Photos: John Robinson Photography and courtesy of Dolci Gelati
Photos: John Robinson Photography and courtesy of Dolci Gelati

New, Notable, No Longer: July 2016

On Tap keeps locals in the know about the latest and greatest food and drink hotspots around town, plus our top foodie picks for the month.


Bantam King
Order: Chicken ramen
The masterminds behind the ever-popular Daikaya are forging a new path with chicken ramen. And fried chicken. And chicken dumplings. All they need is chicken sake. In the meantime, this cheerful Chinatown chicken shop does offer Japanese beer and sake to help celebrate this new alternative when Daikaya is impossibly crowded. The noodles here are also flown straight from Daikaya’s supplier in Japan. Bantam King: 501 G St. NW, DC;

Greenhouse Bistro & Tea Lounge
Pisco Sage Punch (pisco, muddled red grapes, sage syrup, pineapple juice and lemon)
When club kids finally grow up, they start gardening. Masoud Aboughaddareh (Lima, Barcode) has opened a restaurant with an indoor garden wall – literally, wall-to-table dining since it supplies the kitchen with its fresh herbs. But we were most intrigued by the “Tea and Food Pairings” menu. Lamb prosciutto, goat cheese mousse and baklava, paired with Lapsang Souchong tea? Yes, please. Greenhouse Bistro & Tea Lounge:2070 Chain Bridge Rd. Tysons Corner, VA;

 Crispy “chick’n” ranch sandwich
I remember the vegan restaurant my mother frequented when I was a child: the food was strange and dense, and everyone seemed to be angry (probably from indigestion) or high. The world has changed, my friends. Cheerful young professionals are lining up for plant-based fast food from the masterminds behind Philly vegan powerhouse restaurant (yes, it’s a thing) Charlie Was a Sinner. The chick’n makes veganism seem worth contemplating, and sweet potato fries are now mainstream. They even have milkshakes that taste real! Yes, we live in the future, and it is delicious. HipCityVeg:712 7th St. NW, DC;

You’re Daisy If You Do… (Catoctin Creek Mosby’s Spirit, strawberry and black pepper, lemon, and sparkling water)
Anchored by superstar distillery Catoctin Creek, Purcellville has evolved into a noteworthy drinking destination. The bar in WK Hearth memorializes pioneering cocktail author Hugo R. Ensslin with its menu of classics, and modernizes it by featuring local producers. Hugo: 130 Purcellville Gateway Dr. Purcellville, VA;

Ivy Room
Order:  Blackberry Sour (Civic Vodka, lemon and fresh blackberries)
This is the gorgeous new bar inside Republic Restoratives. Hard to get to? Yes. A concentrated sense of reward for the effort? Absolutely. The corner space is industrial chic meets greenhouse; the floor-to-ceiling windows (which swing open like garage doors) currently suffuse happy hour with summer light, and its being located in the distillery makes one feel a part of something epic. The cocktails feature Civic Vodka, the distillery’s current flagship product, and the cocktail program is helmed by David Strauss (formerly of Philly’s legendary Ranstead Room, and later, The Sheppard and Le Diplomate). The fact that Republic Restoratives is a woman-owned, crowd-sourced adventure is the triumphantly trendy cherry in a deliciously modern cocktail. Ivy Room: 1369 New York Ave. NE, DC;

Junction Bakery & Bistro
 Chocolate hazelnut cake
The croissants are buttery, the industrial oven is straight from Italy, the coffee is from Commonwealth Joe, and there’s wine and beer. A bistro menu is available for lunch and dinner. This is a fantastic successor to Mancini’s, the well-loved (but faded) neighborhood institution it succeeds, and gives us another reason to visit Del Ray, one of the cutest, almost Metro accessible neighborhoods in the DMV. Junction Bakery & Bistro: 1508 Mt. Vernon Ave. Alexandria, VA;

Oklahoma Joe’s Bar-B-Que
er: BarbeQulossal “The Q” (sliced brisket, smoked provolone and two onion rings, all on a Kaiser bun)
This small but popular OKC chain underwent a corporate reorg a couple years ago, and is now bent on world domination. Given that its smoky ribs are a noted favorite of President Obama, their dreams might not be far-fetched. Their first DC location has landed next to the Dunn Loring Metro station. Oklahoma Joe’s Bar-B-Que: 2670 Avenir Pl. Fairfax, VA;

Tysons Biergarten
Enjoy a large selection of German and Belgian beers alongside 100+ American craft brews located only steps from the Greensboro Metro station. The silver line commute just got more interesting. Tysons Biergarten: 8346 Leesburg Pike, Tysons Corner, VA;

World of Beer
With 500 bottles and 50 rotating taps, it’s like visiting a new bar every time. The beautiful thing about the WOB franchise is that each location incorporates local producers into the menu, and Rockville will feature Denizens Brewing Co. (Silver Spring), Jailbreak Brewing Co. (Laurel) and others. World of Beer: 196 E. Montgomery Ave. Rockville, MD;


Dolci Gelati
 Saffron, pistachio-candied, lemon peel gelato
Local darling Dolci received the “Technical Jury Award” from the Gelato World Tour Competition in Chicago for its time-intensive flavor (the saffron steeps in the gelato mixture for 24 hours). And the “gelato genius” behind Dolci, Gianluigi Dellaccio, will go on to compete in the global grand finale in Rimini, Italy next year. Dolci Gelati Café (three locations): 1420 8th St. NW, DC; 7000 Carroll Ave. Takoma Park, MD; and 107 N. Fairfax St. Alexandria, VA;

Swing’s Coffee Roasters
100 years
Swing’s has been caffeinating DC since 1916. The G Street location (made famous by The West Wing) is under renovation, so visit the gorgeously industrial Del Ray location, which offers public cuppings in its tasting room on Fridays at 10 a.m. Go forth and learn. Swing’s Coffee Roasters: 501 E. Monroe Ave. Alexandria, VA;


– Atlas Room
– Austin Grill (Penn Quarter)
– BakeHouse
– Food Wine & Co.
– Habit
– Nana Thai
– Olivia’s Diner

2016 RAMMY Winners
In June, the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington gave out its 34th annual RAMMY awards to some of the area’s best food and beverage joints. We’d like to congratulate all of the winners, and give a few special shout-outs to spots recently featured in On Tap. For a full list of the 2016 winners, visit

Beer Program of the Year
Right Proper: 624 T St. NW, DC;

Cocktail Program of the Year
2 Birds 1 Stone:
 1800 14th St. NW, DC;

New Restaurant of the Year
Maketto: 1351 H St. NE, DC;

Upscale Casual Brunch
Blue Duck Tavern:
 1201 24th St. NW, DC;

Upscale Casual Restaurant of the Year
Le Diplomate:
 1601 14th St. NW, DC;

Photos: John Robinson Photography and courtesy of Dolci Gelati

new dining dc
DDG photo: The Majestic photo: Monica Alford

New, Notable, No Longer: June 2016

On Tap keeps locals in the know about the latest and greatest food and drink hotspots around town, plus our top foodie picks for the month.


Order: Fois gras French toast
Hotel restaurants are generally decent, but Kimpton remains the shining exception. The Masons/masonry-derived name underlines the modernized and posh colonial vibe, and the cocktail list focuses on colonial spirits (rum, madeira) – but there’s also a carrot-ginger mimosa at brunch that we can’t resist. Ashlar: 116 South Alfred St. #101, Alexandria, VA;

Barley Mac
Order: Bone Daddy (Old Grand Dad bourbon, Cinzano Bianco, celery and hopped grapefruit bitters)
Rosslyn is no longer just the sleepy front door to the Clarendon frat boy party corridor – it is now a destination in its own right. The latest addition has an American menu and a whiskey bar (with 100 different bottles, including 50 bourbons), and will be open until 2 a.m. Barley Mac: 1600 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA;

Order: Nocino (Don Ciccio Nocino, sherry, bourbon, bitters and almond tea smoke)
The theme is communal campfire, and smoke is treated as a normal ingredient on the menu, which also features a whole section devoted to s’mores. Raspberry pistachio s’mores, anyone?  Bonfire: 1132 19th St. NW, DC;

Buttercream Bake Shop 
Order: Everything
No more anticipatory salivation: DC’s sugar fiends can finally unleash their jitters at this hotly anticipated carb den. No sweet tooth? It’s okay: the croissants are buttery, the sandwiches are on homemade bread and there’s a breakfast pastry stuffed with scrambled eggs. Buttercream Bake Shop: 1250 9th St. NW, DC;

Duck Duck Goose
Order: Duck l’orange (bourbon, Grand Marnier, and maple and duck bacon lolli)
We heart this updated French brasserie with its bank of corner windows – no gimmicks, just beautifully made food and charming cocktails. Duck Duck Goose: 7929 Norfolk Ave. Bethesda, MD;

