behind a bit.

We'll keep you updated as construction progresses and a concept becomes clear.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A peek inside The Hamilton

The Hamilton, the restaurant and music video coming to the old Borders Bookstore space at 14th and F Streets N.W., is coming along.

The restaurant is going to be huge, and will feature live music and be open 24 hours a day.

Penn Quarter Insider did some peeking and the space has been entirely gutted.   No word on when it will open, but it does look like they have some construction to go.  We have pictures:

Previous Articles about The Hamilton:

Hole over I-395 to be filled?

As you walk east from our neighborhood, you soon have a choice to make: take E street or take H street?  That's because there is a gaping hole where I-395 runs below street level and bridges take you over the interstate and on your way.

As our neighborhood grows more popular and more urban, there has been a plan to fill the airspace and add continuity to the neighborhood, as The Triangle Blog reported months ago.

Now the Louis Dreyfus Property Group has come up with a pretty solid plan for filling that area.  Their latest renderings include courtyards, buildings, and access to I-395.  This would not only fill in a gaping hole in the neighborhood and bring in more tax revenue for the city, but it would reduce the noise and pollution from 395, not to mention the eye-sore.

Here is what the buildings will look like in the latest rendering:

This development, plus CityCenter at the old convention center parking lot, could really transform our neighborhood. 

Paul ribbon-cutting

Paul had a ribbon-cutting yesterday to celebrate their opening, though they officially open to the public on Monday, May 2nd.

Mayor Gray was there and took the big scissors to cut the ribbon, along with Ward 2 Councilman Jack Evans and Francois Delattre, the Ambassador of France to the United States. 

On hand from Paul for this flagship opening was Maxime Holder, the Chairman of Paul (and grandson of the founder) and Philippe Sanchez, the President and CEO of Paul USA, who will be based here in Washington.

Here are a couple more photos from the event:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Paul announces hours

Paul, the new French bakery coming to the former Dacqua space at 9th and Pennsylvania, has announced their hours.

The bakery will be open seven days a week from 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.

Many Penn Quarter restaurants close on the weekends, leaving us few places to lounge around, but Paul will help to solve that problem.


Representative David Wu

Representative David Wu, known for dressing up as a tiger for Halloween and emailing it around, dined at Bibiana with a female professional acquaintance on Saturday night, Yeas & Nays reports.  The female is reportedly in her thirties.

National Building Museum celebrates 25th Honor Award Gala

25 years ago, the National Building Museum founded an award to honor leaders who shaped heritage, defined culture, developed communities, and crafted the (built) environment.  To celebrate the award, they hold a gala every year and this year they celebrate a quarter-century of the award.

The award ceremony will be held on May 17, 2011 and will feature a keynote address by David Rockwell, Founder and CEO of Rockwell Group, an architecture and design practice which focuses on a diverse array of projects from hotels to hospitals, restaurants to airport terminals, and Broadway set designs to products.   The event starts at 5:30 p.m.

Tickets start at $500 and go up to $50,000.  They can be purchased here.  A list of past honorees is available here.

Spraying for Ginkgo Biloba trees set to begin

The Ginkgo Biloba trees that populate many D.C. streets have a distinctive problem: they smell.  They smell bad.

They other problem is they drop tiny little fruits all over the sidewalk that you then step in.

Nonetheless, as Prince of Petworth reports, the tree lives on because they survive pests, drought, storms, ice, and city soil. 

To combat the smell, however, the D.C. Department of Transportation sprays the trees with a chemical called Shield-3EC 24(C).

Our neighborhood will be among the first sprayed (where female Ginkgo trees are prevalent) and the spraying will occur overnight.

Seems like this is a lot of work when there are lots of trees in the world?  The Urban Forestry Administration is allowing residents to choose on a block-by-block level if they want to replace the trees.  Residents can file a petition here.

Home prices rise in D.C.

Good news if you're selling a home and bad news if you're buying one - D.C. home prices rose in February over February 2010.  The S&P/Case Shiller Home Price Index surverys 20 cities and found declining home prices in all of them except for Washington.

The Washington Business Journal reports that home prices in the D.C. region rose an average of 2.7% over February 2010.

WTOP reports that of the 19 other cities that declined, 11 of those cities experienced declines at a faster pace than they did in January.

Prices in Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Las Vegas, Miami, New York, Phoenix, Portland, Ore., Seattle and Tampa are all at their lowest point since 2006 or 2007, at the height of the housing boom. The cities with the steepest declines from January were Minneapolis, San Francisco, Chicago and Miami.

Election Day is today

From Flikr user Mr. T in D.C.

Today is Election Day for the special election to fill a seat on the D.C. Council.  A list of candidates running for the seat is available here.

