1990 M Street, NW
This edition of PoPville Preview was written by Abbey Becker. Abbey lives near Eastern Market.
If you’re a workday lunch-goer near Dupont Circle or Farragut, you’ve got a new line you can wait in starting today: TakEatEasy opens at 1990 M Street, NW in the former China Cafe space. Owners (and brothers) Manuel and Juan Olivera, along with partners Jorge Mendez and Daniel Aquino, may sound familiar. The brothers were co-founders of the still-popular Fast Gourmet, which makes some of the city’s best sandwiches well into the early-morning hours near U Street. (To be clear, though, the brothers sold their shares of Fast Gourmet and are not technically affiliated with their old shop anymore.)
Expect TakEatEasy to fall somewhere in between fast-casual (think Chipotle and SweetGreen) and a sit-down, full-service restaurant. The restaurant officially seats 49, though there seems to be standing room as well. About 13 or 14 stools line the lacquered bar, which serves everything from beer on tap or in bottles to wine to specialty cocktails.
The walls are covered in blown up photos with a Latin flair, and some look almost holographic. Their signature seems to be a latticework pattern, which is printed on their walls, tables, and the overhang by the semi-open kitchen. It’s not relaxing, exactly, but it’s energetic, a perfect setting for hectic weekday lunchtime hours and late-night visits when your first priority is probably not a quiet dinner.
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In terms of cuisine, let’s call it high-quality Latin comfort food. Appetizers are often lightly fried and flavorful, like their salt cod croquettes (what I’d call a fancy and delicious fish stick), creamy sweet corn croquettes, and spanikopita-like puff pastry rolls filled with spinach and cheese. The best may be the Serrano ham rolls—thin strips of meaty, salty ham wrapped around Russian potato salad. They’re an excellent contrast—cold and warm, salty and sweet. Perfect one-bite pops.
Lunch will feature some of the sandwiches from Fast Gourmet, like the famous chivito. At dinner, look for handmade pastas, particularly one with chopped veal and sweet peas.
From the preview, it’s clear the owners have put a lot of thought and care into their new venture. The restaurant was mostly filled with what seemed like adoring friends and fans, and the energy was what most enhanced what could have been a cold and impersonal space along the corporate corridors of the Golden Triangle.
Possibly one of the best parts of TakEatEasy is its hours of operation. Next week, they’ll be open every day from 11 am to midnight, but regular hours will keep them open until 2 am on Thursdays and 5 am on Fridays and Saturdays. Definitely reconsider that giant slice of pizza that you’re not even sure is really that good in the first place.