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Late-Night Taco Stand Nixes Plans for Location at the Wharf

Eater logo Eater 2/19/2019 Tierney Plumb
a close up of a plate of food: Surfside’s plans to move into the Wharf could be over. © Surfside/Facebook Surfside’s plans to move into the Wharf could be over.

Surfside might not be coming to Southwest after all

Homegrown taco and margarita shop Surfside might not be headed to the Southwest Waterfront after all.

Eater has learned the decade-old brand recently nixed plans to plant a stand on the Wharf across from the historic Maine Avenue Fish Market this spring.

“After an extremely large amount of thought, we decided that the location wasn’t right for us,” restaurateur Bo Blair told Eater via email.

The beach-themed Mexican spot got its start in Glover Park in 2008. In 2015, Surfside opened a walk-up, 24-hour taco stand in Dupont Circle that draws massive late-night lines from surrounding bars and clubs. Blair says the latest deal on the Wharf primarily fizzled due to evening foot traffic concerns.

“We wanted to be in a spot that would guarantee us the ability to serve the Anthem crowd before and especially after the show, and we didn’t feel like people would come all the way down to the outer edge,” says Blair, whose Georgetown Events restaurant group also runs Due South, Millie’s, the Bullpen, and Jetties.

Surfside’s hopes to bring its menu to the Wharf aren’t completely dead yet: “We would really like to be part of the Wharf in a more central location and are talking to [owner] PN Hoffman to try to make this happen,” he adds.

Along with tacos stuffed with crispy pork pastor, fried chicken, and mahi mahi, Surfside sells burritos, chips and salsa, guacamole, and quesadillas.

For now, the next Surfside location is teed up for Tenleytown (4200 Wisconsin Avenue NW) and the buildout is “moving along” to meet a September opening date. The location will stay open around the clock to cater to surrounding American University students.

The Wharf just lost a big restaurant tenant with the permanent closure of bankrupt chef Mike Isabella’s Requin. Sources tell Eater the eviction process to obtain legal possession is sticky, and the space can’t officially be marketed until proceedings are wrapped up.

Meanwhile, the Hilton brothers’ watering hole, Brighton, is making minor alterations to its waterfront space by adding a series of new awnings on the front terrace area to protect diners from the sun. Those are expected to be installed in time for daylight savings.

Here’s an update on the most recent and upcoming openings at the Wharf, which includes a pastry stop, sushi club, falafel shop, and a rooftop bar:

Praline Bakery

The growing Parisian patisserie, which has locations in Bethesda and the Mosaic District, debuted this 2,500-square-foot location on the Wharf a few weeks ago. Whole cakes, cookies, and macarons join savory options like soups, salads, quiches, and sandwiches. The 2,500-square foot space, open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., also boasts outdoor seating. 965 7th Street SW

a piece of cake on a plate © Praline Bakery/official photo
Assorted offerings from Praline Bakery.

Falafel Inc.

Entrepreneur Ahmad Ashkar is almost ready to unveil the second D.C. location of the fast-casual falafel shop that gives back to refugees, with a grand opening scheduled for the first week of March. Ashkar is CEO and founder of Hult Prize Foundation, a nonprofit that helps budding startups grow. The debut Falafel Inc. opened in spring 2017 in Georgetown. 1140 Maine Avenue SW

Intercontinental Hotel’s New To-Be-Named Rooftop Bar

The Gerber Group, which runs trendy New York City hotel bar Mr. Purple and Grand Central’s reinvigorated Campbell Bar, plans to open a rooftop respite atop the same property that houses chef Kwame Onwuachi’s critically acclaimed Afro-Caribbean restaurant, Kith and Kin, this spring. Some of Mr. Purple’s cocktails will likely make an appearance on the scenic 12th floor, like bottled sparkling Negroni and shareable Manhattans and Moscow Mules. 801 Wharf Street SW

Tabu

The undeveloped third floor under La Vie is being transformed into a new sister sushi spot, now aiming for a spring opening with Sushi Taro chef Nobu Yamazaki manning the menu. Social Restaurant Group (also behind Bar Bao, Pamplona, Provision No. 14) is building out the 3,600-square-foot lounge, which is expected to capitalize on scenic views with waterfront-facing booths and banquettes lining the perimeter. Expect lots of colorful elements from SRG’s edgy interior designer David Anthony Chenault. 88 District Square SW

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