Photo: Courtesy of Pisco y Nazca
Photo: Courtesy of Pisco y Nazca

New and Notable: Le Kon, Little Sesame, Pisco y Nazca and more

On Tap keeps locals in the know about the hottest new food and drink spots around town and the top culinary happenings of the month. Read on to get the inside scoop on what’s new and notable in the DC area.


Le Kon
Open: September 1
Location: Clarendon
Lowdown: Top Chef alum Katsuji Tanabe, who has roots in Mexico and Japan, expanded his restaurant portfolio to DC with a new Mexican restaurant that draws inspiration from Asia. Springfield native Patrick Tanyag oversees the kitchen, which delivers playful and eye-catching creations with bright ingredients like watermelon radish, pickled red onions and cucumber kimchi providing splashes of color. It’s almost like the menu was made for Instagram: an entire roasted pig head is presented tableside before being broken down into carnitas for tacos, and cotton candy is piled on a Fruity Pebbles tres leches cake. Portions are generous, with massive grilled steaks and tacos served in family-style platters so guests can build their own bites. The large dining room is accented with navy wainscoting, marble tile mosaic table tops and an industrial concrete bar. A purple and red ombre corn husk wall hanging stands out above the booths and fanciful Day of the Dead scenes play out on the wallpaper. Le Kon: 3227 Washington Blvd. Arlington, VA;

Little Sesame
Open: August 28
Location: Golden Triangle
Lowdown: The original iteration of Little Sesame was an instant hit, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the first standalone location opened with a line out the door that has continued to form each day during the lunch rush. Ronen Tenne, Nick Wiseman and David Wiseman are behind this wildly popular fast-casual hummus shop that serves up hummus bowls, pita sandwiches and seasonal salatim (vegetable sides). The three formed a vision for their bright and airy restaurant by traveling – both across the U.S. and in Israel, where Tenne was born – and exploring the diversity of food and design in various kitchens. Nick Wiseman says the menu pulls from the food traditions of Middle Eastern countries like Yemen, Lebanon and Iran, all of which are reflected in Israel’s cuisine. The hummus quite literally holds it all together, so its recipe was tweaked to perfection. With only a handful of ingredients, the hummus is made daily with the highest quality chickpeas and tahini. Then, it’s enhanced by additions ranging from whole roasted vegetables and fresh produce to herbs and spices. Items like the classic bowl with chickpeas, tahini and schug and the chicken shawarma with tahini, amba and smashed cucumber salad will always be on the menu, while other offerings will change with the seasons. Expect squash, celery root, broccoli, brassicas and more this fall. Little Sesame: 1828 L St. NW, DC;

Pisco y Nazca
Open: September 3
Location: Dupont Circle
Lowdown: The Miami-based Pisco y Nazca has brought a new option for modern Peruvian cuisine to DC. Like its sister restaurants, the bar at the latest location welcomes guests with a chandelier-like bottle display, and the rest of the dining room is spacious and open. The menu has an impressive array of ceviches, including a Japanese variation, a traditional preparation and a version with mushrooms. Starters include expected items like empanadas, anticucho carne and grilled octopus. The entrée selection plays on tradition as well, with arroz con mariscos, lomo saltado and a braised lamb shank with cilantro sauce. Of course, you can pair these dishes with Peruvian cocktails like a pisco sour or a Chilcano. Pisco y Nazca: 1823 L St. NW, DC;

St. Anselm
Open: September 17
Location: NoMa
Lowdown: Joe Carroll, the man behind St. Anselm in Brooklyn, has teamed up with restaurateur Stephen Starr and Chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley to bring the grill-centric restaurant to the Union Market neighborhood. While it’s often hailed as a steakhouse, St. Anselm is about more than beef. The cooking relies heavily on fire, with everything from Spanish octopus to Romano beans, a rack of lamb and a pork porterhouse hitting the grill that sits in the center of the open kitchen. When it comes to beef, the cuts are on the unusual side, like hanger steak and flat iron. The wine list also bucks convention, featuring light, high-acid red wines over heavy oaky ones. Plus, there will be a select few ciders, craft beers and cocktails. The surroundings straddle distinguished and whimsical, with snug private booths and vintage plates juxtaposed with embroidered banners from fraternal organizations and a taxidermied raccoon. There’s also a beefsteak room where the restaurant will host special events modeled after beefsteak dinners, which were political fundraising events common in the 1850s. St. Anselm: 1250 5th St. NE, DC;


Mr Lee’s Pop-up at Succotash
Location: Penn Quarter
Lowdown: Chef Edward Lee is transforming the upstairs bar and lounge of his Penn Quarter restaurant into a pop-up called Mr Lee’s. The concept is inspired by Asian night markets, with bold flavors in dishes like spicy pork belly and kimchi or duck confit, snow pea and basil dumplings. The menu will change weekly but will put an emphasis on ingredients from the neighboring farmers market. Signature cocktails complement the food, like the Miss Korea made with Soju, melon syrup, yuzu and egg white. Asian beers and spirits are also available. Mr Lee’s will run through the end of 2018. Mr Lee’s: 915 F St. NW, DC; or

Budweiser Marks Repeal of Prohibition Anniversary with Reserve Copper Lager

To mark the 85th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition, Budweiser has partnered with Jim Beam bourbon to release a specially crafted Reserve Copper Lager brew. Brewed with two-row barley and aged on barrel staves once housing Jim Beam bourbon, the special beer features a delicious nutty taste, with notes of vanilla and caramel rye. Unlike other beers that are aged in the bourbon barrels, Budweiser chose to use the staves to give a more subtle bourbon taste and a slightly sweeter finish. The collaboration between two beverage makers that survived the Prohibition era has produced a terrifically tasty beer that will be available in bars and retail locations through the holiday season. Learn more about Budweiser’s Reserve Copper Lager at

New Culinary Team at Mirabelle
Location: Downtown
Lowdown: This chic upscale restaurant recently brought on a new culinary team and reopened in August with a new menu and a new identity in the kitchen. General manager and beverage director Jennifer Knowles has returned, and she’s joined by Executive Chef Keith Bombaugh and Pastry Chef Zoe Ezrailson. The menu features dishes that evoke memories of Knowles and Bombaugh’s experiences growing up on the South Shore of Boston, along with French cuisine marked by global influences. Lunch is served a la carte, but during dinner, there is the option to order a four-, five- or 12-course prix fixe menu. Wine pairings are available upon request. Many of the offerings are as fascinating to look at as they are to eat, like the grilled abalone with green curry tapioca served in a vibrantly blue polished abalone shell. Desserts follow suit – the lemon honey beehive is an artistic dome of Meyer lemon curd surrounded by toasted honey meringue. Mirabelle: 900 16th St. NW, DC;

Photo: Courtesy of Brabo
Photo: Courtesy of Brabo

New and Notable: Augie’s, The Green Zone and The Meatball Shop


Open: August 1
Location: Old Town Alexandria
Lowdown: For the next several months, Alexandria has a hip new outdoor hang. Augie’s, a forthcoming restaurant from the team behind Mason Social, is temporarily serving mussels, frites, beer and more on their spacious brick patio draped with string lights. The building is undergoing renovations in preparation for a spring opening, but the team wanted to take advantage of their al fresco dining space during the favorable weather. The menu during the pop-up represents about a third of what will be offered when the full restaurant is complete. There’s a selection of small plates and entrees, but the main attraction is the various preparations of mussels in sauces ranging from a house broth with garlic-herb butter, bacon and beer to a fiery Thai green curry with purple eggplant, Thai chilis and coconut. To complement the mussels and frites, the beer selection focuses on Belgian and Belgian-inspired brews. The selection will expand to include approximately 200 bottles and 25 drafts when the restaurant officially opens. While the patio is the real draw, there’s also some indoor space upstairs with high top tables, bocce ball and board games. The pop-up will close in early winter. 1106 King St. Alexandria, VA;

The Green Zone
Open: July 26
Location: Adams Morgan
Lowdown: After four years of popping up around town, this Middle Eastern cocktail bar found a permanent home in the diverse Adams Morgan neighborhood. Owner Chris Francke says The Green Zone is, in part, an attempt to dispel the stereotype that people in the Middle East don’t drink or party. The spices and ingredients he’s showcasing in his 12 original drinks are ones commonly found in the region’s cuisine, but haven’t often been translated to cocktails. Some recipes are riffs on classic nonalcoholic beverages, like the seasonal frozen Mint Lemonade spiked with vodka or gin. I found it to be the ideal patio sipper, especially when enjoyed via the bar’s stainless steel straws. His signature creation is the Janissary Corps, made with Green Hat gin, pistachio, lemon and “silky magic.” Downstairs, the colorful tile bar is the anchor of the neighborhood hangout, while the second floor turns into a dance club with featured DJs on weekends. In addition to cocktails, sample beers and wine from Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Georgia and Turkey. The food menu consists of Lebanese and Levantine street food like falafel, hummus, spicy wings and mana’ish, a thin flatbread that envelopes za’tar, labneh and vegetables. 2226 18th St. NW, DC;

