Ba Bay Closes on Capitol Hill

Washington Post shared the news yesterday:

“Ba Bay, the contemporary Vietnamese restaurant on Capitol Hill, quietly closed its doors last Friday because of “circumstances beyond our control,” e-mails co-owner Denise Nguyen. The closing brings a mysterious end to a restaurant that originally promised to put a modern American spin on Vietnamese cooking for D.C. diners.”

A reader writes:

“Really sad. I work in Barracks Row and ate there all the time, their banh mis were fantastic, as well as their sriracha wings! Never saw too many other people in there though, guess it just didn’t catch on. A shame to lose one of the more inventive restaurants in the neighborhood.”

Ba Bay was located at 633 Pennsylvania Ave, SE. Prior to opening the space was the long abandoned, though the tables were always set for serving, Locanda Italian restaurant.

21 Comment

  • Im begining to think that locale is cursed. Still miss Locanda – some of the best food ever served in DC!

  • This is terrible news. I only went to Ba Bay once, but the food was amazing and I definitely planned to return. stink!

    • I live 2 blocks away from here and could never find anyone who wanted to try it with me. My girlfriend is vegetarian, and while we’ve had excellent vegetarian pho in Virginia you couldn’t get it here. So she was out.

      Once I was walking by with a Vientamese friend (as in, he was born in Vietnam and still cooks Vietnamese food at home every day). We were trying to decide where to eat, and I mentioned something about Ba Bay being expensive for Vietnamese. He paused, surprised. “That’s Vientmaese??” He took another look at the sign. “Where did they come up with the name? That’s not Vietnamese.” Then he glanced at the menu and said, “The food’s not really Vietnamese either. And yes, the prices are too high!”

      • he said the name “ba bay” wasn’t vietnamese? it would maybe be an odd name for a restaurant in vietnam (usually street numbers and/or what’s served and/or the prop’s name), but i used to know a woman i called by ba bay. did the sign lack the diacritics? i have no idea about ba bay or your friend, but this just sounds weird.

      • The food wasn’t Vietnamese.

      • I had a similar experience with a Vietnamese colleague. She really refused to try the place.

  • Sad news. It sounds like the sort of place I would really enjoy, but I had no idea it existed till I read this blog post.

  • jim_ed

    I think that area is just saturated with eateries at that price point. There’s a ton of competition from Barracks Row for the exact same market.

    My completely unqualified opinion is that had this just been a no frills pho joint, they could have minted their own money.

    • Exactly. There’s a price point for Pho in this city, and it’s not over $10.

      • As I recall, the local food critics gave it terrible ratings as well. They probably discouraged anyone who thought it might be worth paying extra for.

    • I agree completely. In order for this place to survive, it needed to attract enough people who knew and liked Vietnamese food, who were willing to pay above-market prices for an inauthentic but fancier version, who were not vegetarian/vegan, and who knew the area well enough to venture down Pennsylvania Ave in the first place. Although this location is close to Barracks Row, it doesn’t get nearly the amount of food traffic that 8th Street does.

      It will be interesting to see how the Pho.licious (slated to open next to the Subway on Barracks Row) will fare. If they learn from Ba Bay’s mistakes I think they will do pretty well.

      • Unfortunately Pho.licious is dead in the water i believe. If memory serves, i think it had something to do with the current zoning of the building.

    • I agree. A no frills good pho and banh mi where you didn’t have to worry about pretentious servers would have done better.

      The fact that it closed is no surprise because the times I ate there there never seemed to be anyone else there. I always had iffy service when I went and the last time I just had it.

  • He should’ve opened in Bloomingdale where people would kill for anything close to Vietnamese.

  • Wasn’t this the location of Meyhane (RIP) as well?

  • Yeah their food wasn’t very good and the menu didn’t make sense. I think it would have been OK if they didn’t do the fusion thing.

  • andy

    Ba bye. Unfotunately.

  • Too Expensive. Not that good. Built on Indian Burial Ground.

  • I agree with the above – I taught TEFL in HCMC and the majority of the food was vegetarian – this place didnt seem very authentic.

  • Hmmm…don’t really agree with these posts at all.

    I thought the food at Ba Bay was superb, the decor and ambience very nice, and the prices reasonable for high-quality eats.

    I’ve also been in Hanoi several times over the past couple years and found the menu pretty authentic for a high-end Vietnamese restaurant. No, it wasn’t a Pho shop, but there’s more to Vietnamese cusine that soup (just like there’s more to American food than hamburgers).

    I for one am really sad to see Ba Bay close. 🙁

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