Lahinch Tavern & Grill 
Order: Boneless beef short rib shepherd’s pie
The Hughes Family (the Irish Inn at Glen Echo) welcomes Irish Inn Chef Ted Hughes (no relation) to the owners’ circle at Lahinch, a neighborhood Irish American pub featuring fresh, locally-sourced interpretations of Irish cuisine. Lahinch Tavern & Grill: 7747 Tuckerman Ln. Potomac, MD;

The Majestic
An institution in Old Town Alexandria, The Majestic has been reinvented multiple times since it first opened in 1932. Now under the Alexandria Restaurant Partners umbrella, the restaurant has just reopened with a new interior blending art deco with contemporary flair. Executive Chef Gaby Hakman says the simplicity and presentation of what she makes reflects who she is as a chef. “I want the plates to appear as if they might have been served from a kitchen in someone’s home in the countryside or from a small bistro in an oceanside town – easy, comfortable, approachable,” she says. Standout dishes include the baked feta with za’atar, chilies and country bread for $8 and the pot of mussels with tomato, wine, Calabrian chilies and frites for $18. The Majestic: 911 King St. Alexandria, VA;

Ottoman Taverna 
Order: At the Sultan’s Table
Restaurants remain an easy form of staycation, and Ottoman Taverna will transport you to the eastern Mediterranean in a heartbeat (or however long it takes you to open the door). The onyx-topped bar was mined in Turkey, and the walls of “evil eyes” will stave off jealous onlookers while you gorge on moussaka, Turkish coffee and Cappadocian wine. Ottoman Taverna: 425 I St. NW, DC;

Pow Pow
Order: Gluten-free fried chicken
Fast-casual Asian-fusion from the folks behind Lavagna – but no, this is not a Chipotle-style assembly line. Instead, select from a “curated” list of fresh, “chef-driven” bowls. The locals are raving, so we’ll stop the air quotes. Pow Pow: 1253 H St. NE, DC;

Order: Ricotta Situation (mahia fig spirit, ricotta, lemon, raw honey and vanilla)
Cocktail bar Radiator is, like fellow newbie Ashlar, in a beautifully overhauled Kimpton hotel, Mason & Rook (formerly Hotel Helix). But this one-ups the trendy factor. Stellar cocktail menu – check. Board games – check. Bacon-scented candles – well, not quite, but almost. We still love it. Radiator: 1430 Rhode Island Ave. NW, DC;

Republic Restoratives
Order: Civic vodka
Crowd-funded, women-owned, craft-made – you’re feeling all tingly already, aren’t you? Stay focused: thankfully, this beautiful distillery and cocktail bar is pouring some good drinks (priorities, folks). For now, it’s all about their Civic vodka – the bourbon is aging and therefore about 18 months away from our glasses. Incidentally, they are perfectly located for a distillery crawl: Jos A. Magnus, One Eight and New Columbia are all within a few blocks. Republic Restoratives: 1369 New York Ave. NE, DC;

Saison Wafel Bar
Order: Breakfast for dinner
Sometimes, dinner really should be a waffle topped with smoked salmon and a poached egg. We love this new Union Market counter opened by former Belgian embassy chef Jan Van Haute, which features a range of sweet and savory toppings for the made-to-order wafels. We also heart the pearl sugar-studded liege wafels, which are hard to find outside Belgium. Saison Wafel Bar: 1309 5th St. NE, DC;

Order: Cashew hummus
This stretch of K Street has been under construction for so long, we were startled one night to see Shouk’s bright lights beaming out of the preserved brick house that’s been so carefully slotted into a glass high-rise. We were doubly delighted to discover a 100 percent plant-based take on Mediterranean staples. Oh, and wine on tap. Shouk: 655 K St. NW, DC;

Order: A flight
With 40 taps and 100 different bottles, Bethesda has a new beer mecca in Tapp’d. And there’s an app for it: by using TapHunter, drinkers can see the rotating beer selection in real time on their phones. We also love that there’s a second happy hour that starts at 11 p.m. Tapp’d: 4915 St. Elmo Ave. Bethesda, MD;

The Den
Why: Literary eats
The basement café in Politics & Prose has been overhauled. We take note because now we can order “pie fries” (strips of cinnamon sugar-dusted pie crust served with pie filling for dipping) while we read our 1,000-page biography of Mao. Oh, and wine. The Den (inside Politics & Prose): 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC;

Bistro Francais
Bistrot Royal
Cashion’s Eat Place
Crane & Turtle

DDG photo: 
The Majestic photo: Monica Alford 


Dine-N-Dash with Chef José Andrés

Explore the bustling 14th Street and Penn Quarter restaurant scene with Chef José Andrés and friends while supporting an amazing cause, and all for an incredibly reasonable price, at the fourth annual Dine-N-Dash on Wednesday, June 15 from 6-10 p.m.

The event, a benefit fundraiser for the chef and ThinkFoodGroup owner’s international non-profit World Central Kitchen, is seriously the best ticket in town, with a $125 wrist band (leave the wallet at home) allowing you access into 30 of the area’s most popular restaurants, including four food trucks, each serving six signature dishes and four heavenly cocktails. You do the math.

Bump up that wrist band to the $300 VIP level and you’ll gain access to five additional VIP-only restaurants, including a pop-up by Chef Erik Bruner-Yang, a pre-event reception with Andrés, and an exclusive after party with Andrés, Éric Ripert and more celebrity chefs. And when you purchase your tickets, you get to choose the restaurant you start at; helping spread out the 3,000 or so expected guests for a one-night-only party that is as lively and energetic as Andrés himself.

On Tap was invited to get a sneak peek at this year’s Dine-N-Dash during a May 1 event, perfectly placed on a rainy Sunday afternoon. We started at Oyamel with their mouthwatering guacamole freshly made in front of our eyes, and passed delicious bites and rows of tasty margaritas.

World Central Kitchen Development and Communications Director Kevin Holst greeted the crowd with an overview of Dine-N-Dash and background on Andrés’s nonprofit work. Then, much like a museum docent and with impressive ease, Holst guided the group to our next location, DBGB Kitchen and Bar, where from a breathtaking view, we sipped on chilled wine and feasted on delicious bites, including some amazing crostini and fantastic madeleines.

And then in true Dine-N-Dash fashion, we were ushered out to our next location, boarding a party bus for 14th Street and Italian hotspot Ghibellina. There, we feasted on mouthwatering ramp arancini and smoked brisket sliders, while getting our now slight buzz taken further with tequila-focused Pepe Primavera cocktails and rye-heavy Fruitto Del Sangue drinks.

Then, it was off to the final stop on our mini Dine-N-Dash, Masa 14, where we were brought upstairs to the DJ and gorgeous bar, ready and waiting, with “Masa Mules” and strawberry lemonades (adult version, folks). Trays of edamame, pork buns and crispy shrimp were passed around to feed the crowd, and the room was alive with music and conversation, emulating what one can certainly expect during the actual Dine-N-Dash this month.

With the 14th Street neighborhood new to this year’s event, this will be the first Dine-N-Dash for Barcelona Executive Chef Adam Greenberg, who started heading up the busy restaurant eight months ago.

“I’m going in really blind to this thing, so it should be pretty exciting,” Greenberg tells On Tap. “The good news is our event coordinator has been in DC a long time and she knows this event and how it works, so we’ll be organized and ready to go. I just picture this room being completely full.”

Those who stop at Barcelona for Dine-N-Dash can expect gazpacho shooters, ceviche cups, ham and cheese croquetas, pork belly skewers and mini churros with spiced chocolate, along with the always delicious sangria and another tasty cocktail. And if the weather is nice, Greenberg says you can expect him out on Barcelona’s front patio, similar to Sundays, with the massive paella pan, but instead cooking squid ink fideos.

“What I like about events like [Dine-N-Dash] is it will be chaos, but that’s part of the fun for everyone. It will be loud and exciting and we’ll have this big paella pan going with the heat, so it’s all part of the show,” he said.

Greenberg says he hopes Dine-N-Dash guests take away a sense of what each restaurant brings to that particular community.

“I want people to leave here knowing we have great food and are trying to offer something different. Estadio has awesome food too, and we are not trying to compete for the best tapas bar on the street. We are just trying to do what we do well and they do what they do well, and hopefully there is one night a week you want to go there and one night of the week you want to come here.”

At the end of the event, guests can vote on their favorite Dine-N-Dash restaurant, with Oyamel taking the top prize the last three years running. At the core of it all, though, is the amazing work World Central Kitchen is able to do through the funds raised.

