Out & About: 9th Street Blossoms
IN YEARS PAST, Washingtonians with a craving for Ethiopian cuisine went to Adams Morgan or U Street NW. But of late, 9th Street NW’s Little Ethiopia has become the place to go in the District. Visitors in search of kitfo, wa and the flavors of berbere have infiltrated Etete near the corner of 9th and U streets NW in particular, mixing in with what had been a predominantly Ethiopian clientele.
Shaw’s 9th Street is rapidly changing to accommodate a more diverse clientele. Boutiques such as Lettie Gooch and the music venue DC9 have been the first wave of places to pull customers off 14th Street NW between R and U streets. And the changes continue: Within the last month, new spots for food and drink have sprouted on 9th along with the cherry blossoms.
Brown Sugar Smokehouse had an opening psych-out in this very same space last year. "I used to own Webb's at 13th and U, but we lost our lease," said Walter Webb, who goes by Bo. (He's pictured here with daughter Kayla.)
"After a brief opening here, we thought we'd make a go of it in Northeast. But we decided with the changes in this neighborhood, that we're better off back here."
Webb recommends the vinegary short ribs in particular. "Everything here is slow cooked, but we put heart in it, too." Customers can also order rotisserie chicken, wings and classic soul food sides such as macaroni and cheese, vegetarian collards and yams.
Brown Sugar also offers breakfast specials to go starting at 6 a.m., and stays open until 2 a.m.
Open since early March, Chez Hareg Fine Cakes and Pastries serves up the coveted Illy coffee and European pastries to go or to eat in. With free Wi-Fi and a remodeled upstairs cafe, Chez Hareg serves in-house goodies such as pecan-chocolate chip-cranberry cookies, coconut macaroons, mini Boston cream pies and fruit tarts. If you're looking to people-watch, owner Hareg Messert recommends stopping by on weekends for a slice of passion fruit cake, her favorite.
Grape Legs is only a take-out wine shop for now, but owner Franco Clark is hoping to complete renovations to his upstairs cafe and kitchen by the month's end. In the meantime, don't be surprised to find a posse of customers "power tasting," as Clark calls it — from one of up to 14 bottles on the sampling tables, most costing under $20.
Photo by Melissa McCart for Express