Young and Hungry

Boss Shepherd’s Opens Next to the Warner Theatre on July 21


For better or worse, you might have Alexander "Boss" Shepherd to thank for the fact that Congress calls D.C. its home. The "Father of Modern Washington" and powerful political boss of the Gilded Era is credited with helping to improve and modernize the city's infrastructure, convincing the federal government not to relocate its seat of power to the Midwest. A statue with his likeness stands in front of the Wilson Building. And now, he has a restaurant named after him: Boss Shepherd's, opening Monday next to the Warner Theatre at 13th and E streets NW.

Behind the restaurant is J. Paul's original founder Paul Cohn, who's partnered with Tony & Joe's owner Greg Casten and real estate developer Bill Jarvis. Chef Jeremy Waybright, formerly executive chef at Union Street Public House in Alexandria, oversees the locally focused American menu. Like many chefs these days, Waybright is all about the farm-to-table thing, but he's more unique in his goal to eventually rid his kitchen of any internationally produced products. He's already getting olive oil from the south and soy sauce from Kentucky. There are, of course, some things that Americans just don't do as well: "Sherry vinegar from Jerez, they're pretty good at that," Waybright admits.

The offerings are heavy on seafood, which perhaps is no surprise when you realize the chef is an avid fly fisherman who has tattoos of ocean trout, yellow snapper, and grouper. Starters ($9 to $16) include a crab cake with pickled scallion and hot sauce; fried oysters on the half shell with caper mayo; and bone marrow with pickled egg, radish, and toast. Entrees ($18 to $32) range from Carolina trout to fried chicken to pork toast. "We're going to smoke, pickle, brine everything in house within reason that we can," Waybright says. Initially, the menu will be the same for lunch and dinner. A bar-specific menu is also in the works.

The wine list is pretty unique, too: More than half of the offerings are made by women or come from female-owned wineries. "Women have a better palate for wine," says general manager Daniel Mahdavian, who's also a partner in the restaurant. The 120 wines, including 35 by the glass, are also heavily local, with lots of Virginia varietals. "We tried to find wines that have a lot of personality," Mahdavian says. Boss Shepherd's will also stock about 120 whiskies, including a George Dickel poured directly from the barrel. Cocktails are inspired by classics that were big in Shepherd's era. Happy hour will be available daily from 4 to 7 p.m.

Take a look at more photos of the lime green-accented space below:





Hours of operation are 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Boss Shepherd's, 13th and E streets NW; (202) 347-2677;

  • Metro Center

    Did no one tell them that the last two efforts to use that space were complete failures? One, the lack of frontage really hurts. You have no idea what is doing unless you actually journey down into the restaurant. Two, you are competing with a half a dozen popular, completely established restaurants for a very limited dinner crowd in that area.

    Given the tourist presence, my layman's advice would have been to go with a concept that was more low key and would also have tapped into the happy hour crowd---a better version of Elephant & Castle. As it is, good luck making that a fine dining destination spot, which is what it will need to be.

  • Paul D

    Not only did the last two efforts to use that space fail, but so has the Boss Shepherd's name as dining establishment. There was a restaurant named that in the early 1980's in Dupont Circle, around 17th and Q.

  • furcafe

    Concur w/the above that any place requiring people to ascend or descend stairs has to work harder for business.

    The Boss Shepherd's on 17th (next to Fox & Hounds/Trio IIRC) actually lasted well into the 1990s.

  • WBnDC

    Working at the Reagan Building for 16 years, I am happy to see a new addition to the neighborhood for lunch purposes. The "Chef Geoffs/Ollies/Elephant & Castle/Aria/Del Frisco Grill/Old Ebbit/Food Court" circle gets pretty old after awhile. And yes, I remember the days of John Harvards and it successor Blue Point and have that "we'll see how long THIS lasts" mentality. But these lunch venues in Penn Quarter know they have a captive audience and don't even try anymore. Bring back Les Halles!

  • Alexander

    Not only did the Boss Shepherd's at 1527 17th NW last into the 90s, it morphed into Pepper's under the same proprietor.

    They should make their own vinegar too (even if they have to import the sherry).

  • Dimas M. Chavez

    The above comments have no substance as they are all based on heresy as NO ONE has actually eaten there. As an old fried chicken lover (with lard) I look forward to trying this place out regardless of its location. As Zimmern says, "if its good, eat it".