Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It's the Great Pumpkin Party, Columbia Heights

Looking for something to do between Friday and Saturday's Halloween festivities? Stop by the Columbia Heights Civic Plaza on Saturday afternoon for pumpkins, a craft station, and more.

Pumpkins on the Plaza

Saturday, October 31
11am to 2pm
(Costume judging at 1:30)
Columbia Heights Civic Plaza
14th Street and Kenyon Street and Park Road NW

Celebrate Halloween with Columbia Heights Community Marketplace Committee and Giant. Join us on the Columbia Heights Civic Plaza for free face painting, Halloween arts and crafts station, costume contest with a $100 Giant Gift Card for the winner, and pumpkins for sale.

Full details are here.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Heritage Trail Unveiling Draws Big Crowd

Lots of turnout yesterday for the unveiling of our very own Columbia Heights Heritage Trail. The Civic Plaza was full of booths with info from Cultural Tourism DC and others.

The entertainment started early and folks enjoyed some dancers while waiting for the formal program.

The afternoon activities were rained on, but it's sunny today so you can check out the trail on your own.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Heritage Trail Unveiling Tomorrow

Don't forget that tomorrow, Saturday, October 24 at 1PM the Columbia Heights Heritage Trail will be unveiled. Start at the civic plaza on 14th and Park/Kenyon. There's fun stuff going on all around the neighborhood to celebrate.

You can check out the event's facebook listing here.

Or read our previous coverage of it on here.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Countdown Columbia Heights: Best First Date Spots

I know a thing or two about first dates in Columbia Heights. And luckily for us single folks in the neighborhood - we have a lot of great options for a table for two. Sure, every first date has it's own vibe and you should pick a location based on your unique scenario - but today let's talk about the generic first date and rate our options based on that.

The goals: Avoid the awkward, keep it light.

Countdown Columbia Heights: <3 <3 <3 Best First Date Spots <3 <3 <3

5. The Heights - If you can dine outside, The Heights is an excellent option. Also good for a brunch first date.
4. Tynan Coffee & Tea - If you need a quickie - hit Tynan not Starbucks. Why? Because Tynan serves booze.
3. Red Rocks - Red Rocks is just good enough that you'll enjoy it, and just bland enough to make it stress-free.
2. Commonwealth - It's dark here. Dark is always good. So is beer.
1. Room 11 - Wine, good desserts, cozy without pretension, priced to avoid pressure.

Bonus section! The "what ifs..."

What if your date is ugly? Ruby Tuesdays - nobody will catch you.
What if your date is shy? Wonderland or Red Derby - a few rounds will get 'em talking.
What if your date is awful? Emergency errand, run to Target and hide.
What if your date is broke? Julia's Empanadas by the fountain.
What if your date is vegan? No, don't go to Sticky Fingers. Go home. It won't work unless you're also vegan.

(...and now I will wait for that person who LOVES red meat and also LOVES a vegan to chime in via the comments section...)

Pete's Presidential Shout Out

Oh no! The line at Pete's Apizza is about to get a little longer. Here's what the President said about Pete's yesterday when discussing small business financing:

And these steps will make a difference for more small businesses like Pete's APizza in Washington, D.C. I recommend it -- that everybody go out there. (Laughter.) When the three owners had little more than a dream of opening up a casual pizza restaurant, they found it challenging to get financing. Ultimately they got a loan through City First Bank, a community development bank right in Washington. Today, business is booming. And the initiative we're announcing today will help more banks provide more loans to businesses like Pete's.

So how did Pete's get all presidential? WCP's Young and Hungry explains here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pete's Hoping for Presidential Shout-Out

Our local pizzeria, Pete's Apizza, is hoping POTUS takes notice. From the Twitter:

@petes_newhaven CONFIRMED: Pres Obama to host small bz mtg @ Treasury @ 1:30; Pres expected to mention Pete's; Tom & Joel attending. TUNE TO C-SPAN at 1:30!

An open letter to DC Circulator

UPDATE: John Lisle from the DC Dept. of Transportation chimes in below. Thanks for the quick response!

This is a tale about a bus called the Circulator. A little more than six months ago the new Circulator loop which connected Woodley Park, Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights, the 14th Street corridoor, and McPherson Square opened and it was good. It could take me to work, take me home from work, and was a great option to have on the weekends. Sitting backwards was sometimes weird but the giant back window was always fascinating. Then Columbia Heights became an awful construction zone again, and the Circulator was caught in it all.

