4 DC Dining Spots That Have Changed a Whole Lot

Goodbye, greasy-burger chain—hello, salad shop. Photograph of Little Tavern by David Wilson.

THEN: Little Tavern (1936 to 1992)

NOW: Sweetgreen (2007 to present)

3333 M St., NW

The Little Tavern chain was known for its cottage-like exteriors and greasy, extra-cheap burgers. Eight years ago, the first location of Sweetgreen arrived in a long-vacant Little Tavern space in Georgetown. In keeping with the times, it serves customizable salads.

Photograph by Michael Horsley.

THEN: Queen Bee (1987 to 2006)

NOW: Spider Kelly’s (2008 to present)

3181 Wilson Blvd., Arlington

In the ’70s and ’80s, Clarendon was a thriving hub of Vietnamese restaurants known as Little Saigon, and Queen Bee was a stalwart. Then Metro station opened, rents rose, and immigrants migrated farther out. The site now houses Spider Kelly’s, a sports bar with $8 tater tots.

Paul Zucconi (left) of La Colline, and Johnny’s Half Shell (right). Photograph of Zucconi via Douglas Graham/Newscom; Johnny’s Half Shell by Lauren Joseph.

THEN: La Colline (1982 to 2006)

NOW: Johnny’s Half Shell (2006 to present)

400 N. Capitol St., NW

In the ’80s, fine dining in Washington pretty much translated to one cuisine: French. But elite tastes changed, with sophisticated eaters favoring less but-toned-down Modern American restaurants such as the one that replaced La CollineJohnny’s Half Shell.

Photograph by Lauren Joseph.

THEN: Picnics in Farragut Square

NOW: Food trucks in Farragut Square (2009 to present)

17th St. between K and I sts., NW

A new generation of food trucks hit the streets in 2009—and offered a tastier option than brown-bagging it in downtown DC’s favorite green space.

This article appears in our October 2015 issue.

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