La Forchetta vs. La Fourchette: What’s in a name?


La Forchetta, which opened in April, is changing its name because it’s too similar to La Fourchette, a French restaurant in Adams Morgan. (Photo by Astrid Riecken for The Washington Post)

This is the second time this month a local restaurant has been forced to choose a new name. The owners of Atlas Arcade originally wanted to call their beer-and-video-games concept Barcade, not realizing that a well-established New York bar copyrighted that name years ago. When they had to hit reset, they turned to readers of the popular neighborhood blog Frozen Tropics, and rewarded the winner with $150 in quarters. (That’s a lot of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game.”)

Frankly, this kind of confusion is becoming more common.

Take, for example, Boundary Road and Boundary Stone, two hot new neighborhood bars/restaurants only two miles from each other. Both have exposed brick walls, cool cocktail programs and a neighborhood vibe. (Boundary Stone, in Bloomingdale, has a jukebox; Boundary Road, on H Street, got a visit from President Obama.)

At least one Going Out Guide staffer confuses Columbia Heights’s Taqueria Distrito Federal — commonly known as Taqueria D.F. and named after a nickname for Mexico City — with the more upscale El Centro D.F., which is a little over a mile south on 14th Street. Both serve tacos; El Centro’s the one with the rooftop deck and frozen margaritas.

The District of Pi in Penn Quarter and the Pi Pizzeria in Adams Morgan both serve pizzas with math jokes; the former is a deep-dish import from St. Louis (hence all the Schlafly beers on tap) while the latter focuses on thin-crust Italian.

District Commons serves comfort food and beer in Foggy Bottom. Smith Commons serves slightly more upscale comfort food and craft beer in the Atlas District.

Because of the Irish love of fours, we’ve had pubs called Ireland’s Four Provinces (Falls Church), Ireland’s Four Courts (Arlington) and Ireland’s Four Fields (Cleveland Park), though it closed last month.

Of course, this really isn’t a new problem: How many Chinese carryouts do you know named Hunan Delight, Hunan Diner, Hunan Diamond, Hunan Dynasty or the like? But as the restaurant scene gets more and more crowded, we have a feeling it’s something we’re going to see more often.

Which similarly named restaurants do you regularly confuse?

Fritz Hahn has covered bars, drinks and nightlife for the Washington Post Weekend Section since 2003, but he also writes about everything from Civil War battlefields to sailing classes. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram.

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