So now, as a regular rider who uses the Circulator for my commute, I have started to see an unfortunate habit developing among Circulator bus drivers heading east on Irving St. NW. They no longer pick-up passengers at the designated stop!

Because of the general traffic in the mornings, there is often a back-up at 14th and Irving streets. While Metro buses wait to advance to the H2 / H4 / H8 stop, Circulator drivers are instead dropping off and picking up passengers at least 50 feet before the actual corner stop. This is causing a great inconvenience for a Columbia Heights rider, like myself. There have been mornings where I patiently waited at the designated stop only to have bus drivers give me grief when I ask them why did they almost drove right by me (and other waiting riders).

And then there are mornings such as today in which I followed the crowd and got on the bus a little past Commonwealth. The Circulator stopped further up the street because there was a H4 bus and cars in front of it. However, the Circulator then stopped three more times to pick up passengers before it turned right on 14th Street. As the bus continued down 14th Street, it stopped right at the bus shelters at the U Street and P Street intersections.

DC Circulator needs to remind its bus drivers to drop-off and pick-up passengers at the designated stops. Has anyone else encountered this problem?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tynan Coffee and Tea = Big Win for CH

I spent some time at Tynan on Saturday night and I do believe it will prove to be some serious competition for our Starbucks and a great local meeting place.

The space was a lot bigger than I had expected. It's bright, open and comfortable with different types of seating - tables, comfy chairs, a laptop friendly area.

The staff was really friendly and my drink was excellent - I couldn't decide between espresso or hot cocoa, so I went for the mocha. They made it extra hot since it was chilly and rainy out. I didn't try any of the food items - but the menu isn't small. Breakfast options include quiche and waffles, lunch boasts a long list of sandwiches and wraps - like lemon pepper tuna and roasted turkey & havarti, and they also have salads, chili, hummus, pastries, bagels and fruit. They also have beer, wine, and spirits to spike your coffee.

The drink prices seemed to be Starbucks-ish. My drink was just more than $4 for a medium. More than I'd like to pay, but I liked Tynan enough that I'll probably pay it fairly often.

I had a seat and did some reading. Others were chatting or on their computers. The only complaint I've heard so far is that you have to renew your wireless code every hour (probably keeps the neighbors from stealing bandwidth), and when someone I know inquired for the new code - she was told that the owner preferred you buy something every hour. It seems reasonable to avoid people camping out on a $1.25 coffee drink, but also not terribly friendly for opening weekend.

They are open 8AM - 8PM on weekends and 6:30AM - 8PM on weekdays (I wish it was later). You can visit them online here:

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Book Sale This Weekend

Finished the Twilight series and need something new to read? (Kidding, who would read Twilight? Vampires - pshhh... those books are for kids. Right? Heh heh...)

Book sale in the neighborhood this weekend. The details:

Dear Friends,

Great books at great prices! Saturday, Oct. 17--10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Columbia Heights Educational Campus used book, DVD and CD sale at 3101 16th Street (corner of 16th and Irving Sts. NW--5 blocks north of Meridian Hill Park). Proceeds to benefit Lincoln Middle School and Bell Multicultural High School (named by Newsweek as one of the top 100 public high schools in the nation). The campus is a block west of the Columbia Heights Metro stop, and we'll have free parking in the underground garage at the school. Garage is on Hiatt Place, just around the corner from Irving behind the Columbia Heights Shopping Center. Come do some early holiday shopping for a great cause to help the library and literacy programs and to purchase LCD projectors.

Bests Councilmember Jim Graham

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Countdown Columbia Heights: Best Fast Food

Sometimes you need food - fast. That's why Americans invented fast food. And here in Columbia Heights, we certainly have our share.

For the purposes of this list, I didn't count places I consider "coffee shops."

So now it's time for another COUNTDOWN COLUMBIA HEIGHTS: Best Fast Food.

5. The Uptowner Cafe - For sandwiches that don't look like they were hit by a truck (cough cough - Subway).
4. Julia's Empanadas - Baked pockets full of delicious.
3. Chipotle - Ok, so it hasn't opened yet. Whatever, even closed it beats anywhere else.
2. Five Guy's - Because you always know where the potatoes came from.
1. Pete's Apizza - It may not be the fastest, but it's by FAR the best.

