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Petworth Citizen & Reading Room—a bar, restaurant, and free book library—is set to open later this week at 829 Upshur St. NW in Petworth.

It’s one of two restaurants/bars coming to Upshur Street from Room 11 and The Passenger co-owner Paul Ruppert. Across from Petworth Citizen will be a yet-unnamed French-Japanese restaurant. Chef Makoto Hamamura, who spent six years at fine-dining destination CityZen, will oversee the menus at both locations.

Many of the dishes at Petworth Citizen are subtly influenced by Hamamura’s background at CityZen and growing up in Japan, but he admits this is the first bar food menu he’s created. A corned beef recipe comes from CityZen chef Eric Ziebold‘s mom, and a chorizo burger is inspired by a CityZen line cook from Colombia, who used to save the chorizo left over from the meat grinder to form a burger patty that he’d top with guacamole. There’s also fried chicken with soy-ginger garlic sauce, like Hamamura’s mother used to make. 

Beverage Manager Kristi Green, who was previously a bartender at Firefly, has concocted a drink menu with local beers and cider on draft plus 15 to 20 bottles and cans, a small selection of wines (Green also spent two years at Vinoteca), and classic cocktails. The 13 cocktails will include some “undertones of Asian flavors” using sake and plum wine, so that there’s cohesion between Petworth Citizen and the French-Japanese spot across the street. The cocktails will be $10 or under. Look out for a happy hour, too.

The reading room is still several weeks away from opening. Patrons will be invited to grab a book or leave one, and the library will also serve as a place for readings, book club meetings, literary fundraisers, and more. Ruppert says in addition to being a neighborhood bar, he wanted something that would draw people from other parts of the city.

As for those neighbors worrying about Petworth becoming “hipster?” Ruppert says that’s stemmed from initial lack of communication about what the restaurant would be.

“Someone heard a rumor that there was going to be dancing in the basement,” Ruppert says. “We don’t even have a basement.”

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Photo by Jessica Sidman