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In Mount Vernon Triangle, Ottoman Taverna charms guests with its brightly decorated dining room.

For some time now, my dining companion Peter had been in the mood for Turkish food. Therefore, we finally got around to revisiting Ottoman Taverna, 425 I St. NW, in Mount Vernon Triangle.

Ottoman was even better than we remembered. As before, we descended a staircase lined with the traditional blue and white glass “evil eye” motifs, to the handsomely appointed dining area. Festooned with gleaming hanging copper pans, the display kitchen is equally eye-catching.

Ottoman Taverna’s handsome display kitchen is festooned with gleaming copper pans.

We find the cuisine similar to Greek and other Mediterranean cooking styles, but with more variety. Turkey is known for mezze, which might include sigara boregi (feta, onions and parsley wrapped in filo dough), falafel or dolma (rice- stuffed grape leaves). Since we couldn’t decide what to order, our Turkish-born server, Ata, suggested the cold mezze platter, a half dozen exotically delicious dips: hummus, baba ghanoush, beet flavored yogurt, atom (yogurt, celery and sundried chilis), and ezme (sundried tomato paste with garlic and Turkish spices). We couldn’t finish it, so we took leftovers home.    

For our entrée, we shared the traditional Turkish/Middle Eastern favorite: doner kebab, thinly sliced beef served with rice and a salad, piled atop pita bread. Other menu options are chicken kebabs, moussaka (regular and vegetarian), ground beef kofte, chargrilled salmon and cauliflower stew.

Besides a lineup of raki—the potent Turkish beverage twice-distilled from grapes–there’s a cocktail list including a Bosphorus martini, raki colada and Moscow mule. The wine selection encompasses “bubbles,” a Bulgarian Sauvignon Blanc and a red Turkish blend. I sipped an Italian Pinot Grigio, while Peter quaffed refreshing apple/pineapple juice.

Lunch for two came to $85, including tip. Service was excellent.

For hours and more information visit www.ottomantaverna.com.

The legendary Ben’s Chili Bowl, now with spinoffs, plans franchises on the East coast and out West.

Ben’s Expands

Ben’s Chili Bowl, the culinary icon at 1213 U St. NW, is in the news again. The 65-year-old landmark, which survived the 1968 riots and gentrification, is expanding far beyond the Beltway. Beloved for chili-smothered half smokes and celebrity clients including Barack Obama and Muhammad Ali, Ben’s has spawned several local offshoots. Now, it plans franchises along the US East Coast and—eventually—out West.

In the Atlas District, you’ll find a Ben’s offshoot at 1001 H St. NE (on the corner), and in Shaw at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 801 Mount Vernon Place NW (only open during events). For updates and more information, visit www.benschilibowl.com.

Shaw Veggie Spinoff

Having just copped the James Beard Award for Best Chef in America, Rob Rubba’s plant-centric Oyster Oyster in Shaw has spawned a casual spinoff. You’ll find Oyster Garage at 1440 Eighth St. NW, next door to the parent restaurant. Unlike Oyster Oyster, which requires reservations far in advance, Oyster Garage welcomes walk-ins. The colorful space is appointed with vintage pinball machines, oyster mushroom murals and skateboarding videos.

Chef Rubba’s Oyster Garage menu might include roasted mushrooms, eggplant schnitzel, squash blossom bread with marigold butter, as well as non-vegetarian options like oysters on the half shell and pizza. Beers and wines are all sustainable. For hours and more information, visit www.oysteroysterdc.com.

A half dozen exotically delicious dips are displayed with bread and spoons for tasting.

Coming next summer….

Clyde’s, the nationally known restaurant group, is opening Cordelia Fishbar at 550 Morse St. NE, in the Union Market neighborhood. Seating 250, the 10,000 square-foot restaurant will showcase chargrilled seafood dishes and an abundant raw bar. For updates, visit www.clydes.com.

Market Watch

The other day, after viewing “Oppenheimer” at the nearby Angelika Pop-Up theater, we wandered into Union Market. There we discovered Dan Dan Boy by Chinese Street Market DC. Inspired by traditional Chinese street food, the zesty noodle shop dispenses assorted freshly made noodles, including spicy sour glass noodles, shrimp wonton egg noodle soup, 13-spice stir-fried noodles and more. Open daily, Union Market is at 1309 Fifth St. NE. For more information, visit www.unionmarketdc.com.

Bier Hier and BBQ

Here’s something fun: The Mount Vernon Triangle FreshFarm Market, 499 I St. NW, features a Biergarten every second Saturday. From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., the garden will highlight a rotating selection of local brewskis.  For more information, visit www.freshfarm.org.

And…nearby, 2Fifty is bringing its barbecue to Mount Vernon Triangle. Don’t rush over there right away; the signature brisket, ribs, pulled pork, turkey and house-made sausages area not arriving until next year. You’ll find the smoky spinoff at 414 K St. NW. There’s a 2Fifty BBQ at Union Market, and another in Riverdale Park, Maryland. For updates and more information, visit www.2fiftybbq.com.

Coming up:

Summer Restaurant Week 2023, August 28-September 3. For this special promotion, numerous Washington area restaurants offer multi-course course lunch and brunch menus for just $25 per person. Dinners go for $40 and $55 per person. (Cocktail and wine pairings are also available.)

For a list of participating restaurants, menus, reservations and other information, visit www.ramw.org.

RAMMY Winners

“There’s a food revolution in our city; the restaurant scene is in overdrive,” said DC Mayor Muriel Bowser. The occasion was the 41st annual RAMMY Awards gala July 9 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Shaw. “With 80 new restaurants, we are creating more and more business opportunities,” she added. “Congratulations.”

Delivering a gracious acceptance speech was Kevin Tien, named Chef of the Year. “I’ve been cooking in DC since 2018,” said Tien, who helmed the kitchen at the District Wharf’s recently departed Moon Rabbit. “I’m proud to be cooking in this city…supported by my staff and my community.” Tien is also co-founder of Chefs Stopping AAPI Hate.

Other RAMMY winners in Capital Community News neighborhoods:
New Restaurant of the Year: Causa/Amazonia (Shaw/Blagden Alley);
Cocktail Program: Service Bar (Shaw/U Street NW);
Best Beer Program: Shelter @ The Roost (Capitol Hill);
Rising Culinary Star: Marcelle Afram (Shababi Palestinian Rotisserie Chicken, Atlas District);
Favorite Fast Bites: RASA (Navy Yard);
Best Bar: Exiles (U Street NW);
Employee of the Year: Nabil Moussa (Le Diplomate, Logan Circle);
Pastry Chef of the Year: Teresa Velazquez, Baked and Wired/A Baked Joint (Mount Vernon Triangle);
Restaurateur of the Year: Rose Previte (Compass Rose, Maydan, Logan Circle);

John C. Laytham Exceptional Leadership and Impact Award: Michael Curtin of DC Central Kitchen, which combats hunger and poverty through job creation and training. The non-profit organization recently relocated to the former US Coast Guard headquarters in the Buzzard Point neighborhood in Southwest.

Presented by the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington, The RAMMYS honor the accomplishments and hard work of the region’s restaurant and food service community. For more information, visit www.ramw.org.