You Can Now Taste Christian Heurich’s Beer

Image courtesy of the Heurich House Museum

In the early 1900s, Christian Heurich’s beer was so popular that it made him the largest employer in D.C. outside of the federal government for a while.

But until recently, you couldn’t taste it.

A 1938 fire burned up much of the brewery’s archives, Heurich died in 1945 and was buried near his Hyattsville dairy farm, and the brewery closed in 1956. The taste of some of the D.C. area’s most famous beers was lost to history–until now.

That is, until a D.C. homebrewer and historian named Pete Jones found a file in the National Archives which contained a letter from Christian Heurich, Jr., asking for an increase in Korean War-era tin rations.

As WAMU reports, Jones shared the file with the Heurich House Museum in Dupont Circle, and scientists from the Oregon State University’s Fermentation Science Department were able to use lab reports included with it to recreate Heurich’s flagship Senate beer.

Although Senate won awards in the early part of the 20th century, it would be a little out of place in today’s microbreweries, with lighter and more bitter lager flavor than is popular today.

But you can judge for yourself at the next event at the Heurich House Museum, which hopes to eventually offer it at nearby bars and restaurants as well.

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Why the Bladensburg Cross Survived a Challenge

A 40-foot cross in the middle of a Bladensburg intersection survived a court challenge Wednesday, with the majority of the Supreme Court ruling that its age was a reason to allow it to remain.

First erected in 1925 to honor local soldiers who died fighting in World War I, the Bladensburg Cross was challenged by local residents with the support of a group fighting for the separation of church and state.

But in a 7-2 decision supported by both conservative and liberal members of the court, Justice Samuel Alito argued that it can be hard to determine the meaning of memorials erected long ago.

“This relationship between the cross and the war may not have been the sole or dominant motivation for the design of the many war memorials that sprang up across the Nation, but that is all but impossible to determine today,” he wrote. “The passage of time means that testimony from the decisionmakers may not be available.”

He added that the the age of the monument also meant that removing it would “no longer appear neutral.”

“A government that roams the land, tearing down monuments with religious symbolism and scrubbing away any reference to the divine will strike many as aggressively hostile to religion,” he wrote.

In a dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg took issue with Alito’s claim, arguing that the meaning behind the cross was quite obvious from the start.

“At the dedication ceremony, the keynote speaker analogized the sacrifice of the honored soldiers to that of Jesus Christ, calling the Peace Cross ‘symbolic of Calvary,’ where Jesus was crucified,” she wrote. “Local reporters variously described the monument as ‘a mammoth cross, a likeness of the Cross of Calvary, as described in the Bible,’ and ‘a huge sacrifice cross.’ The character of the monument has not changed with the passage of time.”

From a constitutional perspective, the decision in American Legion vs. American Humanist Association is unlikely to be a game-changer, since it does not establish a new framework for deciding these kinds of cases, which justices often find tricky.

But it shows a trend away from previous interpretations of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, known as the “Lemon test.”

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Four Route 1 Eateries Make ‘Best Casual’ List

Four restaurants along the Route 1 corridor made a list of “best casual” eateries, once again showing how the area has become a foodie haven.

In a wide-ranging list of the 25 best mom-and-pop restaurants in the greater D.C. area — critic Tim Carman asks that you not call them “cheap eats” — the Washington Post listed four local favorites:

Chez Dior: The Senegalese restaurant at 5124 Baltimore Ave. in Hyattsville was praised as the area’s “best West African restaurant,” with dishes such as yassa chicken, chargrilled drumsticks with a lemon-scented onion sauce.

Taqueria Habanero: The College Park outpost of the D.C. restaurant at 8145 Baltimore Ave., Suite A & B, was praised for tableside guacamole, ceviches and molcajete mixto, “a family-style dish that will turn heads from across the dining room.”

Northwest Chinese: The popular College Park restaurant at 7313 Baltimore Ave. gets props for its “full-throated interpretations of Xi’an and Liaoning dishes,” including appetizers such as black vinegar peanuts and spicy shredded potatoes.

Momo Yakitori: The Woodridge yakitori hangout at 2214 Rhode Island Ave., in D.C., was recognized for its grilled chicken as well as new vegetable dishes like binchotan-blackened corn served with tamari corn butter and, of course, the toasted marshmallows.

If you’re willing to drive a little, Carman also gave a shoutout to Pho 75 in Langley Park, a surprising entry given Northern Virginia’s dominance of Vietnamese cuisine.

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Woodridge’s New Organic Restaurant Now Open

The Route 1 corridor has another option for healthy organic eating.

Provost, which opened last week at 2129 Rhode Island Ave. in Woodridge not far from Momo Yakitori, and just down the street from Mount Rainier, focuses on classic American dishes made with organic ingredients.

Owner Nina Gilchrist told the Hyattsville Wire that about 90 percent of its food is sourced from local organic farms and distributors. She hopes to increase that percentage and get certified as an organic restaurant by Oregon Tilth by this fall.