One hundred percent of the proceeds from Dine-N-Dash will go to World Central Kitchen, which works in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Zambia and soon many more countries, creating jobs, improving health, and increasing education through the power of food and culinary training. Last year’s Dine-N-Dash raised an impressive $300,000 for World Central Kitchen, with this year’s fundraising goal set even higher to $500,000.
For more information on Dine-N-Dash and to purchase tickets  and learn more about World Central Kitchen,  go to .

Participating Restaurants and Food Trucks

Penn Quarter
BOE Restaurant & Bar: 777 9 th St. NW, DC;
China Chilcano: 418 7 th St. NW, DC;
Cuba Libre: 801 9 th St. NW, DC;
Del Campo: 777 I St. NW, DC;
The Dolci Gelati Truck:
Jaleo: 403 7 th St. NW, DC;
Mango Tree: 929 H St. NW, DC;
Oyamel: 401 7 th St. NW, DC;
Pepe Mobile Sandwiches:
Rocklands Barbeque and Grilling Company: 2418 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC;
Sei: 444 7 th St. NW, DC;
Zaytinya: 701 9 th St. NW, DC;
Zengo: 781 7 th St. NW, DC;

14th Street
Arepa Zone Food Truck:
Barcelona: 1622 14 th St. NW, DC;
Birch & Barcley: 1337 14 th St. NW, DC;
Doi Moi: 1800 14 th St. NW, DC;
Estadio: 1520 14 th St. NW, DC;
Ghibellina: 1610 14 th St. NW, DC;
Masa 14: 1825 14 th St. NW, DC;
Pearl Dive Oyster Palace: 1612 14 th St. NW, DC;
Policy: 1904 14 th St. NW, DC;
Swizzler Food Truck:
Taylor Gourmet: 1908 14 th St. NW, DC;

Cork Market and Tasting Room: 1720 14 th St. NW, DC;
DBGB Kitchen and Bar: 931 H St. NW, DC;
Erick Bruner-Yang VIP Pop-up:
Proof: 775 G St. NW, DC;
Sotto: 1610 14 th St. NW, DC;

new dining dc

New, Notable, No Longer: May 2016

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

Bar à Vin
This stylish sibling to Chez Billy Sud features an extensive list of French wines, which you can pair with a few bar nibbles. A beautiful flight served with duck prosciutto makes for a wonderful break from a Georgetown shopping spree. Bar à Vin: 1039 31 St. NW, DC;

Commodore Public House & Kitchen
You might remember Veranda – open well before this area was cool – in exactly this location. After a decade, the owners decided it was time for a refresh, a larger selection of craft beer and a more competitive price point. We’re happy to see restaurant owners survive and adapt with a changing neighborhood – and count us in for any rebrand that involves poutine made with a funnel cake and duck confit.Commodore Public House & Kitchen: 1100 P St. NW, DC;

Michael Shlow goes all Inception with his little restaurant-within-a-restaurant at Alta Strada. Pull the dark curtain aside, and you enter Conosci, where an “international” menu is served and a bar trolley means cocktails are mixed tableside. Both prix-fixe and a la carte dinner menus are available. Conosci: 465 K St. NW, DC;

If you are a Clarendon corridor habitué, you will remember the cool-kids retreat that was EatBar (RIP October 2014) – a little off-the-beaten-track, a little indie, and a lot of good beer and meat. Well, EatBar is back, but on a different planet. Its new Barracks Row home wants you to know how indie cool it is (thousands of cassette tapes line the wall) – but the eats are just as good. Fried olives stuffed with sausage? #winningEatBar: 415 8th St. SE, DC;

Finnegan’s Wake Irish Pub
A local couple with years of restaurant experience between them open their own establishment. How can you go wrong with love, and Irish whiskey and Guinness?Finnegan’s Wake Irish Pub: 100-F Gibbs St. Rockville, MD;

Lake Anne Brew House
Forget the microbrew trend. We’ve moved on to nanobreweries (under 500 barrels a year) – but there’s nothing nano about the popularity of the Lake Anne Brew House. A Kickstarter campaign gave the married team of home brewing owners (husband Jason is a former cybersecurity contractor) almost double their ask, and opening day saw 13 solid hours of lines to get at their first batches. Lake Anne Brew House: 11424 Washington Plaza W (Lake Anne Plaza), Reston, VA;

Mustang Sally Brewing Company
This is a production brewery with a massive tasting room launched by a successful corporate attorney who for years dreamed of college days brewing beer and sailing on a little boat named Mustang Sally. A few decades later, and his dream is back in operation, complete with a brew master in love with old world beers to steer the ship. We heart the story, and we double heart the graham cracker-y malt and the dry finish of the Mustang Sally Kolsch. Mustang Sally Brewing Company: 14140 Parke Long Ct. Chantilly, VA;

The Tasty Dug-Out
Nope, not baseball. Ray’s Hell Burger is trying something new again, this time splitting off a joint serving “modern Zemblan, Estoty and Tartary cuisine.” Some might recognize the Nabokovian references; others will simply appreciate the excellent offering of Georgian (the country, not the state) cuisine. The “dug-out” is khachapuri – the buttery, cheesy Georgian delicacy that swept DC a couple years ago. The Tasty Dug-Out (inside Ray’s Hell Burger): 1650 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA;

A young Georgetown student from a family of restauranteurs joins the campus entrepreneur club and opens her own trendy Georgetown restaurant. Why not? Stop rolling your eyes and enjoy the food. Zannchi (“feast”) brings good Korean food into the District for those days when you don’t want to drive to Annandale. Zannchi: 1529 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC;

Linganore Winecellars
 A winner
Linganore walked away with eight medals at the 2016 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition, including double gold for its semi-dry white Terrapin. We heart their dry, Chambourcin-based rosé, as well as the monthly music festivals the vineyard hosts throughout the summer. Linganore Winecellars: 13601 Glissans Mill Rd. Mt. Airy, MD;

Side Street and Sushi Bar by i-Thai
Why: A new home
i-Thai (yes, related to the one in Georgetown) moved a few doors down, updated its menu and added a cocktail bar. Time for a housewarming. Side Street and Sushi Bar by i-Thai: 8603 Westwood Center Dr. Vienna, VA;

Bangkok Joe’s Thai Restaurant & Dumpling Bar

Everything that is old is new again: Bangkok Joe’s used to be a Georgetown waterfront mainstay – I remember it as a “safe” Thai restaurant catering to tender, preppy palettes. It was replaced by Mamma Rouge a few years ago, but that concept (modern French Asian fusion) never really sunk roots. Now Bangkok Joe is back with a vengeance. Chef Aulie Bunyarataphan says that this is the restaurant she wanted to open 20 years ago, when she first started cooking for Washington – but the city wasn’t ready for the pungent, spicy, funky, joyful madness that is great Thai cuisine. There is a dedicated dumpling bar, some pan-Asian influences scattered around the menu and a revamped drinks list that plays off current cocktail trends. Our favorite is the “Nut Your Average Joe’s,” featuring Phraya rum, peanut simple syrup, Thai coffee and milk air. Welcome back, Joe. Bangkok Joe’s Thai Restaurant & Dumpling Bar: 3000 K St. NW, DC;

Midtown Partyplex
Millie & Al’s
Sona Creamery

Summer Grilling Tips
Chef Jeff Tunks and Burger Tap & Shake photos: Scott Suchman David Guas burgers photo: Johny Autry

Improve Your Grill Game: Local Chefs and Experts Offer Summer Grilling Tips

With warmer weather finally with us, it’s officially grilling season. This year, though, it’s time to kick up your grill game a few notches. Say goodbye to overcooked, lifeless burgers, or those same old hot dogs, with expert insight from some of DC’s finest behind the grill.

Grilling 101
“Part of improving your grilling skills comes with knowing your piece of equipment,” says David Guas, chef and owner at Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery, and host of the Travel Channel’s American Grilled series. “Knowing how to gauge your grill’s temperature comes with practice and experience. It’s also always helpful to remember that you can control the power and intensity of the flame by increasing or decreasing the amount of oxygen exposure.”

You need to take care of your grill, too. “Not cleaning the grill properly before cooking” is one of the most common mistakes that Chef Roberto Hernandez of Toro Toro sees.

“It is very important to have a clean and well-oiled grill before cooking any meats,” he says. “This will prevent the proteins from sticking to it, and also will give you those nice grill marks like you see on TV.”

One of the most important aspects of grilling is knowing when your food is actually done.

“Experienced cooks can tell the doneness of a steak simply by touching it,” Hernandez adds.

That’s going to take some experience, of course.

“If you are new to grilling, I would suggest using a meat thermometer as an initial gauge,” Guas says. “Then once you know the internal temperature, you can use your hand to determine the doneness. Eventually, as you become more familiar with your grill and the cuts of meat you are working with, you won’t even need a thermometer.”