Disagree? Share your dissension in the comments section.

Area Pub Quiz - Now on Tuesday

If you're reading this now - then it's too late to go to trivia night at Looking Glass Lounge. Just don't try to go on Thursday.

The usual Thursday night pub quiz at Looking Glass has now moved to TUESDAY, starting today. The Quizmaster of Georgia Avenue will still be on hand, hosting as always.

You can also now keep up with the Quizmaster, host of Looking Glass and Commonwealth's trivia nights, on Facebook. Check him out here.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

About Time: Tynan Opening

PoP breaks the news - Tynan is FINALLY opening. I feel like that Tynan sign has been there forever. You can tell that I think this because two blog posts ago I snarked at them for this. Now we'll go friendly for them: WELCOME TYNAN! I can't wait to try some coffee and tea.

Eating Organic and Local in Columbia Heights

So I read this book about food that basically makes a case for eating local and/or organic whenever possible - if you can. I decided I'd follow it for a while, so you know - I'm starving.

But! The good news is that it's not that hard to find food in the neighborhood and stick by these rules the book ("In Defense of Food" by Michael Pollan) convinced me to follow.

Mt. Pleasant Farmer's Market

This is obviously the best choice for locally grown and organic. The amazing thing is that while some food is way more expensive - $9 for a pound of arugula - other food can be cheaper here than at the grocery store. Honey crisp apples, for example, are up to $.25 a pound cheaper here if you find the right booth.

I also bought this awesome looking orange head of cauliflower and didn't have time to cook it for about a week. It stayed good AND I was able to turn it into an awesome puree (microwave steamed cauliflower, a few tablespoons of organic butter, sea salt, one clove chopped garlic, two grinds pepper, all tossed in the blender).

Our local supermarket has a surprisingly good amount of organic options. The organic stuff definitely costs more - about a $1 more for most single items, but Nature's Promise is prevalent in every section of the store and almost any basic item (apples, tomatoes, yogurt) had 1-2 organic options. If you look carefully, you can even find locally grown stuff on occasion in the produce section.

Not so organic and nothing is fresh. I guess I have to stop buying so much food at Target. Oh! But they have the Annie's palak paneer frozen dinner I like (also at Giant). I would say they have some options for what I might call "processed organic" - dry and frozen but technically organic.

Pete's Apizza
Pete's uses all organic ingredients and lots of locally grown stuff. Their salads are delicious and you can tell it's super fresh. Sometimes they have a "farmer's market salad" from whatever they were able to buy over the weekend. Love this place.

Commonwealth Gastropub
You'll notice that at the bottom of the Commonwealth menu they have a "thank you" to the local producers that are currently supplying the restaurant.

Any other suggestions? Places I'm forgetting to acknowledge?

Serious Activity at Chipotle

On a holiday Monday at 6:30PM, our new Chipotle location on 14th Street next to The Heights was full of activity. Several workers were inside and the place is full of equipment for the build-out. It's a nice sign of progress when other places - Tynan and Ellwood Thompson, to name two - seem totally stagnant.

Friday, October 9, 2009

We Love DC profiles Columbia Heights

Local blog, We Love DC, takes a look at Columbia Heights for its "Where We Live" series. I talked to the post's author, Shannon, earlier this week and some of my thoughts on the neighborhood ended up in the final piece. What are your responses to her questions:

- How long have you lived in Columbia Heights?
- What do you like best about your neighborhood?
- How has the neighborhood changed since you've been there, and how do you expect it to change in the future?
- What are your favorite neighborhood spots-- restaurants, shops, bars, anything. Any can't missspots?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Heritage Trail Unveiling Set for Oct. 24

Cultural Tourism DC will officially unveil the Columbia Heights Heritage Trail on Saturday, Oct. 24 at 1 pm. The event kicks off at the new civic plaza.

Here is some more information from the organizers:
Join Cultural Tourism DC, Councilmembers Jim Graham and Mary Cheh, and the Columbia Heights Heritage Trail Working Group when we unveil Cultural Convergence: Columbia Heights Heritage Trail.

