Foodventures in Ivy City, DC - Dock FC, Ari's Diner, La Puerta Verde
A few years back, the only time I saw the words Ivy City was when waiting for my bus at McPherson Square and the bus going to Ivy City rolled though. Now though, I feel like it’s the talk of the town. The amazing transformation here is seeing distilleries, restaurants, condos and more coming up in this historic neighborhood.
Ari Gedjenson of the Mindful Restaurant Group, which also owns Ghibellina and Acqua Al 2, is one of the people who is really investing a lot in this neighborhood, with the opening of 3 restaurants. Dock FC, Ari’s Diner, and La Puerta Verde are all located in the new Hecht warehouse development, and despite being right next to each other, they are each unique in their own way and are inspired by experiences in Ari’s life.
Dock FC, a soccer bar, comes from Ari’s days as a soccer player in Europe, and is a super nice sports bar that will show not just all soccer games, but also American football and anything else requested. The bar is a simple but expansive space with plenty of screens around (As a good sports bar should be!) and a large screen on one wall. A great space to grab a few drinks and watch the games.
Just next door is La Puerta Verde, where the first thing that struck me when I walked in is how beautiful the space is! There are lots of details – with a beautiful shipping container bar, an open kitchen where you can see fresh tortillas being made, and the amazing murals on the walls by local artist Che Love. Ari decided to open this Mexican restaurant as an homage to all his years working in kitchens along with Mexican cooks. The drinks and food here are both spectacular. I enjoyed the “Mezgroni” – a mezcal “negroni” with Vermouth and Amaro.
A favorite was the Esquites con Camarones, shrimp with smoked corn, tequila butter sauce served atop a hefty slice of toasted bread. Meat lovers will enjoy the Carne Arrachera – a beautiful plate of grilled beef skirt steak, chorizo, cactus paddle, tomatillo, spring onions, queso fresco and jalapeño.
The fresh handmade tortillas means the tacos are no joke either – the lengua and the pescado were tasty and satisfied my taco craving. Plus, they are $2 during happy hour!
The third in Ari’s trifecta is the namesake Ari’s Diner, which is a classic American diner with all your childhood favorites. The pancakes here are seriously some of the fluffiest and light I’ve had, and the French Toast Monte Cristo is a decadent fusion! Whatever you eat,do not leave without getting a milkshake – the chocolate malt or the boozy Mexican chocolate brought smiles all around! The décor in here is pretty fantastic too, with green accents and a happy tabletop! Grab a seat at the counter and watch the action. Fun Fact: Ari opened the original “Ari’s Diner” in Florence when he was living there, as a late night joint for American visitors and students as well as Florentine locals!
Although I was a fan of Ari before his new spots (Ghibellina happy hour, anyone?), I learned so much about him through his ventures in Ivy City. He is truly someone who is invested in the details, in making a neighborhood community (he also lives in Ivy City), and is super humble and friendly, with lots of stories and experiences to share. His passion for restaurants and the neighborhood really comes through in each of his restaurants.
I know I’m going to be hopping on that bus to Ivy City way more often now!