Something Old and Something New On Capitol Hill

1 Apr

The great thing about living on Capitol Hill is that there is no shortage of food options. Today, I wanted to share a couple of my old and new favorite food establishments located in my neck of the woods.

First, meet Hunan Dynasty.

When the work days are long… and the school work just doesn’t seem to let up… and the thought of cooking is simply too exhausting to comprehend… Hunan is the first place that I call. I am not going to pretend that this is the most authentic Asian cuisine but there’s something to be said for having the option to order Chinese and sushi at the same place. It’s a one-stop-shop, if you will.

Hunan is a family-run business located at 215 Pennsylvania Ave SE. If you go inside, you will find the walls of the humbly decorated establishment covered with photos of the owners posing with the Washington’s “A List” – Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, and just about every Congressperson under the sun. But I mostly turn to Hunan for delivery. (I grew up in rural, RURAL Northern California where the closest Starbucks was at least 30 minutes away. Delivery was not an option. I have to admit that living in the city does have its perks!)

If you live near Capitol Hill and haven’t tried Hunan yet, I would suggest the sushi (California roll is just $4.50! The spider roll never disappoints!) and/or the chicken lo mein. The wantons are so-so. The portions and pricing are generous.

Now, for something ENTIRELY different, meet the new kid on the block, Sapore.

It’s the Hill’s first specialty olive oil and balsamic shop! This place is brand new – just opened on March 18. Last Saturday, I dragged my boyfriend through the rain to check out the new digs at 660 Pennsylvania Avenue SE (right next to Eastern Market). All I can say is WOW. “Sapore” means “taste” in Italian and I can honestly say it lived up to its name!

You can sample olive oils and balsamics from around the world. They bottle them for you on site. In addition to regular ol’ olive oil, flavors include meyer lemon, garlic, blood orange and much more. They have flavors I have ever heard of. Case in point: champagne infused vinegar.

I walked out of there with a bottle of Italian herb infused olive oil and a California blackberry balsamic for about $12 each. If you enjoy a good crusty bread and olive oil as much as me, I would heartily suggest you to check Sapore out. (Plus, the owner was really nice and it always feels good to support a local business.)

If you are interested in learning more about where some of that delicious olive oil comes from, follow the tweets from in Paso Robles, CA or check out the Facebook page – Lucero is located in Northern California pretty close to where I grew up!

What is your guilty food pleasure? Do you have a favorite locally-owned shop in your neighborhood?


7 Responses to “Something Old and Something New On Capitol Hill”

  1. NoTimeFor10 April 1, 2012 at 5:17 pm #

    This is a great post! I’ve walked by that restaurant several times and have always wondered if it was any good or not. I’ll definitely have to check it out. My favorite DC local is Chinatown Express They make the noodles right in the window. It’s also super cheap. It’s definitely great food after a long night out 🙂

  2. Kate April 1, 2012 at 7:21 pm #

    I’m not sure I understand an entire store devoted to olive oil, but the most I can cook is grilled chicken, so that’s probably why. I do love bread and olive oil, and italian herb olive oil and bread sounds delicious – I’ll have to try it!

  3. winniechao April 1, 2012 at 11:54 pm #

    1. I love olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I am hands-down visiting Sapore soon.
    2. I just obsessively looked through Sapore’s website and they have a dark chocolate balsamic vinegar?? That would be so good in this recipe:
    3. One of my absolute favorite locally-owned shops is Uncle Chip’s Cookies. The owner just recently opened a physical location (previously sold over the internet) and the store now offers breakfast foods. But you need to try the cookies and the black bean brownies. I always send them to friends as gifts because they’re so good:

  4. Allee Sangiolo (@asangiolo) April 2, 2012 at 9:39 am #

    Oh man! I read about the olive oil shop in DailyCandy and have been itching to try it out ever since! It reminds me of this place I went to on a trip to chicago called Old Town Oil, where I bought this peach balsamic vinegar that is amazing and I only use it on special occasions because I want it to last forever and ever. I cant wait to go!

  5. jmhx April 2, 2012 at 11:34 am #

    Fascinating. Been to Hunan but not the more recent addition to your list. Though as far as Southeast goes, it’s going to take more than some good Asian food to bring me back around the Hill area. Shivers.

  6. nikkidisresearch April 2, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

    seriously, an olive oil and balsamic vinegar shop…. I am so not sophisticated enough for cap hill!! Looks like a lot of fun…

  7. andrewhclark April 3, 2012 at 4:07 pm #

    I live in Eastern Market, a couple blocks away from Hunan Dynasty…never been there, I will have to try it since I love Asian cuisine…but my FAVORITE place to eat in all of Capitol Hill is Tortilla Cafe, on the corner of North Carolina and 7th Street SE (across the street from the actual Eastern Market). It was recently featured by Guy Fieri on his Food Network show for serving delicious, authentic El Salvadorian and Mexican food. It’s a hole in the wall, unassuming, plain decorations, but the food there is amazing. Incredible. I love the Fajitas, the El Salvadorean Chicken Sandwich, the Papusas…I’ve never had a dish I haven’t liked there. I go there almost every day for lunch since I work from home a lot, the staff knows my face now.

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