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Photos: Trent Johnson
Photos: Trent Johnson

A Day in the Life: Call Your Mother Deli’s Daniela Moreira and Andrew Dana

There’s a calmness to Andrew Dana and Daniela Moreira, a laidback vibe that you wouldn’t necessarily associate with a young couple running two businesses daily. The pair are the driving force behind Petworth’s Timber Pizza Company and the newly opened Call Your Mother Deli in Park View, adding to DC’s growing community of local foodie spots with a mom-and-pop, neighborhood feel. Their “Jew-ish” deli has garnered much buzz since its October opening with lines out the door every weekend, yet another new business putting Park View on the map. We sat down with Dana (founder) and Moreira (head chef and partner) to pick their brains about how they put their own spin on a Jewish deli, why their bagel shop is at the top of every local foodie’s brunch list, and what supporting the local community means to them.

On Tap: Why does Park View feel like the right fit for your second business together? How do you think the area is changing?
Andrew Dana:
I grew up in Mount Pleasant, so I’m very familiar with the neighborhoods. For a long time, I’ve said that DC has been great at opening big, fancy restaurants and hip, new restaurants. But what it’s not good at is the neighborhood staples that have been around for generations because it’s such a transient city. We were really attracted to [Park View] because there’s not a lot of other noise going on. It’s really residential. People are putting down roots. The funny thing about this building is we looked at it before we opened Timber and then we found this really cute, perfect spot up in Petworth. Then we started turning the wheels on this bagel idea and this was coming back on the market, so it seemed like it was a sign from the bagel gods that they wanted us to open [our deli here].

OT: I heard you had lines down the block and couldn’t keep up with the crowds the first week you opened, so you closed for a little bit to rework your menu. Were you surprised at the spot’s overwhelming success right out of the gate?
AD:
We truly thought this was going to be like a neighborhood bagel shop and we’d have to do a lot of wholesale and catering to make it work. The kitchen’s not really set up for there to be a 100-person line, and that’s exactly what happened the first weekend. We had to shut down for a couple of days and make the menu a little bit more manageable. We had to keep up with the demand. We had to trim the fat and just go with the best of the best.

OT: How’s the buzz been since then?
AD:
Every weekend, we’ve had a line out the door down to the alley. Now, we’re really proud of the menu. It’s much tighter and more concise.

OT: DC’s seeing a resurgence of mom-and-pop foodie spots in up-and-coming neighborhoods, and they’re wildly popular. Why do you think that is? Why does it feel important to be part of that scene?
AD:
I’m from here so what I want above all is just for DC to be awesome. I went to grad school in New York and lived in Brooklyn, and [when] you walk around there’s pizza shops that have been around for 50 years. I want my hometown to have that same vibe, so that is what it is at its core. And the food, Dani and I just do what we like. We like the staples: pizza, bagels. And if creating stuff we really like resonates with people and helps the neighborhood out, that’s awesome. There’s not some sort of bigger master plan. It’s make food that we really, really like in neighborhoods we like and be here for the people.

OT: Did you hesitate at all with the “Jew-ish” theme? How did you decide to walk the line between the authenticity of a traditional Jewish deli and putting your own spin on it?
Daniela Moreira
: I’m not even Jewish. I was like, “I don’t know anything about Jewish traditions or anything.” So I was scared.
AD: I like “Jew-ish” because I’m half Jewish. I [don’t] think that binds us to traditions. If somebody says, “Why don’t you have chopped liver or pumpernickel?” We’re like, “Oh, it’s ‘Jew-ish.”’ And I think Dani is selling herself short. I think what Dani likes the most is the creativity and reading a ton and doing trial and error, which she got to do. She didn’t have all of these preconceived notions of what a bagel had to be. She’s from Argentina. They don’t have bagels. It was fun watching her start from scratch and learn what a bagel was supposed to be. We probably went through 100 recipes – that’s no exaggeration. She became a scholar of the bagel.

OT: I read that you did lots of research, including some trips to NYC. Was iconic Jewish deli Barney Greengrass on the list?
AD:
We went to New York. We did go to Barney Greengrass, which was awesome. We ate so many bagels, it was ridiculous.

OT: You also brought in bagels from other cities, right? What motivated those choices and what areas did you draw inspiration from?
AD:
We had bagels flown in from Montreal. We actually went to South Florida because that’s where all the older Jews retire – Boca [Raton], Delray. We were sort of taking it all in. Actually, how we finalized our [bagel] recipe is every weekend, we would do a blind taste test [versus] New York bagels that we would ship in. We didn’t stop until we were consistently beating that taste test.

