Restaurants and bars come and go, which is too bad, as many turn into our favorite places to hang out. Let’s look at some of the least desirable closings on H Street NE in the past 10 years.
Of relevance, I live one block away from H Street NE and have lived in that area since 2004, although in four different places.
I’ve seen the wave of restaurants and bars come and go since the initial ‘Atlas District’ boon started around 2005-07. This included the additions of the Argonaut (2005), Rock and Roll Hotel (2006), The Pug (2007), Granville Moore’s (2007) and Sticky Rice (2008). And, of course, Sidamo’s (2005) for coffee way down the street.
Some of the places that have closed sting more than others, so here I rank my favorite places that have existed on H Street NE that are nevermore.
8. Kitty’s Saloon (2014-2017) – I enjoyed this spot as a change of pace drinking hole (when not at The Pug or The Queen Vic).
7. Micho’s Lebanese Grill (2014-2017) – This was a regular go-to lunch spot. I was sad when it closed for Red Boat (Vietnamese). Yet I have enjoyed the current concept in that same location, Butter Chicken Company 2.
6. Red Palace (aka Palace of Wonders + Red Room) (2006-2012) – Super funky place that converted into a concert venue upstairs. I should have made it to more shows there.
5. Taylor’s Gourmet (2008-2018) – The original Taylor’s, when we first grew to love their sandwiches. And when they still shipped in their bread EVERY DAY from Philadelphia. (A traffic accident prevented delivery one day, so eventually they started sourcing the bread locally.) Sad to see this place close, but it was semi-revived by one of the former owners as Grazie Grazie on The Wharf.
4. Ocopa (2014-2016) – Short-lived, but this was an AMAZING Peruvian restaurant! You could get a tasty glass of Chicha Morada, free toasted corn, and the ceviche was…damn awesome. I even picked this as my favorite ‘new’ opening in 2014.
3. SOVA (2008-2013) – Damn you (whoever you are!) for closing one of my favorite coffee shops! The coffee shop was downstairs, with seating rooms (with funky decor) and a wine bar upstairs. You could grab an old-school couch to sink into or join the communal group table and read in companionable silence. When it closed and H St Coffee and Café opened (downstairs only), that was a huge bummer. Later it became The Outsider (which is also closed). Nothing in that space has or will hold a candle to SOVA.
2. The Argonaut (2005-2016) – What a damn tragedy this went away. Damn. Damn. Damn. I even did the trivia upstairs before the fire to the kitchen closed it for awhile (2010). And the space is still empty. Damn. Damn. Damn.
1. Rock and Roll Hotel* (2005-2020) – Maybe I’m putting this as the worst H Street NE closure because it is the freshest. But the truth is, I enjoyed it’s extreme funkiness (the second floor side rooms or the weird animal trophies above the bar, for example), the dozens of concerts I witnessed downstairs with cheap Dos Equis Tall Boys, and, when the roof deck opened, the outdoors! End of an era.
Honorable Mention: Horace & Dickie’s (1990-2020) – Although I did like going here occasionally, and am disappointed it has closed (old school vibes do have a place in our city), it wasn’t among my go-to places so won’t put it on my list.
Others I considered adding: The Star and Shamrock, Shawafel, Boundary Road, and Uni Bistro.
Others I never visited that are unfortunate: Sally’s Middle Name
* Note: I never dealt personally with the issues people or bands have raised about the owner, I’m speaking purely from my experience using the space and attending concerts, and interacting with the bartenders and staff.