Hernandez advises that a medium rare steak is between 130 and 135 degrees, and medium is between 140 and 145 degrees. Go beyond that and you’re “killing your steak,” he says. Once you know the basics, you can also learn how to do more with your grill.

“A common mistake home-grillers can easily make is forgetting to zone the charcoal,” Guas says. “It is really important to create zones within your grill so that you can create grill marks with direct heat, and then utilize the indirect section of the grill to cook things thoroughly.”

Another technique to learn is smoking with different types of wood. Guas encourages creativity but offers a few suggestions, such as using the fruitiness and sweetness of cherry and apple woods for chicken and fish, hickory wood for larger cuts of meat or certain fish such as salmon, and strong mesquite smoke for Texas-style barbecue.

“But you have to be careful, because the strength of its flavor can overpower many foods,” he warns. “I often blend a medium wood like hickory with a sweeter wood like cherry or apple to balance the flavor.”

Mastering the Burger
The burger is the centerpiece of most summer cookouts, and despite its seeming simplicity, it takes some experience and insight to truly master. Chef Jeff Tunks of Burger Tap & Shake will help set us straight.

“Quit playing with your meat when making burger patties,” he advises. “Avoid over-handling and working the grind together. The reason being the heat from your hands will begin to melt the fat and affect the final product. The best burgers are a loosely packed patty, which allows the fat to melt and gives the patty a better texture.”

Once the burger is on the grill, avoid hyperactive over-management and let the grill do its job.

“Less is more during the cooking process,” Tunks says. “So try to avoid over flipping, pressing [and] touching. Be patient and let it achieve a good sear and char. You want a juicy burger.”

When using ground beef with less than 20 percent fat or other lean meats, be sure not to overcook burgers in order to preserve their flavor.

“You really need to cook between medium rare and medium,” says Tunks about lean meat burgers. “Anything more and you are gambling with a dry burger. Also, let the burger rest a minute before adding it to your toasted bun so that the juices can redistribute.”

That resting rule applies to all meats.

“Have you seen those commercials where they are slicing a piece of beef and it’s running juices all over the cutting board? That is because the meat was not well-rested before slicing,” Hernandez explains.

Toppings, Marinades & Seasonings
On the burger front, there’s no need to get fancy with spices.

“When it comes to seasoning, the key is to keep it simple,” Tunks says. “Apply kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper liberally on both sides. Adding salt and pepper after you start the cooking process will never taste as good as a pre-seasoned burger.”

The best way to expand flavor is to get creative with toppings.

“It’s all about the toppings,” says Tunks. “Some favorite recent combinations include garlic and black olive, tzatziki with feta, Korean gochujang BBQ sauce with kimchi, fire-roasted hatch chilies and smoked onions with chipotle.”

As far as steak goes, keep in mind that marinades aren’t always necessary.

“I always like to remind people that a quality cut of beef does not need to be marinated,” Guas says. “I love the simplicity of preparing beef with coarse salt and black pepper, especially with a skirt steak or ribeye. Marinades typically come into play when you have a tougher cut like tri-tip or game, like quail and pheasant.”

When you are creating a marinade, follow this simple rule from Guas.

“As a guiding principle, I tend to treat a marinade like a salad dressing. It should consist of three parts oil with one part acid.”

For sauces, Guas recommends a summertime staple from his own home.

“A family favorite on the grill is skirt steak with chimichurri sauce,” he says.

Expand Your Repertoire
You know your grill, you’ve mastered the burger, and your marinade and topping game is strong. Now let’s expand your repertoire with different meats or overlooked cuts.

“I recommend a cut of tri-tip beef,” Guas suggests. “It’s a cheaper cut of beef, but delicious and packs an impressive amount of flavor.”

On the other end of the spectrum, Guas has a favored special occasion splurge in mind as well.

“In my opinion, you simply cannot top a cowboy cut bone-in ribeye,” he says.

Hernandez suggests a splurge of his own for those willing to pay.

“I would definitely go for an A5 Wagyu beef,” he says. “Wagyu is categorized in 12 levels [of] marbling, A5 being the perfect ratio between fat and muscle. Pretty expensive product, but trust me when I tell you it is worth every penny.”

For a more everyday type of selection, Hernandez has something else in mind.

“I would say my favorite meat for grilling is the hanger steak,” he says. “Back in the day, butchers would save this cut for themselves. All around, it’s the perfect steak for the home griller.”

When the sea beckons, Guas offers a few more choice picks.

“It’s also hard to beat trout or local Chesapeake rockfish,” he says.

You can get more adventurous with your burgers, too.

“At Burger Tap & Shake, we really have fun and a lot of success with our Burger of the Month,” Tunks says. “In the past, we have featured lamb, venison, duck, rabbit and wild boar. My personal favorite, which I cook weekly at home, is bison – always at medium rare.”

Check out the chefs’ locations, listed below.

Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery: Two area locations in Arlington, VA and Capitol Hill;

Burger Tap & Shake: Two area locations in Tenleytown and Foggy Bottom;

Toro Toro: 1300 Eye St. NW, DC; 202-682-9500;

Chef Jeff Tunks and Burger Tap & Shake photos: Scott Suchman
David Guas burgers photo: Johny Autry

Bobby Flay

Tips from the Grill Master: Catching up with Bobby Flay

This spring, On Tap sat down with Chef Bobby Flay during a visit to the K Street location of his Bobby’s Burger Palace franchise. We chatted about his tips for grilling enthusiasts, top picks for what to grill this summer and what’s new on the menu at BBP.

On Tap: What’s one of your top tips for aspiring grillers and newbies alike? 
Bobby Flay: People that aren’t experienced on the grill tend to think that you have to flip and turn and flip and turn. But [you should] grill less, meaning that you let the grill do its job. Whether you’re cooking a steak, burger, piece of fish or even vegetables, you want it to stay on the grill on one side for as long as possible without charring or burning it to create a contrast of texture. And then you flip it one time, and do the same thing on the other side.

OT: Are there any rubs or marinades on your radar for the summer?
BF: I think combining red chilies and cocoa or red chilies and coffee, and then putting a touch of brown sugar in the rub, enhances the flavor and also helps it caramelize whatever you are spice rubbing. Not too much sugar – just a tiny bit – will make a huge difference.

OT: What’s one of your favorite summer recipes?
BF: I cook a lot of fish tacos in the summer. They’re so fun to eat. It’s a DIY kind of thing. I usually do a combination of some sort of white flaky fish and shellfish [for] grilled shrimp tacos and grilled fish tacos. [Then] make an array of different salsas – tomato [or] tomatillo salsa…[and] mango or pineapple salsa. Go to a store that has a bunch of different hot sauces and pick a couple out, maybe one that’s habanero-based or one that’s smoky. Slice avocado, or make guacamole or avocado relish, and then [add] something for crunch, some sort of slaw or cabbage.

OT: Any grilling twists on classic American fare to switch things up?
BF: Instead of hotdogs, get bratwursts. Take beer, some water and a little bit of vinegar and bring it to a simmer, [then] take the bratwursts, prick them with a fork, put them into the beer broth and let the beer broth soak into [them] so that they get great moisture. Take the bratwursts and put them on the grill so they get really crusty on the outside, and then you have all of this wonderful flavor and juiciness on the inside.

OT: How do you usually select the burger of the month at Bobby’s Burger Palace?
BF: Because this country is such a melting pot of cuisine, I try to emulate some of the flavors from different parts of the country. I get inspired by the places I that travel to in some way, shape or form.

OT: Any changes to the BBP menu?
BF: We just put three salads on our menu – the Super Kale salad, Palace Quinoa salad and Chopped Crunch salad. People want to eat more healthily these days. The cry that we get here is, “Where’s the veggie burger?” I think I’m going to spend the next few months trying to [create] one because I know it can be done, but the question is, “Can I make one that’s really great, but also be able to make it happen on a consistent basis?”

OT: What do you enjoy most about your DC location?
BF: My staff is amazing. I would say 90 percent of them have all been here since the beginning. I just love their passion. They really care about what they do. The thing I love about my burger places is that when I walk in, the customers and staff always seem to be smiling. And to me, that’s what it’s all about.

Bobby’s Burger Palace: 2121 K St. NW, DC 20037; 202-974-6260;


best brunches dc

Best Bets for Brunch

Brunch in DC isn’t just a popular pastime – it’s a way of life. We take brunching seriously in the DMV, planning our weekends around the hottest spots to cure our hangovers with inventive comfort food and refreshing cocktails. On Tap’s favorite foodies put together their short list for some of the best brunches around town, divvied up by category to give 33 excellent locations a fair shake. From carnivorous to vegan, boozy to health-conscious, live music to drag show – we’ve got it covered. Read on for our top brunch picks in and around the District.