OT: What staples of a Jewish deli were important to you to maintain?
AD:
The Rihanna-Flex is sort of like your classic salmon bagel, which we actually didn’t have the first week. The first week we were open, we had a classic pastrami with mustard on rye bread that we were making. It was just so crazy, it was too much, so we said, “Alright, let’s do a pastrami brisket cheesesteak” [The Greenberg]. There’s nothing totally classic on there – all twists.

OT: What personal twists did you each take? Dani, can you walk us through some of the Argentinian influences?
DM:
Well, we opened with a soup. It was a South American vegetable soup. But again, we had to change the menu to make it easier for the kitchen to execute so we took it out for now. We have black and white cookies – alfajores – filled with dulce de leche. That’s super traditional.
AD: It’s one big ass cookie.
DM: There’s no bagels in Argentina, not at all.
AD: But we have a za’atar bagel, which obviously isn’t Argentinian, but that’s also not classic. And I think we arrived there because when Dani is thinking about bagel toppings, it’s not classic, classic, classic. She’s like, “I like za’atar. I like bagels. Let’s make za’atar bagels.”

OT: What has been the most popular bagel on the menu?
AD:
At the farmers market, people do love the za’atar bagels. They [usually] sell out. And in the shop, our bacon, egg and cheese or pastrami, egg and cheese with spicy honey [The Shyne].

OT: What’s your personal favorite, or the one you’re proudest of?
AD:
I love the Craig D. We made a nectarine cream cheese with fresh nectarines that we got from the farmers market. [It’s] sliced nectarines, jalapeno, bacon and potato chips, so it’s sweet, it’s salty, it’s crunchy. And now that nectarines are out of season, we use apples, so [it’s made with] apple cream cheese and sliced apples.
DM: The Amar’e. The Amar’e is a za’atar bagel with candied salmon cream cheese and then a salad of pea shoots, cucumbers and crispy shallots. It sounds healthy. It makes you feel better when you eat it [laughs].

OT: You’ve got pizza and bagels checked off the list, so what’s next? Do you have a dream spot you’d like to open, either as a team or individually?
AD:
I mean, we’re animals and we eat nachos all the time. I don’t know if that’s a full-scale concept or not. Woodfired nachos would be a real thing too. That’s going to be a ways off. [Running two businesses] is taking a lot of energy and focus. We’re hunkering down here for a little while.

OT: What do you guys like to do when you’re not working? Do you hang mostly in Park View and Petworth?
AD:
We live in Petworth. We like exercising, travel, eating of course. We go out to eat all the time. We work out a good amount. Travel – she just got back from Costa Rica [and] I just got back from New Zealand. We’re trying to pick up squash this year. She wants to take lessons.
DM: Yeah. It’s fun.
AD: I’ll start taking lessons when she can compete with me.
DM: We’re not really fun.
AD: Yeah, we’re not that fun.
DM: We just go to sleep, eat, and that’s it [laughs].

OT: What cocktail bars and restaurants are on your radar right now?
AD:
I love Indigo, the Indian restaurant in NoMa, [and] Don Juan’s in Mount Pleasant.
DM:
I love Amsterdam Falafel[shop].
AD: She’s a French fry fanatic. It’s pretty scary, actually.
DM:
Bars? No. We don’t really drink that much. I only drink once a year when I go back home and that’s enough for the whole year [laughs], so I don’t really go out to bars here.
AD: We were at Players Club yesterday, love Players Club. My two great loves in life are basketball and food, and they have pop-a-shot basketball, so I played like 25 times yesterday [and] ate some Shake Shack. Life is good.

To learn more about Call Your Mother Deli’s menu, check out www.callyourmotherdeli.com.

Call Your Mother Deli: 3301 Georgia Ave. NW, DC; www.callyourmotherdeli.com

[FIRST PAGE HEADER IMAGE] Photos - Trent Johnson

 

Photo: Scott Suchman
Photo: Scott Suchman

Siren Mixes Shrubs and Seafood

The evening began ascending into a regal, underwater grotto where I wanted to reach out and touch the deep, captivating shades of blues and greens, perfectly capturing the depths of the ocean in the moonlight. Brass trim sparkled, bathed in a low golden hue emanating from the ceiling. Smooth jazz beckoned me deeper into the room. The whole effect was seductive, yet soothing. I now understand the name, Siren, as the restaurant’s atmosphere mimics the effects of a siren’s song.

