Buzz on Buzzard Point
Capitol Riverfront’s Buzzard Point, the peninsula at the convergence of the Anacostia and Potomac rivers,was until recently dominated by industrial and government uses. In 2020, the first residential developments began opening there, including the condos Peninsula 88 and luxury apartment buildings Watermark and RiverPoint—where a new restaurant, the Point, is opening in March. In February of this year, developers Akridge and National Real Estate Advisers announced the largest project yet for the neighborhood: the Stacks, a 2-million-square-foot mixed-use development that promises to connect the area to the Yards and the Wharf.
When complete, the Stacks will comprise 2,000 residences, 80,000 square feet of retail and restaurants, as many as two hotels, and up to 250,000 square feet of office space, plus parks and plazas. A pedestrian path will run throughout the development. Construction will begin later this year, with the first four buildings slated to finish in 2024.
Acclaimed chef Jerome Grant spent four years helming the James Beard–nominated Sweet Home Cafe at the National Museum of African American History & Culture. But in 2020, he joined the modern-American spot Jackie (79 Potomac Ave., SE), which shares its outdoor space with Dacha beer garden’s Navy Yard location. There, he has developed a menu imbued with his Filipino and Caribbean heritage. You’ll find fried-chicken platters with Scotch-bonnet-pepper mustard, lumpia rolls, beer-spiked gumbo, and a cocktail menu that draws inspiration from the 1960s.
Since November, the city has used Nationals Park as one of its public Covid-testing sites. But on April 1, the Washington Nationals will take over, kicking off their home season with a matchup against the New York Mets. No word yet as to whether fans will be allowed in the stadium. And at Audi Field on Buzzard Point, DC United’s season is tentatively scheduled to start in April.
In 2020, chef Michael Rafidi and sommelier Brent Kroll brought a slate of new spots to Navy Yard, starting with the Middle Eastern dining room Albi and an adjoining wine bar, Maxwell Park. At the restaurant, Rafidi draws on his Palestinian roots for a wood-fired exploration of the Levant, using Mid-Atlantic ingredients in a nod to his Maryland upbringing. Yogurt-streaked manti dumplings and lamb shank with pomegranate glaze are available to go or in the restaurant’s glass greenhouses.
Later last year, Rafidi opened Yellow, a casual daytime cafe where Middle Eastern flavors are married with French patisserie techniques for treats such as croissants dusted with za’atar and honey halva lattes. (All three are at 1346 Fourth St., SE.)
Capitol Riverfront has for years been DC’s fastest-developing neighborhood, and 2020 was no exception. Fourteen new residential buildings opened there in the past year, including the first phase of the Crossing, which will have 818 apartments when it’s complete, plus a 305-unit building called 10K, designed by starchitect Morris Adjmi. But for the first time in recent memory, luxe apartment prices are doing something other than rising. The pandemic has made fancy communal amenities like pools and fitness centers a lot less communal and has turned elevators and hallways into potential health hazards. As a result, rents across the city have dropped. Capitol Riverfront—where rents were down by more than 19 percent at the end of 2020, while vacancies were up more than 12 percent—was among the areas hardest-hit. It looks like a good time for a (relative) bargain: More apartments are on the way, including Coda on Half Street and the Europa, both expected to open this year.
Bet on It
Washington baseball and soccer fans will soon be able to gamble at games. In January, the Nationals announced a partnership with BetMGM, which will open a sportsbook outside Nats Park, at N and Half streets, this summer. At Audi Field, Fan-Duel has partnered with DC United to launch an on-site sportsbook for soccer fans sometime this year.
With actual vacations still mostly on hold, diners can at least get a taste of sunnier locales at two new Caribbean-inspired spots. Former Maydan chefs Gerald Addison and Chris Morgan are manning the kitchen at Bammy’s (301 Water St., SE), bringing painkiller cocktails and conch fritters to the waterfront patio. Influenced by travels to Barbados, Jamaica, and Trinidad, the restaurant also serves its namesake bammy—a crunchy cassava flatbread.
For all-day Puerto Rican cuisine, colorful La Famosa (1300 Fourth St., SE) offers sweet plantains in sandwiches, fried as crisp tostones, and smashed into classic mofongo. You can sip tropical guava drinks on the heated patio or channel the island’s festive holiday season with spiced-coconut coquito made in-house.
Work It Out
Kickboxing chain 9Round Fitness opened its first DC studio (1105 New Jersey Ave., SE) in Navy Yard this past December. Workouts involve heart-rate training, strength-building on a bag, and an abs-and-core station. There are no scheduled classes—instead, members rotate through the exercises on their own. Trainers are available to keep everyone motivated.
After three decades in the basement of the Federal City Shelter building near Union Station, DC Central Kitchen announced in December that it will relocate to the RiverPoint development on Buzzard Point. The nonprofit fights food insecurity and trains people who need jobs in hospitality. When it moves in early next year, its students will work in a glass-enclosed kitchen so passersby can see them in action. The space will also include a cafe open to the public.
For Your Quarantine Cut
The 14th Street corridor’s Immortal Beloved salon—long a favorite of fashionistas—shuttered for good last year. But you’ll find several alums at Navy Yard’s Blackbird salon (801 Virginia Ave., SE, Suite 101), open since August. The shop offers cuts, color, extensions, and other services.
The pandemic has been hell on the restaurant industry, but it has also led to some new dining trends. Case in point: ghost kitchens, carryout-and-delivery-only spots that often set up inside existing restaurants. One of them, Side Door Pizza, has been operating out of the Navy Yard restaurant Scarlet Oak (909 New Jersey Ave., SE) since October, hawking Detroit-style pies.
Meanwhile, Swizzler food truck opened its first brick-and-mortar storefront (1259 First St., SE) next to Nats Park in November. Coronavirus limitations inspired the owners to switch to a takeout-only format, a shorter menu of burgers and fries—and, in keeping with another pandemic-era trend, contact-free ordering.
Grab a Beer
Ivy City’s Atlas Brew Works opened a second location in Navy Yard this summer (1201 Half St., SE, Suite 120). Just like at the original, the outpost by the ballpark brews lagers, IPAs, Pilsners, and other varieties on the premises. The taproom has anattached patio, where visitors can enjoy the beer and indulge in a pie from on-site Andy’s Pizza.
Beloved New York bakery Mah-Ze-Dahr (1201 Half St., SE) opened its first DC location in September, bringing cases of cookies, cakes, and croissants to the ground floor of the mixed-use development West Half. James Beard–nominated pastry chef Umber Ahmad is behind the delicacies, such as fluffy brioche doughnuts dusted with crushed vanilla bean and frosted cinnamon rolls.
Last fall, local artists Kaliq Crosby and Rose Jaffe beautified the Pepco substation on Buzzard Point with a mural covering two sides of one of its structures. Their massive, brightly colored work includes portraits of famous Black Washingtonians Chuck Brown, Frederick Douglass, Marvin Gaye, and Eleanor Holmes Norton. You can see it for yourself at First and S, Southwest.