You can find your polling place here if you don't know it, and you can get a free cupcake at Red Velvet - not a bad deal.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Stoplights at 6th and E are flashing red

The stoplights at 6th and E N.W. Are flashing read. Treat this like a four way stop (or avoid the intersection altogether).

Friday, April 22, 2011

Sax update

We tried to get a peek inside of the upcoming Sax space, but were out of luck.  The place is covered in paper, with just a small window at the top showing a glimpse of a chandelier.

The interior of Sax is still a secret

This is disappointing because Sax is expected to be incredibly ornate inside.  The Washington Post was invited in for a picture or two, but we have yet to see with our own eyes.

Luke's Lobster confirmed: It IS coming to Penn Quarter

We had a few doubters in the comments when we reported on rumors (via Prince of Petworth) that Luke's Lobster was coming to the Clara Barton building in Penn Quarter.  And to be fair, there were reports out there that it was not true, and Luke's was denying it.

But now Washingtonian, the Washington Business Journal, and Luke's Twitter Feed all confirm that Luke's Lobster is indeed coming to that space at 624 E Street N.W.

Luke's has signed a lease to 700 square feet of space in what was formerly the National Journal party space (though Luke's will only be half of that space) and was for a short time a make-shift antique store.

Lobster rolls will be $15, and chips, a drink, and a pickle can be added for $2. 

Read more about the Luke's Lobster concept and menu, including a video, at our previous post here.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Fiola live on Open Table, lunch menu online

Fiola is now live on OpenTable, after taunting us with a page that was not connected for many weeks.

They have also published their lunch menu online, available here.  The menu is extensive, particularly for lunch, and ranges from lighter fare options to more substantive options.  There are also wine suggestions for lunch, though the full wine list is available at lunch.

Earlier brunch coming to the District?

Photo from Dine Magazine
In an effort to balance the budget, Washingtonian reports, D.C. is considering relaxing laws that govern the sale of liquor on Sundays. 

Currently, alcohol cannot be sold before 10:00 a.m., making that the usual first brunch reservation.  A new proposal, however, would allow for sipping on mimosas starting at 8:00 a.m., a full two hours earlier.

The mayor has also proposed allowing liquor stores to stay open until midnight, instead of their current required closing time of 10:00 p.m.

The downside to all of this?  The mayor also wants to increase the tax on liquor from 9% to 10%.  Others are also complaining that it may mean more robberies of liquor stores later in the night, which would further strain police resources.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

More Capital Bike Share stations planned for Penn Quarter

Beginning this summer, Capital Bike Share is adding new bike stations, including four in Penn Quarter.  The new stations are expected to be in place by this fall.

The four new Penn Quarter locations are:
  • Navy-Archives-Penn Quarter Metro stop at 7th and Indiana Ave N.W.
  • Judiciary Square at 4th and D Streets N.W.
  • National Portrait Gallery at 8th and F Streets N.W.
  • Metro Center at 12th and G Streets N.W.
Here is a map of current bike share stations, as well as those that are planned for this summer.

Pay-by-Phone parking meters coming to the entire district

The District has been testing pay-by-phone parking meters in D.C., albiet not in our neighborhood.  However, WeLoveDC now reports that they are rolling the service out to all of the District by this summer. 

Here is how it works: You pull into the spot, then call in or use a mobile app to enter the meter number.   Your credit card is charged and you're off to your destination.  You get a text 15 minutes before the meter expires.

Presumably, you can add money to the meter even after you leave it; meaning less over-paying for parking.

Hopefully one day they will be able to tell us via our mobile phones where there is free parking - that would be a life-changer.

Free Red Velvet cupcakes on Election Day

Living in Penn Quarter has its advantages, and we have another deal for you today.  On Election Day, April 26th, from 2:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. you can get a free cupcake at Red Velvet if you vote in the special at-large D.C. Council election.

Red Velvet owner Aaron Gordon went to high school with candidate Sekou Biddle, which inspired him to plan this get-out-the-vote promotion.  Biddle will be there to greet voters during the cupcake giveaway.

Free Starbucks on Friday

Friday is Earth Day and to celebrate, Starbucks is giving a free coffee or tea (iced or hot) to anyone who brings in a reusable mug.   You bring in the cup, they'll fill it up!

If you don't have a mug (or forget yours), order your coffee or tea in a "for here" cup and it will still be free.

More about the promotion here, which you can RSVP to via Facebook here.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Special Shuttle from Penn Quarter to National Harbor Food & Wine event

On May 14th and 15th there will be a Food & Wine Festival at National Harbor.  There will be over 150 different wines, beers, and other cocktails and it's all you can taste.  There will also be live entertainment and special art displays.

Why are we writing about an event that is in Maryland?  Because OnBoard Tours is offering a special shuttle from Penn Quarter - so you can sample all 150 of those drinks and still make it home safely.