WAMU’S Kojo Nnamdi will emcee the 1 pm program, which features the Malcolm X Drummers and Dancers and celebrated DC author Marita Golden, who will speak about how Columbia Heights influenced her writing.

After the unveiling, lace up your walking shoes and join officials, neighbors, and Cultural Tourism DC staff for the inaugural stroll at 2 pm! Working group members will be stationed at signs to tell stories of how the trail came together, and three important community institutions - Mexican Cultural Institute, Dance Institute of Washington, and Art and Media House - will open their doors, offering tours and entertainment.

Activities will also take place on Civic Plaza throughout the afternoon, including performances by GALA Hispanic Theatre, jazz band Rhythm Accents, and Ghanaian drummer Kweku.

Room 11: Gin, Punch Club, Oh My!

Room 11 is having some gin tastings on Tuesdays and PUNCH CLUB IS BACK! The Heights Life LOVES Punch Club! Here's the info from owner Dan:

The Bombay Sapphire Collins Experience Tonight!

Please join us at Room 11 tonight, October 7 (or next Wednesday, October 14th), for the Bombay Sapphire Collins Experience. From 6 to 8 pm we will be featuring Bombay Sapphire Gin giveaways, Tom Collins samples made with Bombay Sapphire, and demonstrations of how to make the perfect Tom Collins at home by Room 11 partner and DC Craft Bartenders Guild member Dan Searing.

Punch Club returns, now on Sundays at Room 11!

Starting Sunday, October 11, at 5 pm  the popular event featuring classic, modern, and original punches comes to Columbia Heights wine bar Room 11. Hosted by Room 11's partners at the Warehouse Theater Cafe earlier this year to much acclaim, Punch Club will now take place starting at 5pm every Sunday and will last until the punch runs out. Join us this Sunday for some classic favorites like Glogg (mulled wine) and Rocky Mountain Punch
(made with sparkling wine, rum, and maraschino liqueur) and look forward to more many new punches in the coming weeks.

Ellwood Thompson's Hope Lives On

According to Councilmember Jim Graham, Ellwood Thomspon's is still maybe coming and at least acting like they might and Jim Graham gave them tax credits. I don't know, just read this:

Dear Friends:

I am glad to report that yesterday I introduced and the Council passed legislation to help an organic market to locate in the DCUSA retail center . This bill will ensure that Ellwood Thompson's -- a full-service, organic, natural and sustainable food store -- will receive tax relief benefits that are available to every qualified supermarket in DC.

Ellwood Thompson's is dedicated to high-quality products, supporting local farmers and the community. It signed a lease with DC USA Operating Co., LLC for space in the DC USA Shopping Center in Ward 1. The construction of their supermarket space was delayed due to the downturn in the economy. The is the second time the council passed this bill. The earlier measure was about to expire, and so this action was necessary. the legal action pertained to the fact that--unlike many supermarkets--this one is not free standing and is part of, and within, an existing development. So some technical changes were needed.

I am told that the plans for this supermarket are again underway. Our latest report is that Ellwood Thompson's has submitted construction diagrams to the developer and they are awaiting approval.

With the passage of this bill, the Council is again doing all it can to make this happen.

Bests, Councilmember Jim Graham

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Two Thumbs Up for Thai Tanic II

In keeping with my tradition of visiting new neighborhood eateries and bars within a week of their opening, I stopped by Thai Tanic II for an early dinner on Saturday. Short review: Great space, well-trained staff, quick kitchen, good food.

Having visited its other location (near 14th and Rhode Island) many times, I knew I would not be disappointed by the food. My vegetarian Kra Pow was delicious, and my friends said the same about their entrees. What I was really impressed by my first visit to Thai Tanic II, was that it didn’t contain all the normal management pitfalls of a new restaurant opening. Especially what I have experienced in Columbia Heights. Our waiter knew what he was doing, the food came out quickly, and the staff did not look frazzled. Nor were they too absent or too pushy.

I was also very impressed by the space. Thai Tanic II is easily the anchor retail for the Allegro, and it is one of the larger restaurants in the neighborhood. There are plenty of tables set along the windows looking out to 14th Street. The interior is very Southeast Asian Jetsons, but it works. Particularly the orange dining chairs; love them. At 5:30 pm on Saturday, its second day, the restaurant had only a few tables occupied but I am sure it picked up later in the evening.

