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This Huge New Capitol Hill Complex Could House an Austrian-Inspired Cafe

700 Penn is weighing its restaurant options for 2019

A rendering of the new Capitol Hill building rising at 700 Pennsylvania Avenue SE.
700 Penn/official photo
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

The massive mixed-use project coming together at 700 Pennsylvania Avenue SE could be anchored by a new cafe being conceived by its development team.

Real estate sources tell Eater an eatery modeled after the Austrian-themed Kafe Leopold in Cady’s Alley is one option for the seven-story site. That would make sense, as 700 Penn is a joint venture between Stanton and Eastbanc — the same owner of West End’s year-old Upper West Side Cafe, which features Mediterranean-inspired fare from the chef at Kafe Leopold.

D.C. coffeehouse Busboys and Poets has also shown strong interest in 700 Penn, adds sources, though its arrival sounds unlikely.

“Generally speaking we do want to try and avoid concepts prevalent in other parts of the city,” says EastBanc founder Anthony Lanier, in an email to Eater.

Still, the team is reviewing “all of our options” and plans to make a tenant decision after the summer, adds Lanier. He says the new restaurant, which will debut in 2019, could range in size anywhere from 3,000 to 8,000 square feet.

Meanwhile, the evolving Southeast neighborhood is getting ready to welcome another new spot later this year with the shuttered Latin-themed standby Banana Cafe getting a new life as a Southern-style restaurant called District Soul Food & Lounge, ANC commissioner Chander Jayaraman tells Eater.

The team behind the forthcoming Barracks Row eatery hails from Arlington’s former Two Brothers Soul Food, which experienced a short run thanks to structural building issues. The menu is projected to include fried chicken, pulled pork, collard greens, and baked beans, says Jayaraman, and jazz music will also live on inside the space.

The renovation includes moving its upstairs kitchen downstairs, and an exterior trash enclosure on the street will be relocated to the basement as part of an ongoing neighborhood effort supported by city officials.

The earliest District Soul Food & Lounge’s ABRA application will be heard is September, says Jayaraman.