Bottomless Booze
The Pursuit Wine Bar
There are a lot of obvious bottomless destinations on DC’s brunch scene – but let’s take a look under the radar and spread the love to The Pursuit Wine Bar on H Street, where bottomless mimosas are $10, the wine list is thoughtful, the servers are friendly, and loaded French toast means Nutella and bananas. The Pursuit Wine Bar:1421 H St. NE, DC;
In Dupont, almost anything near Connecticut Avenue with a patio is a no-brainer. But head down P Street and look  for Urbana at Kimpton’s Hotel Palomar. I have fond memories of trying to drink this place dry with one of my best friends on a semi-regular basis. The refillable (they’re classy) Bellinis are $16, and bloodies are $18. The best part? The cute little carafes of juices they bring so you can customize your Bellinis. Oh, and the food is reliably high-end hotel quality. Urbana: 2121 P St. NW, DC;

Live Music 
Take a trip to Louisiana without leaving DC at this Cajun-inspired live jazz brunch every Sunday. The music is the perfect backdrop to heavenly Southern fare, where $29 gets you a three-course menu featuring fried green tomatoes, seafood crepe gratin, French market beignets and more. Add on $10 to make your brunch bottomless with spicy Cajun Bloody Marys or blood orange mimosas. Acadiana: 901 New York Ave. NW, DC;

L’Enfant Café
At the request of the owners, I won’t share too much information, so as not to ruin the surprise for patrons. But if you have yet to go to “La Boum” at L’Enfant Café, you are missing out. Plan to make your reservations way in advance, especially if you have a large group, but it is well worth the wait. Once you are inside and your brunch time begins, the blinds are drawn, the champagne flows and the dance party really starts. Choose from a 10 a.m. or 2 p.m. seating on Saturdays and Sundays. The price is $29.50 per person, plus 20 percent gratuity. L’Enfant Café: 2000 18th St. NW, DC;

This Sunday brunch is the perfect way to unwind after a long weekend with some talented local musicians. The music level is loud enough to enjoy, but not so much that it overpowers your rehashing of Saturday night. A $13 all-you-can-eat waffle and omelet bar (with bacon, sausage and fruit) means you don’t have to tackle that epic first-world problem – eggs or waffles? Order a pitcher of mimosas or build your own Bloody Mary, and sit back and enjoy the tunes. Ragtime: 1345 N. Courthouse Rd. Arlington, VA;
International Fare

If you dream of exotic European destinations, go to Ambar and immerse yourself in the Balkans. The “endless selection” is $39 and includes all you could possibly eat or drink off the brunch menu. The Ambar mimosas are made with Balkan sparkling wine and peach and lavender puree, and the menu is a gloriously caloric list of crepes, meat pies, mezza and Nutella. Once you’ve eaten through the menu (it might take a few visits), get on a plane and indulge at its sister restaurant in Belgrade. Or just ogle their Instagram: @ambar_belgrade.  Ambar: 523 8th St. SE, DC;

China Garden
Brunch doesn’t always have to be about eggs benny and mimosas. Turn your Saturday morning into a destination brunch. Dim sum is my all-time favorite, and in DC there is nothing like China Garden – the fragrant chaos of the carts, the passive-aggressive struggle with the cart ladies trying to pawn off less popular dishes, the victory of scenting a cart laden with your favorite item (char shu bao!) and the thrill of discovering something new. Pro tip: Avoid anything that looks like regular Chinese restaurant food (e.g., trays of fried noodles) and focus on the dumplings. Note: This is not for your vegetarian friends (though a server here once insisted to me that chicken is a vegetable). This is for a large group of your favorite carnivores – the more the merrier, since that means more dumplings. China Garden: 1100 Wilson Blvd. (Mall Level), Rosslyn, VA;

TooSso Pakistani Kitchen
If East Asia is not your destination of choice, head to the family-owned TooSso (or stuff yourself) Pakistani Kitchen in Potomac Falls (a second location is coming soon to Rockville) for their halwa puri (traditional Pakistani breakfast) of fried bread, halwa and spicy cholay. On weekends, they also serve nihari, a rich beef shank stew (kind of like a Pakistani pho). It does get crowded, so get ready to count bottle caps to pass the time (there are over 22,000 of them affixed to the walls – but how many, exactly?) TooSso Pakistani Kitchen: 20921 Davenport Dr. Potomac Falls, VA;

On A Budget

Central Michel Richard
Central Michel Richard might seem like a strange choice for the “on a budget” category, but hear me out. This bottomless (mimosas or bloodies), three-course brunch at one of Washington’s great restaurants costs $42 (or $27 without bottomless) – the equivalent at Central for another meal will run far higher. So, this is budget lux brunch. Plus, I heart chocolate pancakes.  Central Michel Richard: 1001 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, DC;

Medium Rare
At the rate that we brunch in DC, I’m surprised we’re not all broke. When the urge to save money conflicts with my need for brunch, I plunge into the festive din of Medium Rare and spend $25 for two courses and bottomless mimosas, bloodies and coffee. I drool in my sleep for their 24-hour soaked (then fried) French toast (sorry, TMI). You’ll find me at Capitol Hill, but check out their Cleveland Park location as well. Medium Rare: 515 8th St. SE, DC;

Alternatively, head to Rockville. Quench opened with a splash in 2012, serving a creative menu and holding fun cocktail classes. It changed owners in 2014, but it’s still serving the neighborhood – and their $9 bottomless mimosas are solid. Quench: 9712 Traville Gateway Dr. Rockville, MD;

Drag Shows
Perry’s Restaurant
The entertainment does not stop during a Sundays drag brunch at Perry’s Restaurant. Whether you are sitting in the bar or at a reserved table with your group, the queens come around and keep you on your toes. And if you are celebrating something special, definitely be sure to tell one of the queens! Perry’s offers two brunch seatings at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., each lasting two hours. The all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet and show are $25.95 (not including beverage/tax/gratuity), and include an array of delicious salads, eggs, fruit, baked goods and sushi. Brunch sells out quickly, so plan to make your reservations one to two weeks in advance. Perry’s Restaurant: 1811 Columbia Rd. NW, DC;

Nellie’s Sports Bar
No shortage of personalities at this brunch, with Shi-Queeta Lee and her divas giving the crowd everyone from Beyonce to Liza Minelli. A $39.85 ticket gets you an unlimited breakfast spread including roast pork, mini empanadas, homemade mini-Nellie cupcakes and more. All taxes and gratuity are included in the price, along with your first mimosa or Zing Zang Bloody Mary. Brunch happens Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., and tickets can be purchased through Eventbrite via Nellie’s website. Nellie’s Sports Bar: 900 U St. NW, DC;

Meat Lovers 
Kangaroo Boxing Club
Smoked brisket, pulled pork and heavenly BBQ are the main players at Kangaroo Boxing Club. The popular Columbia Heights eatery offers a cozy atmosphere for a lazy brunch, complete with a juke box and prime-time people-watching spot on the patio. Try the big house breakfast with smoked brisket, sunny-side-up egg, biscuit and pastrami smashed potatoes with sausage gravy. Or go for the addictive tater tot hash with chopped brisket or bacon, eggs and red pepper jam. The pineapple papaya mimosa is a welcome change to the classic beverage, so order up a carafe for the table. Prices range $8 to $14. Kangaroo Boxing Club: 3410 11th St. NW, DC;

The Partisan
The brunch menu is only a year old, but The Partisan has certainly gained a reputation for offering carnivores their ultimate weekend escape. The Penn Quarter restaurant serves as a meat showcase, if you will, for partner and neighbor Red Apron Butcher, which is all about sourcing local and humane meats. For the ultimate fix, try the triple stack burger, with two beef patties, a breakfast sausage patty, cheese, bacon, a fried egg and maple butter. And you cannot make it through a brunch without ordering a bacon plate and beef fat fries for the table. If your mouth is not watering yet, it should be. Entrees range from $10 to $22.  The Partisan: 709 D St. NW, DC;

The Pig
The name clearly gives away the premise, but a love of pork and utilizing the whole animal are the focus at popular restaurant The Pig, with brunch being no different. Start off your meal with a heavenly charcuterie and cheese platter (little pig for $23 or big pig for $37), and move on to one of their tasty sandwiches (highly recommend the pork cutlet) or entrees (try the pork hash or waffle with fried chicken thigh). The mac and cheese truffle crust is the perfect sidekick to any of the meat-focused dishes, and be sure to order bacon cinnamon buns for the table. Entrees range $15 to $18. The Pig: 1320 14th St. NW, DC;
Brunch & Work Out 
Indigo Landing
If you’ve run or biked far enough down the Mount Vernon Trail, you’ve passed the Washington Sailing Marina. What you probably haven’t noticed is the old-school restaurant overlooking the water. On weekends, Indigo Landing puts out an epic brunch buffet (including an omelet station) for $35/person. Try biking there and back – it’s the perfect break halfway through your workout. Indigo Landing: One Marina Dr. Alexandria, VA;
Kafe Leopold
If being out on the water is more your style, start at sunny Kafe Leopold in Georgetown for a light brunch of soft-boiled eggs with toast points and good coffee. Then walk to the Key Bridge Boathouse at the far end of K Street for an afternoon of canoeing or stand-up paddle boarding. Kafe Leopold: 3315 M St. NW, DC;

