Metro Monopoly: Finding unexpected charm in Takoma

Media Credit: Greta Simons | Hatchet Photographer

SiTea's Eastern aesthetic and warm vibe offers a comfortable place to drink tea and relax in one of D.C.'s up-and-coming neighborhoods.

When I walked out of the Takoma Metro stop Thursday with a friend, I was a little taken aback by the commuters zooming by and the sparse sidewalks.

Takoma appeared to be an unfinished and unwelcoming suburb of D.C. But by the end of the evening, when we meandered back to the Metro station, we started planning for a second trip when the weather is warmer and our wallets are a little fuller.

Soupergirl (314 Carroll St. NW)
We crossed Cedar Street and I was surprised to see a vegan soup shop with an unassuming storefront on poorly lit Carroll Street. But once I sampled one of the flagship’s daily specials, I thought the metal chairs and paper cups were charming rather than off-putting.

Soupergirl makes its kosher soups in house. When we left, we peaked into the window next door and saw steaming, two-foot-tall vats of soup being carefully stirred by an employee. Shelves of fresh squash, potatoes and other vegetables were visible to passersby, ready to be sliced then stirred with an oversized ladle for tomorrow’s special.

I tried their Curried Red Lentil Butternut Squash soup, which I expected to pack a bigger punch given its spicy name, and my friend slurped another chunky concoction – Caribbean Sweet Potato and Greens – which she said was perfectly seasoned with ginger and jalapeño. Our favorite was the soup of the day: Split Pea Rosemary, a smooth and savory blend with a garlic aftertaste.

One pint of soup, $6, one quart, $11.

Horace & Dickie’s (6912 4th St. NW)
We turned left and walked under the Metro overpass, passed a corner liquor store and crossed Fourth Street, where we found this Southern-style seafood joint between a jazz club and barbershop.

Every seat inside was empty, but half a dozen people were waiting in the take-out line. Each customer carried styrofoam containers packed with fried fish, macaroni and cheese, and collard greens. I had just visited New Orleans in December, so I was tempted to order the shrimp Po’ boy, but I settled for a crab cake sandwich. My friend ordered two fish tacos.

Our portions were smaller than the ones we saw carried out, but we enjoyed our dishes: The crab cake sandwich was just soggy enough, and the fish tacos were chewy and filling, if not a little plain.

Sandwiches, $6 to $8, dinner with two sides, $11 to $13, sides, $2 to $4.

SiTea (6902 4th St. NW)
After our seafood samples, we turned right, and two doors down from Mamasita Studios, which offers belly-dancing classes, was this tea shop with purple ceilings, red walls and mismatched furniture. The otherworldly aesthetic was a welcome change from the January darkness. Dozens of loose teas were kept in clear jars alongside colorful cast-iron teapots with infusers, and countless Buddha and Siddharta figurines perched along the walls.

I ordered a mint tea mix called Gunpowder, while my friend, who had a SiTea punchcard, selected her usual, Love Potion No. 10, a peppery chai with almond milk. We settled into velvet armchairs, and our tea was kept hot by small flames beneath the pots. We also ordered two samosas – fried, flaky dough packed with curried potatoes, and served with cilantro-mint and sweet tamarind dipping sauces.

By the time we finished our tea, I was completely relaxed: SiTea was a laid-back place, ideal for anything from a first date to some quiet time with a book. The samosas were tangy and the sauces, served in a yin-yang shaped bowl, added a kick that the oily dough needed.

Sexy Samosa, $2.50, in-house tea service, $6.50, Jamaican jerk chili (chick peas, kidney beans and tomatoes), $5 to $7.

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