Catching Up With H Street

Posted March 7, 2007 at 5:45pm

Since Mug Shots last visited H Street Northeast six months ago, the burgeoning nightlife corridor has seen even more changes.

New bars are opening, and more are on the way. Patrons of the H Street strip can look forward to a punk sushi bar, a Belgian restaurant and even a country club of sorts. [IMGCAP(1)]

The original plans and intentions of some bar owners have fallen by the wayside, making room for new adjustments to fit the needs of their growing popularity and clientele.

Six months ago, bars such as The Red and The Black, the Palace of Wonders and The Rock and Roll Hotel were just opening their doors, unsure of who would grace their threshold.

Today they welcome a packed house nearly every night of the week and big-name acts.

The Rock and Roll Hotel (1353 H St. NE) has had to tweak its original plans because of its growing popularity.

The practice rooms with the themes of “Hot for Teacher,” Mao Zedong and Led Zeppelin have been turned into green rooms for visiting bands, storage rooms and offices for the management. One of these rooms soon will be turned into a pinball room. Let’s hope it’s “Tommy”-themed.

As for the big acts hitting the stage at The Rock and Roll Hotel, check out its Web site, www.rockandrollhoteldc.com, to purchase tickets for upcoming shows such as The Walkmen, The Raveonettes and The Toasters. [IMGCAP(2)]

Manager Fritz Wood said the kids just can’t get enough of The Rock and Roll Hotel. In fact, they’re hosting a handful of wedding receptions in the upstairs bar area this spring, and one hipster couple is even planning on tying the knot on the downstairs stage.

The same cult following has surrounded The Rock and Roll Hotel’s brother bar, The Red and The Black (1212 H St. NE).

Show up at the New Orleans and voodoo-themed hot spot on Tuesday nights from 9 to 11, and you can get a haircut and a shot for $12. The event, called “I know a girl with big feet,” will feature a stylist from a D.C. salon each week, trimming locks in the tradition of New Orleans.

The strange title of the shearing sessions comes from a song performed by New Orleans barbers, who, according to bartenders at The Red and The Black, would offer the same deal. The song goes “A shot and a haircut, two bits. I know a girl with big feet.” Catchy, huh?

Other specials the bar is trying out include an all-you-can-drink Sunday for $20. And once things start to warm up, The Red and The Black’s back patio will undergo a voodoo renovation, just to keep with the NOLA theme.

The Red and The Black’s music scene is improving as well. For a list of upcoming acts, visit www.redandblackbar.com

Next door at the Palace of Wonders (1210 H St. NE), the ownership switched hands about a month ago, but that’s about it as far as big changes go. The bar features the same stomach-turning exhibits of sideshow delights, talented burlesque dancers and palm readers.

One recent addition to its lineup of vaudevillian entertainment is the talent show. Anyone can sign up and show off their ability to contort themselves, swallow swords or just burp the alphabet.

For a list of upcoming sideshows and events, visit the bar’s Web site at www.palaceofwonders.com.

A few doors down at 1234 H St. NE, the long-awaited bar of Capitol Lounge bartender Tony Tomelden finally has opened: The Pug, complete with a boxing/soccer theme, exposed brick walls, beautiful wood and tributes to every great pugilist along the walls.

Even the women’s bathroom has pictures of handsome yet unrecognizable boxers hanging on the walls.

On Feb. 13, the masses braved the snow and slick roads to welcome The Pug into the world. A packed house of friends, Capitol Lounge regulars and H Street residents gave the impression that The Pug is here to stay.

Manager Jimmy Atkocius said every night has been just as busy since that wintry night three weeks ago.

The Trivial Pursuit cards and bowls of cheesy-poofs on the bar make you want to stay for hours and snack and drink in the company of good friends, which was Tomelden’s initial idea. With all the theme bars on H Street, he wanted one that was more practical for those who just want a local bar to hang out and relax in.

And The Pug’s not the only new addition to the fast-revitalizing corridor.

Sticky Rice, set to open in the next few months, is a sushi and rock ’n’ roll joint. The space at 1224 H St. NE was planned to be a bar called The Beehive, but the owners saw potential in the Richmond, Va.-based restaurant and invited Sticky Rice to try its hand at H Street.

Granville Moore’s Brickyard (1238 H St. NE) is on its way to being finished. The Belgian-themed restaurant, named for one of the first black physicians in the District, will open near the doctor’s original office.

And what is likely to be the turning point for H Street’s popularity, the H Street Country Club (1335 H St. NE) is opening sometime this fall in the space previously occupied by the Phish Tea Cafe.

The H Street Country Club will be a recreational sort of bar with pool tables, arcade games and — get this — a Washington, D.C.-themed, 18-hole indoor miniature golf course.

The exclusivity of this country club will be a welcome change from the suburban members-only establishments for sure.