To ensure social distancing, in Rumi's Kitchen (Mount Vernon Triangle), mannequins are arranged around the dining room to prevent real patrons from sitting there. Photo: Celeste McCall

Restaurant life is returning, especially around Mount Vernon Triangle. In fact, when we entered Washington’s newest Persian restaurant, Rumi’s Kitchen, we thought the bar and dining room were so crowded we’d have to wait. Moreover, customers did not seem to be socially distancing. Then we looked closer and realized that most of those “customers” were lifelike mannequins arranged around tables to prevent “real” patrons from sitting too close together. (The mannequins don’t eat much, nor do they tip.) After a machine took our temperatures, we were promptly seated outside, where we savored an excellent repast. Named for a 13th century Persian poet, the two-month old Rumi’s Kitchen offers a plethora of  “tastes” (appetizers) and “feasts” (entrees), rice, other sides and desserts.

A favorite Taste appetizer at Rumi’s Kitchen is a pair of grilled prawn-size shrimp escorted by a mini-tub of spicy yogurt sauce. Photo: Celeste McCall

To begin, our pleasant server, Rafael, presented us with sabzi, a complementary Persian appetizer plate of radishes, walnuts, feta and lavash, a pita-like bread. Since we’re both trying to eat less, we bypassed other “tastes,” including zeytoon parvardeh (marinated olives, walnuts and pomegranates), mirza ghasemi (garlicky smoked eggplant with tomato), dolmeh (stuffed grape leaves). Instead, we settled on three appetizers: falafel, grilled shrimp and lamb hummus. Alas, the kitchen was out of falafel, but we couldn’t complain. We were satisfied and our palettes were pleased after consuming the two prawn-sized shrimp with a spicy jalapeno/yogurt. Merguez sausage rested on a swirl of creamy hummus.

As servers passed us bearing entrees, we noted the generous portions of roasted salmon; Chilean sea bass; beef stew with kidney beans; kebabs (shrimp, filet mignon, lamb). Dishes are escorted by fragrant Persian-style rice.

At the end of our meal, Rafael treated us to a delightful Persian dessert: two pistachio, rosewater-perfumed ice cream sandwiches, which we shared with a family celebrating a birthday at the next table. I sipped a Rose de Provence, while designated driver Peter quaffed a house-made mango soda. Our total bill was only $45.65, before tip. Rumi’s Kitchen is open daily for lunch and dinner. Call 202-900-9106 or visit

More Good News
La Betty, the pleasant homespun restaurant created by Teresa and Tony Velazguez, has reopened at 420 K St. NW. The couple also operates A Baked Joint next door and Baked & Wired in Georgetown. La Betty’s seasonal menu is ideal for cold weather dining: brined deviled eggs, corn dogs, chicken schnitzel, and a newcomer: “Betty Bird,” chicken roasted with herbs, jerked Caribbean-style or “shroomed” (prepared with seared hen-of-the-woods mushrooms). Homespun sides encompass wedge salad, “Mama T’s cabbage, twice-baked potatoes, mac-and-cheese, sautéed green beans. Customers also rave about Betty’s decadent cheesecake. La Betty, by the way, is named for Teresa’s German-Irish grandmother. For now, La Betty offers takeout, pickup and delivery Tuesday through Saturday from 5 to 9 p.m., closed Sunday and Monday. For more information call 202-408-8000 or visit


And….Nicoletta Italian Kitchen, 901 Fourth St. NW, has also reopened, again comforting neighbors and friends with Italian specialties like pizza, chicken (or eggplant) parmesan, meatballs, pastas and more. (Gluten free items are also available.) Nicoletta provides indoor dining (observing strict safety measures), and outdoor seating on its heated, expanded patio. There’s also carryout, with delivery coming soon. For updates and hours call 202-697-6888 or visit

From Comfort to BBQ:
In NoMa: SEOULSPICE, the “healthful” Korean comfort restaurant, has switched to barbecue. Diners at its NoMa (145 N St. NW) and Tenleytown (4600 Wisconsin Ave. NW) locations are chowing down on prime, dry-aged beef, served tableside with Korean banchan (sides) and house-made sauces. Guests also get a 10 percent discount for food (not drinks) during December. The full-price menu begins January 1, 2021. (The College Park offshoot does not offer this discount.)

The Unlimited Korean BBQ Experience is $20 per person (beverages, tax and gratuity not included). Among other menu items are bulgogi (sliced ribeye), chicken, pork or tofu marinated in a sweet and savory kalbi sauce; japchae (gluten-free noodles) made with sweet potato starch and tossed with carrots and kale.

The Korean BBQ Experience. Photo: SEOULSPICE

SEOULSPICE has also ramped up safety measures for guests and staff. To facilitate social distancing measures, the restaurant’s floor plan was reconfigured to create two seating areas at least ten feet apart. Tables and chairs are disinfected after each seating and high contact surfaces are disinfected regularly. Shin has also installed individual Particle Filtration Systems at each table.  The NoMa SEOULSPICE is open daily for lunch and dinner. Call 202-817-6927 or visit

Big Easy Vibe
In the Park View neighborhood, the long-awaited St. Vincent has opened. Equipped with high tops and wrought iron tables, the new wine bar has a 4,000-square-foot patio modeled after Bacchanal Fine Wine & Spirits, a popular courtyard hot spot in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward. Besides beer, wine, cider and seltzers, you can order cheeses and charcuteries, with an expanded menu to come.

St. Vincent is located at 3212 Georgia Ave., formerly Union Drinkery. Creators are Peyton Sherwood, a partner at the nearby Midlands Beer Garden, and Frederick Uku, former bartender at the Red Hen.

Market Watch
Here’s something we haven’t seen around here: Ivy City Smokehouse Market has been carrying fresh (live) razor clams. Priced at $16.99 per pound and plucked from icy New England waters, the cigar-shaped mollusks can be prepared like mussels: Simply steam them a few minutes in butter, garlic, parsley and white wine. We arranged them atop sautéed halibut $22 per pound), also from Ivy City Smokehouse. Located at 1356 Okie St. NE, Ivy City Smokehouse is closed Monday. Call 202-529-3300 or visit

In Bloomingdale, Boundary Stone, 116 Rhode Island Ave. NW, closed late last month. Management cited colder weather and the pandemic shutdown for the departure.