Dear PoP: Haydee’s to eat or not to eat?

“Dear PoP,

A couple of weeks ago you posted a discussion concerning some heat that came out of an ANC meeting concerning moving a loading zone in front of Haydee’s.  There’s been a lot of chat on the Mt P forum lately.  Some background on this issue:

Haydee’s wanted the creation of a loading zone in front on their restaurant on Mt P Street.  This would eliminate the loading zone on the western corner of Irving Street and move the bus stop to the other side of the block.

The ANC did not necessarily see this as a bad idea but wanted to “move ahead cautiously” to make sure the neighboring businesses were aware and OK with this change.  A couple of other neighborhood organizations agreed with this approach.

However, Haydee and Mario, the proprietors, felt gravely insulted that they couldn’t get what they wanted right away (and thus the shouting match at the ANC meeting).  After all, as seen in the past, anyone standing in their way has been deemed anti-Latino business.  The zoning committee obviously had to be anti-Latino when rejected the outdoor seating request.  It had nothing to do with the required 10-foot clearance ordinance, but was of course clear racism according to Haydee (of course to accept this conclusion forget about Don Juan’s outdoor seating).

I believe this issue is no longer about just a loading zone.  Personally, I think it’s a good idea and more businesses on this stretch would benefit for the relocation.  The issue is the way Haydee thinks she can behave, avoiding legal means to achieve her goals, and throwing out the race card to anyone standing in her way.

My question to the readers is: is it finally time to stop patronizing an establishment like this?  When is a cheap(er) margarita just not worth it?  Or should I just chalk this up to “its just business” and continue enjoying the food disregarding their methods?”

We judged Haydee’s, located at 3102 Mount Pleasant Street, NW, back in March ’09. Previously controversy erupted over the removal of a tree out front, which resulted in a new tree being planted. Haydee’s has also been the host to numerous fundraisers for those in need.

82 Comment

  • Although I have never been to Haydees I am probably more qualified than most to talk on this topic.

  • How about eating there if you want to, don’t if you don’t want to (regardless of the reason.) Do you really need to ask blogger about a personal choice?

    • Prince Of Petworth

      He’s asking the community – not me. Do you really not get that? Do you really think he’s literally asking me, Dan Silverman, should he eat at Haydee’s? Wow.

      • I get that. But he can’t make up his own mind, make his own decisions about this?

        • Clearly conversation is just never worth having. Not ever. Thanks for bringing this to our attention and proposing that we ought not talk about Things.

        • Ever visit Yelp? You’re still querying the community for advice. This is just another medium.

        • How about not posting unconstructive comments? Let PoP do the editing job and take A. Chill. Pill.

      • Dan, which food truck should I go to today? Empanadas or Lobster?

      • Actually PoP, I don’t think this gentleman is asking you or the community what he should do. I think he is trying, in a passive-agressive way, to get people to stop going to Haydees because he objects to their business practices. He ought to just be up front about it.
        How in the world does anyone other than him tell him when a “cheap(er) marguerita is worth it?” The “it” here is his level of aggravation at this establishment. How the heck do I know what he can or should put up with?

        • +10000

          Now excuse me while I drive my SUV to the Chick Fil-a’s in the local Walmart. I need to stop by BP to get gas on the way.

        • hahaha – completely passive-aggressive, I agree!

        • Yep, that was my read on it. Kinda wondered why such a crudely biased “question” was posted in the first place. While the issue is worth discussing as a community, the lead-in was kind of poor.

    • rethink. it’s really just a way to have a discussion about something.

  • I don’t eat there because it’s really mediocre (better places nearby and up 14th St). Nothing to do with her extracurricular business activities. Also, the music is just too, too loud. Although maybe the fact that I HATE mariachi and hispanic polka makes me racist …

    • That place is also pretty dirty. I’d rather go to a place that occasionally cleans its restrooms, like Alero.

    • Regarding the polka comment, they are better referred to as the genres of Norteno and/or Tejano music. Me gusta!

      After all, what is this blog without a day of persnickety hair-splitting?

      • Thanks for letting me know the correct name/s … I always knew it was wrong to refer to it as ‘polka’. Still can’t stand the sound of it but at least I learned something today!