Little Havana
Open: August 10
Location: Columbia Heights
Lowdown: Restaurateur Alfredo Solis has expanded his portfolio to include more than Mexican (El Sol and Mezcalero). He teamed up with Chef Joseph Osorio to bring a splash of Cuba to Columbia Heights. At Little Havana, a painted “neon” sign emulating the Miami Vice logo ties together the murals covering the walls, featuring Cuba’s colorful streets as well as some of the country’s cultural icons like Celia Cruz, the Nationals’ Gio Gonzalez, revolutionary Che Guevara and Osorio’s godmother Mimi, who was the inspiration behind the restaurant. Mimi taught Osorio the art of Cuban cooking, and her recipes have come to life on the menu. Classic dishes like ropa vieja, vaca frita and empanadas are offered alongside modern interpretations like Cuban rolls – essentially a Cubano sandwich crossed with a spring roll. Of course, Osorio also makes a traditional Cubano, which he says is perfect thanks to Mimi’s lechon recipe. Flashes of Colombia are present as well, with ají picante from Osorio’s parents’ hometown. The compact bar in the back of the restaurant is stocked with all kinds of rum from the Caribbean and Latin America, plus tropical ingredients like mango, hierbabuena and guanabana. There are original creations like La Vida es un Carnaval with papaya, raspberries, ginger syrup, lime and a blend of rums, but I’ll never turn down a classic daiquiri. The spot-on rendition at Little Havana hit all the right notes. 3704 14th St. NW, DC;

The Meatball Shop
Open: August
Location: 14th Street
Lowdown: New York City’s Meatball Shop has rolled into town, bringing with it a menu of build-your-own meatball meals. Start by choosing your balls – classic, spicy pork, chicken, veggie or rotating specials – and then dress them in sauces like tomato, spicy meat, gravy, Parmesan cream or pesto. Next, pick a style: naked, in a bowl, over a bed of greens or in a sandwich. The customizable menu also has a few recommended plates, including combinations like spicy pork balls with Parmesan cream sauce over broccoli and rigatoni with an added kick of hot sauce. Round out your meal with appetizers and sides like crab cake balls, veggies, polenta and pastas. In addition to the saucy food offerings, expect a selection of beers, wines and cocktails – plus plenty of ball jokes. The 14th Street location is the first shop outside of New York. 1720 14th St. NW, DC;

Burger Board at BLT Steak
Location: BLT Steak
Lowdown: This downtown steakhouse recently added adventurous new burgers to their lunch menu, each satisfying carnivorous cravings. The Burger Board goes beyond the standard dry-aged beef burger with recipes like the Duck Double stacked with two beef and Moulard duck patties, cheddar, pickles and a zesty mayonnaise sauce. The Harissa Lamb Burger pairs a seven-spice lamb patty with tahini cucumbers, tomato and garlic labneh. The Crab Bama Burger is an amped up crab cake topped with chicken-fried smoked salmon, cabbage slaw and Alabama white barbecue sauce. The king of the board is the “American” Wagyu Burger, which blends trimmings from the restaurant’s various steak offerings into a rich patty rounded out by American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and dijonnaise. 1625 I St. NW, DC;

Steak Frites Program at Brabo
Location: Brabo
Lowdown: Chef Sebastien Rondier has launched a new offering that is a mouthwatering study of an iconic French brasserie dish. The Steak Frites program consists of four distinctive, dry-aged butcher cuts from Creekstone Farms: ribeye, filet mignon, hanger steak and the show-stopping, 22-ounce bone-in côte de boeuf for two. Each of the steaks is served with whipped Roquefort butter or a black peppercorn sauce. And of course, every steak is accompanied by double-fried frites and dipping sauces. The menu will continue to grow with new cuts and sauces depending on market availability. 1600 King St. Alexandria, VA;

Photos: Jean Schindler
Photos: Jean Schindler

Finnish Simplicity Reigns at Mikko

Lately, DC’s restaurant scene has been getting high off complicated-looking plates, exotic decor and ingredients we can’t pronounce. Wolfgang Puck called, and he wants his 90s life back. Not to be contrary, but there’s nothing I crave right now more than simple, clean flavors that don’t require a hovering waiter to explain.

Enter Mikko, the first restaurant from Mikko Kosonen, once chef at the Finnish Embassy, and recently of his eponymous catering firm, and now cheerfully ensconced on P St. and serving exactly what I’m craving.

With a minimalist Scandi look courtesy of local design agency INNATE, the cheerful, intimate space seamlessly blends retail, coffee counter, sandwich case, restaurant and bar. Order a cup of fish broth laden with cod, potatoes and dill, or one of the hearty pickled herring sandwiches on hearty brown bread, balanced with fresh cucumber and dill.

The contrast between the very preserved and the very fresh represents one of the most refreshing aspects of Finnish cuisine. The pastries have lots of fruits, cardamon and butter, and there are easy-drinking aquavit cocktails on offer.

Larger plates, including a wonderful venison with lingonberry sauce, are beautifully presented without pretension. The flavors are opinionated and crisp, honest and accessible. Just like Chef Mikko and his team. Now go eat!

Mikko: 1636 R St. NW, DC; 202-413-6419;

Salted licorice ice cream.

Salted licorice ice cream.

Venison lingonberry.

Venison lingonberry.

Finish see bread.

Finish see bread.

Finnish Vodka.

Finnish Vodka.

A fish soup cocktail with Aquavite lemon soda and cucumber dill.

A fish soup cocktail with Aquavite lemon soda and cucumber dill.

Pancake and fresh berries.

Pancake and fresh berries.

Fish soup with cod salmon, potatos, peppercorns and dill.

Fish soup with cod salmon, potatos, peppercorns and dill.

Photo: Courtesy of Sababa
Photo: Courtesy of Sababa

New and Notable: May 2018

On Tap keeps locals in the know about the hottest new food and drink spots around town and the top culinary happenings of the month. Read on to get the inside scoop on what’s new and notable in the DC area.


Fancy Radish (Photo - Courtesy of Fancy Radish)

Fancy Radish
Open: March 20
Location: H Street
Lowdown: Vegans and omnivores alike rejoiced when Vedge Restaurant Group out of Philadelphia planted their first restaurant in DC. While everything on the menu is completely vegan, owners Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby aren’t trying to push an agenda. They’re just serving vegetables. It’s the way they serve them that makes a splash. Each dish takes a humble piece of produce – like a radish – and elevates it with artful techniques and vibrant flavors. Digging in to small plates like the Chioggia beet picnic, the trumpet mushroom “fazzoletti” and the spicy dan dan noodles, I would have easily believed they were laden with butter and cheese. The menu strikes a balance between the refined cuisine at their Philly flagship, Vedge, and the edgy street food at V Street. The restaurant’s namesake fancy radishes are adapted from the menu at Vedge. At the bar, vegetables also shine in drinks like the Peridot Meteor with gin, celery and olive oil or the Raphanus Shade with rye, radish, black vin and amaro ferro-kina. There are also a variety of natural wines and a handful of draft beers. The space has an industrial vibe, which is softened by earth tones and a mural spanning the restaurant that depicts a vegetable’s life cycle from seed to sprout. 600 H St. NE, DC;

Kaliwa (Photo - Courtesy of Kaliwa)

Open: March 28
Location: The Wharf
Lowdown: Restaurateur power couple Cathal and Meshelle Armstrong, known for Alexandria hot spots Society Fair, Hummingbird and more, opened their latest restaurant at The Wharf. The pair are serving three Asian cuisines that are near and dear to their hearts: Filipino, honoring Meshelle’s heritage; Korean, as an ode to Chef Cathal’s Taekwondo training; and Thai, because it’s their family’s food of choice. The menu is divided into sections for each country, with milder flavors in Filipino dishes like Kalderetang Cordero, slightly spicier funky notes in Korean Jae Yuk Gui and super hot spice levels in Thai Nuer Pad Prik. Most dishes are heavily sauced and meant to be eaten with rice, but there are also a few noodle dishes, hearth-roasted proteins and other classics like lumpiang. With minimal descriptions on the menu, the restaurant provides a glossary of commonly used terms (gochujang, calamansi) and servers are always available to elaborate. The pamphlet also offers some conversational phrases in Tagalog, Korean and Thai. The name Kaliwa means left, which Cathal promises is not a political statement, but rather a nod to his left-handedness and to the restaurant’s departure from the norm. Meshelle designed the space, featuring woven basket light fixtures, rope netting and bright blue hues to emulate a night street market. 751 Wharf St. SW, DC;

