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Petworth potential

Petworth Citizen, dining, gay news, Washington Blade

There are several new restaurants in Petworth, such as Petworth Citizen. It’s still working out some kinks, but shows great potential. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

After what felt like weeks of stepping outside my front door and grabbing a bite at a brand new restaurant on 14th Street, it finally seemed like the right time to venture out of the neighborhood and try someplace new.

I did a bit of research, asked a few friends, then decided to head up Georgia Avenue and explore the up-and-coming restaurant scene in Petworth. There is a bit of a renaissance happening in this area with trendy restaurants popping up and many diners flocking to the area to try them.

The Hitching Post (200 Upshur Street N.W.) has been serving up Southern comfort food for almost half a century on the eastern edge of Petworth. Renowned District Chef Barry Dindyal has captured the traditions of the original restaurant, including the fried chicken, when he bought the restaurant in 2010. In 2005 Domku (which means little cottage) opened its doors at 821 Upshur Street. Domku serves Scandinavian and Slavic dishes. In April of last year, Chez Billy began serving the Petworth neighborhood authentic French food and cocktails. Chez Billy is named after the space it currently occupies, Billy Simpson’s Seafood and Steak, which served as a well-known and upscale venue for African-American clientele from 1956 to 1978.

Most recently, Petworth Citizen and Reading Room (829 Upshur Street NW) named after the community newspaper that chronicled the neighborhood from 1916-1951, opened. This is where I decided to take in some of what Petworth has to offer. Petworth Citizen is one of two restaurants that Paul Ruppert of Room 11 fame is bringing to Upshur Street. Former CityZen chef Makoto Hamamura is the head chef, and Kristi Green, formerly of Firefly, has created the amazing drink menu. With such great names behind this restaurant, there’s a tremendous amount of potential, but the restaurant is new and it still needs to iron out some issues.

We began our meal by ordering several drinks from the bar menu as well as a few appetizers. While the house punch was a little too “sugary water” for me, many of the other drinks worked. The Moscow Mule, which many times is poorly executed, was a superbly concocted drink at Citizen. My favorite drink of the evening was the Boo Radley, consisting of tequila blanco, lime juice and ginger beer. They were so good, I had two.

We were also impressed with our array of appetizers: the chicken wings were delicious with a strong-but-not-overpowering ginger and garlic soy sauce, and the chicken fell off the bone. Several people at the table enjoyed the wedge salad, which consisted (I’m told) of fresh bright green lettuce leaves. The blue cheese on top looked so delicious, I even stuck my fork in and tasted the perfectly pungent dressing. The queso fundido with chorizo was a heavy but excellent appetizer.

Unfortunately, as the main courses arrived, it appeared that our luck had run out. The fried chicken sausage sandwich was dangerously undercooked and the homemade chorizo burger was delivered cold. The short ribs were a bit tough and the mac and cheese was rather ordinary. The cheddar cheeseburger was the top plate of the evening.

After a lackluster group of entrees, the Lizzy’s Goat Cheese Cake with Roasted Coriander Pineapple Jam put this restaurant back in the game — it was a decadent masterpiece. All the dishes on the menu have potential but were not executed entirely correct. It’s understandable to a point — Petworth Citizen is still in its infancy.

Much like the entrees the service was a bit cold, tough and ordinary, and I also must note that even though it is not mentioned on the menu, a 20 percent tip is automatically added on to any party of five or more. While this caught us off guard, it downright infuriated another group of diners that evening as we overheard a heated exchange between a manager and these patrons over this unwritten but strictly enforced policy as well as the “sluggish and apathetic service.”

Overall, Petworth Citizen is full of potential and I was really hoping to love it. However, this establishment clearly needs a little bit more time to mature and work out the kinks. Citizen is a solid addition to the neighborhood and the drink program is fantastic; hopefully the food and service will quickly rise to the same caliber.


Queery: Sarah Blazucki

Sarah Blazucki, gay news, Washington Blade, Queery

Sarah Blazucki (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Mid-year last year, Sarah Blazucki was ready for a professional change.

The 37-year-old Baltimore native had a good six-and-a-half year run as editor at Philadelphia Gay News and was looking for fresh vistas to tackle. In October, she moved to Washington to work as a writer and editor with The Peace Corps.

“I felt like I’d done all I could do with the paper and it was time to let someone else take over,” she says. “Someone with new, fresh ideas and for me to do something else. I was sort of looking to take my career to the next level.”

Though she says things are “very good” in her new position, it’s a huge change from what she calls “the rhythm” of the weekly newspaper rigors. She also realizes it will take time to get integrated into D.C. LGBT life.

“Just being at the PGN, I very much had my finger on the pulse of the LGBT community and down here I just don’t,” she says. “Granted I’ve only lived here three months, but it’s just going to take some time to find the community again. And not just the bars. I know where they are, but I mean really the heart of the community. The non-profits, the larger piece that really makes up the heart of the community.”

Blazucki is also active in the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, the founder of website which allows web surfers to find out what laws apply in their part of the country. She also writes resumes on the side.

She has identified as queer since she was 21 and was in an 11-year relationship with a man whom she eventually married. But she says she knew all along she “was not straight.”

Blazucki’s dating but not in a serious relationship. She lives in Petworth and enjoys running, yoga, reading and “being a news junkie” in her free time.

How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?

Since I was 21. Sometimes I get flack from gays and lesbians because I’m not a gold-star lesbian and that can be hard.

Who’s your LGBT hero?

Can I have more than one? As a journalist, I really admire Rachel Maddow. She’s super-smart and she’s got moxie. I also have a couple of personal heroes, who I can also count as friends: Gloria Casarez, who is the director of LGBT Affairs for the City of Philadelphia, and Carrie Jacobs, the executive director of The Attic Youth Center in Philadelphia.

What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present? 

Tracks. I had some good times there.

Describe your dream wedding.

I was married before and that was probably as close as I would get. (See my answer about overrated social customs.) It was a 1920s carnivale theme, very fun. Less of a wedding, and more of a big party.

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

Gender equality/women’s rights.

What historical outcome would you change?

The 2007 Supreme Court decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. In the case, the court ruled 5-4 against Lilly Ledbetter, who had been getting paid less than her male counterparts at Goodyear for years. The court said her claim of long-term discriminatory pay decisions was filed after the statute of limitations, 180 days, had expired.

What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?

Pop culture really isn’t my forte, but Kurt Cobain’s suicide was pretty significant.

On what do you insist?

It’s OK to be gay. Also, good grammar and correct language use. It’s my job.

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

“So excited to have found what is likely the closest grocery store to my house, and it’s an organic grocer. That only took 3 mos. Sheesh!”

If your life were a book, what would the title be?

“Determined: How I got over a mostly shitty childhood and found my way in the world”

If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?

For myself, nothing. I like being queer. For others, encourage self-acceptance.

What do you believe in beyond the physical world?

The universe.

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

Keep up the good fight. Don’t let the LGBT-rights movement be sidelined by petty differences. Don’t sacrifice the minorities amongst us for the good of the majority.

What would you walk across hot coals for?

My family, my close friends, LGBT equality.

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

That lesbians “process” too much.

What’s your favorite LGBT movie?


What’s the most overrated social custom?


What trophy or prize do you most covet?

I’m not particularly motivated by either, but a Pulitzer would be nice.

What do you wish you’d known at 18?

That my life and work mattered, and that I could have a positive impact with both.

Why Washington?

Work. And it helps that my family is close.