      • The genre “Banda” is what I personally refer to as “Mexican Polka”

      • In the grand scheme of things, Mexican polka is perfectly accurate. It’s just the music of Polish and German immigrants who settled in Mexico.

  • I think its just business, I am sure Haydee’s is nowhere as “corrupt” as McDonald’s. It’s up to the ANC or whatever oversight organizations to keep businesses in check and within the law.

  • Personally, I think Mt. Pleasant needs to get over itself and actually help support local businesses and move forward to get other business in. You are no Georgetown or even a smaller and cuter version of it, nor will you ever be if you never let anything happen.

    And for the record, I love Haydee’s margaritas and chicken fajitas and no backward moving local politics will change my frequency there.

    • Thank you Lady- you’re spot on.

      And anyone who rather eat Alero (toilets aside) needs to start discovering some real Mexican food. Haydee’s is by no means the best, but the bland, overpriced “Mexican” food you get at Alero is vomit-educing.

      Thanks PoP. This post reminded me that I haven’t been to Haydee’s in awhile. Margaritas and Burrito Especial for dinner tonight!

      • there is very little “mexican” about the food at Haydees or any of the other salva-mexican places in the area. there aren’t enough mexicans in the area to hold these places to higher standards.

    • Got that? Georgetown is AWESOME! You suck!

      If Mt. P turns into Georgetown II you can count on me moving elsewhere. I’ll take my chances with the occasional mugging over a street full of Gucci-clad airheads.

      • Dig it! MtP is a great and very under-rated neighborhood.

        • Who is underrating Mt Pleasant?

          ‘Lady’ has some axe to grind, but there isn’t any widespread feeling that Mt. P is underrated. I don’t even know what that means, really. Plenty of near-million dollar rowhouses and high rents indicate that Mount Pleasant is plenty well ‘rated’.

      • You surely cannot be a home owner Max? My point is, how does Mt. Pleasant justify the comparable home prices to that of Georgetown, Capital Hill, DuPont to name a few, but offer nothing but that i.e. an expensive home in a lovely neighborhood, oh yeah, and the bonus expensive Farmers’ Market in the warm months? That strip on Mt. Pleasant street has so much potential, but alas it has remained the same for ages. I’m not talking a full blown Georgetown, but how about a much smaller version of South Beach Miami for instance to keep the Latin flavor alive. Cheap, medium and high end restaurant choices. More clothing options. Something really…anything. Duron paint and the Flying coffee place are hopefully an encouraging sign, but the OP’s attitude…not so much.

        • potential? i think it’s fantastic now.

        • I’m not knocking the desire to improve Mt. P, I’m knocking the Georgetown comparison. Read my lips: Georgetown sucks. The last thing we need is another one.

          But yes, guilty as charged – not a home owner.

        • +999999999999999999 you hit it right on the head.

        • What is Nana, if not a clothing choice? Plus we’ve got two awesome thrift stores. How many clothing shops does a neighborhood need??

          And our farmer’s market prices are comparable to the ones I’ve been to (U St and Dupont).

    • MtP is the Portland of DC.

  • I think one thing that is legitimately sad is that no one gives ANY thought to the fact that this IS about the fact that it is a latino-owned business, that there is something really nasty about the way that it’s treated, and that they’re “crazy” for feeling that way.

    • Or maybe people do give it some thought and decide that it’s not a relevant angle.

    • “it is a latino-owned business, that there is something really nasty about the way that it’s treated, and that they’re “crazy” for feeling that way.”

      Well, I agree with you that it’s a Latino-owned business. I’m not sure that it’s treated in a “really nasty” way. I mean, wanting them to replace a city-owned tree they chopped down without the required permission or denying them a permit for outdoor dining if it would have violated sidewalk clearance rules? If that’s what went on (and I don’t live in Mt. P and don’t follow the ANC goings-on there other than on blogs) I don’t think those are nasty. So if that’s all that happened and the owners feel that’s unjust/racist, then I do disagree with them (though I think “crazy” would be a little harsh).

