Columbia Heights to get new Mexican restaurant from Jackie's owner

Tuesday, September 21, 2010; 11:30 AM

Jackie Greenbaum, the owner of Jackie's and the Quarry House Tavern in Silver Spring, will launch an as-yet-unnamed Mexican restaurant in Columbia Heights.

Located in a former liquor store on 11th Street NW near Lamont Street, the new establishment will be a modest one, sporting a cozy 45 to 50 seats with a few more on the patio outside and sights on expansion to the roof.

Greenbaum is opening the space with help drafted from her other establishments. Gordon Banks, Quarry House Tavern's manager, will be a partner in the new enterprise and is building a craft beer program for the bar as well as deep tequila and mezcal lists and specialty margaritas.

Although no chef has been named, 28-year-old Jackie's chef Diana Davila-Boldin, who studied with Mexican cooking guru Suzanne Trilling in Oaxaca, is consulting on the menu.

The emphasis will be on authentic Mexican cooking with a few nods to Los Angeles street food.

Greenbaum says the biggest complication so far has been the small size of the restaurant's kitchen. But she has dealt with that problem before at the Quarry House Tavern, which also has a postage-stamp-size cooking space.

"Working with the kitchen there helped," Greenbaum says. "It has really taught us how to cross-pollinate our dishes and figure out how large a menu we can manage and still do everything well. Everyone who knows real Mexican food is pretty opinionated about what is good and authentic cuisine, and we are serious about doing it well."

Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be served, with an emphasis on portability and price. No item will cost more than $15, and there will be selections designed to be consumed in the time it takes to walk to the Columbia Heights Metro station.

In time, Greenbaum hopes to add a curbside carryout window to facilitate commuting and late-night dining.

"I see it as a community service," she says. "I love that street, but one of my pet peeves is not being able to get anything of quality to eat after I leave one of the bars."

The eatery is slated to open early next year. While construction and menu creation seem to be on track, Greenbaum says she is still stumped for a name.

"Please," she pleads, "If you or any of your readers has a good idea, let us know."

- Justin Rude

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