Red Palace to Close January 2013

H Street Life

Salt & Sundry is a lifestyle shop that recently opened in Union Market. Photo: Elise Bernard

The mercury has dropped recently, and that means we might all need a little added incentive to get out of the house.  That incentive comes to you in the imminent closing of an H Street NE corridor staple, and in new offerings at Union Market.

Red Palace to Close January 2013

It was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving when Red Palace (1212 H Street NE, ) issued a press release announcing that the tavern would close its doors January 1, 2013. Rumors of the imminent closing swirled in the days before the official public acknowledgement. Red Palace originally opened as two separate, but neighboring, bars.  Palace of Wonders featured burlesque and sideshow acts, while Red and the Black offered live music, and a New Orleans vibe. In 2010 the two bars merged, which allowed for the construction of a kitchen, and created a much larger performance space on the second floor.  The newly revamped Red Palace turned out the usual wings and fries, mac and cheese, and gourmet burgers made with local grass fed beef.  Fittingly, they once offered a burger known as the Burporken. The Burporken was an unholy marriage of beef, chicken, and pork, served on a brioche bun. While the Burporken is no longer on the menu, you still have all of December to stop by and enjoy one of Red Palace’s other tasty burgers while you take in a show, or simply check out the sideshow memorabilia that still decorates the venue’s walls.

Red Palace was unique in its role as a haven for the sometimes bizarre, and often titillating, world of burlesque and freak show acts in the District. Countless people can be found loudly lamenting the loss of such a space, while others proclaim that this is not the end of such performances in buttoned down Washington, DC. The future of the space is uncertain. The new owners have a new vision, but they aren’t saying exactly what that is yet.

Union Market Expands Hours

Union Market (1309 5th Street NE,, an upscale culinary gem, lies in the wholesale food district known as the Florida Market. Union Market has a steadily growing list of food and drink vendors (for consumption both on and off site), as well a couple of non-food shops, and restaurants. Among the diverse offerings are an oyster bar (, a bakery (, a full service butcher (, a boozy soda counter (, and a lifestyle shop called Salt & Sundry selling “tableware, linens, artisanal foods and one-of-a-kind vintage finds” (  The Market recently expanded its hours so that it is now open from 8 a.m.- 8 p.m. (some vendors only operate from 11 a.m.- 8 p.m. so check the Union Market site for actual operating hours for individual vendors.

New Restaurant to Open at Union Market

In addition to increasing its hours, Union Market also recently unveiled plans for a new restaurant.  The, as yet unnamed, restaurant will be helmed by New York City chef John Mooney. Mooney’s current restaurant is Bell Book & Candle (, which is located in New York City’s West Village. Bell Book & Candle harvests much of their herbs and produce from a garden on their rooftop, and Mooney plans to undertake a similar project at Union Market. His cooking relies heavily on seasonal and sustainable ingredients, which should make him an excellent match for the locally driven food scene that Union Market strives to nurture.

Crafty Bastards at Union Market Draws a Crowd

This year saw a major change for the Washington City Paper’s annual Crafty Bastards ( arts and crafts festival. The festival relocated from its Adams Morgan home to a large lot adjacent to Union Market. Some worried that the location would fail to draw many shoppers, especially with a newly imposed entrance fee. As it turned out, neither location, nor the nominal admission charge, deterred shoppers. The crowd was consistently huge, as visitors from throughout the region descended upon Union Market and its environs.  Food vendors in Union Market hustled to meet the demand for sandwiches, and drinks. Local, and out of state, vendors filled multiple tents, and the tables of wares for sale stretched out to fill the lot.  I attended with friends, and we were overwhelmed by the turnout. Based on my Twitter timeline, that was a common reaction. Crafty Bastards offers an excellent chance to score unique items for your home, or the perfect holiday gift. I suspect, based on the success this time around, that Union Market could easily become the festival’s permanent home.


A local pop-up arts happening, submerge, attracted an eclectic crowd to its space in the former home of Fashion One (700 H Street NE).  SubMERGE, which ran from November 10-18th, kicked off its festivities with the closing party for Digital Capital Week, which “bring[s] together designers, developers, entrepreneurs, and social innovators of all kinds.” The kick-off party featured live music and performances off all sorts, as well as visual art. SubMERGE was a project of the No Kings Collective.

No Kings Collective is a group of artists and organizers, who work with other artists to create flash art events and temporary galleries in the District. During subMERGE’s nine day run, No Kings Collective showcased a wide variety of performance art, visual art, music, and fashion. We already have a thriving arts scene along the H Street NE Corridor, but it’s awesome to see another venue (even a pop-up) highlighting new local talent.

For more on what’s abuzz on and around H Street you can visit my blog You can send me tips, or questions at

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