Mount Vernon Triangle: Under Construction

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Peering out  to fun design (and turquoise attributes) from the balcony. 

We left New York and arrived to New York Avenue in Washington, D.C. Staying with our generous host in the Mount Vernon Triangle neighborhood, one can’t help but notice its absolute newness. Cranes and shiny tall office and condominium spaces with rooftop pools shadow over smaller brownstones from a frontier era.

In Brooklyn, we’ve been no stranger to the cranes over DUMBO. In general, New Yorkers are familiar with constant flux and transforming neighborhoods. What’s the new hot place that no one knows about to get in while the rents are good? Where is the secret out?

Here in D.C., I couldn’t help but wonder what is happening in Ward 6?

COFFEE SHOPS

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“Hippie Crack” Granola at A Baked Joint. I can’t stop saying Hippie Crack

A neighborhood transforms first with coffee. With 36 hours to take it all in, Andrew and I started our morning at A Baked Joint – and no, that’s “baked” like pastries and “joint” like spot. For breakfast, hippie crack granola with plain yogurt and fresh fruit and mega coffees.

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A Baked Joint

If you happen to be in the area, note there’s no WiFi at this otherwise bright windowed and endless tabled working spot, but some coffee shops are worth turning on your hotspot for.

Old, New and renewed

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View of Capitol Hill

This 19th century working class neighborhood turned commercial, and faced it’s first major transformation from residential to industrial and declined in the mid-1900s. Increased traffic, a large fire and mass demolitions to convert residences into parking lots drove people away. By the 1980s the area had become a haven for drug dealing and prostitution. As someone who used to make the daily commute to the Milk Studios building in chic Meatpacking District, the tale of lofty industrial buildings in a once crime-filled area is all but unfamiliar.

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Poolside at the building of our gracious host, Mount Vernon Triangle

For a little over a decade, rapid development has infused the Mount Vernon Triangle with luxury condominiums, conveniences such as a 24-hour Safeway, and with that, the added amenities of a revitalized neighborhood. Coffee shops pop up. Yoga studios open. Vegan friendly book store restaurants, like Busboys and Poets are around the corner.

Even the building next door to our friend’s apartment was the construction site of a new hotel, which apparently was only a floor plan a year ago.

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The wall at Busboys and Poets. A little taste of New York on New York Ave.

It should be noted that despite the many manifestations that came to be for Mount Vernon Triangle, the area was actually included in the L’Enfant Plan, an urban plan for Washington eveloped in 1791 by Major Pierre (Peter) Charles L’Enfant for President George Washington.

dining in a converted [fill in the blank]

Another tell tale sign in the quest for newness, alternativeness in the creation of a new, hip neighborhood to bring in the young urban professional is a restaurant that was originally some totally other establishment. In Minneapolis, the very cool and tasty Bachelor Farmer was at one point a wool and fur factory. Nolita’s Public House had an earlier incarnation as a post office.

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Photo credit: Sixth Engine

We ate at Sixth Engine on Massachusetts Ave – the one-time oldest firehouse in Washington, D.C. – which had been decommissioned and abandoned for nearly 40 years until restauranteurs gave it new life. Multi-storied with tall brick walls and navy wainscoting add Americana taste in a warm, dim-lit atmosphere. Outdoor seating also available with stringed lights across the patio.

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Photo credit: Sixth Engine

For an appetizer we enjoyed an assortment of items, and notably Hush Puppies – fried balls of cornbread which are a favorite as you approach low country. The star of the show were pork chops with an apple-bourbon sauce made from the restaurant’s own barrel of Woodford Reserve. Not to mention, it came with a side of some hearty, creamy, bread-crumbed mac n cheese.

For dessert, delicious cinnamon-sugar covered apple fritters with candles for an early celebration of Andrew’s birthday.

Mount Vernon Triangle is certainly a neighborhood on the move. The one lackluster element was shopping – not that of conveniences – but boutiques for the weekend stroll, if you will. I’m sure those will come. They always do.

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Dining with our D.C.’ers at Sixth Engine