The shuttle will leave both from Union Station and the Old Post Office.  It is $20 round trip, but if you leave from the Old Post Office, it's only $17.  Advanced tickets may be purchased by calling 1-877-U-TOUR-DC or 1-301-839-5261 or by emailing

For more on the food and wine festival, including a list of chefs participating and a list of drinks you can taste, check it out here.

Elisir space sees little progress

We wish we had more to report on Elisir, which is supposed to open in June.  The Enzo Fargione restaurant is set to be at 11th and Pennsylvania Avenue, around the corner from Central.

Progress looks minimal, however.  To be fair, there is a lot of work to be done (there will be televisions that live-stream the action in the kitchen, for example) and restaurants seem to come along quickly (like Paul), so we have no reason to believe they are behind schedule.  We were just hoping to get a preview of what the restaurant might look like, and so far it is still gutted.

For more about Elisir, see our previous post here.  Here are pictures of the space under construction:

A look inside Paul

The Navy Memorial is reflected on the window at Paul
Paul will celebrate it's opening with a ribbon-cutting next Thursday, the 28th, and officially opens May 2nd.  The interior space looks largely completed, however, and it is beautiful inside. 

If the food is good, we expect Paul to be very popular.  It is spacious and looks comfortable and relaxing - the type of place you'd want to stick around and read the paper on a Sunday afternoon.

Here is a peek inside:

Friday, April 15, 2011

3 more arrested mimicking Monday's protest, including D.C. Shadow Senator

Another protest was held in the same spot as Monday's, protesting the lack of local control over D.C. funds, as the new federal budget outlaws using D.C. taxpayer funds to fund abortion.
They sat down in the street in the same spot where Mayor Gray was arrested on Monday.  

Mayor Gray addressed the crowd, but only three people were arrested this time.  One of the arrested was D.C.'s Shadow Senator, Michael D. Brown, elected by the people to lobby for D.C. voting rights.

See a photo of the protest from a twitter user here, and a photo of the mayor speaking at the protest here.

Related Articles:


Tina Fey was in the neighborhood last night at the 6th and I Synagogue, where she was interviewed by NPR's Michel Martin.  She also stuck around for an hour to sign books.  She has a new book out called Bossypants, which you can buy from Amazon here.

The actor most recently known for his role in the NBC sitcom Community, Chevy Chase was also here yesterday.  He was spotted having breakfast at Bistro Bis with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.  He was here for the National Wildlife Federation's 75th Anniversary Gala, according to Yeas & Nays.

$1 lunch deals are selling out quickly

We posted yesterday about lunch for a dollar today through Living Social's Instant Deals.

There are a number of Penn Quarter restaurants participating in the deal, but the deals do sell out - and they are selling out quickly.

If you think you might participate, go ahead and buy your deal now (if it's still available).  You can use it through the lunch hour, and if you end up not using it, your money is automatically refunded.  

Thursday, April 14, 2011

No parking tickets tomorrow

If you are using your day off for Emancipation Day tomorrow to explore different parts of the city or run errands, we have good news for you: parking meters will not be enforced.

According to the D.C. Department of Public Works:

"Parking enforcement, including ticket writing for residential parking, expired meters, street sweeping and rush-hour violations will be suspended Friday and resume Saturday, April 16."

Lunch for a dollar tomorrow

To promote their Instant Deals, neighborhood company Living Social is giving $1 lunches tomorrow at places around D.C.  The places run from fast food to some of the city's nicest restaurants.  In order to get the deal, you have to buy it on Living Social and use it within a certain amount of time.  They have Instant Deals every day, though they usually aren't one dollar.

You can get the deal at Living Social's Instant Deal website, on your iPhone, or on your Android device.

Washingtonian Magazine has a list of places that are participating in the deal.  Here are the ones in Penn Quarter:
  • California Tortilla
  • Camille's Sidewalk Cafe
  • Merzi
  • Taylor's Gourmet (is close)
  • Z Pizza
You may want to check out the full list and travel somewhere you wouldn't normally go though.  Happy Friday!

Union Station to get major overhaul

TBD reports on new changes coming to Union Station, mostly in the form of safety and capacity improvements for Metro and other transportation options from the station.

68,000 passengers use the station every day, including 18,000 that are connecting to Amtrak, MARC and VRE trains--and more growth is expected.

That means upgrades are needed.  Safety improvements are going to be made, as well as room for more people on all three levels.  They also want to make direct links to new development and streetcars and buses, all while decreasing congestion and making evacuation--should it be needed--easier.

WMATA and the District Department of Transportation expect to get $2.55 million worth of Federal Transit Administration grants to help with the project.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Break on Tax Day at Penn Quarter restaurants

Three of Ashok Bajaj's restaurants will be giving customers a break on tax day (this year, April 18th).  On April 18th, customers can get a three course lunch for only $20.11 at 701, Bibiana, and the Oval Room, reports Yeas & Nays.

