Young and Hungry

Jackie Greenbaum to Open a Casual Mexican Restaurant in Columbia Heights

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Jackie Greenbaum, the restaurateur known for her eponymous industrial DayGlo eatery in Silver Spring, has signed a lease to open a casual Mexican restaurant in Columbia Heights. The tiny, 800-square-foot operation will be located at 3313 11th St., in a former liquor store, and will not only sell regional Mexican foods but also snacks inspired by the L.A. street food scene.

"We haven't decided how far we're going to go [with the menu]," Greenbaum told me this morning, "because of the kitchen limitations."

The kitchen, Greenbaum says, has only a fryer, four burners, and a flatop. In sheer size, it's comparable to the microscopic cooking space at Silver Spring's Quarry House, which Greenbaum bought several years ago and has transformed into a hip little watering hole.

Whatever ends up coming out of the kitchen, it will likely be conceived (if not executed by Jackie's chef Diana Davila, who has more than a passing history with Mexican food. The kitchen will also be running all day long; Greenbaum expects to serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, and, if she can get the blessing of the neighborhood, late-night snacks.

The dishes will all run under $15 a plate, Greenbaum says, and the bar program (yes there will be a full bar in the place!) will focus on designer margaritas and premium tequilas. There will also be a small line of craft beers available, all curated by Gordon Banks, Greenbaum's long-time Quarry House manager.

Banks will also be a partner in the new eatery, which will have an entirely different ownership structure than Greenbaum's other two places in Silver Spring. Greenbaum's long-time partner, Patrick Higgins, will not be part of the restaurant, which will be her first in D.C.

"We're still one big happy family up at Jackie's and the Quarry House," Greenbaum notes. "It's a matter of branching out into a small independent project with some of the same players. We view this sort of like an artist putting out a solo record, but still being part of the band...you know, like Buster Poindexter to the New York Dolls."

Greenbaum had been eyeballing Columbia Heights as a potential neighborhood for a new restaurant for awhile. She had even been approached by some of the major developers along 14th Street to put an eatery into one of the massive new condos there. But that's not her style. She likes funky. She like historic. She likes personality.

"You can't make a new place seem old," Greenbaum says.

Plus, with the addition of Greenbaum's still-unnamed restaurant, the 11th Street strip is beginning to take on the air of a gastronomic destination. The street already includes RedRocks Pizzeria, Meridian Pint, Room 11, and Wonderland Ballroom. Greenbaum's place will be more Room 11 in scope, with perhaps 40 seats inside, but she's hoping to build a rooftop deck on the structure, which would add an extra 40 to 50 seats.

Greenbaum hopes to have the place open early next year.

Photo courtesy of the building owner

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