Sababa (Photo - Courtesy of Sababa)

Open: March 15
Location: Cleveland Park
Lowdown: After a quick set change, Ashok Bajaj opened Sababa in the space formerly occupied by Ardeo. The new restaurant’s menu focuses on modern Israeli cuisine, which has roots in both Jewish and Arab traditions. Dishes display influences from the Middle East, Turkey and Greece. Meals often start with salatim – small portions of salads and spreads to share – and then progress into hummus and small plates. I couldn’t get enough of the vegetarian dishes, from charred eggplant and roasted halumi to fried cauliflower and Israeli salad. Kebabs and large plates are also available, like sumac- and onion-marinated steak, shakshuka and braised lamb shank. The restaurant’s name comes from the Hebrew slang for cool, and the design reflects this, evoking the port of Tel Aviv with Mediterranean tiles, canvas sails on the ceiling and wood paneling to represent a grape arbor adorned with string lights. The beverage program consists of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean wines, plus house cocktails that showcase Israeli spices and flavors.  3311 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC;

Spoken English (Photo - Courtesy of Spoken English)

Spoken English
Open: March 30
Location: Adams Morgan
Lowdown: Erik Bruner Yang’s second project within the LINE Hotel is now open for business, and it’s unlike any restaurant you’ve visited in DC. Spoken English is modeled after the Japanese Tachinomiya – a standing-room only restaurant where people stop by for snacks and drinks after work. The casual, communal concept is situated in the kitchen with two counters facing a wood-fired Grillworks oven. It can only accommodate between 12 to 16 people at a time, and the close quarters encourage guests to socialize with their dining companions and strangers. The menu provides a choice between having a few bites, like skewers and small plates, or enjoying a full meal of whole roast duck and chicken yakitori. The whole chicken yakitori consists of eight courses, each a different cut of the bird such as thighs, stuffed wings, crispy skin, bone broth, liver mousse and more. To drink, there’s a selection of sake and beer, as well as a few cocktails. Reservations are not accepted. 1770 Euclid St. NW;


Truckeroo (Photo - Courtesy of Georgetown Events)

Dates: May 11, June 15, July 13, August 10, September 14
Location: The Bullpen
Lowdown: Once a month throughout the summer, a flock of food trucks converges at The Bullpen fairgrounds in Navy Yard for a massive festival. The event offers live music, cold drinks, games and a full lineup of food trucks to choose from. At the May event, guests can enjoy mac and cheese from CapMac, crêpes from Crepe Love, empanadas from DC Empanadas, frozen custard from Goodies, lobster rolls from Red Hook, and more. It’s open to all ages until 9 p.m., at which point it shifts to 21 and over. Admission is free. 1201 Half St. SE, DC;

Wines Over Washington
Dates: May 17, June 21, July 19, August 16, September 20
Location: BLT Steak
Lowdown: The rooftop of this downtown steakhouse has stunning views of the city, the Potomac River, the Washington Monument and the White House. This makes it a prime location to enjoy a glass of wine while watching the sunset. BLT Steak’s Wines Over Washington gives winos a chance to explore new wine varietals al fresco paired with classic fare by Chef de Cuisine Michael Bonk, as well as live music. The series takes place one evening per month through the summer. The first event will feature selections from Lanterna Wines. Tickets are $65 per event, or $275 for the entire series. 1625 I St. NW, DC;

Photo: Courtesy of Ana at District Winery
Photo: Courtesy of Ana at District Winery

Brunch Buzz: Top 25 of 2018

Socially, Washington is held together by the glue of brunch. More than the city’s other social institution – the happy hour – brunch allows for extended, leisurely bonding without a set agenda. And the District can never get enough of new culinary adventures – so we compiled our favorite newbies from the past year. These are wonderful places to hang out, see, be seen, and roll out refreshed and ready for the work week.

1. Ana at District Winery

Between high ceilings and massive windows, dining at the District’s only winery feels like dining outside. The cocktail menu is limited, but the menu features the winery’s growing range of house wines. District Winery sources grapes from across the U.S. and then produces wines that highlight the flavor profiles in America’s different growing regions. 385 Water St. SE, DC;

2. Baba

This Turkish hot spot in Clarendon serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays (9:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.), offering heavenly crafted bowls of oatmeal, egg dishes and pastries, along with high-quality coffee drinks. Enjoy unlimited brunch for $34/person, with music and a buffet section of handmade Turkish pastries, salads, sandwiches and more, along with made-to-order Balkan eggs, sliders and smoked salmon crêpe. And $1 mimosas, bellinis and Bloody Marys. 2901 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA;

3. Bar Elena

Comfort food and arcade games is one form of brunch heaven. Add in a sophisticated seafood menu for a lux touch, and you have a formula that will endlessly appeal to DC’s trendy young professionals. 414 H St. NE, DC;

4. Bindaas at Foggy Bottom

This casual take on Indian street food with a flavorful twist is the newest location from Chef Vikram Sunderam of Rasika. Brunch runs from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. on the weekends, offering an array of dishes that mix sweet and savory. Try the avocado golgappa with sweet yogurt and chutney, the lamb kathi roll with roast masala and fennel seed, or the Parsi fried chicken roadside sandwich with spiced fried chicken and beef tomato chutney. 2000 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, DC;

5. Bluestone Lane

Every library should have an airy, light-filled Australian café attached. DC’s West End Public Library is wrapping up its renovation, and diners can take their coffees into the library’s reading area. Order a flat white and an avo toast (easily the best in DC) – but note the café has no liquor license, so plan to air your liver out. 1100 23rd St. NW, DC;

6. Brothers and Sisters in the LINE Hotel

If you love Maketto, you’ll adore Erik Bruner-Yang’s newest adventure. Brothers and Sisters also occupies a unique space – a neoclassical church with most of its original architectural elements preserved – and has a similar buzzy energy. Brothers and Sisters serves American classics with East Asian influences, as well as a collection of unique cocktails. We recommend “It’s Not Just for Osaka Anymore” (Cocci rosé, gin, red shiso syrup, vitamin C powder). 1770 Euclid St. NW, DC;

7. Burmese Bodega at Union Market

There’s always something new going on at Union Market, and grazing at different food stalls has become a beloved DC brunch option. We are intrigued that beloved local Peregrine no longer has the coffee market cornered (welcome, Blue Bottle Coffee!), and our favorite newcomer is the Burmese Bodega – lots of rich, earthy Southeast Asian flavors underscored by very fresh ingredients. 1309 5th St. NE, DC;

8. Chloe

Chloe’s eclectic brunch menu (available Saturday and Sunday) pays homage to Chef Haidar Karoum’s Lebanese roots and world travels. Start with the sheep’s milk ricotta with raw honey, rosemary and grilled house-made bread, or the crispy churros with bittersweet chocolate ganache. Then go for the Ivy City smoked salmon tartine or the poached eggs with warm scallion biscuit and shiitake mushroom mornay sauce. Grab a house Blood Mary, or mimosas by the carafe to wash it all down. 1331 4th St. SE, DC;

9. Del Mar

Wharf restaurants take full advantage of the water views – with lots of windows and cathedral ceilings – and Del Mar pairs its prime real estate with perfect service, a buzzy atmosphere and an extensive menu of authentic, carefully prepared Spanish dishes. Order a carafe of sangria roja (red wine, brandy, vermouth, orange) for the table and enjoy the buzz. 791 Wharf St. SW, DC;

10. Delirium

When Belgium beer makers Delirium decided to open their first-ever U.S. restaurant/bar location, they ran several analyses and settled on Leesburg, Virginia as the perfect location. And lucky for us, because their 300-plus beer list and epic brunch offerings are amazing. On Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., dishes include fresh waffles that can be piled with ice cream and fresh strawberries, poutine with classic brown gravy and house-made farmers cheese (add that fried egg!), and scrambled salmon with cream cheese and fresh herbs. Grab a beermosa featuring delirium tremens or a mimosa (by the glass or carafe). 101 South King St. Leesburg, VA;

11. Heritage Brewing Co. Market Common Brewpub and Roastery

This brunch is for beer and coffee enthusiasts alike, as Heritage Brewing Co. beers and Veritas Coffee Co. nitrogen-infused cold press coffee are on full display, along with elevated pub fair. On Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., grab the $25 brunch special, which includes a main course, two 13.5-oz. flagship beers and a dessert. We recommend the heavenly, thick-cut brioche French toast with salted caramel maple sauce or the eggs Benedict served on cheddar and scallion scones. Go with the coffee stout chocolate brownie for dessert. 1300-1398 N Fillmore St. Arlington, VA;

