After living ON Barracks Row for 18 months, it is amazing to reflect on the changes in the neighborhood as I move a few blocks east. I wish there was some way to uncover recent photos of a less-developed neighborhood somewhere. Oh hey, Google maps hasn’t updated their street view for awhile…I promise, no rants here, just the facts on the restaurants which became my new neighbors. Read part one.
Before: Ah yes, the Fire House Cafe. This was one of the faster takedowns. One day it was open, the next day it was closed. The Cafe didn’t get much love, and I never attended. The restaurant appeared to be perhaps a half-notch above your typical Chinese/Seafood/Subs/Pizza/Chicken establishment, but with Mangialardo’s nearby, really no reason to risk a plate o’ grease at this place. In terms of street vibrancy, there was rarely any sort of crowd in this joint — ’twas barely above vacant storefront status.
After: Now a sleek mini-New York kind of place, DC-3 serves a variety of hot dogs. I was really excited about this place — it was only about 100 feet away from my previous hovel of residence. Alas, I was let down. The menu looks killer, but when you are shelling out $15 bucks for a couple dogs and some fries, you really want some pizazz. At least Ben’s Chili Bowl has some good chili, even if the half-smokes are mediocre. DC-3 has inventive dogs, but after trying a Cincy Chili dog and a some sort of pretzel dog (such a great idea, yet so doughy and bland in execution), I can’t say I’m in a rush to go back after my initial two visits. For whatever reason, the City Paper is all about this place, I am not feeling the same love. The paper’s new critic needs to know it’s OK to give a place a bad review.
The good is that for now, DC-3 is very popular, bringing lots of people to the hood, which pumps up tax revenues, gives people jobs and makes 8th Street SE even safer. The bad is that the food isn’t great (which it needs to be as a specialty restaurant) and the ordering system is unnecessarily difficult — one diagram shows the dogs, the other diagram shows the menu and prices. They are on opposite walls; perhaps they can be combined somehow. Lastly, what would seem like a no-brainer open-til-3 a.m. joint, they close at 10 p.m. The manager was not excited when I suggested they stay open late. But even in its lesser form, DC-3 would beat the snot out of a Pizza Boli’s jumbo slice after a Lil’ Pub visit.