Brunch is all about indulgence – but sometimes you need to pay for your sins. Make a down payment with a hike up the dog-friendly Sugarloaf Mountain in Dickerson, Md. Then head to the 19th-century brownstone mansion that houses Volt from celeb chef Bryan Voltaggio in nearby Fredrick for their seasonal three- or five-course tasting brunch ($35 and $55, respectively).  Volt: 228 N Market St. Frederick, MD;
Brunch Cocktails
The Fainting Goat
A creative take on the classics and an inventive approach to ingredients makes The Fainting Goat a must-go for drinks, especially for brunch. The local hotspot prides itself on using fresh, locally sourced ingredients, from its food to its beverages. Try Brucey’s Cocktail, inspired by the head bartender’s trip to the Amalfi Coast, with house-smoked lemon juice and vodka, and topped with an Averna-glazed and grilled lemon wheel. Brunch libations range from $7 to $11 each, with bottomless mimosas or Bloody Goats available for $17. The Fainting Goat: 1330 U St. NW, DC;

Old Town Pour House
Everyone claims to have the most creative and tasty Bloody Mary, but the Churchill Bloody Mary at Old Town Pour House takes the cake. Described as “bold and unwavering in character, like the British bulldog himself,” this $12 drink is a meal in and of itself. Served in a 21-ounce goblet, the Bloody Mary is crowned with a jumbo grilled shrimp and generously loaded skewer including steak medallions, cubed pepper jack cheese and cherry tomatoes. The drink is capped off with a Slim Jim resting on the seasoned rim. Old Town Pour House: 212 Ellington Blvd. Gaithersburg, MD;

Blue Duck Tavern
Can I have a picture of the pig you’re going to serve me? I want to gaze into his eyes before I tuck into brunch. Okay, not really – but who doesn’t want to know where their food grew up? Farm-to-table has moved from trend to staple, but some restaurants do it better than others. Blue Duck Tavern is the gold standard, listing the source of produce and meats for each dish on its menu. The staff is ready with further details about the living conditions of your late chicken. It’s also the gold standard for luxury brunching – it’s been six years since I swooned over a whitefish rillette there, and I still think about it. It tasted like it had lived a good life. Blue Duck Tavern: 1201 24th St. NW, DC;

Clyde’s Willow Creek Farm
If you want to feel like you’re at the farm table, head to Broadlands, Va., where you’ll find Willow Creek Farm, part of the Clyde’s group of restaurants. The beautifully reconstructed late 18th  century and early 19th century farmhouse buildings are practically a museum to American country life – a museum that also serves locally-grown produce and hormone-free beef. Brunch is officially only served on Sunday, but the Saturday lunch menu also features eggs benny and other brunchy foods.  Clyde’s Willow Creek Farm: 42920 Broadlands Blvd. Broadlands, VA;
The buzziest farm-to-table brunch in DC right now has to be at Ripple, home of the now-famous Marjorie Meek Bradley (you may have seen her on this season’s Top Chef). Ripple offers an affordable lux experience for brunch via a pastry, an entree and bottomless libations for $30. Farm sources are listed at the bottom of the menu.Ripple: 3417 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC;

Vegan & Vegetarian

If you want something less messy and with fewer hipsters, head to Equinox for Todd Grey’s market vegan brunch buffet. For $35, you can graze the soft taco station (tofu scramble!), granola-crusted French toast and a wide range of beautifully prepared, plant-based dishes. Equinox: 818 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC;
Smoke and Barrel
I could almost be a vegetarian if I could brunch every weekend at Smoke and Barrel. Their vegan spare ribs make carnivores happy, as do the vegan sweet potato donuts. The cocktails are under-the-radar amazing, but they love mimosa purists, too, with their 48-ounce pitcher for $20. Smoke and Barrel: 2471 18th St. NW, DC;

True Food Kitchen
If you find your vegetarian self in the Mosaic District, head to True Food Kitchen. I can get behind anyone who creates an “anti-inflammatory food pyramid” and puts chocolate at the top. Their extensive selection of vegetarian and vegan options (quinoa Johnny cakes!) are integrated across the menu, since this is where plant-based diets are a legitimate way of life. Me? I’m going for the cocktails. Those are plant-based, right? True Food Kitchen: 2910 District Ave. #170, Fairfax, VA;

All-Day Breakfast

Bob & Edith’s Diner
When the night is slipping into morning and I’m looking to wallow in some hot, greasy hash browns and icy cold milkshakes, I drift to Bob & Edith’s Diner on Columbia Pike. This is 24/7 old school, a classic – part of the American teenage dream that we all revisit at 2 a.m. on a Tuesday to reassure ourselves that we’re still young (or at least youngish). Bob & Edith’s has added two newer locations, but I’ll stick with the iconic original. Bob & Edith’s Diner: 2310 Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA;

Olivia’s Diner 
Sometimes, brunch needs to happen for dinner. When those moments strike, I head to Olivia’s in Dupont Circle. Nothing complicated, just a diner with good pancakes and eggs, updated for the city – and open until 5 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Olivia’s Diner: 1120 19th St. NW, DC;

Of course, if you’re in Maryland when late-night omelet cravings strike, head to Silver. This is the modern, posh member of the Silver family of diners – so not just heart-healthy, gluten-free menu options and locally-sourced produce, but also a good list of cocktails and a slightly swank vibe. So go ahead – it’s 6 p.m., and you should totally order that vegetarian banana French toast. Silver: 7150 Woodmont Ave. Bethesda, MD;

Chef Geoff’s
Chef Geoff’s has always blended its classic American menu with a high level of health awareness – without sacrificing taste. Even bread-lovers will savor the full menu of gluten-free options (more big shrimp and very gouda grits, please!) Other menu items can be prepared without gluten as well. Chef Geoff’s: 8045 Leesburg Pike, Vienna, VA;

Pennsylvania 6
The quirkily beautiful Pennsylvania 6 offers a full gluten-free menu, including burgers served on Udi’s gluten-free buns. The celiac’s dream brunch: wild mushroom toastie (red onion jam, Grana Padano, fried egg and Udi gluten-free toast) with a bottle of Veuve. The champagne bar lets you play bartender and customize your bubbles with an array of juices and garnishes. Pennsylvania 6: 1350 I St. NW, DC;
Trummer’s on Main
The idyllically glam Trummer’s on Main has long been a romantic foodie destination, but it also has a very flexible kitchen, offering to accommodate any dietary request, and even going as far as to urge those with unique allergies to phone ahead so the kitchen can be prepared. We just might be on the all-mimosa diet. Trummer’s on Main: 7134 Main St. Clifton, VA;

Brunch Index of Advertisers
All listings are provided by the brunch venues.  

51st State
Enjoy Sunday brunch from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with great food, $5 Bloodies and $25 unlimited mimosas. 51st State: 2512 L St. NW, DC;

Agua 301
Agua 301 offers bottomless margaritas, sangria, Bloody Marys and mimosas for customers to enjoy while dining waterside. Enjoy Mexican specialties such as pozole verde, migas and chilaquiles as well as omelets, frittatas and tacos. Agua 301: 301 Water St. SE, DC;  

Enjoy Turkish breakfast specialties, flatbreads and meze during Ankara’s bottomless brunch on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Patio seating available. Ankara: 1320 19th St. NW, DC;

We are not just another sports bar with brunch. We skillfully make scratch-made food every day, and recently re-launched our brunch menu to add some new flavors. Brunch specialties include our apple butter French toast and tex-mex Benedict.Champps: 1201 S Joyce St. Arlington, VA ;

Celtic House
Join us for unlimited helpings of your favorite breakfast plates, complete with both a carving and make-your-own omelet station. Enjoy a traditional Irish country breakfast platter, omelets, French toast, and your favorite Bloody Marys and mimosas. Celtic House: 2500 Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA;

District ChopHouse
We are featuring a new brunch menu that includes a prime rib Benedict, chicken and waffles, a Benedict flight with three different styles, lemon ricotta Belgian waffles, and more. We also offer a selection of classics from our lunch and dinner menus like our signature pub burger. District ChopHouse: 509 7th St. NW, Washington, DC;

Earls Kitchen + Bar
Our brunch menu uses premium, homemade ingredients and is enhanced by our signature cocktail, a Canadian twist on a Bloody Mary, and our goat cheese frittata, a light mix of fluffy eggs, goat cheese, pesto and arugula that’s perfect for the patio.Earls Kitchen & Bar: 7902 Tysons One Pl. Tysons, VA;