12. Hummingbird

Inspired by popular traditions of clam bakes and oyster boils, this Alexandria waterfront restaurant and bar offers a daily breakfast (6:30-10:30 a.m.) and brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 7 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Start the table with a brunch bread basket, and then move on to the crab and corn fritters with chipotle aioli or the crispy fried oysters. You can’t go wrong with the French toast or our favorite, avocado toast with an added fried egg. Other notable dishes include the eggs Benedict with the option for a crab cake or lobster tail, and the Irish smoked salmon platter.220 S Union St. Alexandria, VA;

13. Joselito Casa de Comidas

We adore this bit of Spain in DC, complete with an Iberico ham cart. And while the mimosa-bellini-Bloody Mary bar is perfect, we prefer the delightful sangria – served with a lovely, enormous, fruit-filled ice cube. 660 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, DC;

14. Kith and Kin

When Kwame Onwuachi’s overly-ambitious Shaw restaurant crashed and burned, no one envisioned his Phoenix moment. Onwuachi landed at the Wharf’s new Intercontinental Hotel, where he has created a menu that blends Nigeria with the Bronx. Note that it’s technically a breakfast menu – but you just need to grab the cocktail list to make it a smashing brunch. 801 Wharf St. SE, DC;

15. Lucky Buns

Influenced by Southeast Asia, Australia and the UK, brunch offerings include such sandwiches or “buns” as the Proper Bacon Bun with bacon rashers, brown sauce, and charred tomato on sourdough (add on the cheese, avocado and egg!) Other dishes include the Full Monty English breakfast and smashed avocado toast on sourdough with cotija and roasted tomato. Grab a side of proper chips with malt vinegar mayo to round things out. Brunch offered all weekend starting at 11:30 a.m. 2000 18th St. NW, DC;

16. Pamplona

Named after the town in Spain where the famed running of the bulls occurs, Pamplona serves up unlimited Spanish tapas and mimosas during their bottomless brunch for $35 per person on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Choose from dishes like the chorizo biscuits, lamb burgers and serrano ham benedict. Mimosa flavors include classic, grapefruit or apple, with a two-hour limit on bottomless. 3100 Clarendon Blvd. Arlington, VA;

17. Quinn’s

This Rosslyn sports bar boasts that it’s the longest brunch in Arlington, running 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. on the weekends. Start with the French toast sticks and then move on to the cheddar bacon Belgian waffle, served with two eggs sunny side up, or go for the crab cake BLT. Be sure to save room for the Reese’s sundae for two, and don’t forget the $1 bottles of champagne (per person with brunch item order). 1776 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA;

18. The Salt Line

A popular happy hour spot for Nationals fans, this New England-style seafood restaurant serves up an amazing brunch complete with gorgeous Capitol Riverfront views. Classic dishes include the clam chowder and fried clam bellies, while brunch staples include a heavenly lobster omelet, decadent king crab mac and cheese, and an unexpected but completely welcome duck confit French toast. Wash it all down with one of several signature brunch cocktail creations – our go-to is the Seaside Spritz. Brunch is served 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. all weekend, with cocktails going until 5 p.m. 79 Potomac Ave. SE, DC;

19. Sfoglina

The Trabocchis’ posh pasta palace refocuses its menu for a glorious weekend experience. We love the Maine lobster skillet pancake alongside the eponymous Sfoglina (vodka, elderflower shrub, prosecco), which tastes like summer and joy. And don’t be fooled by the white tablecloths – the service is warm and friendly. 4445 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC;

20. Siren

Located in the Darcy Hotel, this latest addition from Chefs Robert Wiedmaier and Brian McBride take the freshest seafood and put it center stage. Brunch runs 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. and for $35 per person, you can enjoy a raw bar, salad and dessert buffet spread in the lower lounge of the Darcy, with à la carte menu items available. For those looking to take it up a notch, order from the caviar service, which comes with crème fraiche, red onion, chive and egg. 1515 Rhode Island Ave. NW, DC;

21. Sunday in Saigon

Sunday in Saigon has masterfully blended East and West in its beautiful brunch menu. The picky eaters should order malted milk pancakes and mimosas, while the more adventurous can explore the approachable menu of pho noodle soups and bahn mi sandwiches. Do not miss the small but creative brunch cocktail menu – we heart the Pink Expat (charred pineapple and chili-infused tequila, guava nectar, lime, prosecco). 682 N St. Asaph St. Alexandria, VA;

22. Supra

DC’s first Georgian restaurant (the country, not the state) is helmed by the Embassy’s former chef, and shows off a national cuisine that’s a natural fit for brunch (think lots of beautiful carbs and cheese). Georgian cuisine also inspires the drinks menu – we love the Bloody Mariami (vodka, red Georgian plum sauce, red ajika seasoning, lemon, cilantro syrup, svanuri salt). 1205 11th St. NW, DC;

23. Tiger Fork

This Blagden Alley restaurant takes Hong Kong culture and mixes it with hints of Asian, European and Islamic flavors. Their “Dim Sum and Then Some” brunch menu on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. features a variety of small plates including broccolini with house-made oyster sauce, Chinese bacon with pickled radish salad, and Hong Kong style French toast with burnt coconut cream and a cute smiley face, of course. For cocktails, you can’t go wrong with the gin-based All the Pretty Flowers. 922 N St. NW, DC;

24. Tulips

Champagne brunch in a charming Dupont Circle rowhouse? Yes, please. The extensive renovation converted the old Irish Whiskey into a haven of brick and chandeliers and chintz. Order bottomless for the table, and you’ll get a steady stream of mimosas, bellinis, oysters and beignets. 1207 19th St. NW, DC;

25. Unconventional Diner

Diners love classics (example: pancakes) like kids love candy – and we love this diner’s unconventional take on the classics (example: lavender-ginger pancakes with vanilla mascarpone). And we love the Unconventional because it really does live up to its name. Our inner fat kid is happy. 1207 9th St. NW, DC;

Photo: Courtesy of Urbana
Photo: Courtesy of Urbana

DC’s Sustainable Dining Scene

Order up a drink at Hank’s Cocktail Bar and you may notice something’s missing when you take that first sip. The reason? This Petworth hangout, along with its five sister restaurants, only provide straws when requested. This shift is just one way the bar and its parent company, JL Restaurant Group, have been moving to improve sustainability.

“We work really, really hard to use things multiple ways and be as zero waste as possible there,” says beverage director Jess Weinstein, who oversees the bar program at all Hank’s properties.

For example, orange trimmings from the bar’s old-fashioned garnishes are saved and reduced down with sugar into a syrup that’s then used to make a Trash Gimlet cocktail. They dehydrate partially used limes from a night of service for use in future drinks rather than using fresh ones. Weinstein even uses liquid runoff from roasted red peppers in her negroni riff, the Bittersweet Surrender.

These steps toward sustainability might seem small, but they can noticeably improve a business’ carbon footprint and bottom line. And Hank’s is not alone in its quest to become greener. Last year, DC was named the first LEED “Platinum City,” a nod to its leadership in this area.

Urbana in Dupont Circle is the first DC restaurant to use a machine called a Bio-Digester, which converts food scraps into grey wastewater that is then transported for treatment through existing drain systems. Five to One, a craft cocktail bar on U Street, has opted to ditch garnishes entirely. The Dabney recycles all of its oyster shells through Oyster Recovery Partnership.

At Kyirisan in Shaw, chef and owner Tim Ma uses scraps and peelings from vegetables to create stocks for upcoming dishes. He is also one of three national chefs participating in the BlueCart Zero Waste Kitchen initiative, which uses technology to track food waste and map out improvement over time. Ma says thinking about sustainability and efficiency has always been a part of his day-to-day operations – both from an environmental and practical point of view.

“All my restaurants were very small, and it was only just me as the owner, so every percentage point counted to me,” he says.

Being nimble with menu development wherever possible can also pad profit margins as well as help the environment. Kyirisan gets regular emails from producers selling unwanted “ugly” vegetables, often at value prices. Urbana makes use of its rooftop garden for seasonal produce – it sourced 1,500 pounds from onsite growing in 2016.

Weinstein and the rest of the Hank’s Cocktail Bar team also look to the kitchen for ways to use surplus ingredients that would otherwise get thrown out. It’s all part of the push to make each dollar go further in a small profit margin world, while also being a good environmental steward.

There’s still work to be done, of course. Not all restaurants buy exclusively local produce or second-rate vegetables. And when it comes to balancing hospitality with sustainability, some guests still prefer a plastic straw or fresh citrus in cocktails – and may still be new to understanding the sustainability movement.

“That’s something that we are starting to see change in the food and beverage world,” Weinstein says. “But it’s not changed yet.”

Learn more about these eco-friendly spots below.