      • i think it’s pretty fair to say that every race gets shafted in this town. everyone complains about race in this town. white, black , latino. native americans. the ones that seem to escape that shafting are using the very wealthy.

  • i’ve always found it more expensive than it was worth!

  • Lou’s on Irving St. has a decent $3.00 margarita on Tuesdays happy hour 3-7. (other cocktails on other days) I stopped in while walking home from voting on Tuesday – just to see what it looked like. Some good $3.00 appetizers too!

  • i’ve never been and would prob refuse to go to alero. give me pica taco or super tacos and bakery any day.

  • I almost feel it’s in line with a “should I shop at Walmart?” question.

    They seem to be unethical is advancing their business and don’t necessarily have the neighborhood in mind whrn they want something. But so what? It’s a business at the end of the day.

    They do have occasional fundraising for various causes and that’s a plus. Their staff is friendly enough and the atmosphere is decent.

    Would I still eat at an Italian restaurant if it was mob runned!

    Tommy: what specific examples do you have? And dont bring up the recently revoked noise ordiance.

  • Alero’s food is disgusting. Seriously, last time I ate there the cheese all resembled snot. I almost puked.

    • heh, that’s funny. Oopsie. I meant to say Haydee’s, but wrote Alero’s becuase of all the posts I just read. I think Aleros’ food is pretty good actually, but Haydee’s food tastes horrible, and the cheese, like I said, resembles snot.

    • Alero is vile.

  • You’ve got to be a dick to run a business in DC. Or a pendejo. Doesn’t matter if you’ve got a small restaurant or you’re Abe Pollin, it’s tough to deal with all the hassles, regs, and ungrateful cheapskate customers, not to mention the neighbors.

    Playing the race card– it’s the American way, right Mr. Trump?

  • Mt.P is definitely not under rated, if anything its a bit over rated. Rowhouses cost about a million dollars there.. it is a great neighborhood, but it needs change.

    The ANC and Historic Society are run by airheads who do not want progress or younger people moving in to Mt. Pleasant.

    Mt. Pleasant Main Street, a local non profit won a 200k+ grant from the DC Government and the ANC has objected to the imporovement plans. They worked hard to win the money, the DC Government thinks its good, so they gave the money but the ANC refuses to let them do anything with the money.

    • Ya see, that’s just sad. That’s enough to make me go LOCO at MtP ANC meeting right there and I’m not even latino.

    • I kind of agree. I don’t know anything about ANC / Historical Society politics. All I know is that Mt. Pleasant Street isn’t a very nice main street for a neighborhood. It’s dirty, lacks retail, and it seems like there are always a lot of people loitering about. I don’t understand why Mount Pleasant has languished while Columbia Heights and Adams Morgan have improved. Way better bang for your rental/real estate purchase dollar in other, surrounding areas.

      • If Target and other chain stores are a sign of improvement, then I’d rather MtP continue to “languish.”

    • Actually, the ANC begrudgingly supported the Main Street grant – begrudgingly because they claim it wasn’t presented in enough detail. The plan is now with DDOT. I traded messages with OP last fall and it seems that this project has just been lost in the shuffle. Also, DDOT was discouraged last fall when the community blocked an effort to widen tree boxes. They were going to green the medians and do various other projects but when the community said no to the wider tree boxes, DDOT dropped all of the other projects in the pipeline – or so I understand from a contact in the office of planning. You should contact Gabrielle Vega in OP and follow up with this if you’re interested.

      • Gabriela Vega is with DDOT. sounds like you have all your stories crossed and probably worng.

      • True, the ANC ended up supporting the Main St grant.

        But it was a few businesses that didn’t want to expand the tree boxes, not because of the community.

    • The ANC has no say over what Mount Pleasant Main Street does with its funds. You’ll have to check with MPMS to find out what happened to their grant.

  • Haydee’s is the worst Tex-Mex place I’ve ever eaten, and this is coming from a Texan who knows his stuff. The contest isn’t even close.

    I support anything the ANC does to hurt this business, not because of any logical reason on my part, but because I feel Mr. and Mrs. Haydee should be punished for inflicting their awful food on this community.

    Ever notice that their guacamole tastes like fish? Christ only knows how it got that way.