Fado Irish Pub
Aside from our traditional Irish breakfast, we have an assortment of plated brunch items from a classic eggs Benedict to our hangover sandwich. Bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys are always a good start to the day, especially the morning after…well, what happens at Fado stays at Fado. Fado Irish Pub: 808 7th St. NW, Washington, DC:

The Fainting Goat
Bottomless Bloody Marys and mimosas pair wonderfully with our seasonal menu, featuring fresh and local ingredients, and our menu is designed with sharing in mind.The Fainting Goat: 1330 U St. NW, DC;

Freddie’s Beach Bar & Restaurant
We serve pancakes, omelets, eggs and more. Our Saturday and Sunday buffet opens at 10 a.m. Freddie’s Beach Bar & Restaurant: 555 23rd St. S. Arlington, VA;

Howard Theatre
The Howard Theatre’s brunch is unique because of its range of amazing music performances, and its Southern-influenced cuisine will surely leave you with an experience not to be forgotten. We are excited to introduce our new apple pie a la mode with diced apples that are sugar-wrapped in a deep-fried pastry puff and topped with ice cream and house-made caramel sauce. Howard Theatre: 620 T St. NW, DC;

IOTA Club & Café
We offer excellent Ceremony drip coffee and espresso, and Revolution tea. We serve gourmet breakfast pastries and breakfast sandwiches, and delectable breakfast bread pudding. Ask for our 100 percent real maple syrup. IOTA Club & Café: 2832 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA  

Le Grenier
On Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., enjoy one appetizer and one entrée or one entrée and one dessert with a glass of champagne or a mimosa for $19.95. Le Grenier: 502 H St. NE, DC;

Mad Fox Brewing Company
The flavors of our award-winning craft beer are blended into our savory brunch specialties. Dig into crispy fried chicken and waffles smothered in Orange Whip IPA maple syrup, or kölsch -battered biscuits and gravy. Mad Fox Brewing Company: 444 W Broad St. Falls Church, VA;

Mad Fox Taproom
We’re shaking up the traditional bottomless mimosas brunch scene with bottomless mead-mosas for just $15, featuring seasonal mead from Charm City Meadworks. Indulge even further with a colossal cinnabomb filled with a gooey brown sugar filling, and topped with a decadent Grand Marnier and cream cheese frosting. Mad Fox Taproom: 2218 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC;

Park Lane Tavern
Park Lane Tavern offers an array of fresh and original brunch options crafted to perfection. Combine this with our extensive gourmet Bloody Mary bar and flavored mimosas, and we make brunch not just a meal but a true experience. Park Lane Tavern: 3227 Washington Blvd. Arlington, VA ;

Sehkraft Brewing
We offer a large, eclectic buffet with a waffle bar, omelet and beer tasting stations, smoked micheladas, butcher shop fare, a traveling dim sum cart and more. Sehkraft Brewing: 925 N Garfield St. Arlington, VA;

STK Washington DC
Every Sunday you can indulge in our a la carte brunch menu, sip $20 bottomless brunch cocktails and dance the afternoon away to beats by our in-house DJ. We feature themed brunches including a drag brunch hosted by Birdie La Cage and fellow queens once a month. STK Washington DC: 250 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC;

Tortoise & Hare
We love to get creative with our menu. Whether it’s our Captain Crunch French toast or individual breakfast pizzas, you’ll love anything you choose at Tortoise & Hare.Tortoise & Hare: 567 23rd St. S. Arlington, VA;

Tunnicliff’s Tavern
Our brunch menu includes just about every item you can imagine – anything from pancakes, to corned beef hash, to an assortment of omelets, to four different takes on eggs Benedict. Tunnicliff’s Tavern: 222 7th St. SE, DC;  

Whitlow’s on Wilson
On both Saturday and Sunday, we offer the a la carte menu from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and our buffet from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The buffet includes breakfast standards, an omelet station, crab legs, fried shrimp and plenty of comfort food classics. Drink specials include $14 make your own mimosas with a bottle of champagne, plus a Bloody Mary bar. Whitlow’s on Wilson: 2854 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA;

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

New, Notable, No Longer: April 2016

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

new dining march

New Notable No Longer March 2016

Why: Korean food has moved from “trendy”’ to “staple”
Bibim was opened by a restaurant industry veteran so she wouldn’t have to drive to Annandale for good Korean food. The scallion pancakes are still a work in progress, but the homemade kimchi is on point.  BIBIM: 923 Sligo Ave. Silver Spring, MD; 301-565-2233;

Why: From sleek to splinters
Paul Bunyan meets Elvis in Oya Restaurant & Lounge’s makeover into a posh log cabin with electric purple carpets. The menu is New American (a.k.a. whatever the chef feels like making) and the cocktails are solid. We particularly love brunch, when we can order the $40 bourbon punch bowl (#SquadGoal: this bowl holds 15 glasses).  BOE:777 9th St. NW, DC; 202-393-1400;

Why: George Washington might have slept here
Colonial architecture meets New American cuisine at this first restaurant from local catering company The Joy of Eating. When daylight lasts longer (to better appreciate the view of the Potomac), this will be the place to take visiting parents – who will also, hopefully, foot the bill.  CEDAR KNOLL RESTAURANT: 9030 Lucia Ln. Fort Hunt, VA; 703-780-3665;

Why: Suspenders are back
The Columbia Room was one of DC’s first speakeasies, and the city’s drinkers collectively cursed the redevelopment that led to its closing. Now, however, we can rejoice at its reincarnation as a larger, multifaceted drink destination in ultra-trendy Blagden Alley. Details add up – spring water is sourced from spirits producing regions like Kentucky and Scotland – but as before, it’s worth the splurge.  COLUMBIA ROOM:124 Blagden Alley, NW, DC; 202-316-9396;

Why: The Cheesecake Factory meets wine tasting
This Illinois chain produces its own wine from a mix of grapes from around the world; their best seller is their almond sparkling wine, and their wine club has 160,000 members, making it the largest in the country. The idea of combining a full-service restaurant with a vineyard tasting room is surprisingly rare, and Cooper’s Hawk swoops in with a long New American menu to fill the void.  COOPER’S HAWK WINERY: 19870 Belmont Chase Dr. Ashburn, VA; 703-840-0999;

Why: Because every cocktail menu should have a $100 drink
The Left Door offers a short and stellar cocktail menu in an intimate space from cocktail god Tom Brown (Hogo, and brother of Derek). Go.  THE LEFT DOOR: 1345 S St. NW, DC; 202-734-8576;

Why: Think tank reception food
Hummus is a food group for Washington’s young professionals – but Little Sesame (from the DGS Delicatessen team upstairs) is Raman to your think tank’s Cup O’ Noodles. Hummus serves as the base for a variety of composed meals – the roasted beets are particularly popular.  LITTLE SESAME: 1306 18th St. NW, DC; 202-463-2104;

Why: Let’s get pisco’d
We were sad there was no cuy – a Peruvian delicacy of fried/roasted guinea pig – on the menu at this restaurant (with small influences from Japanese settlers), but the creative range of strong pisco cocktails cheered us up. We loved the super-rich Mochica Leche (pisco, carob syrup, evaporated milk, conceded milk and egg yolk). NAZCA MOCHICA: 633 P St. NW, DC; 202-733-3170;

Why: Ye Olde Worlde experience
This cheerful, local chain features an extensive menu of “tavern fare” (think fish and chips and shepherd’s pie). With footie (a.k.a. soccer) on the telly, you might consider this a kind of staycation.  PARK LANE TAVERN: 3227 Washington Blvd. Arlington, VA; 703-465-2337;

Why: Eden Center needs the competition
Customize your order via iPad kiosk at this Vietnamese fast-casual; the winner on the menu is the banh mi.  ROLLPLAY: 8150 Leesburg Pike, Vienna, VA; 703-891-5595;

Why: The bus to NYC takes too long
Public House Collective opens its first cocktail bar outside of Manhattan. This intimate, high-ceilinged ode to libations is a transplant we welcome without hesitation. QUARTER + GLORY: 2017 14th St. NW, DC; 202-450-5757;

Why: Mainstream Korean
Fast, casual Korean comfort food à la Chipotle, fun bevvies (yogurt-soju cocktail on tap!) and the owner is also the National Symphony Orchestra’s Acting Principal Percussion Chair.  SEOULSPICE: 145 N St. NE, DC;

Why: Strong cocktails and red meat
This family-owned business is a great addition to Wheaton. And they’re luring the brunch crowd with their $22 “Hair of the Dog” all-you-can-eat brunch buffet, which includes three bloodies or mimosas. The Red Line is for pre-gaming, right?  SQUIRE’S ROCK CREEK CHOPHOUSE: 2405 Price Ave. Silver Spring, MD; 301-933-8616;

