Famed owner of Busboys and Poets, Andy Shallal, decided last year that his 14th street venue, Eatonville, needed a new look. A few months later, the doors to Mulebone opened, a Southern America dining venue, named after the 1930 three act play by American authors Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston.

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The restaurant has gotten a facelift, with a new, lighter, more modern Southern-inspired menu and mixologist Evan Cablayan serving up loads of new cocktails, including three different kinds of punch.

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Here’s a rundown of what I ate and drank: first, seriously awesome fried green tomatoes. Chef Joseph Paire (hired after winning a contest held by the owners who were looking to fill the position!) pickles his tomatoes before they’re battered and fried, so they’re uber flavorful, with a hint of tartness from the pickling, a great contrast to the smooth blue cheese sauce. The mac n cheese was my second favorite dish, which also comes in a charming individual skillet. The melted smoked gouda and jack cheese is like liquid gold, coating the soft, chewy noodles. Crunchy breadcrumbs add texture, while gremolata (a lemony herb condiment) brings color and brightness.

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Equally as satisfying was the corn maque choux, an eye-catching medley of corn, onions, and peppers, which has serious kick from the chipotle and the jalapenos. Black eyed pea fritters are also finger licking good, with a crunchy exterior and sweet red tomato sauce. To be sampled next time: a smoked beet salad, quinoa risotto, and BBQ spiced Brussel sprout chips.

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As for drinks, the Eatonville is the ideal opener, with sparkling wine, pear, and vodka. The Simms is a play on a pimms cup, with gin, hibiscus, lemon, and beets, giving the drink the most lovely hue. The Battle of Macedonia is a strong whiskey drink, while all three punches are worth a try: one with bourbon as the star, another with a sparkling wine float, and the third a milk punch with brandy and rum.

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Comfort food, great cocktails, and an easy atmosphere: if this is your jam, consider Mulebone next time you’re on 14th.

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