Dabney: 122 Blagden Alley, NW, DC;
Five to One: 903 U St. NW, DC;
Hank’s Cocktail Bar: 819 Upshur St. NW, DC ;
Kyirisan: 1924 8th St. NW, DC;
Urbana: 2121 P St. NW, DC;

Photo: Farrah Skeiky
Photo: Farrah Skeiky

New Notable No Longer: August 2017

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.


Chicken + Whiskey
Open: June 20
Location: 14th Street
Lowdown: The name of this hybrid concept from Star Restaurant Group says it all: a fast-casual Peruvian chicken joint meets a craft whiskey bar. Upon entering the restaurant, there’s a counter where you can order pollo a la brasa and a host of sides, sandwiches, salads and desserts. Chef Enrique Limardo, recruited from critically acclaimed Alma Cocina Latina in Baltimore, brines and then slow roasts the locally sourced whole chickens in Peruvian charcoal ovens. I devoured a platter of juicy dark meat, crispy yucca fries, seasoned black beans and bright guasacaca. Walk past the kitchen and you’ll see a silver refrigerator door that leads to the bar, which boasts more than 60 whiskies, including bottles from lesser-known American distilleries and underrepresented international destinations like India and Australia. Opt for a dram or a classic cocktail made with the spirit of your choice. Partners Kris Carr, Charles Koch, Desmond Reilly and Stuart Damon wanted the bar to feel like a true neighborhood spot with affordable prices and quality alcohol. Koch, an international DJ, has lent his personal vinyl collection to the bar and frequently invites DJ friends to man the booth. 1738 14th St. NW, DC;

Open: July 7
Location: Barracks Row
Lowdown: Chefs Scott Drewno (formerly of The Source) and Danny Lee (of Mandu) have combined their areas of culinary expertise – Chinese and Korean cuisines, respectively – to create a fast-casual concept that’s serving some of the most innovative and delicious food in the city right now, but at a surprisingly affordable price tag. The pair, along with their third partner, Drew Kim (of Matchbox Food Group), wanted ChiKo to be a place where they could let their creative fantasies run free, and the result is dishes like chilled acorn noodles with kimchi, gochujang and egg, as well as Wagshal’s chopped brisket with a soy-brined egg, furikake butter and rice. They’ve also taken the idea of orange chicken into their own hands and created “orange-ish chicken,” crispy fried meat accompanied by a sauce that’s actually made with the namesake fruit. No reservations are needed to order a la carte, but I opted to sit at the chef’s counter, where Drewno and Lee serve nearly the entire menu for just $50. Drink choices are beer, soju, wines, build-your-own cocktails, and non-alcoholic sodas, teas and juices. 423 8th St. SE, DC;

Maxwell Park
Open: June 26
Location: Shaw
Lowdown: One of DC’s favorite sommeliers has struck out on his own with a wine bar unlike any other in the city. Brent Kroll recruited two young somm friends, Daniel Runnerstrom and Niki Lang, to be his partners in Maxwell, which is named after a park in Detroit that Kroll frequented during his childhood. The 1,050-square-foot spot has a playful vibe, with a chalkboard bar so guests can doodle or write notes about their wine. The wine list, however, is taken very seriously. The three somms all have equal say in making the 50 by-the-glass selections, which are divided into two categories: a monthly theme and a rotating list of the partners’ favorites. The intent of each theme is to help guests explore a certain category of wine. August’s is “How Big Is My Bubble?” and it’s all about non-champagne sparkling wines – perfect for the oppressive summer heat. On the menu itself, there’s one unexpected number alongside the prices. The bar’s refrigeration system has five distinct temperature zones to chill the wines, and the proper serving temperature is listed next to each glass. Kroll and his team are eager to please, so guests can always ask for a custom flight based on their preferences. In the future, winos can look forward to guided tasting classes by the Maxwell team. As for food, Maxwell will host different local chefs, like Lonnie Zoeller and Tony Conte, to create small plates for the menu. 1336 9th St. NW, DC;

Sushi Gakyu
Open: June 27
Location: Downtown
Lowdown: The crown jewel of Chef Yoshihisa Ota’s latest sushi spot is the omakase tasting menu, where diners let the chef steer the ship for the evening. The experience incorporates the familiar nigiri as well as more unusual styles of sushi. For a la carte dining, Ota encourages guests to order off the menu. During the grand opening celebration, I was in heaven as I made my way through Ota’s custom platters laden with dozens and dozens of rolls. Ota’s primary focus is sushi, since he has been practicing the art for over 30 years, but he is also a kikisake-shi, which translates to master of sake. This means there’s a top-notch selection of sake available. Guests may already be familiar with Ota’s sushi skills from his Bethesda restaurant, Yuzu Japanese Dining. 1420 New York Ave. NW, DC;


Hill Country’s Backyard Barbecue
Hours: Thursday and Friday at 4 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday at 12 p.m.
Location: National Building Museum
Lowdown: Hill Country has brought back their popular Backyard Barbecue pop-up, serving up Central Texas-style barbecue, beer, frozen drinks and live music. New menu offerings include a Texas cheesesteak, which is loaded with shredded brisket, serrano peppers and caramelized onions. There’s also pulled pork sandwiches, hot links and classic sides like coleslaw and baked beans. The lawn is adorned with lounge chairs, tents and yard games, and it’s all dog and family-friendly. 401 F St. NW, DC;

Porrón by ANXO
Hours: Thursday 7-11 p.m., Friday and Saturday 7 p.m. – 1 a.m., and Friday through Sunday breakfast 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Location: Barracks Row
Lowdown: DC’s only cidery is continuing to expand their empire with a summer pop-up featuring the most entertaining way to drink cider: out of a porrón hoisted high above your head. The glass vessels are filled with shandy-style drinks, and there will also be house ciders available, including the newest ANXO collaboration made with Snowdrift Cider Co. The food menu is all about the grill, with wood-fired meats and vegetables from Executive Chef Alex Vallcorba, plus rotating pop-ups from local chefs. The menu from the Kennedy Street Cidery is also available, along with breakfast from Timber Pizza Co. and Lost Sock Roasters. The space emulates the outdoors, with turf flooring and blue skies covering the ceiling and walls. 525 8th St. SE, DC;


Across the Pond: 1732 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC;
BBQ Bus: 5830 Georgia Ave. NW, DC;
Bibibop Asian Grill: 710 7th St. NW, DC;
BGR in Mosaic: 3129 Lee Hwy. Arlington, VA;
Blue Bottle: 1046 Potomac St. NW, DC;
Continental Beer Garden: 1911 North Fort Myer Dr. Arlington, VA;
Crimson Diner: 627 H St. NW, DC;
Dolcezza pop-up at Hirshhorn: 7th and Independence Ave. SW, DC;
Falls Church Distillers: 442 S Washington St. Falls Church, VA;
Imm Thai: 1414 Ninth St. NW, DC;
Jenkins Capital BBQ: 3365 14th St. NW, DC
Library Tavern: 5420 3rd St. NW, DC;
Lilise Pizzeria: 1824 Columbia Rd. NW, DC;
Pizzeria Paradiso: 4800 Rhode Island Ave. Hyattsville, MD;
Qualia Coffee: 151 Q St. NE, DC;
Roti: 1251 First St. SE, DC;
Santa Rosa Taqueria: 313 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, DC;
Tortas y Tacos La Chiquita: 2911 Columbia Pike Arlington, VA
Thaiverse: 101 S Madison St. Middleburg, VA;
ThinkFoodLab: 701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, DC;
Vitality Bowls: 1515 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA;


Bar Civita at Woodley Park
Boundary Stone on H Street
Conbini Café at Florida Avenue
Grapeseed in Bethesda
GTown Bites in Georgetown
Halal Guys on H Street
L’Enfant Café in Adams Morgan
L’Hommage Bistro on K Street
One Block West in Winchester
RFD on 7th Street
Rumba Café in Adams Morgan
Straw Stick & Brick Delicatessen in Petworth
The Tomato Palace in Columbia
zpizza in Silver Spring

new dining dc
Photos courtesy of Greg Powers Photography, Hen Quarter, Daniel Williams, Alex McCoy, Farrah Skeiky, Joy Asico and The Bird

New Notable No Longer: September 2016

On Tap keeps locals in the know about the latest and greatest food and drink locales around town, our top foodie picks for the month, and spots that have recently closed their doors. Read on to get the inside scoop on what’s new, notable and no longer in the DC area.

