22 Comment

  • Ashy Oldlady

    There seems to be a whole lot of instability in Adams Morgan these days. I’m going to take this as a sign that I need to visit all my old haunts soon, or at least those that remain, lest they abruptly close forever.

    • Yeah, I think you might want to do that. I wish places like Heaven and Hell and Town Tavern would follow suit…those places add little value to the neighborhood and really just muck up the area, detracting from the many good businesses that are here (I know others will chime in saying that’s just a matter of opinion, which it is, but it’s true).

  • The location on New Hampshire was never very good, so I was surprised that they thought they were successful enough to open another location in Adams Morgan. Then after a quick google now, I was even more surprised to see that there is yet another location in Bethesda.

    The state of affairs of quality Middle Eastern food is pretty sad in DC proper as it is. But then again, I’m spoiled having grown up in Detroit where you can find incredible shawarma even in gas stations.

    • It isn’t Middle Eastern, it’s Greek. And I’ve usually had a good meal at the one on NH Ave. Very nice people and good healthy food in a neighborhood that doesn’t have much of it.

  • Adams Morgan does not need anymore pizza, shawarma/falafel, or hookah joints, so I’m not surprised.

    Honestly, this is a neighborhood with an identity crisis: It has a fabulous location, lots of greenery, nice housing stock, really high incomes, but it’s being pulled in too many directions: Is it a family-friendly stroller neighborhood, a place for tourists and college kids, or a place that sets the trend for nightlife? IMHO, it’s not really excelling at any of these.

    • Adams Morgan has an interesting dilemma in that a lot of the commercial real estate is owned by immigrants from the 1970s and 80s who have zero ties to the area nowadays, aside from the chunk of land they own. I’m assuming the mortgage notes are paid off, as they seem to have little interest in attracting the “new money” that has flooded into the neighborhood over the last 10 years. At this point, I’m assuming the owners use the paper losses from their Adams Morgan storefronts to offset their passive income from other ventures.
      And, btw, they have ZERO interest in selling.

      • Interesting. Didn’t know that.

      • You’ve hit the nail on the head with a lot of these retail spaces. Luckily there are still plenty of older buildings that do not fit that description plus the retail bays in the new developments, so while the places you described will likely have high turnover until sold to someone who knows and cares about utilizing those assets well, there are already more solid restaurants than any neighborhood needs anyway.

      • I have no reason doubt your statement about ownership of the buildings, but wouldn’t they be renting out the commercial ground floors to others starting businesses, rather then running those businesses themselves, generally? So wouldn’t it be those businesses that are failing and taking the losses, rather than the building owners?
        .
        And if by “new money” you mean the increasingly more affluent neighborhood residents, wouldn’t that be the businesses (new, good restaurants, for example) that would be choosing to open (or not) in Adams Morgan based on the rents charged and their perception of whether the neighborhood’s location would support enough business for a nice restaurant to thrive?
        .
        If more upscale restaurants aren’t choosing to open there, could it be because of the perception of Adams Morgan as a place populated by drunk young men on weekend nights (whether or not it is as true now as it was in the past)? When I lived in Adams Morgan, being a woman a few decades older, I would never walk up (or drive, because of the slow traffic) 18th St on a Friday or Saturday night, as that wasn’t a scene I liked. I ate at neighborhood restaurants on weeknights. But restaurants need to make their money largely on the weekend, I would think. Restauranteurs know that the money is not coming from the drunk young people, and that those people (or the perception that they still dominate the scene on weekends – I moved from the neighborhood a few years ago, so I don’t know) is a turn off to the “new money”?
        .
        The other problem, I think, for businesses is the lack of foot traffic on 18th St. at almost any other time. It is really dead in the daytime, which makes it difficult for shops to flourish. The main commercial strip is located a bit of walk for many from both the Dupont Circle and Woodley Park metros. Though it is within easy walking distance for a huge area of residents, and I would think could flourish as a typical neighborhood strip that contained everything you need – restaurants, bars, dry cleaners, groceries, delis and specialty food stores, liquor stores, laundromats, housewares, hardware, other stores, etc. Perhaps it will evolve into that eventually – I hope that is what we are seeing now. I have nothing against nightlife, but a commercial strip should have multiple uses at different times of the day to serve all the local populations.
        .
        While parking is really difficult, I don’t think that can be the only problem. Parking is also difficult now around the entire 14th St and U St. corridors, too, and yet they draw increasingly more crowds.

