Last Updated: April 2023
There are restaurants that exist for its neighborhood. They do food that could justify broader acclaim and recognition. They could try to gain a wider customer base, but they are happy to do good food for those who live nearby. It is often a relaxed space, welcoming to families – even those with kids. It is reliable, affordable, and easy to walk in and grab a table (on most nights).
Sospeso fits that model and H Street is lucky to have it. The food stretches across the Mediterranean, with pasta from Italy, kebabs from Greece and spreads from the eastern end of the sea. Vegan and vegetarian options are identified on the menu. Brunch menu is available Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Note that they are closed Tuesday and Wednesday currently. Indicative of the kitchen’s skills, they do tricky ingredients like octopus and routine ones like chicken equally well.
The in-house touch extends to the bar where Sospeso has developed a reputation for the vermouths it makes. The wine list is Greek and Italian in focus, with interesting choices that with one exception all come in under $100, and more than one under $50.
The sense of community was evident a few years back when they offered child care upstairs on Fridays when the public schools were closed, while parents drank coffee and worked downstairs. It reflects the background of the owners. Chef Michael Rosato has deep roots in D.C., having worked at several spots around town, including the now-closed Ghibellina and Sotto on 14th. According to the old District Cuisine post previewing the opening, Hatice Rosato, “runs a women’s clothing import business and designed the interior of the restaurant. She will also be in charge of the restaurant’s forthcoming website, branding, and social media. As a native of Turkey, Hatice will have a big influence on the menu.”
The community aspect is also reflected in the name. A “sospeso” coffee in Naples is a “suspended” coffee whereby someone pays extra to cover the cost of a cup for a future customer in need. At a time when fees are debated endlessly, the idea of anonymously and unprompted paying for a stranger’s coffee is a tradition that gently reminds us of our common humanity.
Other Guidance: As noted the vibe is casual. There is a small ramp up from street level and some steps inside. GF and V can do well.
Neighborhood: H Street
Address: 1344 H St NE, Washington, DC 20002
Reservation: On website
Washington Post: No coverage
Washingtonian: No coverage
Washington City Paper: Laura Hayes plugged it in the 2017 Underrated Food Issue. Preview from 2016.
CN Traveler: A random, positive plug.