Newcomers to Mount Vernon Restaurant Scene

Insatiable

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Rasa Grill, a recent Mount Vernon arrival, offers carryout/delivery and spacious Patio dining.

As this strange, pandemic summer fades into an uncertain fall, DC neighborhoods—especially Mount Vernon Triangle—are gradually re-awakening. MVT is hot. Among its restaurant newcomers is Rasa Grill, 485 K St. NW. We’re familiar with the Rasa near Nationals Park, popular for carryout for baseball fans headed to games. The fast-casual Indian eatery is known for its menu of cleverly named “bowls”—including “Open Sesame” (lamb kebabs napped with peanut-sesame sauce) and “Goa your own Way” (a tongue-tingling mélange of spicy beef with ginger/coconut sauce).

Rasa Grill is known for its generous bowls of zesty Indian ingredients. Order from the menu or design your own bowl.

Or you can design your own bowl. We opted for the latter at the new Rasa Grill, which opened August 1.  Here’s the deal: Go inside and point to the ingredients you want, starting with your base (rice, noodles, greens), then adding proteins and various toppings. Rasa sports a colorful interior décor, but for now, folks are dining on its spacious front patio.

I chose rice noodles tossed with plump turmeric/ginger shrimp, spicy charred eggplant, a scattering of minced cilantro and crispy lentils. Peter went for the spicy beef on basmati rice with coconut sauce along with green beans, beets and pickled onions. A bowl easily feeds two, so we took our leftovers home. Babe (canned) sparkling rose was slightly fizzy and a refreshing complement to the spicy Indian food. Mango lassi is a meal in itself. Hint: It’s delicious frozen. Lunch for two came to $41.25. Rasa Grill is open daily for patio dining, takeout and delivery. For hours and more information, call 202-629-4329 or visit www.rasagrill.com.

Another Mount Vernon newcomer, Rumi’s Kitchen, 540 L St. NW, brings exotic Persian cooking to the area. Named for the famous 13th-century poet, Rumi’s Kitchen offers spinach date salad, falafel, assorted kebabs, smoked eggplant and much more. Call 202-900-9106 or visit www.rumiskitchen.com.

Although Rasa Grill sports a colorful interior, for now, customers must dine al fresco.

Coming soon—if not already—to Mount Vernon Triangle is Melange, 449 K St. NW. The future endeavor is created by Chef Elias Taddassee, who combines his Ethiopian heritage with his French culinary training. Menu examples include “The National,” inspired by doro wat, a chicken stew spiked with berbere and escorted by two hard boiled eggs. The menu also includes burgers and vegan/vegetarian options.

For now, Melange is limited to pick-up and delivery, but will eventually expand to full service dining. For updates visit www.nelangedc.com.

And, Toscana Market, by Danile Catalino, an “authentic market and restaurant” offering cooking classes, gourmet vittles and more, is due to arrive at 440 K St. NW…

New on U
Mezze Coin is the new Lebanese kitchen atop the Brixton bar, overseen by chef Casey Bauer and Erik Bruner-Yang. Bauer, only 25, learned Lebanese cooking from her mother and grandmother. She impressed customers with her pita (similar to a pizza crust), hummus, fettoush (traditional Lebanese salad) and kebabs. “Lebanese bar food.” Located at 901 U St. NW, Mezze Coin/The Brixton provides carryout, roof deck and indoor seating daily. Call 202-560-5045.

Slipstream At Home
Don’t feel like cooking? Each weekend, Slipstream, 1333 14th St. NW in Logan Circle, hosts “Neighborhood Nights at Home,” sort of a cross between carryout and a meal kit. Here’s what you do: Call 202-450-2216 or visit www.slipstreamdc.com and order an almost-ready, three-course meal plus a cocktail. All this is just $25 per person.

Created by chef Dan Perron, the Neighborhood Nights menu changes weekly. A typical repast: hummus with house-made pita, merguez meatballs, sweet corn custard and a strawberry cocktail. When customers pick up their meals, they find directions on the back of the menu; all they have to do is re-heat or add a few finishing touches and add ice to the cocktail.

Most Neighborhood Nights ingredients are available at Slipstream’s Pantry (grocery). Diners may also order from the regular menu; favorites are avocado toast and myriad coffee drinks. For exact hours and more information, call the above number. Call early, sometimes the kitchen runs out of Neighborhood Night items.

How the Other Half Lives

In Ivy City this fall, Brooklyn-based Other Half Brewing Co. plans to unveil its taproom and production facility in the beautifully renovated Hecht Warehouse. Located at 1401 Okie Street NE, the 22,000 square-foot project will include a 5,000-square-foot indoor tasting and taproom.  A 7,500 square foot outdoor space will accommodate imbibers with a covered pavilion and roof deck. For updates visit www.otherhalfbrewing.com.

Chilling Out
Here’s something for these last days of summer: In Shaw, Electric Cool-Aid’s outdoor bar’s 5-foot-tall frozen drink machines churns out cocktails in pink and orange hues. In a former parking lot, you’ll now find 19 properly spaced picnic tables, murals splashed with hot pink, plus cocktails, beers, wines and seltzers.

Electric Cool-Aid is the creation of a trio of longtime bartenders and managers. The colorful  murals were sponsored by a Pabst Blue Ribbon program funding street art in exchange for advertising space. Besides Good Humor ice cream bars, on certain days, you can order Timber Pizza, hot dogs, donuts and fried chicken. Located at 512 Rhode Island Ave. NW, Electric Cool-Aid is open daily. Call 202-921-9021.

Market Watch: While shopping at Ivy City Smokehouse recently, we noticed something new: Alabama White Sauce, a Southern-inspired barbecue sauce. Delicious on chicken, the sauce is a concoction of mayo, garlic, vanilla extract, Dijon mustard, salt and black pepper. An 8-ounce container goes for $4. Located at 1356 Okie St. NE, Ivy City Smokehouse is closed Monday. Call 202-529-3300 or visit www.ivycitysmokehouse.com.

Street Sense
With Covid-19 restrictions still in place, local neighborhoods are getting creative. Some have been establishing “Streateries,” stretching restaurant dining areas into adjacent streets. Latest to climb aboard the expansion idea is the Logan Circle neighborhood. (Shaw has already done this with Blagden Alley.) For example, the Commissary, 1443 P St. NW has set up a half dozen tables on the street. (They call it “PStreetery.) Now, including its patio, Commissary provides more outdoor seating than inside.

Gone
In our Shaw neighborhood, Mason Dixie Biscuit Co., the pop-up and food stall that sold breakfast sandwiches and fried chicken across the city for six years, has permanently closed its restaurant at 1817 Seventh St. NW. The company, which now sells its line of frozen biscuits in grocery stores, cited the “surreal and defeating” impact of the COVID-19 crisis.