Greater Greater Washington

Public Spaces


Shipping container restaurant opens on U Street

Shipping containers continue to proliferate as an affordable building material. The latest addition is a new restaurant near the corner of U Street and Vermont Avenue, NW, called El Rey taqueria.


El Rey taqueria on U Street. Photo by BeyondDC.

In this case, El Rey owner Ian Hilton says it wasn't actually cheaper to build using shipping containers. But that could be due to El Rey's particular layout or needs. It's hard to know for sure.

Elsewhere in the region, shipping containers are used or will be used at Half Street Fairgrounds near the baseball stadium, and possibly in Tysons Corner.

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.

Dan Malouff is a professional transportation planner for the Arlington County Department of Transportation. He has a degree in Urban Planning from the University of Colorado, and lives a car-free lifestyle in Northwest Washington. His posts are his own opinions and do not represent the views of his employer in any way. He runs the blog BeyondDC and also contributes to the Washington Post Local Opinions blog. 

Comments

Add a comment »

I walked in there on Saturday. Interesting concept, slightly douchey (can I say that?) ambiance.

by BTA on Jan 15, 2014 10:25 am • linkreport

I generally like the re-purposing of containers for quick and temporary structures. Dekalb Market in Brooklyn being a great example. However, I'm not sure U-Street is the appropriate location.

This just gives ammunition to nimby preservationist and fails to maximize the full zoning potential.

by Jeff on Jan 15, 2014 10:35 am • linkreport

LIke the place, know the owners and bartneders, like the back patio.

THat being said it is an affront to the area. Not a good way to fill up the gaps in the streetscape.

by charlie on Jan 15, 2014 10:39 am • linkreport

Should we be proud of our trade deficit or ashamed of it?

I tend to think the shipping container oversupply here is a factor of the $ per volume differential in our trade rather than the deficit.

Some very interesting things can be made out of them artistically, but they are very difficult to make livable. It costs a fortune to put windows in or to heat/cool them which limits them to certain uses.

by Richard on Jan 15, 2014 10:50 am • linkreport

I don't hate it at all, certainly better than some cut and paste fast food architecture. One example in the neighborhood is plenty though.

by BTA on Jan 15, 2014 10:53 am • linkreport

Why does it cost a fortune to put windows in one of those boxes? All you need is a window and a sawzall, both of which can be had at very reasonable prices.

by Kevin on Jan 15, 2014 10:55 am • linkreport

Nothing like going into a garbage bin looking place to eat something.

by NE John on Jan 15, 2014 11:00 am • linkreport

By the time it's finished, I suspect it's no cheaper than ordinary construction techniques.

by Crickey7 on Jan 15, 2014 11:08 am • linkreport

I tend to think the shipping container oversupply here is a factor of the $ per volume differential in our trade rather than the deficit.

Bulldozers, combines, airliners, locomotives, and the other stuff we're really good at exporting don't really fit into one or two TEU very well!

Anyhow, I think that building is ugly as sin.

by Another Nick on Jan 15, 2014 11:09 am • linkreport

Looks interesting. Primary colors are like the ivy of old though. When the design is dull, bring out the buckets of paint!

by Thayer-D on Jan 15, 2014 11:10 am • linkreport

I used to think of ideas like that 40 years ago when I was really high.

by NE John on Jan 15, 2014 11:16 am • linkreport

Why does it cost a fortune to put windows in one of those boxes? All you need is a window and a sawzall, both of which can be had at very reasonable prices.

The steel on the sides of a shipping container isn't thin, it is reasonably difficult to cut through but the problem is that it is corrugated for strength. This makes it difficult to cut to proper dimension and makes it harder to fit a window without gaps. Putting a hole in the side of it isn't a problem, but putting a hole in the side and then having a prefab window fit perfectly and sealing it is difficult. If you don't want to heat or cool it and don't mind it being drafty then it isn't really a problem.

by Richard on Jan 15, 2014 11:18 am • linkreport

Solid tacos at reasonable prices, plus with $5 National Bohemain tallboys. I will be back.

by Cavan on Jan 15, 2014 11:18 am • linkreport

Bulldozers, combines, airliners, locomotives, and the other stuff we're really good at exporting don't really fit into one or two TEU very well!
Computer and scientific equipment fit in containers just fine, but are high value. Our services exports are huge and have no volume at all.

by Richard on Jan 15, 2014 11:31 am • linkreport

One shipping container building by itself is interesting. A row of them would be regretful.

by kob on Jan 15, 2014 12:08 pm • linkreport

Is $5 for a Natty Boh tallboy really a good deal?

by Michelle on Jan 15, 2014 1:05 pm • linkreport

I welcome the change of pace. DC needs more businesses to be a) playful, and b) adventuresome. This has a bit of both, and should the time come to replace it with a beige and brick monstrosity with Juliette balconies, the containers will be easier than most structures to cart away...

by alpinepaq on Jan 15, 2014 1:14 pm • linkreport

Is $5 for a Natty Boh tallboy really a good deal?

