RIP Red Sage

The glitzy wild-western eatery is shutting its doors.

If you’ve got a hankering for Red Sage’s mushroom-goat cheese enchiladas or barbequed quail, you’ve got until the end of next week to satisfy it. Star Restaurant Group’s Dan Mesches announced today that the company’s 15 year-old Southwestern-themed palace in Penn Quarter will serve its last margarita on Friday, December 22. 

The place opened with a bang–a $6 million bang– in 1992. It was officially DC’s most expensively decorated restaurant, Santa Fe celebrity chef Mark Miller was in charge of the kitchen (his Red Sage cookbook came out in 1999) and the new-to-DC Clintons were among the restaurant’s regulars.

Though Miller eventually left, and the restaurant became more of a tourist destination than a local hotspot, the kitchen served as a training ground for plenty of local culinary talent: Farrah Olivia’s Morou Ouattara spent a decade there, rising the ranks to become executive chef. Firefly’s John Wabeck, Urbana’s Richard Brandenburg, Palette’s Arnel Esposo, and pastry chefs Ann Amernick and Josh Short all worked behind the ranges. 

So what will become of the glam 17,000 square foot space? Dining editor Todd Kliman reported today in his weekly chat that Mesches predicts it’ll become–yikes–a bank.

Red Sage, 605 14th St., NW; 202-638-4444;  

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.