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It’s no secret that The Passenger co-owner Tom Brown loves the beach. After all, he shipped in 70 tons of sand for New York Avenue Beach Bar and has turned Tiki Tuesday into one of The Passenger’s most popular nights.
Hogo, his new spot coming to 1017 7th St. NW, will also have an island vibe with a rum bar focusing on tropical drinks. There will also be Hawaiian diner food for the first month, after which point the kitchen will be turned over to a rotating cast of guest chefs.
Mixologist Derek Brown, who’s helping out his brother and their business partner Paul Ruppert, says it’s not a Tiki bar per se, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find scorpion bowls or mini umbrellas. Cocktails garnished with back scratchers could potentially show up, too.
The bar will start out with 30 to 40 varieties of rum, plus some piscos, tequilas, and mezcals. The name Hogo is the Caribbean abbreviation for haut goût, the French term used to describe the funky quality of aged rum.
The kitchen of Hogo will change hands every two weeks or so. Tom says the idea is to be a “restaurant accelerator” where chefs can test out food for new restaurant ventures, or take a vacation from their kitchens to cook something different. Ed Witt, who recently left 701 Restaurant, has already signed on to cook his version of American diner food at Hogo, and Yuji Haraguchi of YUJI Ramen in Brooklyn will also guest chef.
For the restaurant’s first month, however, The Passenger chef Javier Duran will serve Hawaiian diner food. Look for dishes like bacon dashi saimin (a Hawaiian version of ramen), fried mahi mahi, Kahlua pork, and Korean rib mixed plates served with rice and macaroni salad, spam musubi (a big Spam sushi roll), and “loco moco,” a dish consisting of rice covered with gravy and topped with a hamburger patty and fried egg. “We don’t want things here to be complicated and fussy,” Derek says. “We do want them to be fun and delicious and hearty.”
The space, next door to The Passenger, was once home to Ruppert’s Real Restaurant but has been vacant for years. The front dining room will have a 12-seat bar with some high top tables by the windows as well as booths along the wall. Local artist Jared Davis, who does a lot of set designs for rock shows, created the artwork for Hogo, including a zombie Elvis painted on black velvet. There’s also a mermaid etched on the hood of a 1930 Pontiac Deluxe hanging on the wall.
A short hallway leads to an open kitchen in the back with counter seating where guests can pull up a stool to eat. Facing the kitchen is a graffiti mural of Hawaiian gods with flowers shooting out of their eyes.
Hogo is set to open in about a week. Stay tuned for the exact date.
Photos by Jessica Sidman