Michelin-starred Siren by Robert Wiedmaier – located on the ground floor of The Darcy hotel near Logan Circle – is dedicated to seafood. The menu is constantly inspired by daily catches and its strong agricultural partnerships. However, the restaurant does more for their partners than just utilize their products; it celebrates them with FarmStead Evening dinners. This series spotlights the relationships Siren has with other regional businesses, and December 12, Siren turned the spotlight on Element Shrub: a family-run agribusiness that produces “herbal elixirs” that can be drunk on their own or incorporated into food and beverages.

The word shrub comes from the Arabic word “sharāb,” which means to drink. Shrubs are age-old beverages made from using vinegar to preserve fruits, herbs and spices. Element Shrub strictly uses organic apple cider vinegar containing raw enzymes and gut-friendly bacteria known as “the mother” as a base. With this as the foundation, a variety of fruits, herbs and spices are added for a diverse range of products.

Siren Chef Brian McBride worked with Element Shrub Founder Charlie Berkinshaw to create a five-course meal with pairings highlighting nine shrubs: blood orange saffron, honeydew jalapeno, lemon mint, cranberry hibiscus, grapefruit vanilla, pineapple turmeric, blueberry rosemary, chair pear and cranberry hibiscus. Attendees were seated in Siren’s elegant private dining space, which feels like part of the main restaurant but is secluded enough for guests to enjoy dinner with a different element of presentation and raucous conversation.

Much to my delight, we were greeted with a glass of champagne, providing a sensation only truly good champagne can. No sooner than when I placed my flute on the table, my hand held a glass once more with the welcome “Shrub Down” cocktail – a concoction of blood orange saffron soda shrub with citric honey syrup and orange bitters. Every sip was robust, a marriage of all its ingredients washing across every part of my taste buds.

However, this cocktail was nothing compared to the amuse-bouche. The dish, a salty Gigamoto oyster topped with a brilliant honeydew jalapeno shrub gelée, prompted diners at my table to perform an impromptu rock-paper-scissors match for who could eat the coveted last oyster. Unfortunately, it wasn’t me; damn the scissors.

As I was getting over my angst at not having a second oyster, a delicate bowl of bay scallops with lemon mint and spruce was set. Accompanied by “Shrubbles,” a cocktail with cranberry hibiscus shrub and sparkling wine, the scallops were the true star of the course. Perfectly paced, a bowl of peekytoe crab under a sabayon sauce of grapefruit vanilla shrub soon followed. The dish proved whimsical, unusual and perfectly pleasant.

The crescendo of the meal was not a flamboyant whole-roasted fish, but a Rohan duck with blueberry rosemary shrub, Brussels sprout leaves, black trumpet, black onion soubise and master stock brittle. For this course, I have only two things to say: first, anything that resembles spittle should firmly be left off the plate; the reign of foams and airs needs to be over. Second, the concept of stock brittle was excellent, but its execution left me feeling like a three-year-old panicked about her teeth never unsticking after biting off too much caramel candy.

The crowning jewel of the evening was the caramel pear compote made with a crispy crepe, chai pear shrub apricot sauce, toasted rice ice cream and hazelnuts. Coming from someone who is not a dessert person, this dish deserved a standing ovation. Delightfully made to look like egg rolls, every bite was crispy on the outside with a warm, soft middle full of perfectly textured sweet fruits that were heightened once paired with toasted rice ice cream.

For more information about Siren and their FarmStead Evening series, visit here. For information about Elemental Shrub, visit here.

The Darcy: 1515 Rhode Island Ave. NW, DC; 202-521-7171; www.sirenbyrw.com

Photo: Courtesy of StarChefs
Photo: Courtesy of StarChefs

StarChefs Honors Rising Stars in DC’s Culinary World

Amidst the sticky heat in June of this year, a buzz was rising from restaurants around the District. StarChefs, a platform and publication for restaurant industry professionals, was searching for “the future of American cuisine” through their Rising Stars initiative – including a stop in the nation’s capital to review the talent.

In preparation for StarChefs’ visit, prominent chefs around the city poured over their menus, determining what to put on display. One of those chefs was Drew Adams of Bourbon Steak, whose approach was simple: “Let’s have fun with it.”

Adams will be honored during the Rising Stars Awards ceremony and tasting gala at Union Market next Tuesday, December 11. Himitsu’s Kevin Tien and Kith and Kin’s Kwame Onwuachi are among the 24 local chefs accepting awards. Rising Stars is a prominent mention in the world of chefs that helps to launch and strengthen careers, highlighting those with “strong, compelling culinary philosophies and are committed to fostering a culinary community by sharing their knowledge with fellow professionals.”

Those who are familiar with Adams’ work know of his extensive experience in fine dining, as well as his love for whimsy. This was captured perfectly on a plate when he presented a scallop-on-scallop crudo dish with scallop cream made from abductor muscles and scraps. The dish was topped with chive oil, caviar and a squid ink tuile for a touch of salinity. A little-known fact about Adams is his love of foraging.

