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Flavors of 14th

Waffles, oysters, pizza, tapas and more — new dining spots offer many options



Ted's Bulletin, dining, 14th Street, gay news, Washington Blade
Ted's Bulletin, dining, 14th Street, gay news, Washington Blade

The playful menu at Ted’s Bulletin is reminiscent of an old-school dining experience. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The restaurant business is a fast moving one. Restaurants open and close at the blink of an eye. However, the rapid pace of restaurants opening on 14th Street is astonishing. Here’s a preview/review of what is hot on the street, some personal favorites and some places I would avoid.

B Too (1324 14th Street NW): If you’re looking for the full Belgian experience with classics reinterpreted by Chef Bart Vandalay, then B Too is the place to try. Refreshed versions of Belgian dishes are all over Vandalay’s menu including waffles topped with sausage and pastries stuffed with potatoes and bacon. This restaurant pays homage to Belgian beer with more than 150 bottles varieties. Be prepared to pay a few extra bucks, as the price-point is a bit high.

Drafting Table (1529 14th Street NW): When The Drafting Table opened last year, I wasn’t overly impressed by dinner, but I enjoyed the brunch menu. While I haven’t returned, this restaurant still remains a favorite neighborhood pub.

Etto (1541 14th Street NW): Peter Pastan and Amy Morgan of 2 Amys and Ted Curtz and David Rasnar of Garden District (formerly The Standard) bring this 42-seat Italian eatery to Logan Circle. Chef Cagla Onal Urel serves up pizzas, salads and a few other specialties. Washington Post Reviewer Tom Sietsema gave Etto three stars; I however was not as impressed.


Le Diplomate, dining, food, French cuisine, gay news, Washington Blade

Le Diplomate (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Le Diplomate (1601 14th Street NW): Right across Q Street from Etto is my favorite new dining establishment in the neighborhood. After reviewing Le Diplomate as they opened, I have returned numerous times, and every time I have had excellent food and fantastic service. I even brought my very picky father to Le Diplomate, and to my surprise, he was blown away by every bite. If you dine at Le Diplomate and are unsure of what to eat, I recommend my current favorite dish the sea scallops, and for dessert, the absolutely divine crème brulee.

Ghibellina (1610 14th Street NW): This restaurant is an Italian-influenced gastro pub. The wood oven-fired pizzas are delectable, smoky and blisteringly hot. My favorite thing is that you get to cut your own pizza with scissors; pizza shears to be exact. Clearly, I am easily amused.

Pearl Dive (1612 14th Street NW): When Pearl Dive Oyster Palace opened in 2011, Jeff and Barbara Black were trailblazers of sorts. Now this oyster bar is always packed and in the center of all the action on 14th Street. Even if you aren’t a fan of oysters, you can just have a drink at Blackjack, the bar upstairs.

Barcelona (1622 14th Street NW): It’s not open yet, but you may have seen the beautiful patio that is in the former BodySmith space. This is soon to be a tapas bar named Barcelona. I wonder how Barcelona will do against already established Estadio right down the block? I think a head-to-head battle may be in the works (or a column that pits the two against each other).

M Café Bar (1634 14th Street NW): The newest of the Italian restaurants to hit the street calls itself a “contemporary Italian restaurant.” To me, the space is reminiscent of a hotel lobby and the food is slightly above average. If you’re craving contemporary Italian food, I would recommend Posto over M Café Bar.

Bar di Bari (1401 R Street NW): On the corner of 14 and R Streets is a new coffee and wine bar called Bar di Bari. Considering that I am sitting outside at this location writing this column, I would say it’s a great place to linger, enjoy a coffee, a light snack or a glass of wine. The people watching is great and the staff is friendly. They even encourage you to hang out and do some work, exactly what owner Aaron Gordon (who also owns The Drafting Table) wants.

Doi Moi (1800 14th Street NW): Approximately three weeks ago Mark Kuller and Haidar Karoum’s new restaurant Doi Moi opened, featuring southeast Asian cuisine. While I haven’t yet had the pleasure of dining here, the early word from EaterDC is positive with people praising the food, the atmosphere and the chic unmarked basement bar.

Ted’s Bulletin (1818 14th Street NW): Homemade pop tarts, adult milk shakes, awesome grilled cheese (ask for it with Mac and Cheese in it) and great chili, what more could you ask for? I’m a huge fan of all the fare at Ted’s and there’s a rumor going around that I was spotted dining at Ted’s three times in one weekend.