Gilchrist says she prefers to eat organic because it’s healthier. The restaurant also avoids using aluminum plates and sells beer by the bottle instead of a tap because she feels that it’s cleaner.

“I just believe in eating food that’s free of chemicals,” she said.

Even if you don’t seek out organic food, Gilchrist hopes Provost — named for her previous career in education and the nearby colleges in the area — will become your new favorite neighborhood hangout.

Along with redoing the entire interior, adding a kitchen and installing new electrical and plumbing systems, she added a rooftop seating area — a rarity in the area — where outdoor yoga sessions will be held in the future and space inside for spoken word nights and guest musicians.

“It’s a local restaurant,” she said. “Our goal is just to bring a great establishment to our neighborhood. You don’t always have to go downtown to find a nice restaurant.”

Provost is currently open Wednesday through Sunday from 5 p.m. to midnight. Starting on July 13, it will be open for brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends as well.

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Inside College Park’s New Lidl, Now Open

The new Lidl in College Park at 8601 Baltimore Ave. kicked off its grand opening today offering shoppers sample products and a free reusable bag.

For most of the day the store was packed with shoppers and the parking lot was busy with people coming and going.

As the latest grocery store addition to the Route 1 corridor, Lidl operates a little differently — charging $0.07 per brown bag and you have to bag your own groceries, but their prices are hard to beat, and that may have an effect beyond their doors.

As Food & Wine recently reported, “a just-released study out of the University of North Carolina shows that prices for key staples went down by as much as 55 percent in American markets where Lidl has already set up shop. That’s three times more, according to the study, than the effect seen when Walmart enters a new market. To call this kind of upheaval seismic is an understatement.”

Just maybe Lidl will have that kind of effect on the Route 1 corridor.

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Vegan Soul Food Cafe Headed to Mount Rainier

A vegan soul food bakery and restaurant is coming to the former location of Bird Kitchen and Cocktails in Mount Rainier.

After a successful launch at Tastemakers food hall in Brookland, Dodah’s Kitchen Cafe will move into the space at 3801 34th St. on the roundabout in the middle of town.

The cafe features menu items like a vegan macaroni and cheese made with soy milk and nutritional yeast, lasagna and meatless meatloaf and desserts like a vegan cheesecake made with organic tofu and various cookies and cakes.

You can already buy Dodah’s desserts up the street at the Glut co-op grocery and at Mom’s and Yes! Organic Market.

The cafe was started by area residents Janice Cheaver, Edwin Lottie and Gary Feld, with recipes based on Cheaver’s upbringing in Florida and her faith as an African Hebrew Israelite, a religious sect that is vegan, encourages raw and sugar-free food and discourages alcohol and caffeine consumption.

Dodah’s — named for Cheaver’s nickname, which is aunt in Hebrew — will not be the only vegan soul food eatery in Mount Rainier, either. Sweet and Natural is just up the street.

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Kahvie Coffee Shop Now Open in Hyattsville

In recent weeks, the new Kahvie coffee shop has opened in the Vie Towers at University Town Center, adding to the thriving coffee scene along the Route 1 corridor.

After two soft openings to test its setup, the coffee shop recently opened with set hours through the summer. Among the changes: Instead of selling grinds from Grand Havana, it features freshly roasted Lone Light Coffee from Charlottesville, Va.

General Manager Sarah Nicotra told the Hyattsville Wire that the menu still includes a number of specialty drinks, including a matcha latte, hot chocolate with added collagen protein “to revitalize your skin, hair, nails and joints,” a turmeric latte and a blue latte with a “ginger tinge.”

Kahvie also specializes in coffee foam art, examples of which can be found on its well-curated Instagram page.

The cafe’s interior is very airy, featuring stone, wood and glass and even a moss wall, making it a good spot for your own Instagrams.

Located at 6515 Belcrest Road, the cafe will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday. It will expand hours in the fall when student residents return to the towers.

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Meet Route 1’s Homegrown Tennis Champion

Photo of Frances Tiafoe at the 2016 Citi Open courtesy of Keith Allison

Frances Tiafoe literally grew up with the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park.

His father, Frances Sr., helped build the 15-acre tennis center near the Metro station in the late 1990s, then impressed the management with his work ethic enough that they hired him to be head maintenance man.

Since his mother, Alphina, was working late nights as a nurse, Tiafoe, his twin brother and his father quietly moved into the tennis center offices with the approval of the center’s management.

The two boys soon became fixtures at the club, listening in on group classes and hopping on empty courts to hit balls when they had the opportunity.

The tennis center is known for turning out top players. Its 3,000 students over the years have included 35 national junior champions, 11 collegiate champions and 15 pros, most notably Tiafoe, who turned pro at age 17 and has earned $2 million since.

Tiafoe’s story is either one of luck or drive, depending on how you approach things. His mother won a visa lottery to move to the U.S. from Sierra Leone, and it was chance that led to him sleeping on folding tables in a tennis center as a child.