“I’m obsessed with it,” he says. “It’s nice to get out of the city and outside. I started off with ramps about five or six years ago, and then just went down the rabbit hole.”

For StarChefs, Adams plated up a tartine of chargrilled sourdough with ricotta, asparagus, peas, fiddlehead ferns, Edwards ham and pickled green tomatoes – a dish that rotates seasonally on Bourbon Steak’s menu. No prominent culinary philosophy is complete without a nod to nostalgia. For Adams, it’s a simple dish that does the trick.

“My family were not cooks,” he laughs. “My grandmother would marinate steak with Wish-Bone dressing and then throw it in the broiler and, somehow, I loved that fatty steak with the acid coming through.”

Adams elevates this fond childhood memory by marinating pork with balsamic and local maple syrup, and then caramelizing it on the grill. The pork is topped with pickled mustard seeds and charred mustard greens, and served with white balsamic and beet puree.

“The fine dining part is great, but when you have a wholesome meal with a nicely composed entrée, it makes you smile. And that’s awesome for me.”

Adams saved the best for last and, luckily for Rising Star Award attendees, his olive-fed wagyu beef is on Tuesday’s menu.

“We made and clarified miso with barley and dashi,” Adams says. “We put the seared olive-fed wagyu on top of a bed of raw mushrooms with a little chive oil on top and covered them in honey truffles.”

The truffles have a sweet yet Szechuan-like taste, making your mouth tingle. The broth will be poured tableside.

“It’s over the top,” Adams admits, chuckling.

Tickets to Tuesday’s event are available here. Awards ceremony at 6:30 p.m., gala from 7-9:30 p.m. Learn more about StarChefs’ Rising Star initiative here.

Dock5 at Union Market: 1309 5th St. NE, DC; www.unionmarketdc.com

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.

New

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; www.lekonrestaurant.com

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; www.eatlittlesesame.com

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; www.piscoynazca.com/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; www.stanselmdc.com

Notable

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; www.facebook.com/mrleesatsuccotash or www.succotashrestaurant.com


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 Budweiser.com.


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; www.mirabelledc.com

Photo: Courtesy of Brabo
Photo: Courtesy of Brabo

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

New

Augie’s
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; www.eataugies.com

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; www.facebook.com/thegreenzonedc

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; www.littlehavanadc.com

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; www.themeatballshop.com
NOTABLE

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; www.bltrestaurants.com/blt-steak/washington-d-c/

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; www.braborestaurant.com

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; www.chefmikko.com

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.

NEW

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; www.fancyradishdc.com

Kaliwa (Photo - Courtesy of Kaliwa)

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; www.kaliwadc.com

Sababa (Photo - Courtesy of Sababa)

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; www.sababauptown.com

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; www.thelinehotel.com/dc

NOTABLE

Truckeroo (Photo - Courtesy of Georgetown Events)

Truckeroo
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; www.thebullpendc.com/truckeroo

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; www.bltrestaurants.com/blt-steak/washington-d-c/winesoverwashington

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; www.districtwinery.com

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; www.baba.bar

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; www.barelenadc.com

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; www.bindaasdc.com

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; www.bluestonelane.com

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; www.thelinehotel.com/dc/venues

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; www.unionmarketdc.com

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; www.restaurantchloe.com

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; www.delmardc.com

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; www.deliriumcafe.us

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; www.hbcmarketcommon.com

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; www.hummingbirdva.net

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; www.joselitodc.com

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; www.kithandkindc.com

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; www.luckybunsdc.com

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; www.pamplonava.com

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; www.quinnsonthecorner.com

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; www.thesaltline.com

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; www.sfoglinadc.com

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; www.sirenbrw.com

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; www.sundayinsaigon.com

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; www.supradc.com

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; www.tigerforkdc.com

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; www.tulipsdc.com

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; www.unconventionaldiner.com

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; www.thedabney.com
Five to One: 903 U St. NW, DC; www.fivetoonedc.com
Hank’s Cocktail Bar: 819 Upshur St. NW, DC ; www.hankscocktailbar.com
Kyirisan: 1924 8th St. NW, DC; www.kyirisandc.com
Urbana: 2121 P St. NW, DC; www.urbanadc.com

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.

NEW

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; www.chickenandwhiskey.com

ChiKo
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; www.chikodc.com

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; www.maxwelldcwine.com

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; www.gakyudc.com

NOTABLE

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; www.hillcountry.com/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; www.anxodc.com/porron

NOW OPEN

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

NO LONGER

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