Suna Arrives on The Hill

Dining Notes
Suna recently opened upstairs from Acqua al 2.

Capitol Hill has emerged as a serious dining destination. Suna has arrived. Created by Ari Gejdenson of Acqua al 2 and chef Johnny Spero, Suna opened November 14. We were there. We ascended the stairs to the upper level of 214 Seventh St. SE, next door to parent restaurant Acqua al 2. The decor is rustic, with natural wood and exposed ceilings. The upscale newcomer was already doing a brisk business; at a nearby table several nationally acclaimed chefs were enjoying their dinner.  Spero, 26, heads the spacious, open kitchen. His cooking is cutting-edge, to say the least. His resume is impressive; previous gigs include Komi, Toki Underground and Copenhagen’s famous Noma, which has been touted as the world’s best restaurant. At Suna, diners may order a 4-course ($48) or 8-course ($78) repast. We chose the first option.

After a complimentary amuse bouche (caraway crackers with smoked egg and pastrami spices); we nibbled candied celeric, roasted beets and granita; roasted pumpkin with pine nuts and Greek yogurt; scallops with seaweed; pork with tahini and crispy kale; guinea fowl with sun chokes and paper-thin broccoli curls. Dessert was hibiscus-scented custard–which Peter said tasted like lemon squares--with assorted sweet crackers. Each course was artfully arranged on Amber Kendrick’s earthenware plates. My favorite of the lot was the flavorful guinea fowl.

Wines were interesting. I sipped Cannonau di Sardenia (red), while Peter chose a crisp Sauvignon Blanc from Uruguay. Suna is definitely a special occasion restaurant. Dinner for two with tax and tip came to almost $200. Service was excellent.

The moniker Suna is Latvian for “moss;” Spero’s paternal grandfather came from Riga, capital of that Baltic nation. Why moss? “We are a fine dining restaurant inspired by nature,” explained Ari. “This restaurant elevates us in the whole city.”

Suna is open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday; closed Sunday and Monday. Call 202-450-4585 or

Mexed out?

District Taco is coming to 656 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, formerly YES!, which moved to Barracks Row. Look for District Taco early next year. More Tex-Mex? We already have a plethora of nearby south-of-the-border options: Chipotle, La Plaza, Las Placitas, La Lomita, Pacifco Cantina, Tortilla Coast, Banana Café. We like them all, and District Taco will dispense tasty Yucatan-style tacos, guacamole and salsas, all made with ultra fresh ingredients. We plan to eat there and know the tacos will be delicious. But how many Tex Mex eateries do we need?

District Taco is locally owned and operated. In 2009, two neighbors decided to launch a food cart. Since then, District Taco has expanded to two brick-and-mortar outlets–one in downtown Washington, the other in Arlington. For updates go to

New Italian

We intentionally left out Mi Vecindad (“my neighborhood”), which has been dispensing authentic Cuban and Salvadorean fare for more than two years. Why? Proprietor Henry Mendoza–who also operates La Plaza down the street-- has decided to go Italian. “As of December 1, we will become Il Cappo, which means the Boss,” Henry told us over our lunch of tortilla soup and a tasty Cuban sandwich.

Leading Il Cappo’s kitchen is Edwin Mejia, who hails from Peru. As long time Hill residents might recall, that space once housed Caffe Italiano, which turned out great calamari while boasting a lively bar scene.

Il Cappo is located at 1129 Pennsylvania Ave SE, call 202-546-4760.


Recently, after attending a book signing at Hill Center, we ambled toward Barracks Row in search of sustenance. Peter suggested Las Placitas, 517 Eighth St. SE. The homey Mexican/Salvadorean café has been around forever, and for good reason. The food is consistently good, prices are reasonable and service friendly and efficient. On this midweek evening, we found Las Placitas fairly busy, full of locals.

As we munched corn chips and tangy salsa, I ordered chicken and beef fajitas, which arrived sizzling. Peter went for his favorite Latino dish: puerco al horno, melt-in-your mouth morsels of pork roasted Salvadorean style and smothered with sauteed onions. The succulent meat was served with platanos, white rice and black beans. “I believe this may be the most flavorful dish on Barracks Row because the pork is so moist and savory,” Peter declared, wiping his chin. “No other Latino place quite captures this dish like Las Placitas.”  Las Placitas is open daily; call 202-543-3700

More Barracks Row

Lavagna, 539 Eighth St. SE, has added a charcuterie program to its made-from-scratch menu. The robust lineup includes house cured meats like coppa, bresaola (air-cured), and pork pate. Among cheeses are bleu, vine-wrapped goat, and ricotta. Charcuterie plates come in various sizes; a full platter–which serves a table–is $32. These are in addition to the regular lineup of Atlantic swordfish; grass-fed rib-eye; shrimp corzetti pasta with clam sauce; blueberry shortcake.                         Lavagna is open daily; call 202-546-5006) or

Market watch

In case you haven’t heard, Market Lunch, tucked in the corner of Eastern Market, now serves Sunday breakfast. Previously, weekend breakfast was on Saturday only; while Sundays just offered lunch (brunch). Now, you can chow down on stacks of pancakes; favorites are blueberry, buckwheat and chocolate chip. Or try bacon-and-eggs, sausage, omelets, French toast and even eggs Benedict. Breakfast hours are 9 a.m. to noon. Cash only.

New victuals at the Spork

The Silver Spork (formerly Marvelous Market) has introduced some neat new items. Catching my eye the other day was Jansal Valley roasted red (or yellow) tomatoes, priced at $5.99 for a 5-ounce pack. Wouldn’t they go beautifully in a pasta salad? Based in New England, Jansal Valley also markets thickly sliced, country-smoked bacon; a good-sized package goes for $9.99.  Arriving just in time for the holidays are several kinds of domestic and imported prosciutto. Among them is Prosciutto Americano, produced by La Querca in Iowa. A 3-ounce package is $8.79. Located at 303 Seventh St. SE (at C street) Silver Spork is open daily; call 202-544-7127.

Warming trend

Pitango Gelato, 660 Pennsylvania Ave. SE is helping combat the cold weather by dispensing rich, warming Italian hot chocolate. On a recent Saturday, they were handing out samples. Inside, a good-sized cup is $3.57. Go to

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