      • Ashy Oldlady

        And many of them clearly have no interest in anything beyond the most basic upkeep. So many of these old buildings have been badly neglected.

    • I don’t see why it can’t be all of the above (which it clearly is).

      • I think the point was that it’s trying to do all of these things but not doing any of them well. I haven’t been to Adams Morgan in ages, so I can’t speak to whether that’s accurate or not.

      • The parking situation is horrendous and standing alone is enough to drive out families; it’s one thing to circle by yourself for 25 minutes on Saturday evening trying to find a parking spot, and quite another to do it with a screaming child. IT’s also not the place for trend-setting nightlife anymore; that long since shifted eastward. Quick, name the last nightspot of city-wide notoriety that opened up in Adams Morgan. I’d say Jack Rose, but that’s about it.

        • Oh, I completely agree on the nightlife point, I just decided not to comment on that earlier. I agree with you about Jack Rose being the last “trend-setting” bar to open in Adams Morgan. I do think that the Adams Morgan restaurant scene had improved quite drastically as of late. Maybe not particularly trend-setting, but Donburri, Mintwood, Sakuramen, Sea Pop’s, and that afghani spot are all fairly trend-forward and quite tasty. They’re also getting a new restaurant from the Woodberry Kitchen chef and Erik Bruner Yang is opening a small-scale spot as well.

        • Not super trendy nightspots, but places like Mintwood, Tail Up Goat, Songbyrd, Roofer’s Union, and others are still good draws and quality places for the neighborhood. Personally, I love Adams Morgan outside of post-10pm on Friday and Saturday. To me, it is a great mix of laid back restaurants and bars with some retail sprinkled in, and a great walkable vibe located close into the city. Its not as trendy as more easterly neighborhoods anymore, but I still think it serves its purpose. That said, I agree that it is in the middle of a little identity crisis. The last vestiges of the rowdy college nightlife of the 90s are still hanging on, but the neighborhood is clearly transitioning away from that in so many ways.

          • Yep agreed that those are all great spots, along with several others like Donburi, Bul, Jyoti, Rhumba, and Sakuramen – there’s just this handful of places that don’t seem to offer much to really anyone and almost appear like fronts. For instance Spaghetti Garden – I never ever see anyone in there, how does it survive?

  • I live across the street and rarely see anyone in the establishment, even on Friday and Saturday nights. Seems like they were really scraping the bottom of the “late night drunk food” barrel.

  • I went in there once and it was disgusting and overpriced. Hopefully something new and better will take its place.

  • I also really like their New Hampshire location. The brown rice bowl with lamb and many yummy Greek ingredients (olives, feta cheese, hummus, etc.) is something I often get when I don’t want to cook.

  • I agree that the bar/restaurant scene in Adams Morgan is in flux right now, but having lived there for 23 years, it’s part of a regular cycle that seems to happen. There have always been “cursed” spots on 18th St. that can’t seem to maintain a business longer than 12-24 months. On the other hand, as a place to live and have the “typical neighborhood” amenities mentioned in another comment, it has greatly improved in the past 10 years or so. I can walk to several grocery stores, specialty food shops, liquor/beer/wine stores, nail salons, dry cleaner, hair salons, gyms, hardware store, home decor shops, mailing/shipping services, post office(s), bank, zip cars, bus stops, parks…in addition to a variety of restaurants and bars. And for anything one can’t walk to – Amazon!

  • The Bethesda location, the original one, is 10X better than the other ones. No consistency across the board.

  • Yamas in Bethesda is one of the best greek places i’ve ever been to. The one on new hampshire is still really good too- rice bowls=amazing. I never went to the one in admo but all the others are so good! I hope it reopens because this would be the closest one to me now (im in woodley)

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