New Dining April
Photo: Espita Mezcaleria’s sea scallop ceviche taken by Rey Lopez

New, Notable, No Longer: April 2016

On Tap keeps locals in the know about restaurants and bars opening around town this month, plus our top foodie picks.

New

Alta Strada
Michael Schlow (Tico DC, The Riggsby) has so many restaurants in DC, people are forgetting his origins in Boston. But his latest is based on his Alta Strada outposts in New England – is “sister restaurant” the trendy, posh pronunciation for “chain”? If so, we wish all chains could be like this urban Mediterranean dreamboat. Alta Strada: 475 K St. NW, DC; www.altastradarestaurant.com    

Burton’s Grill & Bar
Burton’s has all the normal American menu items: steaks, burgers, “street tacos” – but it is also a leader in allergen-awareness, fielding complete gluten-free and vegetarian menus and proactively asking diners if they have any (any!) food allergies. This will become a prime destination for large groups of picky foodies. Burton’s Grill & Bar: 6452A Beulah St. Alexandria, VA; www.burtonsgrill.com  

Espita Mezcaleria
I went with eyes primed to roll at the “we fly our masa in from Oaxaca” schtick – but left a humble convert to the dense, flavorful corn tortillas. The delightful list of mezcal cocktails sealed the deal. This is where you’ll find me now: at the bar, drink in hand, demanding to know when the next flight from Oaxaca arrives. Espita Mezcaleria:1250 9th St. NW, DC; www.espitadc.com  

Kyirisan
I remember when Tim Ma’s Maple Ave in Vienna burst on the scene – and I vividly recall the perfectly paired scallop risotto and ice cream I had there. I remember the delightful omelet with spam and kimchi at his next venture, Water and Wall, in Arlington. Closer and closer to DC – and now he lands in the heart of the trendy beast, in Shaw itself, with a cryptically named restaurant hung with panels taken from his uncle’s restaurant in China. Count to three and take the plunge. This will easily compete for best new restaurant of the year. Kyirisan: 1924 8th St. NW, DC; www.kyirisandc.com  

Lapis
Formerly Napoleon Bistro, now the Afghan owners are stepping into the limelight with their personal family recipes. The cocktail menu has also been overhauled and now plays off the main menu’s subtle and sophisticated spices. We like the Negrita (cognac, espresso, Ancho Reyes chile liqueur and cardamom syrup). Lapis: 1847 Columbia Rd. NW, DC; www.lapisdc.com  

Pineapples and Pearls
The masterminds behind Rose’s Luxury strike again, but this time with a space that occupies both ends of the dining spectrum: a coffee and pastry counter in the morning, and a $250-a-head, prix fixe “fine dining” destination in the evening. In fairness, the $250 includes seven to 10 courses, beverage pairings, tax and gratuity (and living wages for restaurant staff). Still – I’ll start with a latte. Pineapples and Pearls: 715 8th St. SE, DC; www.pineappleandpearls.com 

Sovereign
I’ve noticed lately that hardcore beer drinkers have gotten in the habit of making a secret handshake out of IPAs, uttering the letters to close a magic circle around themselves. While we all love to feel a part of something special, this is a bad habit, beer drinkers. Sovereign (from the folks behind ChurchKey) is helping everyone branch out with an entire bar dedicated to Belgian beer (including some Belgian-style beers brewed in America). But fear not, hopheads – even Belgium has dry-hopped beers. Go and explore. Sovereign: 1206 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC; www.thesovereigndc.com  

TAKODA
TAKODA (“friend to everyone”) takes the cake for best-looking new restaurant. Well done, Edit Lab at Streetsense (the latest in “craft” celebrities – not chefs, but restaurant designers). Though owners Ryan Seelbach and Eric Lund (The Huxley) have dubbed the top of their building a “beer garden,” I can think of nothing less like one. The partially-enclosed rooftop is all atrium-meets-whiskey-meets oh, I don’t know – maybe, my dream of how every happy hour should start? (But there are some taps, and some plants – so maybe it’s a beer garden if you really want it to be). Chef Damian Brown (Blue Duck Tavern, Stanton & Greene) is in charge of the poshed-up bar food menu (think rosemary parmesan tots), and the gorgeous second-floor dining room and bar boasts high ceilings and lots of light. This will be a choice destination for DC’s pretty young drinkers in nice weather. Downside? It will get crowded. Solution? Early happy hour. Done. TAKODA: 715 Florida Ave. NW, DC; www.takodadc.com

Un Je Ne Sais Quoi
The cupcake craze is over when the city’s heart of mainstreamed trendiness will no longer support a cupcake shop. In the place of Hello Cupcake, a couple of French expats bring us a pastry shop specializing in merveilleux (a.k.a. piles of meringue and cream). I’m ready for the new craze to begin (because French people can’t make other people fat either, right?) Un Je Ne Sais Quoi: 1361 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC; www.twitter.com/unjenesaisquoip  

Notable

Cochon 555
This foodie event has become an institution, with DC’s brightest, sparkliest chefs (think Marjorie Meek-Bradley and Jonah Kim) cooking over 36 dishes prepared from whole, locally-raised heritage breed pigs. This year’s culinary competition is on April 17, with tickets starting at $130.95. Cochon 555: Loew’s Madison Hotel, 1177 15th St. NW, DC;www.cochon555.com/2016-tour/washington-dc/

Drift on 7th
Fishnet was part of the old Shaw, but the old Shaw is gone. Long live hyper-competitive trendy foodie Shaw! Fishnet has evolved into Drift on 7th, but Chef Ferhat Yalcin retains his passion for sustainable, affordable seafood – this time with better cocktails. Drift on 7th: 1819 7th St. NW, DC; www.drifton7th.com

No Longer
Bohemian Caverns
Pasta Mia
Republic Kitchen & Bar
Science Club
Scotch Bar at The Willard Hotel
Secret Chopsticks
Sophie’s Cuban

Photo: Espita Mezcaleria’s sea scallop ceviche taken by Rey Lopez