Shaw was the District’s hottest dining neighborhood of 2016.
The Northwest enclave saw a raft of openings within the past year, ranging from the very high-end (Eric Ziebold’s $200-a-head Métier, Kwame Onwuachi’s $185-per-person Shaw Bijou) to the very casual (Marjorie Meek-Bradley’s Smoked and Stacked sandwich shop, laid-back Chinese spot Chao Ku). Diners have plenty of options, whether it’s for a quick pregame bite or a special-occasion dinner.
“I didn’t expect to have that many restaurants coming in the neighborhood,” said Cedric Maupillier, who has witnessed the parade of newcomers join Convivial, which he opened in late 2015. Not that the company bothers him. “More restaurants attract more people” — and that’s good news for everyone.
Michael Friedman, who opened the red-hot pizza joint All-Purpose — the No. 1 restaurant in Post food critic Tom Sietsema’s 2016 Fall Dining Guide — agreed. “A rising tide does raise all ships,” he said. “The more competition, the better.”
For diners, the strength in numbers means that when one restaurant is full, it’s not hard to amble to a nearby spot. And while the volume of restaurants and redevelopment has raised comparisons to the 14th Street NW corridor, Maupillier said Shaw has a particularly good dining scene because of the many chef-driven restaurants in small, intimate spaces.
It also helps that the proximity of such destinations as downtown, Verizon Center and the Walter E. Washington Convention Center is balanced by residential surroundings — both new and old. All-Purpose moved into a new apartment building, along with Buttercream Bakeshop and Espita Mezcaleria, but remnants of the neighborhood’s past remain in the historic rowhouses and the revived Howard and Lincoln theaters.
This isn’t to say that Shaw didn’t experience setbacks in 2016. The neighborhood lost the beloved Ethiopian restaurant Zenebech after the owners sold their property to developers. Now the strip is slated to become a mixed-use development, much like the neighborhood’s north end, home to Tim Ma’s Chinese-accented Kyirisan; the Daikaya’s team’s third ramen shop, Haikan; and Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s Hazel.
There’s plenty more to come next year: a modern diner from Central executive chef David Deshaies, Morris American Bar from Spike Mendelsohn, Hong Kong-inspired Tiger Fork from the Fainting Goat team and Union Kitchen Grocery.
“I see it just getting better,” Friedman said of the neighborhood.