Location: Cleveland Park
Lowdown: Indian street food
Ashok Bajaj didn’t need to find a new location for his latest restaurant. Instead, he just carved a space for Bindaas in Ardeo + Bardeo in Cleveland Park, bumping his new American bistro to one side to make room for his Indian street food-inspired venture. The two spots work surprising well together in an open concept space divided only by a bar, with Chef Vikram Sunderam (Rasika, Bombay Club) at the helm, crafting a lineup of affordable tapas-style dishes that highlight traditional fare served by street vendors in India. The Bindaas salad (papaya, mango, jackfruit and chickpea), the crab idiyappam with string hopper, coconut milk and curry leaf and the chooza kebab with chicken, makhani sauce and fenugreek are among the crowd favorites, according to the chef. As for his own top picks? “As a chef, all the dishes on the menu are equally dear to me,” he says. Fair enough, Chef Sunderam. We’ll just have to check it out for ourselves.  Bindaas: 3309 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC;

Hen Quarter
Location: Old Town Alexandria
Lowdown: Upscale Southern fare
Hen Quarter is the perfect location to satisfy your hankering for Southern comfort food while keeping it classy. The former Austin Grill on the corner of King and North Washington in Old Town Alexandria has been transformed into a charming space with a warm, authentic ambiance that “all comes together in a way that hopefully makes you want to come back again and again, because you feel like you belong,” says Pheast Food Group’s Robyn Leenaerts. Hen Quarter is the group’s first new concept, with inventive takes on Southern fare like the deviled hen eggs (bread and butter pickle relish, hickory smoked bacon, chive and smoked paprika) and belly pops (skewered smoked pork belly with brown sugar brûlée). But the true pièce de résistance is the chicken and waffles – all-natural fried chicken made with the group’s proprietary breading mix, waffles made with corn, cheese and a bit of leek, and maple syrup made with bourbon and “the sweetest watermelon you’re ever going to taste,” according to Leenaerts. In keeping with the Southern theme, Hen Quarter’s Brown 75 highlights the restaurant’s top 75 bourbons, ryes and whiskies, in addition to free-range cocktails that offer an original twist on classic drinks. Leenaerts puts it best: Hen Quarter is a great spot to enjoy “craveable food from your best childhood memories – kicked up a notch in flavor.” Hen Quarter: 801 King St. Alexandria, VA;

Logan Circle
Lowdown: Keeping it simple
Kingfisher is a no-frills neighborhood bar with a retro vibe and straightforward drink menu, plus an old-school jukebox and bring-your-own-food rule – my kind of place. One might liken it to a more alternative, laidback dive like Bloomingdale’s Showtime, but perhaps with a more varied customer base given its Logan Circle location and seasoned co-owners (former Iron Horse GM Daniel Williams and Big Chief’s Ben Sislen, with Jackpot and Iron Horse’s Sam Buis as manager). Kingfisher has a Tin Shop look to it but on a smaller scale, with furnishings by Ivy City Trading Company’s Carter Anderson and graphic design by artist Billy Colbert, who has a gallery space in Ivy City’s Hyphen. Old General Motors plant workbenches and carnival ride parts are just some of the materials used to give Kingfisher its vintage look. Williams says the concept for the cocktail menu is simplicity, put together by Proof’s Abby Sexton. “All we asked was for it to be delicious, fast, not overly complicated, and we didn’t mind a little muddling, but please don’t ask us to slap anything to awaken the aromas,” he says. “She nailed it.” Kingfisher is also a can-only joint, offering a solid range of canned beers and wines that Williams says allow the bar to carry more options. “The stuff that’s getting put in cans is really good,” he says. “Really, really good.” So swing by the bar for a drink, plus trivia on Tuesdays from Geeks Who Drink and a soon-to-be up and running jukebox that Williams says will be the only place in DC where you can hear Lawrence Welk playing non-stop. “Because who doesn’t want to drink when they hear a good polka?” Kingfisher: 1414 14th St. NW, DC;

Location: 14th Street Corridor
Lowdown: Asian-Latin fusion
Sakerum takes culinary innovation to the next level, with a refreshingly original menu from executive chef Khan Gayabazar that blends the flavors of Asian and Latin fare. One of the most buzzworthy dishes at the sushi bar and restaurant is the yaki tako (tender octopus with mango and oranges), according to owner Stephanos Andreou (also a partner at Dupont’s Barcode). Andreou is particularly smitten with the Mar y Tierra roll, “our version of a surf-and-turf with lobster tail and wagyu beef.” Add a stunningly bold and eclectic interior, year-round rooftop bar and cocktail maven Gina Chersevani’s input to the mix, and Sakerum has all of the makings of DC’s trendiest new dining spot. Chersevani’s insider knowledge of rare sake and rum, and ability to conjure up the Wandering Samurai (just a little ‘ol libation made with six pieces of sashimi and served ablaze), will keep cocktail connoisseurs and adventurous drinkers alike on their toes and eager for more.  Sakerum: 2204 14th St. NW, DC;

Tchoup’s Market
Location: Park View
Lowdown: A nod to the Big Easy
There’s no place like home for Alex McCoy, who has transformed his recent pop-up Alfie’s into Tchoup’s Market, an authentic New Orleans restaurant. McCoy grew up in the Big Easy – his mom still lives on Magazine Street – and he’s all about representing the city as it is, and not just as the Mardi Gras-beaded party central on Bourbon Street that many people think of. “At Tchoup’s, we are who we are and we are defined by the people who work here, the food we make and the traditions that have raised us,” he says. “No bells and whistles, no foams or emulsions, no fancy pomp and circumstance. Just good food, good company and a good time. That’s what it’s all about.” Tchoup’s has a family-run vibe, with a menu full of McCoy’s own family recipes and dishes that remind him of home-cooked meals down South. Po’ boys are prominent on the menu (choose from shrimp, oyster, catfish and roast beef), but he notes the gumbo (his grandmother’s recipe), red beans and rice, hot chicken, and shrimp Arnaud as other signature dishes worth checking out. Tchoup’s also offers a rotating selection of craft and local beers – plus some NOLA classics – and a fall lineup that includes trivia, happy hours, football on the projector screen and TVs, and special events. Soon enough, McCoy will be adding a raw bar and hosting live music at his home away from home. The only thing missing? “All I need is my mom yelling at me from the kitchen to help her chop onions for the Arnaud sauce.”  Tchoup’s Market: 3301 Georgia Ave. NW, DC;

Vieux Carre
Location: K Street
Lowdown: Nawlins-inspired cocktails
Seth McClelland wants you to be immediately transported to the Big Easy when you step inside Vieux Carre. The cocktail bar’s creative director got it right, because one foot in the elegant double doors and I was feeling nostalgic for one of my favorite cities. “The spirit of New Orleans begins with our baroque design and cocktails that all originated in or are inspired by the Crescent City, then is finished with Southern hip-hop and po’ boys,” McClelland says. The dark walls, opulent lighting and wrought-iron mezzanine have all of the charm of the French Quarter (and thankfully, none of the chaos), with a cocktail menu that pays homage to the city’s famous cocktails. McClelland says the Vieux Carre (rye, brandy, sweet vermouth, Benedictine and bitters) and hurricane – watch out, this one can be deadly – (rum, passion fruit, orange and lime juice, and grenadine) are the most popular on the menu thus far. Guests can soak up some of the alcohol this fall with po’ boys, Cajun fries and dipping sauces from the late-night kitchen. Check the Nawlins-style spot’s website for details about a grand opening party early this month.  Vieux Carre: 1413 K St. NW, DC;

Just Opened
Bên Tre: 2418 18th St. NW, DC
Buredo: 1213 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC;
Devon & Blakely: 601 Massachusetts Ave. NW, DC;
The Dirty Goose: 913 U St. NW, DC;
Emissary: 2032 P St. NW, DC;
Haikan: 805 V St. NW, DC;
The Haymaker: 1015 H St. NE, DC;
Ice Cream Jubilee: 1407 T St. NW, DC;
Nando’s PERi-PERi: 2631 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC;
On Rye: 6th and H Street, NW, DC;
Osteria Al Volo: 1790 Columbia Rd. NW, DC;
The Passenger : 1539 7th St. NW, DC; www.passengerdc.comSaxby’s Coffee: 1303 19th St. NW, DC;
Reren Lamen: 817 7th St. NW, DC;  Maryland
Brother Jimmy’s: 177 Fleet St. Oxon Hill, MD;
Honu Hawaiian Barbecue: 9201 Woodmore Center Dr. #404, Lanham-Seabrook, MD;
Modern Market: 4930 Elm St. Bethesda, MD;
TapaBar: 4901 A. Fairmont Ave. Bethesda, MD;  

