Pizza and politics–two controversial things in this town. Like asking what someone thought of the latest congressional vote, if you inquire about their pizza preferences when it comes to crust thickness, toppings or cheese to sauce ratio, you’ll get an earful. Not to mention there’s that group of people who cop out completely by throwing their hands in the air and exclaiming, “THERE IS NO GOOD PIZZA IN DC!” Well, my fussy friends, there’s a new place on H street that might do the trick for you: H &pizza.
With 2011 and the year of the burger now behind us, the food team’s mouths are already watering and we’re looking ahead at what 2012 will bring to our plates. Our team, comprised of myself, Tricia and Natalia (our newest addition to the team!) all brainstormed about what we think will be all the rage in the new year when it comes to food.
Find our full list of predictions after the jump.
If you remember the H Street corridor from years ago, the place where Smith Commons now stands was the home of a large carpet warehouse. The restaurant is just as massive: three stories with a main dining room and main bar on the first floor, a public house on levels two and three, plus a seasonal patio. Smith Commons is one of the classiest buildings on H Street, both on the interior and exterior, with clean lines, eccentric furniture and the quintessential exposed brick.
The first thing you’ll notice when walking through the doors is how open the space is. Here you aren’t crammed so closely together that eavesdropping on the people sitting next you is involuntary; instead, the excess space makes the restaurant a great place for groups.
Smith Commons bills itself as offering an “international menu of approachable cuisine,” so think fusion. There’s a lot going on when you look at the menu – not that there are a lot of choices, but those choices are quite different. The menu changes seasonally with recipes developed by Executive Chef Carlos Delgado, so it can sometimes be sad to see one of your favorite dishes gone, but then there’s always time to pick a new favorite for the night.
Arts organizations tend to get hit the hardest in times of economic distress or, let’s face it, the current weather crisis. When galleries and theaters have to shutter their doors for even one night, it can be devastating. So consider this your PSA for Arts today: once we’re out of this mess, hit a play, see an exhibit, get out there and help the arts as much as you can. They’re really going to need it.
And there are so many worthy arts centers here in DC that go beyond the typical; we are truly lucky! One such unassuming place is Evolve Urban Arts Project in the H Street Arts District, with a special mission to promote local artists. Basically, says curator Eric Hope, “I’m trying to take some chances and give exposure to up-and-coming artists.” The recent exhibit by Dana Ellyn in December was one of the best I’ve seen in a long time, and upcoming shows look to match that intensity. Let’s take a closer look at one of DC’s pioneering galleries.
Evolve Urban Arts Project came about when Chris Swanson and Jeff Printz bought the Pierce School in 2000 and renovated it to include a home for themselves and several loft units. A few years later, they started arts exhibits in the main foyer and throughout the public spaces of the building. Curator Eric Hope came on board in April 2009 and saw the potential to expand their profile in the DC arts community. The only steadfast rule, strongly encouraged by Swanson, is the promotion of local talent, and the exhibition space is free to the artists.
“Lowkey really describes us,” Eric explains, “I’m happy to have the freedom to work with artists who push boundaries and take chances.”
What’s most shocking about Dana Ellyn’s paintings?
That they’re truthful.
Opening this past weekend at the Evolve Urban Arts Project in the Atlas District, Divinely Irreverent is an audacious exhibit delivering some hard slaps to myths of many kinds – from religion to what it means to be a woman. These are thought-provoking pieces – sometimes outright painful to process – but always rooted firmly in honesty. They are also at times downright funny.
Dana fell in love with the city as a junior in high school, and has been a DC resident for the past twenty years since attending George Washington University. She now has the luck of living and working in a studio in Penn Quarter. It’s a natural partnership with Evolve, whose mission is to promote local talent in a low-key atmosphere, and her exhibit will run there until January 30, 2010.
I was lucky to have a private tour with the artist and curator Eric Hope, and I have to say – if you like your art to reach out and rattle you, get over there now. You’ll love it. And if you prefer your art to be pretty and decorous, well, go anyway. Open your mind to something different.
H Street Main Street is seeking residents to help develop a timeline of the history, people, and culture surrounding H Street NE. If you’re reading a blog called We Love DC, you possibly already know that H Street NE was a bustling shopping district before the 1968 riots, and now that the area is undergoing a renaissance, HSMS is trying to capture the stories of people who lived in the area in the intervening years. They need all kinds of volunteers- writers, researchers, photographers, etc. You can get involved by emailing T. Isler at harvestpoluck at g mail dot com.
Welcome to another edition of Where We Live. This week we’ll be looking at a whole section of the city that is rapidly changing: the section of Northeast DC north of Massachusetts Avenue and south of Florida Avenue. This area has a LOT of different names: Near Northeast, H Street, the Atlas District, NoMa (for NOrth of Massachusetts Ave), North Capitol Hill, and the list goes on. This part of town is known for the new office buildings in NoMa, the retail/theater/restaurant district on H Street NE, and the quiet, residential neighborhoods that surround them.
History: Florida Avenue was once called Boundary Avenue, and was the northernmost boundary of Pierre L’Enfant’s plan for Washington, so this area was part of the original City of Washington. H Street NE has been the site of major transportation milestones in the history of the city: the Bladensburg Turnpike was a tollgate and entrance to the city, the Baltimore and Ohio railroad was constructed in 1835 and the proximity to Union Station transformed this area, in 1849 H Street itself was built, and the H Street Streetcar was opened in 1872. The streetcar spurred a great deal of development in the area, and streetcars were running along the corridor until 1949.
Throughout the 1900s the area was a major commercial hub of Washington, with department stores, theaters, and restaurants lining H Street. However, the riots in 1968 following Martin Luther King’s assassination devastated the neighborhood, and many businesses, theaters, and restaurants moved out to the suburbs. On H Street, the suburban-style, car-oriented development created pedestrian-unfriendly environment, and the lack of a nearby Metro station meant that the area remained a car-focused corridor. However, in the last several years, the area has seen a resurgence in development. It is now home to a thriving theater scene, a variety of restaurants, and a growing number of shops. It is once again becoming a pedestrian-friendly district, and with plans of a streetcar in the future, it may one day regain its status as DC’s main commercial district. Next door, NoMa is also rapidly changing from an old warehouse district to a major employment center with over 1,000 hotel rooms, 8,000 residential units, a new grocery store, and new restaurants and shops.