Photo: Greg Powers
Photo: Greg Powers

New, Notable, No Longer: April 2018

On Tap keeps locals in the know about the hottest new food and drink spots around town, the top culinary news of the month and recent closings. Read on to get the inside scoop on what’s new, notable and no longer in the DC area.

NEW

Alhambra
Open: February 9
Location: Downtown
Lowdown: The new restaurant at The St. Regis Hotel is a Mediterranean concept with French influences. The space got a quick facelift to add modern touches highlighting the historic building before debuting as Alhambra, an elegant power dining spot. The menu’s signature dishes include scallops a la plancha, rockfish served over chorizo and olive, pit-roasted chicken. In addition, the restaurant partnered with Boulangerie Christophe to offer an exclusive fig and walnut bread. The sophisticated service includes several tableside preparations, like tuna tartare. The highlight for me was the eponymous dessert: chocolate gianduja, Monte Carlo mousse and strawberry sorbet. 923 16th St. NW, DC; www.alhambradc.com

High Side
Open: February 9
Location: Fairfax City
Lowdown: Craft beer and Taiwanese small plates make for an ideal pairing at High Side, Fairfax City’s new bar. The downtown spot offers 20 craft beers on tap, ranging from tart and funky sours to malty, dark roasts. There’s also a heavy emphasis on local brews. Each Wednesday, the bar serves a mystery beer, inviting nerds and novices to sample the brew and guess what it is to win an order of pot stickers. There are also four craft cider taps and a wide selection of bottled beers to provide a little variety. The food menu features “xiaochi” such as mala pickled cucumbers, sour plum sweet potato fries, Taiwanese popcorn chicken, Malaysian chicken satay and my personal favorite, a scallion pancake with stir-fried beef. There are also a few larger plates, like garlic noodles with grilled shrimp and a deep-fried pork chop with rice. 4009 Chain Bridge Rd. Fairfax, VA; www.highsideva.com

Mi Vida
Open: February 23
Location: The Wharf
Lowdown: The varied cuisines and cultures of Mexico are on display at Mi Vida, the new waterfront restaurant from KNEAD Hospitality + Design and Chef Roberto Santibañez of Fonda in New York City. Santibañez, a native of Mexico City, modeled Mi Vida’s menu after the culinary diversity of his city. Choose from dishes like ceviche de tiritas, tacos de carnitas, queso fundido, enchiladas suizas and braised short ribs from the hearth oven. Santibañez’s favorite aspect of Mexican cooking is the art of creating a rich sauce, so naturally, he spotlights Oaxacan mole negro, the most complex sauce in the country. The dark sauce gets its hue from blackened pepper seeds, along with dozens of other ingredients like fruits and nuts that give it a deep, sweet heat. In addition to showcasing time-honored traditions, Santibañez also plays with modern preparations that are unique but distinctly Mexican. The bar has a vast selection of tequilas and mezcals – more than 130 options – and fresh cocktails like a tequila take on a piña colada and a frozen mango and passion fruit margarita. Several of the drinks are served in whimsical glassware, like the Mez-skull that comes in a glass skull. The spacious 11,000-square-foot restaurant is anchored by a 19-foot clay depiction of the “Tree of Life,” and each of the three floors depicts different periods in Mexican history – from the colonial hacienda terrace to Mayan pyramid motifs in the upstairs ceiling. 98 District Sq. SW, DC; www.mividamexico.com

Momo Yakitori
Open: February 23
Location: Woodridge
Lowdown: Momo Yakitori, the weekend-only restaurant that popped up in Woodridge earlier this year, has a laser focus on one aspect of Japanese cuisine. You won’t find ramen, rice bowls or sushi. Instead, the menu almost exclusively offers yakitori, or skewered chicken prepared on a traditional charcoal grill. You can order single skewers or platters, with options ranging from chicken breast or skin to more unusual choices like duck heart or wagyu. There are also a few salads and other veggie dishes, like shishito peppers and shiitake mushrooms. To drink, opt for sake or shochu by the glass. 2214 Rhode Island Ave. NE, DC; www.momoyakitori.com

NOTABLE

Sherry Blossom Festival
Date: Now through April 15
Location: Estadio
Lowdown: While cherry blossom trees bloom across the region, Estadio is putting their own spin on the festival by celebrating Spanish fortified wine. The restaurant’s third annual Sherry Blossom Festival features rare sherries, pintxos pairings, happy hours, sherry dinners, educational tastings and more. Every Monday, there will be an all-night Pass the Porron party where free porrons of a sherry cocktail called rebujito will be passed around for guests to enjoy. There will also be pairings of sherry with pintxos at the bar Monday through Friday from 5-7 p.m., and nightly four-course tasting menus paired with sherry. Throughout the festival, two sherry flights will be available, as well as extremely rare reserve sherries and new sherry cocktails. 1520 14th St. NW, DC; www.estadio-dc.com

WhiskyFest
Date: April 17
Location: Marriott Marquis
Lowdown: Whisky Advocate’s WhiskyFest will be hosted in DC for the third year in a row. The event, now in its 21st year, boasts nearly 300 whiskies from around the world – including single malt and blended Scotch, Irish, bourbon, rye, Tennessee, Japanese, Canadian and craft-distilled whiskies – plus rum, cognac and other spirits. It’s also a chance to learn from master blenders and whiskey experts during educational seminars and tastings. Representatives from distilleries will be on hand throughout the evening at their pouring booths. 901 Massachusetts Ave. NW, DC; www.whiskyfest.com

Now Open

Blue Bottle Coffee: 1250 4th St. NE, DC; www.bluebottlecoffee.com
Bread & Water: 1201 S. Joyce St. Arlington, VA; www.breadandwatercompany.com
Capital Burger: 1005 7th St. NW, DC; www.thecapitalburger.com
Cortez: 1905 9th St. NW, DC; www.cortezbardc.com
Fancy Radish: 600 H St. NE, DC; www.fancyradishdc.com
Frida Beer Garden: 4905 Fairmont Ave. Bethesda, MD; www.fb.com/fridabeergarden
Insomnia Cookies: 1309 H Street NE, DC; www.insomniacookies.com
Maizal: 429 L’Enfant Plaza SW, DC; www.maizalstreetfood.com
Players Club: 1400 14th St. NW, DC; www.playersclubdc.com
Sababa: 3311 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC; www.sababauptown.com
Soup Up: 1309 5th St. NE, DC; www.soupup.us
Taqueria Local: 1627 K St. NW, DC; www.localtaqueria.com
Tiki Taco: 2010 P St. NW, DC; www.tikitacodc.com

Pop-Ups

Minnie: 301 Water St. SE, DC; www.icecreamjubilee.com
Morini Piccolo: Boardwalk along the Anacostia River in SE, DC; www.osteriamorini.com

No Longer

Ardeo in Cleveland Park
Capitol City Brewing Company in Shirlington
Del Campo in Penn Quarter
Geranio in Alexandria
Las Canteras in Adams Morgan
Mason Dixie Drive Thru in NE, DC
Old Glory BBQ in Georgetown
Tortoise & Hare in Crystal City

Lani Furbank

Lani Furbank is a freelance food, drinks, and lifestyle writer based in the D.C. area. She was born and raised in Northern Virginia, but stays true to her Welsh-Taiwanese heritage by exploring new places and experimenting with recipes from around the world. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @lanifurbank or read her work at www.LanisCupOfTea.com.