Korean-Inspired Magpie and the Tiger Is Closing in Petworth

The restaurant headed by chef Caleb Jang will close after August 21.

Magpie and the Tiger chef Caleb Jang’s kkanpungi, sweet and spicy garlic fried chicken. Photograph by Albert Ting (@pootie_ting).

Magpie and the Tiger, a Korean-inspired newcomer in Petworth, will serve its last meal on Sunday, August 21 after seven months in business. Chef Caleb Jang and Moon Rabbit’s Kevin Tien initially opened the restaurant as takeout only in January following the omicron Covid wave. The intimate dining room debuted shortly after with standout dishes such as stir-fried lobster with ginger-scallion noodles and sweet-spicy garlic fried chicken.

“There’s numerous reasons, from rising costs and staffing and permitting from the city,” Tien says, lastly referring to struggles getting a patio permit. “We did good covers there, considering the size of the space… So the guests were there, but it always has to be consistent. Guests have to be there every week.”

Tien says diners should continue to follow Magpie and the Tiger because Jang and his wife Roren Choi hope to eventually bring the concept elsewhere. Jang did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Upshur Street—a primarily residential area with limited foot traffic—has seen plenty of turnover in recent years with closures including Dos Mamis, Slim’s Diner, Petworth Citizen, and Taqueria del Barrio. That list includes Himitsu, the hit restaurant Tien previously operated in the same space as Magpie and the Tiger, followed by Pom Pom, which also closed in the early days of the pandemic.

“It’s a tough spot,” Tien says.

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.