Aggio: 20462 Exchange St. Ashburn, VA;
Boru Ramen: 2915 Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA
Burton’s Grill & Bar: 21434 Epicerie Plaza, Sterling, VA;
Colada Shop: 21430 Epicerie Plaza, Sterling, VA ;
Coton and Rye : 44050 Woodridge Pkwy. Leesburg, VA;
District Dumplings: 2985 District Ave. #110, Fairfax, VA;
Halal Guys: 6304 Springfield Plaza, Springfield, VA and 2670 Avenir Pl. Dunn Loring, VA;
Honeygrow: 1100 S. Hayes St., Arlington, VA;
Live Oak: 1603 Commonwealth Ave. Alexandria, VA;
Matchbox: 1100 S. Hayes St. Arlington, VA;
Myron Mixon’s Pitmaster Barbeque: 220 N. Lee St. Alexandria, VA;
Ocean Blue: 21438 Epicerie Plaza, Sterling, VA;
Room 19: The Carlyle Club, 2050 Ballenger Ave. Alexandria, VA;
Taco Bamba: 164 Maple Ave. W. Vienna, VA;
Uptown Alley: 8300 Sudley Rd. Manassas, VA;
Vola’s Dockside Grill and Hi-Tide Lounge: 101 N. Union St. Alexandria, VA;

The Bird Pop-Up
Logan Circle
Bird is the word
On Saturday, September 17 and Sunday, September 18, Logan Circle’s The Pig will host a poultry-themed pop-up for Shaw’s The Bird, opening next month. The latest eatery from EatWell DC will highlight “four seasons of foul,” with globally-inspired “beak-to-toe” dishes that range from chicken, duck and turkey to quail, goose and ostrich – and their eggs. The pop-up’s brunch offerings (available from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.) will include a sampling of starters and breakfast meats, according to Chef Michael Bonk, a “birdcuterie board” with capon rillettes, duck prosciutto, pheasant galntine, mustards, pickles and toast, and egg dishes like the duck hash and smoked chicken benedict with brined, smoked and pulled Amish organic chicken, poached eggs, yuzu hollandaise and biscuits. If you’re out and about later in the day, check out the “early bird at the bar” options (available from 3 to 7 p.m.), like duck fat-roasted nuts, the fried chicken and biscuit sandwich or popcorn seasoned with a salt made from dehydrated chicken skins. EatWell Owner David Winer tells On Tap that The Bird is another opportunity “for us show the dinning public that food and dining can and should be fun, as well as showcase the fresh vegetables from our own farm, EatWell Natural, in La Plata, Md.” Don’t miss the sneak peek this month before the real deal opens mid-October. The Bird Pop-Up at The Pig: 1320 14th St. NW, DC;

Toli Moli Stays Put
Location: Union Market
Lowdown: Falooda pop-up finds a home
Mother-daughter team Jocelyn Law-Yone (or Chef JoJo) and Simone Jacobson are pros at running pop-ups, with four under their collective belt. Their most recent pop-up at Union Market this summer earned them a brand new – and more permanent – spot at NoMA’s foodie hub, giving them the opportunity to start serving more Burmese fare. Up until now, the gals exclusively served falooda, a dessert drink often consumed as a street snack in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Toli Moli’s colorful, layered treats are made completely from scratch – the jellies, noodle pudding and syrups. Jacobson says the love and care she and her mom put into each layer of their faloodas is one of the reasons why folks appreciate their signature snacks. She walked me through a few of her faves, including the black eye (cold-brew coffee jellies, condensed milk, basil seeds, noodle pudding, vanilla ice cream, iced coffee and coffee-oat crumble) and the all-vegan mango mogul topped with a dollop of Dolcezza’s “velvety champagne mango sorbet,” and it made me want to eat all the things. Don’t forget to try the Burmese noodle salads, just added to Toli Moli’s menu at the end of August. Toli Moli at Union Market: 1309 5th St. NE, DC;

American Tap Room in Clarendon
The Boulevard Woodgrill in Clarendon
Cappy’s Crabs in Petworth
Chez Billy in Petworth
Chili’s in Crystal City
Czars 11 International Tapas, and its affiliated Exhale Bar, in Adams Morgan
Matuba in Bethesda
Panache Restaurant in Dupont Circle
Ping Pong Dim Sum in Penn Quarter
Pollo Granjero in Adams Morgan
Radius Pizza in Mount Pleasant
Sushi Go Round in Chinatown
Yamas Mediterranean Grill in Adams Morgan

Photos courtesy of Greg Powers Photography, Hen Quarter, Daniel Williams, Alex McCoy, Farrah Skeiky, Joy Asico and The Bird


New, Notable, No Longer: August 2016

We keep locals in the know about the latest and greatest food and drink locales around town, our top foodie pick for the month, and spots that have recently closed their doors.


801 Restaurant & Bar
Location: Shaw

Lowdown: The guys behind Shaw’s Tavern, The Front Page, Madhatter and The Bottom Line just opened a two-story, beach-themed restaurant at 801 Florida Avenue. 801’s dinner menu is simple, with five entrees (each for $24.95 and served with a house or grilled Caesar salad) including roasted chicken, pan-seared halibut and cauliflower steak. Partner Eric Heidenberger says the restaurant is focused on consistency and quality, which is totally believable after we recently popped in for brunch and tried the yummy California benedict, topped with some of the freshest produce we’ve had in recent memory. The clean, bright white interior and cute rooftop overlooking Shaw offer the perfect setting for a casual meal with a warm, inviting atmosphere (Heidenberger emphasizes how hands-on and friendly his staff is) or to share 801’s signature Mega Mule served out of a giant copper mug with your buds – an impressive feat indeed. 801 Restaurant & Bar: 801 Florida Ave. NW, DC;

Big Chief
Location: Ivy City

Lowdown: Ivy City continues to grow, simultaneously upping its hipster and yuppie factor with new spots like Tin Shop’s Big Chief popping up around the neighborhood. Big Chief’s “New Orleans-meets-Brooklyn” vibe complements the industrial space’s three bars and rooftop, complete with a 1970s airstream that will soon double as a pop-up art gallery for more tactile installations – think a mini-version of the Renwick’s “WONDER” exhibit. Tin Shop (Penn Social, Highline RXR) is on a roll, with several other locations around the city opening soon, and branding director Evan Rosenthal is all about throwing a good party. From Motown Mondays featuring DJ Trayze (for those who appreciate an authentic retro factor to their nights out) to Saturday cookouts, Big Chief is gaining momentum. Rosenthal says BBQ on the rooftop and crawfish boils are just around the corner, in keeping with the Nawlins theme. Try a sazerac, daiquiri, Pimm’s cup, whiskey sour or gin gimlet from bar director Tom Latterell’s drink menu, or keep it simple with $6 Abitas or $5-$6 tallboys. Keep an eye on this one – we have no doubt that Rosenthal and the rest of his team’s ambitions for turning Big Chief into a go-to location for good vibes, great tunes and Big Easy-style drinks will come to fruition in the blink of an eye. Big Chief: 2002 Fenwick St. NE, DC;

Casolare Ristorante + Bar
Location: Glover Park

Lowdown: The newest spot from Chef Michael Schlow (The Riggsby, Conosci, Alta Strada, Tico) is tucked inside Kimpton’s swanky Glover Park Hotel, offering coastal Italian cuisine and a rustic ambiance with original works of art by Adrienne (Chef Schlow’s wife) lining the walls. Schlow Restaurant Group’s Director of Operations, Steve Uhr, says Casolare is designed for customers to feel as though they’ve left Glover Park and entered Italy. He notes some customer favorites from the seafood-driven menu – the slow-cooked Spanish octopus served with potatoes and steamed clams and mussels in a spicy tomato broth (both antipasti), as well as the swordfish, slow-cooked salmon, chicken parm and margherita pizza. Uhr is currently smitten with the tagliatelle with pesto, but had to think long and hard before arriving on just one dish as his personal fave. The most buzzworthy cocktail thus far is The Big Night (vodka, prosecco, blood orange, honey and lemon), plus customers have the opportunity to use Campari and sweet vermouth as the base for up to five different cocktails. Casolare is only serving dinner for now, but will extend its hours to include other mealtimes very soon. Casolare Ristorante + Bar: 2505 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC;

Fare Well
Location: H Street Corridor

Lowdown: The District’s first vegan diner is officially open, taking H Street by storm with a menu that’s more “Eastern New York than greasy spoon,” according to founder Doron Petersan. After 10 years running vegan bakery Sticky Fingers in Columbia Heights, Petersan decided it was time to take things to the next level. Fare Well features an expanded baked goods menu with chocolate chip coconut scones, sweet and savory croissants, and a unique take on a flourless chocolate torte that’s not really flourless, just to name a few. Petersan teamed up with chef Amanda Desaulniers on a plant-based menu that runs the gamut from pierogis with cashew cheddar and mushroom-chickpea burgers to all-day breakfast items like the French toast casserole made with challah bread baked in-house. The Trinidad native says she can’t stop eating everything on the menu, and is thrilled to see how excited folks are about the almond and cashew-based cheeses. Fare Well’s drink menu offers a local theme, with four area beers on rotation – Atlas, 3 Stars, DC Brau and Right Proper – and signature cocktails like the Tiber Creek (mescal, passion fruit juice, ginger liqueur, lemon grass syrup and grapefruit bitters) and the Washington Brickyard (bourbon, dark beer, coffee, soy creamer and ice) that offer a nod to H Street’s history. Petersan says Fare Well is a diner for everyone, and is psyched to see how many people are open to trying items on her eclectic vegan menu.   Fare Well: 406 H St. NE, DC;

