By Corinna Lothar
Did you know that Wisconsin Avenue once was called High Street? It was High Street until it was renamed in 1895. The High Street Cafe at 1303 Wisconsin Avenue, open since November 2018, honors the street’s original name. The restaurant is owned by Manuel Iguina, a native of Puerto Rico, and owner of the former Latin restaurant Mio in downtown Washington. Mr. Iguina is an affable host, eager to contribute to the well-being of the Georgetown community. He treats his guests as friends.
High Street Cafe is an open, friendly restaurant, with affordable prices, serving well-prepared modern American dishes with Latin overtones in the space formerly occupied by Paolo’s Ristorante.
The dining room has two levels: in back, tables face the open kitchen with its large white pizza oven on one side and a cozy fireplace—perfect on stormy winter evenings—on the other. The front area, a few steps down, has glass doors that open to the street and make an airy pleasant setting for warm weather dining.
Start a meal with the restaurant’s outstanding take on roasted calamari, a succulent dish of tender calamari and mushrooms in a garlicky, herb-rich sauce, enhanced with a charred half lemon. Or try the restaurant’s crispy goat cheese noisettes—creamy-on-the inside and crispy-on-the-outside bites—or tuna tartare which mixes sweet and salty with toasted sesame, mango, and a touch of orange cream. Both are delicious. Lamb meatballs, served on a bed of yogurt tzatziki, are excellent as well.
Main courses include a delicate dish of scallops with wild mushrooms, enhanced with a sherry cream and accompanied by spinach and saffron risotto. The Latin influence is strong in seafood asopao, a stew made with squid, local fish, clams, shrimp, rice, and avocado, and in a tasty fricassee of braised goat with green peas, carrots, and fingerling potatoes.
The lunch menu offers a variety of salads and sandwiches, including a rich roast pork (lechon) sandwich with a pesto-like sauce of cilantro and herbs on crusty bread and excellent French fries. Be sure to leave room for dessert: the flourless chocolate cake is superb.
The High Street Cafe offers daily specials. On Mondays, there are selected half-priced wines; Tuesdays are lechon asado (whole pig) roasts; Wednesdays are Southern fried chicken nights; on Thursdays evenings, there’s live Latin music; and on Fridays, there’s lobster and shrimp mofongo, a seafood stew created around mashed plantains.
The restaurant has a late night happy hour on Thursdays to Saturdays, as well as the usual afternoon happy hour from 4 to 7 pm on week nights. Beer and wine are $5, and bar snacks range from $5 to $12.
High Street Cafe: 1303 Wisconsin Avenue NW, (202) 333-0256.
Hours: Lunch Monday to Friday, 11:30 am–3 pm; brunch Saturday and Sunday, 11 am–3 pm; dinner Monday to Thursday, 5–10 pm, Friday and Saturday, 5–11 pm; Happy Hour Monday to Friday, 4–7 pm, Thursday to Saturday, 10 pm–midnight.
Prices: Starters $10 to $16; main courses $16 to $45; pastas and pizza $10 to $21. Lunch prices range from $9 to $22 for starters, entrees, salads, and sandwiches.