Ardeo+Bardeo, the Bombay Club and Rasika are offering a drink called "The Refund" for $8.   Though at 701, Bibiana, and Oval Room you can also get that drink, the drink will differ at each of the six locations.

Sidney Harman dies

The patron whose name graces Sidney Harman hall has died at age 92.

His family released a statement, made public by the Daily Beast, that says he died in Washington of complications from acute myeloid leukemia.

Everyone recognizes Sidney Harman for different reasons, but everyone recognizes him.  Whether it be his audio-systems empire, his patronage of the arts, or his gutsy purchase of Newsweek for one dollar and subsequent management of the magazine.

Fiola in Review

 After much anticipation, Fiola is open.  While it doesn't officially open until Monday (and isn't yet on OpenTable), they are running through everything this week and giving customers a 10% discount for dealing with the kinks.  PQ Insider was there last night, and there were very few kinks.
A TV screen displays the day's menu

Tucked in the old Le Paradou space on Indiana Avenue, Fiola is unassuming, and without the valet parking outside, you may not even notice it.

Once you get closer, however, you realize that the glimmer in the window is really a TV screen, which displays that day's menu--and yes, it changes every day.  Underneath, fresh flowers are planted in a flower box. 

You grab the door handle, a custom-molded scripted "F," and walk into the bar. 

The bar is lively and beautifully decorated.  Large chandeliers hang from the ceiling, the columns are gilded in gold and imprinted with drawings of leaves.  Around the bar are several nooks and crannies where small bar tables make for the perfect environment for meeting a friend for a drink.

Behind the bar are some stairs that lead down into the recessed main dining room.  The dining room is simple and elegant.  The tables don't have table cloths, but are made from eye-catching laminated wood.  The chairs and booths are fashionable and comfortable.

Windows look into the kitchen
Certain walls are made of stone.  One of those walls has two small windows in it, and the windows look into the kitchen.  Instead of the loud and hectic nature of an open kitchen, this gives you a view inside the kitchen with enough distance to keep your meal peaceful.  Every once in awhile, Executive Chef and Owner Fabio Trabocchi peeks out of the windows and into his restaurant.

The restaurant is loud, however.  With hardwood floors, an open layout, and metal columns, sound definitely travels.  But the atmosphere is not one of a quiet restaurant, the place is very lively.

The staff is incredible.  Even though they have only been open for days, the service was among the best we have seen in Penn Quarter.  The wait staff was knowledgeable on every dish, not only describing it, but telling you its Italian history and Fabio Trabocchi's take on it.

Warm bread with homemade olive oil
The food is fresh, intriguing, and delicious.  Each item on the menu is interesting, and you can tell a lot of thought went into it.  There are a host of pastas, as well as meats.  It includes items like Cacio & Pepe, which, the waiter told me, was a peasant's dish in Italy, but Fabio puts a lot of effort into it because it has to be cooked "just right."  The Ahi Tuna & Tomato Tartar looked incredibly popular and included grapefruit, a delicious addition.  The Maine Lobster Ravioli obviously takes an incredible amount of effort to prepare, and from looking around the room, is very popular.

Fiola is nice, but not overly fancy and stuffy.  It is not pretentious, yet you can count on exceptional service and good food.  Many Penn Quarter residents will probably be regulars there, both in the restaurant and the bar.  We look forward to seeing you there. 

Traffic Lights out at 6th and E Streets N.W. (again)

Once again, the traffic lights are out at 6th and E Streets N.W. for eastbound traffic on E Street.

If you approach this intersection, look to the very left on the far side and there is a working light.

The lights at this intersection are confusing to begin with because of left turn lights and the closeby fire station.  Often, it looks like all the lights are red at once.

The crosswalk signal is working.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Amorini Panini deal

If you don't subscribe to our neighbor LivingSocial's daily emails, today's deal might interest you.  Today two neighbors team up.

Today's deal gets you $10 worth of food at Amorini Panini for just $5.

Most items on the menu at Amorini Panini are about $6, so you could go twice or bring a friend.

Get the deal here.

See the menu here.

Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry's

If you happen to find yourself near the Old Post Office Pavilion today, pop in to Ben & Jerry's - it's Free Cone Day!

You can get a free cone of any flavor ice cream you like from noon until 8:00 p.m. today. 

While this usually means long lines, which would be particularly bad in the rainy weather today, the Ben & Jerry's in the Post Office Pavillion is inside, so you can wait in comfort.  Enjoy!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Mayor Gray Arrested

Picture from @daveweigel
Mayor Gray has been arrested while protesting D.C. local control.  See previous story here.

Picture from @shani_o