Location: Dupont Circle

Lowdown: Marcus Barnett wanted to be bold with his Dupont Circle eatery, an all-day breakfast joint that also offers a quirky assortment of tacos, sandwiches, salads and ice cream sandwiches. Named Moxie’s because Barnett’s mom always told him he had moxie (aw), he says he wanted to provide an option that was different and fun for the Dupont crowd. Dishes creating the most buzz are the bánh mì sandwich, fish tacos and of course, the ice cream sandwiches served with the cookie still warm (we tried one with Fruity Pebbles sprinkled on top and it was to die for). Barnett even had one customer rent out the restaurant for an ice cream sandwich-themed party. With each dish, he applies his own “Moxie’s twist” to it – the BBQ pulled pork sandwich features house-made kale and apple slaw, and the steak tacos are served with his signature “power slaw.” Swing by Moxie’s for a satisfying bite, and definitely take an ice cream sandwich to-go – it’s worth the caloric splurge. Moxie’s: 1020 19th St. NW, DC;

Slim’s Diner
Location: Petworth

Lowdown: One of DC’s favorite restaurateurs, Paul Ruppert – who brought us Petworth Citizen, Upshur Street Books and Room 11, among others – just opened Slim’s Diner in Petworth. Located on the corner of Georgia Avenue and Upshur Street, Ruppert says his new diner welcomes people from all walks of life. The owner wanted to give locals a throwback to the traditional diner experience, with a lineup of options that are easily recognizable from our shared histories noshing on comfort food. Slim’s – named after carpenter James “Slim” Crawford, who has worked with Ruppert at all of his locations and is “one of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet” – offers some more modern takes on diner classics, with vegan and gluten-free options for the pickier among us. Ruppert credits Slim’s donuts – made in-house every morning – and the deep-fried Monte Cristo sandwich – as the showstoppers at Petworth’s newest foodie addition. Slim’s Diner: 4201 Georgia Ave. NW, DC;


Scarlet Oak
Location: Navy Yard
Lowdown: Celebrate Scarlet Oak’s one-year anniversary on August 5 with $5 beer, wine and cocktails. The Capitol Riverfront favorite is home to one of the largest patio spaces in the ‘hood, and offers an urban chic vibe “minus the pretentiousness,” according to partner and general manager Brian Schram. Try the restaurant’s brand new Saga Mead sangria with bursts of orange and honey, and stay tuned for details about an upcoming BBQ party on the patio. Scarlet Oak has earned a great rep for fresh, seasonal produce – the current menu ranges from house-made ricotta cavatelli to pan-seared branzino – and will switch things up again with new dishes in mid-September. Schram is proud of the strong sense of community at the restaurant, and pumped about growth in the area since Scarlet Oak appeared on the scene last year. “We feel like we’ve really grown with the neighborhood,” he says. “It’s been really exciting to watch everything that has developed [in Navy Yard], and we haven’t even scratched the surface.” Scarlet Oak: 909 New Jersey Ave. SE, DC;


ANXO Cidery & Pintxos Bar:  300 Florida Ave. NW, DC;
Bar Louie:  11006 Veirs Mill Rd. Wheaton, MD;
Beefsteak:  7101 Democracy Blvd. Bethesda, MD;
Blackfinn Ashburn:   43781 Central Station Dr. Ste 150 Ashburn, VA;
The Dish & Dram:  10301 Kensington Pkwy. Kensington, MD;
Duke’s Counter:  3000 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC;
Jinya Ramen Bar:   2911 District Ave. Fairfax VA;
Neal Place Tap + Garden:   1300 4th St. NE, DC;
Red Bandana Bakery:   8200 Wisconsin Ave. Bethesda, MD;
Sal’s Italian Kitchen:   7945 MacArthur Blvd. Cabin John, MD;
Salumeria 2703:   2703 12th St. NE, DC;
The Speak:   1413 K St. NW, DC;
Suma Restaurant & Bar:   4921 Bethesda Ave. Bethesda, MD;
Tasty Burger:  2108 8th St. NW, DC;
Timber Pizza Company:   10301 809 Upshur St. NW, DC;
Wunder Garten:   1st and L St. NE, DC;


6th and H Bar and Grill on H Street
DC-3 in Capitol Hill
Domku in Petworth
Doner Bistro in Adams Morgan
Hard Times in Clarendon
Kabob Bazaar in Bethesda
La Fourchette in Adams Morgan
Lobster Me in Bethesda
Mama Reacer’s in Del Ray
Max Brenner Chocolate Bar in Bethesda
Minh in Clarendon
Philadelphia Mike’s in Bethesda
Primi Piatti in Foggy Bottom
Savannah’s American Grill in Kensington
Shiki Sushi in Ballston
Friends sitting at dining table and toasting with wine
Friends sitting at dining table and toasting with wine

Instagram-Worthy Eateries for DMV Urbanites

For urbanites, going out to dinner, grabbing a cup of coffee or meeting for a drink doesn’t have to be an underwhelming experience, especially in the D.C. metro area. Trendy restaurants, hipster coffeehouses, local breweries, charming bakeries and gastropubs (with live music!) offer discerning foodies endless opportunities to experience diverse eats and cuisine.

Whether you’re looking for a place to go for happy hour or on a dinner date, these options offer unique experiences that are anything but ordinary. Trust us, you won’t be able to resist the urge to post, share, tag and hashtag on your smartphone. And with a  phone like the Galaxy S7 in tow, you can rely on Google Maps for the fastest route and leave a raving review on Yelp. Here’s the rundown.

D.C. — Progressive American Flair
Hazel, the newest restaurant from Neighborhood Restaurant Group in the Shaw neighborhood, features distinctive shared plates with global influences and personal reflection. Chef Rob Rubba’s creations, like spiced duck sausage, gnocchi bokki, and salt and pepper soft shell crab, are masterpieces on a plate. These dishes are sensory overload full of mouthwatering flavors and artistic details. Surrounded by thoughtful rustic aesthetics with modern appeal, Hazel is a true culinary experience.

Arlington — Jolt With Java, Unwind With Wine
Coffee and wine. Two favorite drinks for getting your buzz on (a caffeine or alcohol buzz that is). In the DMV area,  Northside Social is where coffee connoisseurs and vinos flock. Need a strong espresso drink to fuel a few productive hours? Pair your work vibes with a cup of CounterCulture Coffee. The neighborhood coffeehouse also caters to crowds who want to relax with a glass (or bottle) of wine. Head to the second floor of this charming red house at 5 o’clock when the wine bar opens to sip some vino and nom on small artisan bites.

Alexandria — Brewing Only the Best
The port town of Alexandria is no newbie to breweries and beer, which was the preferred drink to quench thirst in the 18th century. To reclaim its status as a town with a rich beer history, the  Port City Brewing Company arrived in 2011. This Old Town craft brewery thrives with its handmade, superior-quality and locally crafted beers. In fact, Port City Brewing was named Small Brewing Company and Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year by earning three medals at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. Beer gurus owe it to themselves to enjoy a frosty glass of award-winning Port City Porter, Monumental IPA and Optimal Wit.

Bethesda — For Rockers of All Types
Villain & Saint describes itself as a “Haight-Ashbury-inspired rock ‘n’ roll music hall” and “cultural gathering spot” with an “electric bohemian menu” and “distinctly underground vibe.” Needless to say, it isn’t your typical eatery. Robert Wiedmaier, a veteran D.C. chef, dreamed up  Villain & Saint as a way to celebrate his passion for motorcycles and the freewheeling ways of rock ‘n’ roll. V&S primarily serves as a live talent stage for aspiring artists and up-and-coming rockstars who seek legendary status. Walk into this rock ‘n’ roll hangout and take a step back into the psychedelic ’60s era of San Francisco. From funky accents to a tin-pressed ceiling, the V&S interior reflects all things rock ‘n’ roll.

Georgetown — Any Time Is Pie Time
Pie isn’t just for Thanksgiving and it’s not just a dessert.  Spoon University features Pie Sisters and its various “savory and sweet pies that will satisfy all your needs.” Three sisters with a family tradition of baking homemade pies run the Georgetown bakery where you can choose to stick your fork in mouthwatering pies like jumble berry, creamy apple crunch, classic pecan pie and s’mores pie. If you have a savory craving over a sweet tooth, sink your teeth into a classic chicken pot pie, delicious ham and cheese quiche or a pulled pork BBQ pie. For Pie Sisters and fans, “tradition starts here.”