Matchbox (1901 14th Street NW): If you want more than what is offered at Ted’s Bulletin, then head across the street to sister restaurant, Matchbox. Pizzas and mini burgers are the specialty at Matchbox (my favorite pizza is the Matchbox Meat) but if you aren’t in the mood for those items then you can try a steak, grilled salmon or scallops. I love sitting at the back pizza bar, watching the nimble hands of the chefs’ prep the pizza.

Diego’s (2100 14th Street NW) This Tex-Mex restaurant, from the owners of Dupont Italian Kitchen, was opened for approximately two weeks before the owners let Chef Jessica Sidman and the rest of the staff go and closed the doors. Owner Michael Askarinam was not satisfied with the food or service. Diego’s is supposed to open soon with a new chef and new staff.

Kapnos (2201 14th Street NW): Mike Isabella’s newest restaurant Kapnos did not impress me on my first visit, although the adjoining sandwich shop G was enjoyable.

Kapnos, Mike Isabella, dining, Top Chef, gay news, Washington Blade, Briam

Briam from Kapnos (Photo by Greg Powers)

The restaurant boom is in full swing on 14th Street and this is just a sampling of what these restaurants have to offer. I am lucky enough to live right by this bustling street and I can enjoy an entire day starting with brunch at Le Diplomate, some shopping at Universal Gear or Miss Pixies, grab a glass of wine and cheese plate at Bar did Bari, and then dinner at Doi Moi. If you don’t live on the street, I recommend picking a spot that intrigues you and enjoy a nice meal. 14th Street is definitely the place to eat right now.














Annie’s celebrates 75th anniversary

Local institution a place of community and acceptance for LGBTQ patrons



The local community celebrated Annie’s last weekend. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

George Katinas, a child of immigrants, opened Paramount Steakhouse in 1948 on the corner of 17th and Church streets, N.W. (where JR.’s is currently located). Three-quarters of a century later, the restaurant has changed its name and location, received accolades from the city and James Beard, and was deservedly feted last weekend. His son Paul now owns the restaurant, and runs Annie’s today with his daughter Georgia Katinas.

George ran the restaurant with his sisters, but it was a singular sister Annie who coaxed the restaurant into its status as a place of community and acceptance for the growing LGBTQ population in Dupont Circle. Katinas renamed the restaurant for her. When there were desperately few areas of safety, Annie’s stood out, and does still today.

Last Saturday, Annie’s pulled out all the stops for an all-day party under a brilliantly sunny sky. The clouds parted for the celebration, bringing together government officials, longtime customers, and families with new fans. A rainbow balloon arch perched across the 17th Street sidewalk.

Drag artists Kimberly Di’Nitta, Victoria Di’Nitta, Jayzeer Shantey, Genocide Abrasax and Candi H. Fuentes performed, Miss Gay Arlington greeted fans, and the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington sang several renditions a capela for the crowd – including “Happy Birthday” over an enormous cake with sparkler candles (Annie’s has been a longtime supporter of the Gay Men’s Chorus).

“Taking a moment to sing happy birthday with Potomac Fever Group of Gay Men’s Chorus, this moment was so emotional,” said Georgia.

Anne’s set up a swag tent, selling collectible pint glasses featuring caricatures of the Annie’s family, like George and Annie herself. There was also a raffle, carnival snacks, and sidewalk games like a pie walk and martini race.

Vincent Slatt of Rainbow History Project was there to take it all in. Armed with a microphone, he interviewed partygoers to talk about why Annie’s was meaningful to them on the occasion of the anniversary.

In 2019, the James Beard Foundation announced that Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse, won the America’s Classic award for the Mid-Atlantic region (Ben’s Chili Bowl has also won this award). These awards are given “to locally owned restaurants that have timeless appeal and are beloved regionally for quality food that reflects the character of its community,” according to the James Beard website.

“Annie’s became home, and was there when there weren’t too many other opportunities or places to go,” says owner Paul Katinas (George’s son) in a previous interview. Annie’s also developed a strong relationship with the Washington Blade after the newspaper was founded in 1969.

After the outdoor festivities closed at 6 p.m., the party moved inside to Annie’s upper level for an appropriately festive afterparty.

Georgia notes that the anniversary “gave us a moment to reflect and think about how much has changed in 75 years, yet how much we’ve kept Annie’s the same. It’s a reason to celebrate and reflect. We’re so grateful for the support of our regulars.”

As for the next 25 years? Georgia says that the restaurant industry will be affected by the new tipped-wage law, but is adamant that Annie’s will remain.

