With only a smattering of Chinese establishments remaining and an increasing number of national chains arriving, this downtown destination should take a cue from Prince and be dubbed “The Neighborhood Formerly Known As.” Nevertheless, the eponymous former enclave provides ample opportunities for amusement with a few glimpses of its fading past.
Seventh and H streets NW
According to D.C. architect Alfred H. Liu, the two columns of this approximately 47-foot-tall and 75-foot-wide arch are made of reinforced concrete to protect it from errant drivers. Designed by Liu and dedicated in 1986, the piece is made in the style of China's Qing Dynasty and is intended to represent a congenial relationship between the United States and China. The piece features 272 decorative dragons, 35,000 gold leaf adornments and 7,000 roof tiles.
The moniker of this decade-old destination can be misleading. Yes, it's a gorgeously restored early-20th-century synagogue offering Shabbat services, but it also hosts events including beer tastings, concerts and readings by authors such as Neil Patrick Harris. "We appeal to a broad range of people," says Esther Safran Foer, executive director and chief executive.
Overlook the interior that appears as if it hasn't been updated since this eatery opened in 1989. Focus on what comes on the plate - or in bowls. Hong Kong-style shrimp dumplings, served in a light broth, are a signature dish because of its authenticity, says manager Denny Chau. A $6 lunch special draws loyal regulars, including Springfield, Va., resident William Ellis. "I've been coming here for 10, 15 years almost every day," he says.
Here the locally beloved Celtic-gypsy-klezmer band Scythian grew a steadfast fan base with weekly Thursday night gigs. Nowadays, the house band slot belongs to Donegal native Danny Burns, who fronts a group playing a melange of Irish-bluegrass-Americana Of course, Guinness is on tap.
The crash of pins and high-pitched shrieks of strike-seekers combine to create a din at the swanky second-floor Gallery Place spot since it brought bowling back to the District in 2005. Even so, general manager Dawyne Williams doesn't want customers to dwell on its 14 slick lanes. Think football game events, DJ battles and salsa nights - more club lounge than old-school alley.
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