In DC, a city with a population that changes drastically with every election, neighborhoods are constantly reinvented and renamed. One of the more irritating of these is NoMa, unimaginatively named for its location north of Massachusetts Avenue (New York, after London, has been naming neighborhoods -- SoHo, TriBeCa -- with this abbreviation style for years, seemingly seamlessly, but when DC tries to do the same thing, it just seems lame and contrived). The original name for this neighborhood -- Swampoodle -- is much closer to reality, as it's a kind of pidgin portmanteau for "swamp puddle," which describes DC's topography to a tee. But, the realtors and developers assume, a name like NoMa sounds cool and will make city newcomers forget they are living in a wasteland of railroad tracks and abandoned buildings. That is, until they step out the front doors of their sparkling but mostly-still-vacant condominiums and see a wasteland of railroad tracks and abandoned buildings.
Such is the way of DC, and I accept it. This is how I arrived at a new name for the neighborhood I work in, known to its residents as Brightwood, which is a perfectly nice name*. However, since I am a) white, b) of British ancestry, c) a saleswoman, d) a saleswoman in the construction/development industry, and e) something of a wordsmith, I decided it is my Manifest Destiny to confer upon Brightwood a name that might resonate better with other potential newcomers to the neighborhood. And so I chose NoPe, which is an abbreviation of North of Petworth, and which, conveniently, has two different pronunciations: "Nope," as in, "Nope, you don't wanna go there," and "No pay," which works pretty well given the number of boarded up buildings along this stretch of Georgia Avenue. Since Petworth has already begun to "transition" (the more sensitive among us prefer to avoid the word gentrify, as it reminds us a little too much of reality), a process that usually takes about 3 months in DC, but may be a little slower now, you know, because of the economy, it's probably time to start spreading the word about NoPe before all the other yuppies conquer it. You too can be a pioneer!
What's my point again? Oh yeah, I was going to write about NoPe cuisine for NoPe-phobes. Say Yep to:
What: Empanadas, which are like Hot Pockets, but delicious because they're delicious, not delicious because they're disgusting. Also, they are very filling and cost only $3.41 before tax.
Where: 6232 Georgia Ave NW
Why: You've been to the Dupont and Adams Morgan locations, now where's your sense of adventure? NoPe just opened one, and no other white people know about it yet! Jump on it!
Taqueria Distrito Federal
What: Extremely delicious and incredibly cheap Mexican/Salvadorean food
Where: 805 Kennedy St NW
Why: Maybe you've been to the Columbia Heights original after a wild night at Wonderland. Well, guess what, Wonderland is so 2006 and now you can get your tacos con chivo after a wild night at Red Derby!
Teddy's Roti Shop
What: The West Indian specialty, roti, which is kind of like a huge pita stuffed with one metric butt ton of spicy meat
Where: 7414 Georgia Ave NW
Why: Even WaPo has known about this one for years, which doesn't help your street cred. But, getting yelled at by the sassy owner lady because you can't order right makes you feel like this is an Authentic Experience. How quaint!
*For a perfectly nice residential neighborhood; the commercially zoned sections of Brightwood, though full of vacant space, offer plenty of bright spots as well. Sorry for the lame pun.
Disclaimer: The author is aware of the potential offensiveness of this blog post and hopes that readers appreciate her attempt at satire (or at least don't hate her for it). She promises to go back to writing about cooking next time.