Spring Has Sprung: Time to Enjoy H Street

H Street Life

A musical performance at Capital Fringe’s new Trinidad location.

Spring is finally here and it’s time to get out and enjoy the neighborhood and the (somewhat) warmer weather. Restaurants’ and bars’ patios are open again and our gardens are showing signs of life. We’ve got you covered whether it’s tacos and margaritas at brunch or working the soil that gets you going.

Sally’s Middle Name to Open at 1320 H Street NE

The team behind Pizza Parts & Service set off a flurry of rumors recently when they suddenly shuttered the restaurant releasing only a cryptic statement expressing excitement over the new owners and saying the neighborhood was “in very good hands!” Neighbors gossiped and speculated about who might take over the space. One popular rumor had a We the Pizza from DC celebrity chef Spike Mendelsohn setting up shop. This, however, was not to be. It’s not pizza in our future, but small plates served in a restaurant known as Sally’s Middle Name (1320 H Street NE, http://sallysmiddlename.com). Think lone vegetable dishes or plated proteins that you match up as you see fit. The menu will change on a daily basis depending on what local ingredients are freshest and available at the time. During a recent pop-up tasting held at Boundary Road (414 H Street NE) they served a variety of dishes including braised goat with roasted fairy tale squash and smoked pepper raita, and pan roasted radishes with cara cara oranges, nasturtium leaves, walnut oil, and sunflower shoots. The team behind this new venture is chef Sam Adkins and his wife Aphra Adkins. You may remember that the Pizza Parts & Service guys recently obtained a liquor license, so expect that to be put to good use. The Washington City Paper recently reported that a beverage director from Boundary Road will join the Sally’s Middle Name team. I’d say that bodes well for fans of interesting cocktails.

Head upstairs and you’ll find a marketplace that the Adkinses are opening up along with Toki Underground chef Erik Bruner-Yang and his wife Seda Nak. Among the offerings in the retail portion one can expect to find products showcasing the skills of Aphra Adkins who works in design and fashion (http://aphraadkins.wix.com/aphra).

Chupacabra Reopens for the Warmer Months

Local taco stand Chupacabra (822 H Street NE, http://chupacabradc.com) has risen from its seasonal slumber and is ready to once again delight you with all manner of fresh Latin fare. Fear not a light rain; Chupacabra may have only outdoor seating, but their patio is covered and they’ve invested in some heat lamps to chase away the lingering spring chills.

They’ve tuned up the menu a bit, but you can still expect to find all the old standbys like tacos, arepas, and cubanos. They’ve added some new items you’ll want to test drive, including a hot soup or two. Early spring hours are 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday-Sunday. Once the temperature warms up a bit (maybe mid-April) they'll expand to full operating hours/days. 

Ethiopic Celebrates Five Years on H Street NE

It’s hard to believe it’s been five years since Samuel Ergete and Meseret Bekele opened Ethiopic (401 H Street NE) along the H Street Corridor. It was the first restaurant for the pair and it’s clear that they did their homework. Ethiopic’s uniformly excellent food has won it fierce loyalty among locals and accolades from the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, and Washingtonian. The atmosphere is upscale and well tended, but still manages to feel comfortable and family friendly.

To mark the occasion of the restaurant’s fifth anniversary the owners decided to offer special platters featuring dishes one typically will not find on the menu at Ethiopian eateries. The meat platter featured lentil sambusa (a stuffed pastry) and katenga (toasted injera coated with a berbere spiced oil) as an appetizer and a main course of charred chicken liver, gored gored (spiced raw beef), dulet (a stew made with spiced beef, liver, and lamb tripe), milasna sember (a dish of beef tripe and tongue), and gomen besiga (a mix of beef and greens). Those choosing the vegetarian or vegan options feasted upon a colorful platter with roughly 15 selections. In the spirit of celebration and sharing the owners donated 50% of the proceeds from each platter to the non-profit Ethiopia Reads (http://www.ethiopiareads.org).

New Capital Fringe Space Offers More Than Just Festival Fun

Capital Fringe (1358 Florida Avenue NE, https://www.capitalfringe.org) is best known for their annual Fringe Festival, which will run July 9-26 this year. But their recent move to Trinidad brings more than a festival to the area. Fringe is holding regular arts events and has become a bit of neighborhood hangout spot with a bar that’s open and serving drinks and light fare multiple nights a week (currently Wednesday-Saturday, and whenever they have an event) to locals in search of a laid back place to chat with friends over a beer. They offer reasonably priced craft brews as well as anything else you’d expect to find at a well stocked bar, and you don’t need to see a show to swing by for a quick visit.

W. S. Jenks Hardware Has Your Spring Gardening Supply Needs Covered

Though they won’t sell plants this year (they’re still adjusting to the new location and focus on retail sales) W.S. Jenks & Son (910 Bladensburg Road NE, http://www.wsjenks.com) has just about everything else you might need for your garden and yard this year, as well as plenty of spring cleaning supplies. The shop is settling into its new role as Trinidad’s neighborhood hardware store, even hosting a Trinidad Neighborhood Association (http://trinidadneighborhood.org) meeting the other night. They have a well-stocked garden and yard care section with freshly arrived bags of organic leaf mulch and other tools of the trade.

Chupacabra’s tacos are a welcome sign of spring

For more on what’s abuzz on, and around, H Street NE, you can visit my blog http://frozentropics.blogspot.com. You can send me tips or questions at elise.bernard@gmail.com.

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