The H Street Festival, which has quickly emerged as one of the fall’s coolest, most eclectic neighborhood festivals, returns Saturday, and organizers are promising nearly every popular business on H Street NE (and a few that haven’t even opened) will be taking part in the streetside food and drink stands, performances and eating contests.
The festival is set for noon to 7 p.m. between Eighth and 14th Streets NE. Make the best of your day at the fest with our guide to the must-dos.
Eat everything that’s new
Gird your pockets and your bellies. Among the restaurants that will be dishing out fare are the much-buzzed-about H&Pizza and Cusbah, which will both extend their restaurants into the street. H&Pizza will have a street-side bar and will be debuting some new pies, while Indian bar and restaurant Cusbah will have a tent under which it will be offering a limited menu and cocktails designed just for the event.
Dying to eat at Impala Cantina y Taqueria? You can before the new Mexican restaurant finally opens this fall. At Saturday’s festival, the restaurant will set up in front of its digs at 1358 H St. NE, pat out tortillas and make tacos and more all day. Owners Troy Hickman and George Grau promise not just tacos, but a chance to see how traditional Mexican food is made.
Also on its way into the hood in coming months is a new location of Ben’s Chili Bowl, and the D.C. mainstay will represent on Saturday, serving half-smokes and more.
Party in the daytime
While Oktoberfest doesn’t begin until September 22, Biergarten Haus will offer a head start on celebrations. Two satellite beer gardens will be set up along H Street, complete with Paulaner and Warsteiner taps, while bratwurst, roasted corn and smoked turkey legs will be served from the grill. And it wouldn’t be the Biergarten Haus without some oompah music, so a German band will perform from 1 p.m. until late in the evening.
Cognitive dissonance for electronic music fans: DJs Sam “The Man” Burns (Eighteenth Street Lounge), Jon H (Fort Knox Five) and Frank (All Good Funk Alliance) are known for spinning infectious dance music in the wee hours of the morning, not in the glare of the afternoon sun. All three are among the well-known club DJs dropping house, electro and funk tunes on the DJ stage in the 1100 block of H Street beginning at noon.
The Rock and Roll Hotel and Pabst Blue Ribbon are offering three floors of music from noon to 9 p.m., and it’s all free. The club’s main stage features four local bands, including the revved-up blues-rock of Shark Week and the indie art-pop of Young Rapids. The upstairs bar is being taken over by Fort Knox Records, with the Thunderball and Fort Knox Five DJs spinning everything from electro-funk to vintage hip-hop, the tropical Empresarios and the All Good Funk Alliance. On the rooftop, U Street Music Hall regulars Chris Nitti, Micah Vellian and Sami Y will keep the electronic music flowing.
Indulge your competitive streak
The festival offers two ways to show off your gastronomical fortitude. For the first time, Taylor Gourmet will be holding a contest to determine who can eat the most hoagies in 15 minutes, with the winner taking home $200 in cash. (Would-be contestants should email firstname.lastname@example.org for details on entering.) Dangerously Delicious Pies will be holding a pie eating contest on the fashion stage from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Sign-up will be available at the festival.
It’s also time to decide which one of your sleeves is better-looking: A carry-over from previous festivals returns when Britishink Tattoos hosts its tattoo contest.
Experience art with a capital A
The Capitol Hill gallery the Fridge is dispatching its stable of artists to 11th and H Streets NE, where they will be live muraling all day, and the popular “art cars” will roll down the street. But new this year is a tent to pick up quirky indie crafts, and a stage just to showcase the performance Atlas Performing Arts Center. Want to learn a few dance moves before heading over to Rock and Roll Hotel? Check out Joy of Motion’s dance floor, where you’ll find demos all day.