    • Haydees isn’t Tex Mex, it’s Salvadoran-mex. I for one love Haydees and will continue to frequent it. And I do eat there. Incidentally, Alero, is owned by a Colombian family. Not much true Mexican food in DC (except you, Super Taco)unless you want to drive to Bladensburg.

      • Ooh what’s in Bladensburg? I’d drive there (once I figure out where it is) if there’s actually Mexican food. I really really miss good Mexican.

  • Ok, I’m not happy with Haydee’s attitude when dealing with neighborhood issues – the whole tree-cutting issue last year really rubbed me the wrong way.

    But I CANNOT do without the plantains and fish tacos. I think my tummy would die of sadness if it didn’t get it’s regular fill of both.

  • I think Haydees is gross, personally.

    I really like the food at Marleny’s.

    But onto more general issues, I really don’t get why Mt Pleasant St is so ghetto. I live in MtP and the rest of it is so awesome. I have great neighbors, the houses are beautiful, and easy access to other neighborhoods and Rock Creek Park.

    • I live on Irving near Mt P street and I completely agree. Haydees food is pretty terrible, but the real issue is the garbage and general uncleanliness of the area. I’ve can’t begin to count the number of half-eaten chicken wings I’ve pulled out of my dogs mouth. Use the garbage can amigos!

    • +1 – it’s hard to appreciate how ghetto it can be until you have to use the little spanish you know to tell a drunk guy to stop peeing on your car at 3pm on a Sunday when you’re trying to visit your family. At the same time, there is a LOT of potential, some new businesses and some old businesses that have been spruced up. Seems like the tide will change as more new businesses that cater to a broader array of neighbors establish themselves on the strip. The trick is to also be respectful of the people who have been living there for decades.

  • I don’t go there anymore. I think the owners are dishonest and manipulative and it’s just not a business I can support.

    And their food is crappy.

  • this thread makes me want to go to haydees tonight.

  • OP here.

    Thanks for your comments everyone. The original letter was not intended to sway anyone away from Haydee’s. As mentioned, I was fed up and I wanted to know if I was being irrational. This is what I’ve taken away from today’s discussion.

    Haydee’s isn’t the only establishment in DC or the country that could be at times considered “unethical.” Have I really considered stop shopping at the big box stores and global chain restaurants for “unethical business practices” you hear about on the news? No, not really.

    So what’s the difference? It took me some time today to figure this out but, the difference is that Walmart and McDonald’s and all these other cooperations are faceless. Obviously, they’re out to make money for their stockholders. They’re a cooperation after all. Why should I stop patronizing a local chain when it’s the policies on Hq that may be wrong. Why hurt the local manager or kid behind the counter?

    However, Haydee’s is local. I know who the owners are. This in turn can both be a blessing and curse to the owners. Yeh, I can go elsewhere for better mex-ish food (*salivating over Oyamel guac*) but I chose to stay in the neighborhood. I accept that staying local could mean paying premium (the internet has cheap stuff). I feel in return these establishments should then be good stewards to their community (*i.e. bicycle space*).

    This of course is naive of me. Haydee is under no obligation to share her good fortune with the community that patronizes her. We give her money. She gives us food and drinks. End of story.

    I’ve never considered not going to Chipotle or Starbucks. And what have they done for Columbia Heights lately? They’re a business. A business makes money. It’s better then a boarded up storefront any day! As I said, Haydee’s Restaurant has a face (she’s posted all over the restaurant) and that was supposed to make it’s practices different then all the others. It shouldn’t make a difference in the end.

    I’ll probably hold off on going back until this loading zone issue blows over (like the tree box), and then you’ll find me right back sipping my salt-rimmed juice.

  • None of these issues are deal breakers for me, in fact I personally think they’re a bit petty. I have always enjoyed Haydee’s and the owner herself. They’ve supported the community, including Mt Pleasant Main Street with fundraisers. This is a small, independent, minority woman run business – really, isn’t that the kind we want to flourish?

  • What a bunch of mark-ass marks, trick-ass marks, punk bitches, skig-skag skanks and scallywags, ho’s, heifers, heehaws, and hoolihoos.

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