Step onto Wisconsin Avenue in Tenleytown and you will find the hub of the American University community, with fast-casual restaurants offering delicacies ranging from vegetables to burritos.
The area is set to grow even more with a new Buredo restaurant. The popular sushi chain was originally slated to open its doors in the northwest D.C. neighborhood at the end of summer 2017, but will open at a later date.
Matt Haddad, co-owner of the chain, said that Buredo chose Tenleytown because he felt that AU students would especially appreciate their unique take on sushi.
“It's an alternative to sandwiches and other traditional ‘fast foods,’” Haddad said in an email. “Students want quality and are striving to eat more healthfully without sacrificing flavor. That's exactly what we aim to bring with our burrito-size sushi rolls and salads.”
The Tenleytown area has been expanding rapidly with the increase in fast-casual restaurants, which typically offer the convenience of fast food with the atmosphere of a sit-down restaurant. For AU students, this is beneficial due to limited food options on campus, and many of the restaurants in Tenleytown accept EagleBucks as a form of payment, including Panera Bread and Burger Tap & Shake.
But what are the contributing factors of these expansions in Tenleytown?
The increase in restaurant chains allows for more chains to enter the area for competition. At first, Tenleytown residents wanted to keep mainstream commercial businesses out of the area. Jonathan Bedner, a commissioner and chair of the Advisory Neighborhood Commision (ANC) for Ward 3E, which includes AU Park, Tenleytown and Friendship Heights, said that the situation has been changing with the ANC’s push for growth.
“Previously, Tenleytown’s commercial area was lagging behind that of its neighbors,” Bender said. “[THis was] due to anti-development groups that formed in opposition to various construction plans for the neighborhood.”
In the past two decades, the area has expanded rapidly. There are several busy stores near the Metro station, including Whole Foods, Best Buy and Starbucks. There are also a couple of other restaurants, including Café of India, Le Chat Noir and Pete’s New Haven Pizza, an outpost of the popular Columbia Heights pizzeria.
This is primarily thanks to Tenleytown Main Street, a community-based non-profit organization that created the program “Tenleytown Vision 2026.” Their mission includes increasing locally-owned and locally-serving businesses, strengthening a community image and expanding entertainment or communal events.
Recent additions in Tenleytown within the last few years include Beefsteak, District Taco, Burger Tap & Shake, Cava and Muncheez. All these restaurants are relatively cheap, fast and casual sit-down places ─ seemingly the epitome of what college students desire.
If you’re craving fresh veggies but are short on time, check out renowned chef José Andrés’ fast-casual chain. Customers can choose from chef-inspired combinations, or create their own bowls and salads.
Burger Tap & Shake
Burger Tap & Shake is considered an AU staple with its creative burgers, salty fries and thick milkshakes. Make sure to try the burger of the month and you can even use your EagleBucks to pay.
This food truck turned restaurant chain has delicious tacos for cheap. Mix and match three tacos for $8 or try other Tex Mex staples, like nachos or burritos.
This Mediterranean grill is a favorite of many AU students. Build your own bowl with falafel and tzatziki sauce, or get your hummus fill from the Cava products available in supermarkets, like Whole Foods Market.
Muncheez is the latest restaurant to open in Tenleytown. Like District Taco, the D.C. chain started as a food truck, which is still in operation. It offers traditional Lebanese favorites, like Shawarma and falafel, along with a must-have for college students: flavorful bowls that are easy to eat on the go.
This story was originally published in the Oct. 20 print edition of The Eagle.