May 2019

Skybox Bar offers classy cocktails and other libations along with a birds-eye view.

NoMa is embracing the exotic flavors of Asia. Laos in Town, at 250 K St. NE, replaces TD Burger (Timothy Dean’s burgers and barbecue), which closed recently. Laos was due to open April 30, after the Hill Rag deadline. For more information call 202-864-6620 or visit

The Southeast Asian newcomer is located across the street from the homespun Indian eatery Indigo, at 243 K St. NE. We recently enjoyed a delightful, al fresco group lunch at Dinesh Tandon’s five-year-old charmer. We loved his curried goat, lamb tikka masala and palak paneer (spinach with homemade cheese in a spicy sauce). Indigo has returned its popular kiosk to Eastern Market most weekends, and is also opening a stand at Union Market. NoMa’s Indigo is closed Sunday. For more information call 202-544-4777 or visit

New Logan Circle Heights
Meanwhile, at Logan Circle, Players Club guests are no longer relegated to the basement. Located below the Shake Shack at 1400 14th St. NW, the retro arcade bar now sports a rooftop venue dubbed Skybox. The 3,000-square-foot space provides panoramic views of surrounding Logan Circle and Thomas Circle. Customers access the rooftop via an elevator inside Players Club. After taking a ticket (deli-counter style), they wait their turn to ascend to Skybox. For more information call 202-986-4730 or visit

Revamped Pilar
Also in the busy Logan Circle neighborhood, the owners of Bar Pilar are selling their Ernest Hemingway-themed restaurant/lounge at 1833 14th St. NW. The new owners are the RNJS Hospitality Group, which also operates District Oyster Bar & Lounge near Union Market. RNJS is expected to shorten the restaurant moniker to just “Pilar,” the name of Hemingway’s beloved boat, which is still displayed behind his historic home outside Havana.

The new management hopes to “keep the bar trendy” with a new chef and menu, a “casual but stylish complement.” In addition, they now have access to the building’s two upstairs floors and might tap the space for another venture. For updates call 202-265-1751 or visit

Italian Newcomer
Five years after the Altamarea Group unveiled Osteria Morini in Capitol Riverfront, the group has opened Nicoletta Italian Kitchen in Mount Vernon Triangle. You’ll find it at 901 Fourth St. NW on the ground-floor of the DC Bar Building. Along with pizzas, emerging from the kitchen are homemade meatballs, gnocchi al forno, veal Milanese and chicken parmesan. Italian spirits and wines are flowing. Eventually, Nicoletta will serve lunch, brunch and dinner. There’s also takeout. Next door to Nicoletta, the Altamarea Group is also opening Brew’d, a cafe specializing in Italian coffees and carryout items. Watch for details.

Saturday Ritual Returns
It’s back! Fresh Farm Mount Vernon Triangle Market, 499 I St. NW, returns as a Saturday morning ritual. From 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., you can shop for certified organic produce, grass-fed meats, pastured eggs, jams, jellies, baked goods, ciders, empanadas, bagels and more. Fresh Farm accepts SNAP/Food Stamps and WIC/Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program benefits.

New Heights in Ivy City
Meanwhile, in Ivy City, Gravitas chef Matt Baker has taken his restaurant to new heights, adding a custom-built, glass-enclosed rooftop cocktail bar, the Conservatory. The menu there will encompass oysters on the half-shell, caviar, charcuterie, cheeses and tartines. Tartines are open-faced sandwiches heaped with roasted potatoes, marinated goat cheese and seafoods. The fish come from the neighboring Ivy City Smokehouse purveyors. Besides his multi-course food and wine-tasting menus, Baker has rolled out a Saturday and Sunday a la carte brunch menu. Brunch hours are 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Located at 1401 Okie St. NE, Gravitas/The Conservatory is open nightly, Thursday through Sunday, closed Monday. In addition, Gravitas now serves pastries, Vigilante coffee and Teaism tea on weekend afternoons. By the way, the Gravitas building reportedly once housed a tomato cannery.

And …
Nearby, Ivy City Smokehouse Market (located downstairs from the tavern) has added a small raw bar. Besides dispensing oysters and clams on the half-shell, and (probably) house-smoked salmon and other seafoods, the handsome bar will also serve beer and wine. Ivy City Smokehouse is located at 1356 Okie St. NE, closed Monday. Call 202-715-1174 or

Chicken Goes Italian
Crisp Kitchen + Bar, the homey Bloomingdale watering hole, has new owners. Scratching Crisp’s poultry theme (“OG” chicken sandwiches), father-son duo Tommy and Matt Mazzocchi are morphing Crisp into a bar called Hopscotch: “hops for beer, scotch for liquor.”

Husband Peter and I had lunch there last winter and enjoyed the fried chicken with waffles and collards. However, the new proprietors plan to tap their Italian heritage by introducing a simple menu of lasagna, other pasta dishes and sandwiches alongside 10 types of red and white wine. Crisp’s chef, Monroe Marsh, will stay on board; his background is Italian. The rest of the staff were also invited to remain. Basil and oregano plants growing on the patio will be plucked to enhance the Mediterranean dishes. The address is 1837 First St. NW, across the street from the Red Hen. Watch for details. 

In Shaw, chef Tim Ma’s Chinese-French restaurant Kyirisan served its final meal last month. Located at 1924 Eighth St. NW, the three-year-old restaurant was known for scallops with coconut risotto, duck and creme fraiche wings.