When it was first announced in the spring that we were getting a Thai restaurant, I had high hopes. Those hopes were easily met.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Openings and Not Openings: IHOP, Ellwood, Thaitanic II

Some updates on the latest openings and potential openings...

William Jordan (aka BroNat) reports in the Columbia Heights Forums that Ellwood Thompson's grocery store might still make it's way to DCUSA - and he keeps my IHOP hopes alive:

Ellwood has a signed lease and deposit with DCUSA. They still plan to come. Economically they believe it's better to wait than to invest now what is required to move forward. They are in wait and see mode. Ellwood has to weigh the risk of the current lease costs of an empty space with the millions it will cost of opening a new locating in this financial market.

The construction going on is related to Ellwood but not exclusive to it. DC USA is adding another enterence to the internal mall and elevator to the garage. This will support Ellwood when it comes and other retailers including the IHOP which is on the way.

The Prince of Petworth says today is actually the day that Thaitanic II will open up. Full service starts tomorrow. More details here:

Thai Tanic II Now Open in the Allegro

As Spud Lite mentioned, today Thai Tanic II is finally open for business in the Allegro at 3462 14th Street. The original Thai Tanic location in Logan Circle is one of my favorite Thai restaurants in a city of many Thai restaurants.

So in keeping with a The Heights Life tradition ...

COUNTDOWN: Thai Tanic Menu Picks

5. Bird Nest on Fire
Chicken, peppers, chili paste and some greens. Hot, hot, hot but so, so, so good.

4. Pad Prik Sod
A standard on any Thai menu but always well-prepared here. Good for those who need a mild dish.

3. Tom Ka Goong
Spicy, smooth, and just a bit tart. This shrimp and coconut soup is a great way to start a meal and perfect for the cooler days of early fall.

2. Pad Kee Mao
Drunken Noodle is a common dish, but I find that Thai Tanic’s is better than the rest. Their noodles are superb.

1. Spicy Eggplant
If I am going vegetarian, I will pick eggplant over tofu most days. In this dish it is all about the sauce.

The full menu is available on their website at (Warning, there is music.)

Jim Graham Says He Didn't Do It

Here is the latest from Councilmember Jim Graham on the scandal involving his Chief of Staff, Ted Loza. And in case you missed it - the City Paper's coverage of the Graham/Loza relationship:

Dear Friends,

In regards to the recent arrest of Teddy Loza, we should all be patient while the authorities conduct their investigation. Corruption is a very serious matter. As much as anyone else, I want this investigation to be thorough and all guilty parties held to account. I have pledged 100% cooperation to the FBI.

I have committed no wrongdoing or crime.

Please also keep in mind that the Washington Post on September 30 (linked here<>) reported-based on law enforcement sources-- that I am neither a "target" nor a "person of interest" in the FBI investigation.

Bests Councilmember Jim Graham

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Construction-Free Patio Heights Specials

The Heights is celebrating the end of the construction that made their patio nearly impossible to handle with some specials and some caveats. The special: happy hour beverage prices all day long, all month.

Ok, maybe all day - but not all DAYS... the caveats: patio diners only, and not valid on the weekend (Friday at 7PM - Sunday at 7PM). Which means we're probably going to have to rush the patio tonight, right?

Countdown Columbia Heights: Dry Cleaning

So as of today, I've officially done my dry cleaning at three fine Columbia Heights establishments located between Irving and Park. For a while, I was a Georgetown Valet girl... it was smaller, cheaper and seemed like more of a mom and pop shop than OXXO next door. Then Kenyon Square opened up - it was close, they'll send your shoes for repair, and I rarely had to wait in line.

But tonight... tonight I picked up my first round of cleaning from OXXO. They are greener... they are 24 hour... and my clothes... they smell... well, they don't. Yes, I think it was more expensive ($34 for two girl-suits and 1 errant jacket), but have you seen their 24 hour pick-up? And seriously, the chemicals might be greener - but that stuff... it smells like NOTHING. My clothes smell of NOTHING. Brilliant!

So now, I bring you - Columbia Heights Countdown: Best Dry Cleaners.

3. Georgetown Valet
2. Kenyon Square
1. OXXO - try it... you'll like it.

These are the only three I've tried, so feel free to give your favorite dry cleaner a shout-out in the comments section.