It has been far too long since I’ve visited DC’s buzzy H Street Corridor. There are several hot spots along this ever-evolving street that I’ve been dying to visit, and we finally made the time last weekend to scope out a few of them during a delicious H Street brunch crawl.
Like our Shaw food crawl awhile back, we set out on this adventure to knock several restaurants off of our to-do list by ordering just a few dishes at each place. This way, if one of the destinations didn’t wow us we weren’t out too much money. Plus, it’s just fun to change things up and get a bunch of different flavors and cooking techniques out of one trip. Here’s how our H Street brunch crawl panned out.
After reading this mouth-watering review from the Bitches Who Brunch, I knew we had to include a stop at Ocopa.
This laid-back Peruvian restaurant is serving up seriously authentic flavors and service that is just as refreshing. After pulling up seats at the bar, we were greeted immediately by the bartender as if we were old friends. We started out with French pressed Peruvian coffee from Qualia Coffee in Petworth before moving onto the food.
We had a lot of culinary ground to cover, so we kept our choices light, beginning with the extraordinarily refreshing shrimp and avocado ceviche.
After a discussion with Ocopa’s very friendly general manager, we learned that the leftover liquid from a Peruvian ceviche is known to have magical healing powers, especially as a hangover cure. We weren’t hangover that day, but the liquid was so delicious that we were drinking it like soup with a spoon, and Tom even took the cue of general manager, Jahlex Alexander, and sipped the last dregs from the plate when we were done. So good!
The other two dishes were ordered were great as well. The papas con haucaina with fingerling potatoes, huancaina, queso fresco and boiled egg was an elegant, deconstructed reminder of cold potato salad.
The tacu tacu with rice, Peruvian canary beans, yellow onions, aji amarillo was perhaps the lest interesting of the three dishes, but we enjoyed the juxtaposition of the crunchy outer shell and the creamy rice and beans inside. I couldn’t help but crave a runny, fried egg on top.
Ocopa may have been the stop for which we had the least expectations, but it blew those we had right out of the water. We ended up hanging out a lot longer than expected chatting with the staff as they experimented with new cocktails. Management has recently changed, so expect new things on the horizon. Chef Yuki Nakandakari’s passion for Peruvian cuisine is evident in each bite, and I look forward to seeing how things progress.
Before we left, Jahlex insisted we get the party started with his signature cocktail The Lexercisor (not on the menu).
This concoction made with vodka, St. Germaine and a few other liqueurs I didn’t quite catch was right up my alley and the perfect way to cheers to a day of fun, food and drink on H Street. Thanks Jahlex!
Sally’s Middle Name
Sally’s Middle Name is always making my mouth water over on Instagram. I love how their menu changes daily based on what’s fresh and is written simply on the white tile walls in the restaurant. The restaurant itself is just as inviting as the food with fresh flowers, stacks of cookbooks and adorably mismatched dish ware.
We had slightly over-ordered at Ocopa due to crippling hunger, so at Sally’s we opted for the one dish that sounded the most interesting and unique.
The Thai rice porridge with pork, egg, and chilies dazzled us with its aromatics as soon as it was placed in front of us. Each bite was a different experience, depending on the types of herbs you captured and the number of chiles on your spoon. Based on how much we liked this one dish, we absolutely have to go back for more.
Of course, we couldn’t leave H Street without a visit to what is possibly the hippest restaurant in town right now, Maketto.
We were pretty stuffed by this point, but we had the grand finale of our brunch tour to get through and nothing was going to stop us. We started with beers. Tom had a Taiwan Beer and I had a delicious Old Pro Gose from Union Craft Brewing, which may officially be my new favorite beer.
For food, we couldn’t resist trying the steamed bao buns with leek and mushrooms. These were the perfect, pillowy bites you expect from well-executed steam buns.
But the main event was of course the famous Taiwanese fried chicken, large cuts of chicken are coated in a thick, extra crispy crust and topped with a sweet and spicy sauce, loads of cilantro and red chiles.
Part of me didn’t want this to be as good as the hype, so that I wouldn’t have the temptation to regularly eat something so decadent. But that was far from the case. This was hands down the most addicting chicken I’ve ever sunk my teeth into, and had we not been so full from the day’s escapades I would have been fighting Tom for bites.
As it was, we had to cry uncle around a third of the way through, taking the rest of the chicken and all of the accompanying bread home for leftovers the next night. Heated in the oven, they were almost as good as the first time around, so the addiction continues. The breading crumbles that are leftover at the bottom of the plate could actually be sold in bags as a separate snack food. I’m open to collaboration for that venture, Maketto.
Overall, we didn’t have a single bad bite of food during the course of this eating excursion proving that H Street is truly one of DC’s top dining destinations right now. We can’t wait to go back for more in-depth visits to all three restaurants we visited.
Want more deliciousness? Check out my guest post over at In a DC Minute all about our delicious experience at new ramen joint Haikan in Shaw.