Dine Downtown Week and the Newest Noshy Neighborhood

New Grange chef Oliver Ridgeway

Dine Downtown Restaurant Week begins today and runs through next Wednesday, the 18th (I guess it’s a metric week). It’s an opportunity for the majority of downtown restaurants to come up with a (typically basic and uninspired) three course menu available for $30. I get why DDRW is a thing. It’s a take off on similar events in Chicago and NYC and a few other cities. It’s an opportunity to shine a spotlight on downtown restaurants and a reason for people to try a place they might have not otherwise tried. The sad part, I guess, is that coming up with a (relatively) affordable 3-course meal in bulk tends to sap a bit of the energy out of the typical creativity with which most of the chefs involved imbue their food.

Nevertheless, if I was going to sample the restaurant week fare, I’d probably head over to The Porch, the new Southern cookin’ enterprise on K Street (did someone say bacon bourbon?), and probably Restaurant THIR13EN, the ridiculously named enterprise (was probably easy though to get the domain name) from Tuli owner Adam Pechal on 13th and H.

What I’m actually excited about, however, is the emergence of Caesar Chavez park and environs as the new destination for eats. Places are popping up with regularity within a block of the park. Whether they’re laying down new roots, or taking over for old guard places that had lost their edge, these places will make CC park the place to be in 2012. Why?

Grange: with new exec chef Oliver Ridgeway, I’m hoping the somewhat pedestrian flavors that had dominated the menu might be a thing of the past; it’s already the coolest looking restaurant in town, hopefully the menu will live up to the trappings.Corner of J and 10th

Blackbird: on top of their logo looking like the cover to a Neil Gaiman novel (which is rad) the samples I’ve had of their food have been impressive to say the least. Even at a casual, outdoor event like Chalk It Up, they brought some ridiculously good and creative fish tacos, which ain’t easy in 100-degree temps. Opening soon, 9th, between J & K

Big Joe’s BBQ– Taking over for the greatly missed Fog Mountain, Big Joe is going to bring it. How do I know? Because it’s already been broughten. I and 10th

Estelle’s Paatisserie- A. Real. French. Bakery.  Picked up where Danielle’s Creperie failed. 9th & K.

All I can say is that I’m looking forward to it.

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