Metro, courtesy of mlovitt

Just a friendly reminder to y’all that the U Street Metro station, along with Columbia Heights and Shaw, will be closed for this holiday weekend (that no one celebrates except for the Federal government). There will be shuttle buses running, but my suggestion is to either take a bus to where you need to go (like, I don’t know, work Monday morning) or get to an alternate Metro stop (Dupont is the closest) and go from there.

Mercadito Ramos closed

Well this is a bummer. Mercadito Ramos, a Latin grocery store on 14th between Florida and W, was a great place to stop in for cheap produce and Latin ingredients. It appears to have completely closed about a week ago. The take out place next door closed and reopened a few blocks away a few months ago – which makes me wonder if there is development slated for the building they both resided in.

However, I haven’t heard any word on developing that address, though there are condos slated to go in the lot at 14th and Florida and of course there is the YMCA development next door at 14th and W.

This news broke earlier in the week, but your blogger was in the midst of an awful viral infection and didn’t have the energy to write. Garden District has closed, which is such a bummer for me. Garden District is where I got my summer herbs, my Christmas tree, and presents for friends. I loved having it in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, after declaring bankruptcy in 2009, Joe Carmack, the owner, stated on the business’s website that it just didn’t make sense to go on.  Beyond the farmer’s market reopening, my favorite part of spring is always swinging by Garden District to pick up some plants. They will be missed.

Bicycle Stations closed

This doesn’t really come as a surprise to me, but still sad to see a local business close. Bicycle Stations, formerly at 14/W, closed on December 31st. They will be opening a new location in Alexandria next week. Bicycle Stations opened in the location on 14th street September 2009. We’ll have to keep an eye on what might open there next.

Last year I did a best and worst of 2009 on U street. Here is the same post for 2010. Please add your best/worst in the comments.

Best new restaurant: This might be a bold choice, given that I’ve only been there once and just wrote about it a week ago – but I’m going to go ahead and say it – Fast Gourmet in the gas station at 14/W. Yes, that’s how much I loved it. I will be going there frequently, happy to support a great locally owned restaurant. Call me crazy, fine – but have one of their sandwiches first.

Runners up: Estadio, Dickson Wine.

Who won last year: Masa 14/Eatonville.

Best new bar: Dodge City. This relaxed, effortlessly cool bar has been a go to meet up place for my friends and I since it opened. You can easily hang out and have a conversation downstairs, and if you’re in more of a wild mood, you can go up to the second floor and dance. Now in a bit of a no-mans land at U street and Vermont, the end of  U Street is quickly catching up with the rest of the corridor.

Runners up: American Ice Company (haven’t been, but know it’s gotten great reviews), U Street Music Hall.

Who won last year: The Gibson.

Best meal on U street: So I’m not talking U Street proper, but the greater 14th and U area. And if I give myself those parameters, I say there is a tie between Birch and Barley and Estadio. Birch and Barley’s dining room is beautiful, the food is impeccable, and the beer list – well it’s from Churchkey. Estadio is the hot spot in the neighborhood but it delivers wonderful Spanish food, somehow relatively affordably (at least when I’ve eaten there) with great service.

Runner up: Bar Pilar (you know I love me some Bar Pilar, and the quality has not gone down), Cork.

Winner last year: Bar Pilar.

Best new business on U street: Ginger Root. I’ve made friends with the girls behind Ginger Root/ReVamp Designs, and for good reason. They have a great vision for fashion, are eco-conscious, and are just friendly, nice people. Even though they are both recent imports from outside of the city, they just optimize the new, great DC that I hope we all love. If you haven’t stopped in and said hi at their basement shop at 15/U – please do so, now.

Runner up: Can’t really think of a good runner up for this one, maybe my bias for the awesome Ginger Root.

Winner last year: Mid City Caffe.

Best story of the year: Well jeez, this is hard. While plenty of wonderful things happened on U Street this year, they were overshadowed by the bad. I think a great thing that happened for the community was the movie series at Harrison Field this summer. It brought together the community in a wonderful way.

Runner up: Great sledding, snow ball fights in Meridian Hill Park following Snowpocalypse.

Winner last year: Obama coming to Ben’s Chili Bowl.

Worst story of the year: It’s a bit sad that there needs to be a tie for this. Between the horrific daytime shooting following the funeral of Ashley McRae, which lead to Jamal Coates’s death and the death of Ali Ahmed Mohammed outside of DC9, U Street didn’t have the best year. Both of these incidents were so shocking, saddening, and horrific that it really made me think of the state of U street. A reminder that we still need to work to improve our neighborhood, and to never get complacent about anything.

Winner last year: Nori Amaya’s death.

Sad to see them go: There are a lot of U Street area institutions that closed or left. I think HR 57, on lower 14th street, is the one I was saddest to see go. While it is reopening on H Street NE next month, I will still miss it as a place to stop in for great ambiance and music. A laidback, come as you are place that seems to be coming rarer in the neighborhood, HR 57 leaves a hole in the jazz scene on U Street.

Runners up: Cafe Nema, Polly’s, Axis.

Winner last year: Inspired Yoga (sniffle).

Station 9

This has been bugging me for a while (since May in fact). At first it appeared that Station 9 (15th/U) had closed, but then readers said they were open only during the weekend. They also appeared to no longer serve dinner. But, as I walked by Friday night, I took a peep in to find locked doors, and what looked to be an empty interior. It wasn’t prime going out time (pre 8 pm) so I guess there’s a chance that they open later – but I wouldn’t bank on it.

Can anyone prove me wrong? Have you been to Station 9 in the last few months?

As the sign indicates, AM PM Carryout (14/V) closed permanently last week. It had been open for nearly 20 years, a fixture in the neighborhood for sure. Farewell, AM PM Carryout. Tex Mex restaurant La Fonda will take over the space.

For lease at Republic Gardens

This is, honestly, a property I’ve had trouble keeping up with. The Republic (formerly well-known Republic Gardens) re-opened in the summer of 2008 after being closed for possible back-rent issues. Now there are for lease signs all over the building. The website for The Republic is down, which isn’t a good sign.

Anyone know what’s happening?

Station 9, almost definitely closed

I think at this point, the answer is yes. No one’s been answering their phone, I tried to walk in twice, once about a month ago and once last night. While there are liquor renewal licenses on their windows, when one tries to walk in at 9 pm on a Wednesday night, and the door is locked: it’s closed. So, I say that Station 9 is closed. Now what? What do you want to see come to the area?

Or not, commenter Sam says he saw people lining up last weekend to get in: is it really only open on weekends? And how could they sustain that business model?

Wet Paint at old Polly's location

Walking home from the metro after work the past few days, I’ve noticed that there’s been some activity at the old Polly’s spot. There seems to be stuff going on inside, and they’ve also painted the fence all black. Unless you didn’t know, Polly’s closed back in February. I can’t say I know what is happening – anyone know?

UPDATE: A couple of people have told me that the owners of Angelico’s Pizza, next door, are renovating the place. Not much word on what the new place might be, possibly a restaurant/bar.