“We will preserve what we have, honor our past, while making new memories.”

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Delectable debuts on the D.C. dining scene

Jose Andres triumphs, Mi Vida expands, and more



The Square (1850 K St.) is D.C.’s newest food market.

This year is already turning out to be a dynamic one for dining and nightlife. The effects of the pandemic, inflation, and the supply chain are still being felt, but there is a sense of optimism with a host of new openings for the first half of the year. And this season, of course, is often defined by cherry blossoms. Peak bloom is predicted for March 22-25, and festival activities begin on March 18. Enjoy all the pink, and read on for some dining highlights for the first few months of 2023.


Jose Andres triumphantly returned to the Old Post Office building in a coup for the celebrity restaurateur. The building, which is now a Waldorf Astoria hotel, most recently housed a hotel run by the organization of a disgraced former president. Andres had his eyes on the space for two decades and was set to open a restaurant there, but refused because of the new owner. Bazaar, which opened in February, serves sophisticated Spanish cuisine. It has locations in Los Angeles and Miami, plating specialty dishes like Iberico ham with caviar.

Uncaged Mimosas

It’s all flowers and bubbles at Uncaged Mimosas in Truxton Circle, which opened in February. Here, brunch is served every day of the week. Chef Damian Brown pours 20-plus kinds of mimosas, with flights available, plus frozen daiquiris. Neon signs, fake flowers and vines, and lots of color gives it a permanent party vibe. Brunch dishes include chicken and waffles, salmon and grits, and red velvet pancakes.


Ambar, one of the only all-you-can-eat dinner restaurants in the region, is opening its second spot in D.C. proper and third in the area. The new two-story restaurant, which opened March 6, sits in Shaw across from Dacha. Owner Ivan Iricanin brings in dishes from across the Balkans, like hearty country slow-cooked dishes from the interior, to seafood specialties from the Mediterranean. There are more than 60 bottles of wine from the Balkans, plus fruit-infused rakia, the popular Balkan spirit. Ambar offers unlimited prix-fixe brunch, lunch, and dinner menus, with optional drink pairings at brunch and dinner.

Owl Room

The U Street Corridor welcomes this new nightlife destination in the former Marvin space on March 10. Run by Marvin owner Eric Hilton and others, Owl Room has transformed the spot into more of a music and concert venue, with a dance floor and stage that will feature live music and DJ sets. The upstairs has a more relaxed patio for cocktails.

Mi Vida

Gay-owned KNEAD Hospitality + Design continues to expand its Mexican hit restaurant, Mi Vida, with a new outpost set to open in April in Penn Quarter. This will be the largest Mi Vida to date, boasting a huge 10,000-square-foot space. Design flourishes include the iconic tree of life that has been showcased at all three locations, as well as a new custom rope art installation by Mexican artisans.


On the southern end of Adams Morgan, Alfresco is a new “American tap and grill” restaurant from the owners of Lauriol Plaza, located just down 18th Street. The 300-plus seat restaurant is set to open in April. Its menu is a distinct departure from Lauriol’s Mexican food; this one serves sandwiches, pizza, pasta, salads, and steaks. True to its name, there is a central courtyard with a retractable pergola roof, as well as two other outdoor patio seating spaces.

Van Leeuwen

New York import Van Leeuwen Ice Cream and its super premium brand of dessert is opening three shops in the next few months: Union Market (418 Morse St. NE), Adams Morgan (2421 18th St. NW), and Georgetown (3245 Prospect St. NW). Founded in 2008 as a New York City ice cream truck, Van Leeuwen is known for both traditional and vegan ice creams. Unique flavors include mac ’n cheese and honeycomb. These are its first shops in D.C., though there are more than 20 across the country.

The Square

The Square (1850 K St.) will be D.C.’s newest food market, opening later this year. The Square is slated to open in 2023 within International Square, and will feature a collection of more than 15 artisanal food vendors, a full-service restaurant and bar, an expansive bar in the central atrium, and outdoor dining seating, plus retail. Richie Brandenburg and Rubén García co-founded The Square, both well-established chefs, bring globally inspired food to the expansive food hall.


While not falling into the food sphere, the opening of Bunker has upended nightlife destinations for the LGBTQ community in D.C. Kinetic Productions owners Zach Renovatés and Jesus Quispe debuted the subterranean spot in late February, bringing in local and national DJs, dancers, drag queens, and entertainment. The bar/club is open Thursday-Sunday, playing different music genres each night.

