The other day, husband Peter and I visited a friend/colleague in Brookland who was recuperating from open heart surgery. Beforehand we lunched nearby at an old favorite, San Antonio Bar & Grill. Years ago the space housed Ellis Island, operated by a longtime friend, Hugh Kelly. He also owned the Irish Times (near Union Station), before retiring and handing it over to son Brendan. Kelly sold Ellis Island, which eventually became San Antonio Bar & Grill.
The facade and interior have been spiffed up since we last visited. The menu has expanded to include Italian dishes (offered Wednesday and Saturday) and Peruvian fare including ceviche and lomo saltado (sirloin tips sauteed with onions and spices) and Cuban specialties like ropa vieja and masitas de puerco (pork morsels).
We decided on signature Tex-Mex fare: chicken fajitas, served sizzling hot with moist, tender white meat, rice, beans, and guacamole. I went for the bountiful taco salad, a melange of ground beef, lettuce, chunky guacamole heaped in a crispy shell. The dishes complemented Peter’s Corona beer and my tangy margarita. Lunch for two came to about $40. Open daily, San Antonio is located at 3908 14th St. NE, near Catholic University. Call 202-832-8080.
New in Town
Meanwhile, as winter finally loosens its blustery grip, much has been happening in our restaurant world. Coming soon to ever-expanding Ivy City is City Winery, which will combine a wine-making facility, restaurant, rooftop bar, and concert venue. The 40,000 square-foot facility will open on Okie Street, near the refurbished Hecht warehouse. It is owned by Michael Dorf, the New-York based restaurant group that has locations in other major US cities. Don’t rush over there right away; City Winery won’t arrive until later this year.
In the Marriott Marquis, 901 Massachusetts Ave. NW (Mount Vernon Triangle near the Walter Washington Convention Center) Mike Isabella is unveiling Arroz, focusing on the cuisine of southern Spain and Morocco. The newcomer currently serves dinner only but will eventually add lunch and brunch. Valencian rice, Moorish-style chicken, ribeye and the trimmings head the menu, as snack carts roam the dining room. Regional wines, sherries, sangria, and cocktails will flow.
Ensconced in an historic Adams Morgan structure, The Line DC is set to open later this spring (or early summer). Address: 1770 Euclid St. NW, formerly the century-old First Church of Christ. In the future hotel’s restaurant, to be named A Rake’s Progress, chef Spike Gjerde of Baltimore’s Woodbury Kitchen will combine Midatlantic and Virginia culinary traditions (lots of game birds) in a wood-burning hearth. Gjerde’s team will also provide pastries, sandwiches, and Counter Culture java in the lobby coffee bar. Also in The Line, Maketto’s Erik Bruner-Yang brings us Brothers and Sisters, serving American classics with an Asian accent.
Mexico Comes to Petworth
Petworth welcomes Taqueria del Barrio, 821 Upshur St. NW. Created by husband-and-wife team Anna Bran-Leis and Shawn Leis of DC Empanadas (a stand in Union Market and a food truck), the stylish newcomer dispenses traditional Mexican fare with modern flair. Everything is made from scratch including the tortillas. The former Domku space has been transformed by Studio Ideya Architecture+Interiors with Mexican motifs including Dias del Muertos (Day of the Dead) and a mural of the Virgin of Guadeloupe. At the crowded press dinner we sampled lip-tingling empanadas stuffed with beef and black beans escorted by cilantro chimichuri; chunky guacamole; various tacos filled with lengua (tongue), braised beef; and pork/pineapple and beer-battered corvina (fish). For dessert: powdered-sugar-dusted cookies described as Mexican Oreos. Potent margaritas are rimmed with spices. Oddly we saw no Mexican beers. Maybe later? We’ll be back.
Robert Wiedmaier of Marcel’s and Brasserie Beck is going nautical, with a seafood enterprise called Siren. It’s due to arrive around the first of June in the Darcy Hotel (Curio Collection by Hilton). “Siren is a mythological creature, kind of like a mermaid that eats sailors alive,” Wiedmaier quips. While his partner, chef Brian McBride, thought of the name, Wiedmaier responded, “That’s me, we’re going with it.”
McBride’s menu will troll chilly waters for turbot, salmon, and king crab (the last two fished from Alaska), and sea urchin (uni) from Japan. Plus the warm seas of Hawaii and local critters too. Heading Siren’s kitchen is chef John Critchley, who wielded his whisk at Brine in Merrifield’s Mosaic District and Bourbon Steak and Barcelona Wine Bar in Georgetown. Tucked into the lobby will be Lil’B, a New Orleans-style cafe operated by celeb chef David Guas of Bayou Bakery (soon to close) on Capitol Hill. He also operates Bayou Bakery in Arlington.
Darcy Hotel will be located at 1515 Rhode Island Ave. NW (near Scott Circle). Call 202-779-9957 or visit www.thedarcyhotel.com.
Brunch and Beer
All-Purpose Pizzeria will launch Sunday brunch on April 9, served from 11 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Chef Mike Friedman and his team have created classic brunch dishes with “Italian-American twists” like house made salumi, breakfast pizza, eggs Fra Diavolo with Calabrian chiles, polenta, feta and basil; crispy fried potatoes with gorgonzola crema; Nutella bomboloni (Italian-style filled donut) topped with whipped ricotta and powdered sugar; plus coffee drinks and cocktails.
During the Craft Brewers Conference (CBC), April 10-13, the pizzeria will extend hours and host “tap takeovers” featuring Maine brewers. Chef Friedman and his team have come up with a compatible menu including a pizza named Weathervane (a bar Friedman frequented in Maine) topped with clams, bacon, fontina crema, Calabrian chiles, and chives.
All-Purpose Pizzeria is located at 1250 Ninth St. NW, across from the Walter Washington Convention Center. During CBC, All-Purpose will serve lunch Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday with dinner beginning at 5:30 p.m. Closed for lunch Tuesday, April 11, reopening at 5:30 p.m.
For reservations and more information visit www.allpurposedc.com.
Local James Beard Nominees (and Winner)
Congrats and good luck to 2017 James Beard Nominees in our ‘hood. Amy Brandwein of Centrolina (CityCenterDC) and Tom Cunanan of Bad Saint (Columbia Heights) have both been nominated for Best Chef in the Mid-Atlantic. Mark Furstenberg of Bread Furst (upper Northwest) is in the running for Outstanding Baker, and Nora Pouillon (Restaurant Nora, Dupont Circle) is the sole honoree for Lifetime Achievement. Other winners will be announced May 1 in Chicago.