Raising the Roof: Outdoor Dining Expectations Expanding in D.C.

As the cherry blossoms are in full bloom and the weather gets increasingly warmer, diners are looking to “get out” – literally.

In D.C., that means eating and drinking outside of four walls, giving rise to the importance of restaurant decks and patios this season – and beyond. The “rise,” too, is literal. The dining room isn’t just extending to a summer garden or sidewalk café, it goes all the way up to the roof.

Outdoor dining in D.C. is booming. In fact, since September 2015, there were 190 sidewalk cafes, according to the Downtown Business Improvement District — up 6.7 percent from 2014. That number continues to grow, with restaurants and bars realizing they must invest in what customers are demanding, and what is quickly becoming an indisputable staple of the D.C. dining culture.

Capitalizing on Outdoor Dining

Restaurants are either investing in new outdoor seating areas or sprucing up what they already have. What’s more, they are capitalizing on the trend by extending the outdoor dining season — with heaters, blankets, fire pits, and even retractable roofs.

Case in point: Last year, Bar Pilar began the permitting process for a roof deck with a retractable roof after more than 10 years of outdoor seating that consisted of just two tables out front.

“There are so many cool outdoor spaces. Just to keep up with the neighborhood, we needed to add that,” Bar Pilar co-owner Jonathan Fain told Washington City Paper. “I never would have added one, probably, if it wasn’t for all the roof decks.” Read more

Local Chefs & Artisans Support No Kid Hungry at Taste of the Nation D.C.

Local Chefs & Artisans Support No Kid Hungry at Taste of the Nation D.C.

By Lisa Comento, Foodable Contributor

Last week, the National Building Museum housed Taste of the Nation in Washington, D.C. This event draws foodies from throughout the D.C. metropolitan region eager to sample artisanal small bites such as ceviche, braised pork sliders and gnocchi crafted by local chefs. Wine bars and local distilleries along with more than forty local restaurants were spread out around either side of the main floor.

Behind the Scenes

Share Our Strength was founded in 1984 in response to the famine in Ethiopia by sister-brother team, Bill and Debbie Shore. The Taste of the Nation fundraiser is organized by Share Our Strength to support their No Kid Hungry campaign to fight childhood hunger in America. The campaign aims to educate families across the country on how to prepare healthy and affordable meals. This dynamic campaign also connects children to nutritional programs at their schools such as school breakfasts and summer meals. 

The Cocktail Highlights

During the event, local bar Mockingbird Hill, located in the fast-growing Shaw neighborhood, served their Anda-Lucian, a refreshing drink comprised of Chairman’s Reserve Spiced Rum, Alexandro Sherry, fruit juices and bitters. 

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Restaurant Nora and the Leading Lady Chef Behind the Concept

Restaurant Nora and the Leading Lady Chef Behind the Concept

By Lisa Comento, Foodable Contributor 

Restaurant Nora opened its doors in 1979 and won America's first certified organic restaurant. Many years later, the concept continues to thrive on the creativity and culinary innovation of chef and owner, Nora Pouillon, along with the support of her two partners, brothers Thomas and Steven Damato who have been with her since day one.

How it All Started and the Chef's Idyllic Childhood on the Farm 

Nora grew up in Austria where her father leased a working farm in the Alps during World War II. She recalls even as a toddler being fascinated by farm life- from watching how the farmer’s wife milked to cows and separated the milk from the cream. Then her grandmother made for the kids to have with strawberries and cake from the fresh whipped cream. It was at this early age, where she started learning from her grandmother about the different parts of a chicken and how to prepare them.

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The DC Restaurant Scene Expands in Residential Areas

Little Serow Restaurant Located on Basement Level | YELP, Justin C. 

Little Serow Restaurant Located on Basement Level | YELP, Justin C. 

The majority of restaurants in DC used to be in designated areas. However, now restaurants are popping up in what used to be primarily residential areas. Things have changed- the neighborhood east of Rock Creek Park features restaurants such as Crane & Turtle sandwich between apartments. DC is also no longer only known for government politics, the culinary scene is growing to accommodate the expanding local community.

The millennials population is growing. 18 to 35 year olds make up 35 % of the city residents. Does this mean DC is becoming a breeding ground for fast casual concepts? Read More

Renowned Thai Restaurant Chain Owner Expands To US Starting in DC

Dish from Mango Tree in Surawong Bangkok  | Tripadvisor.com 

Dish from Mango Tree in Surawong Bangkok | Tripadvisor.com 

Mango Tree chain owner, Potaya Phanphensophon, has decided to open the first chain in the US at the CityCenterDC. Even though his chains are wildly successful in Bangkok, he will be partnering with seasoned DC restaurateur, Richard Sandoval.

Phanphensophon sees this as the right time to migrate over to the US because consumers are moving away from quick-serve options and are gravitating to better quality options. So why did the restaurateur decide to bring his Thai cuisine to DC first, before all the other US cities? Because New York's real estate is too expensive for the chain at this time and Boston's demographic of college students would not be the best market to test his chains in the US. Read More