But it was hard work that let him and his family take advantage of those opportunities.

“I want to use the story now to inspire others,” he said in a recent interview. “You don’t have to be from the upper echelon to be great. If you want something in life, go get it.”

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St. Jerome Opens High School in D.C. This Fall

Photo courtesy of St. Jerome Institute

The new St. Jerome Institute is now enrolling students for this fall.

The independent private high school with a curriculum built around Western Civilization themes will be located at 1800 Perry St. NE in D.C.’s Brookland neighborhood, not far from the Catholic University of America.

Although it shares a name and key backers with St. Jerome Catholic Church and St. Jerome Academy in Hyattsville, the high school is separate, with its own admission process, weighted toward an interview and open to any eighth grader.

You don’t have to be Catholic —or even Christian — to attend, although the school is upfront that its curriculum is “thoroughly animated by the Catholic intellectual tradition.”

The school has hired Peter Crawford, who has experience growing classical charter schools in Arizona and Texas, as headmaster, along with a number of other teachers and staffers with experience in classical education.

As the center of Hyattsville’s small but dedicated Catholic community, St. Jerome has played a key role in revitalizing the area, drawing national attention at times for turning around a once-troubled parish.

The high school’s location in Brookland is a small loss for Hyattsville, which would have benefited from having it in town, but it’s close enough that area parents and students won’t have to commute far, and it makes sense to for the high school to be located in the middle of D.C.’s Catholic community.

Tuition will be about $12,800 a year, although the school will offer financial aid and scholarships.

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Hidden Gem: A Taste of El Salvador in Hyattsville

Everything you need to know about Comedor y Pupuseria San Alejo at 1819 East West Highway in Hyattsville is right there in the name.

In El Salvador, a comedor is a humble restaurant that serves homespun food to everyone from plumbers to lawyers. A pupuseria serves pupusas, the filled flatbreads that are a staple of Salvadoran cuisine. And San Alejo is a rocky inland town in the country’s southeast corner, more of a beef and chicken than seafood area.

The goal of Comedor y Pupuseria San Alejo is to recreate this kind of Salvadoran eatery here in Maryland.

The menu reflects that, with traditional Salvadoran dishes like parillada, a meat-lover’s plate of grilled chicken, beef, pork sausage, shrimp and roasted peppers; bistec encebollado, a skillet steak cooked with onions and tomatoes; fajitas; and both classic and modern pupusas, which come with everything from fried pork to fresh zucchini inside. There’s also a selection of the kinds of fresh juices, soda, wine and beer you’d find in El Salvador.

But like a true comedor, it has also adapted to its customers, who range from construction workers, gardeners and office workers to families and church groups stopping by to eat together.

After the restaurant opened at 1819 East-West Highway in June of 2016, Salvadoran immigrants flocked to it. One customer in particular has come on the same day every week since for the bistec encebollado and carne deshilada

But their kids — the second-generation Salvadoran-Americans — weren’t all that interested. They kept asking for quesadillas and burritos and enchiladas, so another page was added to the menu (euphemistically called “Otros Antojos,” or “other cravings”).

“We had a lot of people asking for burritos and we had all the ingredients in the kitchen,” manager Carlos Alvarado told the Hyattsville Wire. “We thought, ‘Why don’t you just make it?'”

Even then, San Alejo puts its own spin on the dishes. A plate of nachos, typically the most-neglected dish at a restaurant, comes with three cheeses, artfully drizzled with sour cream and topped with fresh avocado.

San Alejo has its own rhythm. Starting at 9 a.m. on weekdays, laborers stop in for the desayuno típico: two eggs, plantains, avocado and chorizo sausage. The lunch crowd hits, and then later come the diners looking for something from the surprisingly varied beer and wine selections. 

On the weekends, families come to eat together, with one TV showing a soccer game on Univision while another showed an old Spider-Man movie. Throughout, customers stop in to pick up take-out orders.

The owners, who used some of the eatery’s proceeds to support five different charities working locally and abroad last year, are also branching out to catering, where the offerings aren’t limited to their menu. A recent Mother’s Day brunch for 60 people included New York steak with mashed potatoes and asparagus as well as a seafood option.

If you haven’t had Salvadoran cuisine before, Alvarado recommends the spinach and mushroom pupusa for beginners and the ground loroco buds for those looking for something unique. One of the most authentic dishes sounds the least: papas locas, French fries topped with ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard and shredded cheese, a ubiquitous appetizer in El Salvador. The menu leans toward red meat, but salmon a la plancha is a solid Salvadoran offering as well.

A refrigerator in the back has beers from Mexico and Central America such as Modelo Especial and Pacifico, or you can opt for a number of fun sodas, including grape, pineapple and strawberry, Fanta or Mexican Coke (made with cane sugar instead of corn syrup), or order a fruit smoothie made on site. The restaurant has a convenient Capitol Bikeshare station in front as well. 

For more information on catering, call Alvarado at 301-789-6044.

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