High Street Cafe: A Sense of Place

Coming to Georgetown. I’m surprised by how often I’ve heard this recently in reference to new restaurants.  The truth is that there have been some solid openings in Georgetown recently, and I find myself dining there more often than ever before. All the openings and upcoming spots are good news, particularly in light of closures of some decades-old establishments.  One example:  Paolo’s Ristorante out.  High Street Café in.

High Street Café opened last November. It was a reunion between two co-workers from Filomena, a restaurant that has been operating in Georgetown since 1983. High Street Café’s owner Manual Iguina and Executive Chef Gerard Cribbin met at Filomena in its early days. The rest, as they say, is history.

The duo have worked together on and off through the years. Cribbin served as executive chef for nine years at Mangere Restaurant in Puerto Rico, which was founded by Iguina.  Iguina hails from Puerto Rico and his first restaurant, Mio, was a popular spot that served Latin American fare in DC until it closed in 2015.

High Street Café is a neighborhood brasserie that intertwines the history of the area – Wisconsin Avenue was once called High Street – with the backgrounds and experiences of the owner and the chef.

The resulting menu is an enjoyable hybrid.  Pizzas and pastas may be inspired by Filomena or by the previous occupant of the space, but Latin flair finds its way into many of the dishes.  Lechon Pizza with roast pork, spicy tomato sauce, taleggio, and chimichurri is my kind of fusion. Sweet plantain lasagna with vegetable ratatouille and spicy tomato sauce is another appealing mash-up.

Some dishes are straight up Puerto Rican or Caribbean such as pigeon peas two ways and cabrito fricassee, which is braised goat. Others lean to the more classic Italian or American- such as pasta carbonara with pancetta, roast chicken with olives and artichokes, and a cheeseburger with aged cheddar.

High Street Cafe pasta carbonara
High Street Cafe pasta carbonara

What are shrimp and grits doing on the menu? High Street veers to the south to reflect Cribbin’s time spent cooking in Greenville, South Carolina.  Sliced chorizo is a welcome addition, giving the dish a Latin twist.

High Street entices repeat visitors from the neighborhood with nightly specials. Visit on a Monday night and take advantage of ½ price wines.  Tuesday features whole lechon- suckling pig served with plantains and rice for $24.  On Wednesday you can enjoy chillo frito, whole fried red snapper, for $29. And on Friday there is mofongo, a Puerto Rican specialty made with both fried and mashed plantains which Chef Cribbin tops with lobster and shrimp. It’s the dishes with Latin flair that really stand out here and the reasonable prices that add appeal.

High Street Cafe Mofungo
High Street Cafe Mofungo

High Street also serves lunch. Ceviche spruced up with pineapple and mango is sweet and sassy enough to brighten anyone’s day.

High Street Cafe ceviche
High Street Cafe ceviche

More reasons to visit: Happy hour specials include bar snacks like yucca croquettes and stuffed plaintains. Seasonal cocktails take their cue from the Caribbean. There is Spicy Guava Pisco Sour, Cuban Cigar with mezcal, lemon and smoked tea syrup, and Mojito Mio featuring rum, mint and lime. An extra bonus on Thursday night: live music.

High Street Cafe Mole Poblano
High Street Cafe Mole Poblano

There’s a lot going on at High Street Cafe. When you think about all the history that connects to this neighborhood spot, it becomes a place you want to visit again and again.

High Street Cafe, 1303 Wisconsin Ave, NW, Washington, D.C.

Been There, Eaten That was a guest of High Street Cafe

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