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D.C. restaurants offer something for everyone this Valentine’s Day

From romantic prix-fixe options to a ‘single AF mixer’



Try the 40-layer lasagne at L’Ardente. (Photo by Mike Fuentes Photography)

Whatever Valentine’s Day means to you, there are plenty of places around D.C. for an excellent prix-fixe dinner or raging party with pals/gals/side pieces. Below are just a few options for what’s available:

Couple Options

Hot new French restaurant L’Ardente and its infamous 40-layer lasagne is offering an extended Valentine’s Day dinner, from Friday, Feb. 10, through Tuesday, Feb. 14. Couples can choose from the regular menu or a five-course tasting menu ($250 for two), which includes passion fruit caviar martinis.

Sababa Cleveland Park will serve a four-course, prix-fixe menu for two on Feb. 14. The menu ($120 for two) includes beet hummus, heart of palm salad, and a date tahini tart (and lots of romance-themed puns).

Cafe Riggs, in the Riggs Hotel, is serving not just a dessert special, but also a hotel package. Hotel guests can enjoy a Valentine’s Brunch in Bed enhancement with the option to a build-your-own mimosa flight or coffee while enjoying a Petit Déjeuner (French continental breakfast) in your room. Reservations are available through OpenTable

Lyle’s, in the Lyle Hotel, will offer a prix-fixe dinner menu at $85 per person that will be available the weekend before and after Valentine’s Day as well as on the holiday. Reservations are available through OpenTable.

Ellington Park Bistro, in the St. Gregory Hotel, is offering a Valentine’s Day menu as well as the regular a la carte menu. The menu will highlight sweet flavors, and includes dishes such as Butternut Squash Soup, Sweet Shrimp Wontons, and Raspberry and White Chocolate. Reservations available through OpenTable.

The Fairmont Georgetown is offering a decadent Valentine’s Afternoon Tea on Feb. 11, 12, and 14 inside overlooking the courtyard, with petit fours, scones, and savory sandwiches like an oak-smoked cheddar and spiced pear chutney. Tea is served from 1-4 p.m. ($75 per person), with the option to add a glass of G.H. Mumm Champagne.

Nicoletta Italian Kitchen will host a Valentine’s Day Pizza Class on Feb. 11, teaching everyone to make their own heart-shaped pie, while enjoying arancini and wine. And for those looking for something a little less hands-on, Nicoletta will offer a special Valentine’s Day menu on Feb. 14, complete with heart-shaped pizzas (made by the chef this time), as well as three special dishes – a clam appetizer, calzone, and lobster raviolo.

Waldorf Astoria Washington DC in the storied and renamed Old Post Office has an old-school option to “pen letters of love over dinner to share with a special someone.” Valentine’s Day guests will all receive a custom piece of stationary at their time of seating in addition to a menu of inventive dishes with a selection of elevated ingredients. Reservations can be made on SevenRooms.

Immigrant Food+ is serving a three-course menu for two, with options for vegetarian and pescatarian guests. There’s also a featured wine list from all female growers/winemakers including a special Galentine’s Day Flight of a Brut, white, and red.

Non-Couple Options

Brookland’s Finest Bar & Kitchen will offer a special “Salty & Bitter” bar menu over Valentine’s Day weekend, complete with salty snacks and bitter beverages. Snacks include chicken fingers and pretzel bites with truffle oil; drinks include espresso martinis and black Manhattans.

El Techo is throwing a Broken Hearts Club this Valentine’s Day (2/14). The tropical oasis rooftop is “helping single guests nurse their wounds” with a free shot of tequila for everyone who goes by on Feb. 14. It’s also offering a Taco Tuesday deal, which features three tacos and choice of a margarita or beer for $22.

Washingtonians that find themselves ready to mingle this year can head to Fight Club’s Anti-Commitment Ball on Saturday, Feb. 11. The party, from 8 p.m.-1 a.m., will feature DJ Daniel Biltmore spinning live tunes, food/drink specials, and Jell-O shots. Tickets not required. Food and drink items available a la carte.

The National Union Building at 918 F St. is bringing out its “certified fun sommelier” for a wine tasting event. Two sessions (Feb. 12 and Feb 13, both 6:30 p.m.) offer six wines, from fizzy to deep, dark red. Bottles will be available for purchase to take home. Tickets are $35-$45 through Eventbrite.

NoMa’s WunderGarten is hosting a “Nice Try Cupid Anti-Valentine’s Day Single AF Mixer” on Feb. 14, 7-11 p.m. Tickets are free but reservations recommended via Eventbrite.

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