Indeed, it is sad that things have gotten to the point where this is considered a good deal.

by MLD on Jan 15, 2014 1:34 pm • linkreport

Eh it's not a great price but it's probably on the lower end of the U st beer price spectrum on a $/oz basis. There are certainly some better happy hour deals around.

by BTA on Jan 15, 2014 1:39 pm • linkreport

Much like housing and everything else, bar prices are not exempt from issues arising from too little supply/too much demand.

by drumz on Jan 15, 2014 1:55 pm • linkreport

@drumz: Well, it's been demonstrated quite convincingly in this thread that housing markets are immune to any supply effects, and housing prices are set based only on demand.

by Gray on Jan 15, 2014 2:01 pm • linkreport

My apologies. The thoroughly convincing demonstration of how housing markets are unaffected by any changes in supply was in the previous thread.

by Gray on Jan 15, 2014 2:30 pm • linkreport

That and moratoriums on liquor liscenses are like our height limit in that they have no effect whatsoever on the price of going out.

by drumz on Jan 15, 2014 2:34 pm • linkreport

Everyone knows that removing the liquor license moratoria would turn DC into Manhattan.

by Gray on Jan 15, 2014 3:24 pm • linkreport

Paris only allows 3 liquor licenses per block and everyone knows Paris is perfect.

by BTA on Jan 15, 2014 3:35 pm • linkreport

Is that true? If so that's interesting. Imagine proposing that at a zoning meeting.

"We're going to restrict bars to only 3 per block on U Street"

"Yay!"

"But have the same thing apply to every other block in the district"

"*pitchforks*"

by drumz on Jan 15, 2014 3:50 pm • linkreport

No I made that up actually since I couldnt find anything at hand. Sorry for any confusion!

by BTA on Jan 15, 2014 3:52 pm • linkreport

It's ok. I knew you were joking in the second half of the comment at least.

But on a serious note, the best way to prevent a neighborhood from becoming "the next Adams-Morgan" is to make sure that bars aren't concentrated in just a few neighborhoods.

by drumz on Jan 15, 2014 3:56 pm • linkreport

+1 for drumz on deconcentrating the nightlife. And that will take a whole lot more YIMBY than DC has shown itself capable of.

by alpinepaq on Jan 15, 2014 4:14 pm • linkreport

Everyone knows that removing the liquor license moratoria would turn DC into Manhattan.

No you heard wrong, I said I wanted it to be easier to get a Manhattan!

by MLD on Jan 15, 2014 4:27 pm • linkreport

I dunno - there's an appeal in having a bunch of bars and restaurants together. It's hard to bar hop otherwise.

That said, I think H Street and U Street have significantly taken the pressure off of Adams Morgan, which is much less awful than it was in 2008.

by Neil Flanagan on Jan 15, 2014 4:46 pm • linkreport

There's benefits to both. That's why I'd like to see zoning that works against neither "the strip" type of set up or the ability to set up a neighborhood bar. And I want to pay less for drinks.

Most of our nightlife areas are also pretty busy day time areas as well. From the way I hear people talk they want to figure out how to make their neighborhood main street like 18thNW in the daytime while avoiding 18th NW in the nighttime.

by drumz on Jan 15, 2014 4:51 pm • linkreport

More unique looking than the usual glass boxes that go up in this town. I say, more power to 'em.

by Alan P. on Jan 15, 2014 5:16 pm • linkreport

Neil Flanagan

What benefit is there to having a bunch of bars together and bar hop; what need is there to bar hop.

We don't need drunk idiots everywhere. Everytime I go near Adams Morgan or U Street on a weekend night or even other days at night I encounter drunks/intoxicated people that are loud, stumbling around etc I for one can not see how people can stand others in public not acting civil. One day there was a group of drunks stumbling around and fell into me if I had the time I would have called the police and pressed charges.

by kk on Jan 15, 2014 8:41 pm • linkreport

wow @Neil Flanagan....you should probably just leave the city then and get a farm somewhere

by cory on Jan 16, 2014 12:54 pm • linkreport

A fad. Will be hated in 10 years.

by crin on Jan 16, 2014 1:03 pm • linkreport

Add a Comment

Name: (will be displayed on the comments page)

Email: (must be your real address, but will be kept private)

URL: (optional, will be displayed)

Your comment:

By submitting a comment, you agree to abide by our comment policy.
Notify me of followup comments via email. (You can also subscribe without commenting.)
Save my name and email address on this computer so I don't have to enter it next time, and so I don't have to answer the anti-spam map challenge question in the future.

or

Support Us