Why: “Tail up goat, tail down sheep”
Learn to tell your animals apart at this buzzy Mediterranean in AdMo from Komi alumni.  TAIL UP GOAT: 1827 Adams Mill Rd. NW, DC; 202-986-9600;

Why: The Ghostwood Development, with Jensen Old Tom gin, sapin liquer, Salmiakki Dala Fernet, port, whole egg  and savory spices
From the folks behind Hank’s Oyster Bar comes this mellow libation destination in Petworth where you can actually have a conversation without shouting.  TWISTED HORN: 819 Upshur St. NW, DC; 202-290-1808;

Why: Iconic, almost
Whisky Magazine shortlisted Catoctin for three of their Icons of Whisky awards (including Master Distiller of the Year for cofounder Becky Harris!) Next year, they’re a sure thing.  CATOCTIN CREEK DISTILLING COMPANY: 120 West Main St. Purcellville, VA; 540-751-8404;

Why: A phoenix
Congrats to neighborhood fave Kefa Café for getting back on its feet and reopening after a devastating fire.  KEFA CAFÉ: 963 Bonifant St. Silver Spring, MD; 301-589-9337;

Why: A winner
KO Distilling took home the award for “Virginia Moonshine Distillery of the Year” at the sixth annual New York International Spirits Competition.  KO DISTILLING: 10381 Central Park Dr. Manassas, VA; 571-292-1115;


  • Crios Modern Mexican
  • Posto
  • Rogue 25

Shirlington is abuzz thanks to Palette 22, a creative space for enjoying street food-inspired cuisine while also checking out the eclectic works of local artists. The coolest part? Two of the artists-in-residence will always be working in the restaurant during lunch and dinner, so you can sneak a peek at their latest masterpieces and chat them up. Four murals by local street artists, including one by Aniekan Udofia – best known for his portrait of Chuck Brown, Bill Cosby, President Obama and Donnie Simpson on the side of Ben’s Chili Bowl – also cover the Arlington eatery’s walls.

Palette 22’s Arts Director, Cara Rose Leepson, says, “Art is unavoidable in this place. It’s going to be talked about, whether [people] like it or they don’t. If they’re having some kind of reaction, in my mind that makes it successful artwork.”

Graham Duncan, the Corporate Executive Chef for Alexandria Restaurant Partners (Palette 22 is the newest member), put together the globally-inspired street food and small plates menu, describing his creations as “accessible and bright, with punctuated flavors.” Each dish comes out of the open-display kitchen’s huge 900-degree oven in a matter of minutes. Duncan’s faves include the fried watermelon and Halloumi (also our top pick thus far) and vegan ceviche.  PALETTE 22: 4053 Campbell Ave. Arlington, VA; 703-746-9007;

Top 20 New Bars and Restaurants dc
Photo: Masseria Linguine by Scott-Suchman

Top 20 New Bars and Restaurants

On the DC restaurant scene, 2015 was the Year of Hype. Celebrity chefs! Crowdfunding! Glamorous dining rooms! In some cases, the hype was undercut with food poisoning. In others, the wild excess of expectations made perfectly good restaurants seem like let-downs. Only a few weathered the storms of confetti and hysteria to emerge with their dignity entirely intact.

When the confetti cleared, the biggest trend of the year wasn’t even edible – it was crowdfunding. Whether to launch a concept or bolster a rapidly shrinking construction budget, restauranteurs turned en masse to small investors to get the show on the road.

In fact, none of the most interesting restaurant trends in 2015 is about food. Everyone knows veg are trendy. Everyone knows kimchi is hot. But what about the remarkably transformative effects of a good restaurant? Whether it was Nido putting still-underserved Woodbridge on the map, or Earls Kitchen + Bar redefining our expectations about chains, restaurants transcended their fork-to-mouth influence and solidified their status as economic engines, aesthetic tastemakers, and culture shifters.

And finally, 2015 was a year of angles – everyone had their take on a niche detail. Whether it was making vermouth in-house, or identifying a menu of regionally-sourced recipes, DC’s restaurateurs took their creativity down into the details.

Of course ultimately, the question this column wants to answer is this: If you strip away the hype, the crowdfunding excitement, the economic potential, the funny homemade liquor on tap – would you still eat at a white-hot restaurant? If no one had ever tweeted about it, if no one ever instagrammed it, and you didn’t know the mixologist’s name – would you still drink at a trendy bar?

Stripping out those tantalizing nothings, this is my very subjective list – in alphabetical order – of DC’s best openings of 2105.

Bad Saint
See all these lines in DC? Blame Georgetown Cupcake for starting the trend. Now, no restaurant is truly hype-worthy without one. But what’s even more important than a line? A Kickstarter campaign: the intimate, drool-worthy Filipino restaurant got to opening day with the help of 280 backers. Bad Saint survived intense hype and anticipation (ameliorated, perhaps, by the owners’ multiple attempts to lower expectations), and now we’re eagerly learning to pronounce a new menu of amazing foods we barely knew existed before.  Bad Saint: 3226 11th St. NW, DC;

Bar Civita 
The Woodley Park Metro station hosts one of DC’s few neighborhoods not yet on the foodie scene, so I was pleasantly surprised when I got a lovely table on the terrace and was brought a lovely cocktail. My companion that afternoon, an unpleasant ex, momentarily became a better person under the bar’s spell. Here’s hoping Bar Civita represents transformative times ahead for the entire neighborhood.   Bar Civita: 2609 24th St. NW, DC; 202-588-1211;

Jose Andres revealed why he is paid the big bucks when he showed that he can still get out in front of the trends and make them tasty. veg-centric, fast, and casual alluring enough to tempt carnivores? You would have been laughed out of DC a decade ago for suggesting it.  Beefsteak : 22nd and I St. NW, DC; 202-296-1421;

For some understated, salmonella-free glamor, I slip into Centrolina via the market door, peruse pricey shelves, and sometimes actually buy something (a can of San Marzano tomatoes was surprisingly priced on my last visit). Then I settle into a seat at the sleek marble bar for an early happy hour and some antipasti, before the crowds show up, and quietly thank the Qataris for transforming a former DC-NYC bus staging zone into the Beverly Hills of DC.  Centrolina : 974 Palmer Alley, DC; 202-898-2426;

Here’s the latest in restaurant business plans: get into a food incubator (in this case, Union Kitchen’s first class), develop a farmer’s market following that is impossible to satisfy, and when the lines get too ridiculous, commit to a bricks-and-mortar location. Done. Chaia got in the habit of serving over 200 vegetarian tacos an hour at the White House and Dupont farmers markets, and then rode the shoulders of popular opinion (and a few angel funders) to a Georgetown storefront. The hype is real.  Chaia: 3207 Grace St. NW, DC; 202-333-5222;

Earls Kitchen + Bar
Yes, a chain. But this is what successful chains are increasingly going to look like: local control, carefully curated lists of local drinkables, local artists on the walls, nods to local cuisine and demographics (DC’s demographic apparently equals an old fashioned bar), and a core corporate menu, all united under an iron fist of quality control and large portions. Earls Kitchen + Bar: 7902 Tysons One Pl., Tysons, VA; 703-847-1870;

You might remember that nice herb garden at Poste Moderne. Chef Rob Weland planted it, but he has finally opened a place of his own: the veg-loving Garrison. The new herb garden in front is much smaller (and, for now, mostly decorative), but it’s a signature touch that stakes Garrison out as Weland’s own, and says so much about how conscious he is of being part of the entire food cycle.  Garrison: 524 Eighth St. SE, DC; 202-506-2445;

The mixed-use concept that is Maketto is one of the few to completely avoid the devastating after-effects of a much-hyped, over-anticipated opening. A local crowdfunding platform allowed investors in DC and Virginia to become Maketto’s mini-landlords and help pay construction costs, and the bakery (Frenchies) got on its feet with a Kickstarter (200 backers!) Once Maketto opened, the haters were primed to spring, but in the end couldn’t resist the Taiwanese fried chicken, flakey Frenchies croissants, charming courtyard, and sleek aesthetic. The nearly 200 landlord investors rejoiced. The retail sections are absurdly priced – but they’re so absurdly priced that I think most visitors regard them as pop-up art exhibits and laugh indulgently while sipping their delicious cappuccinos.   Maketto: 1351 H St. NE, DC; 202-838-9972;

When I inconveniently want to visit home in California, I instead visit Masseria. While it’s officially inspired by southern Italy, the relaxed vibe, expansive terrace (which has its own cigar menu), and the raw materials construction have transformed this still-gritty corner of DC into an escapist dream world straight from a Mediterranean climate. Chef Nick Stefanelli shops for his daily menu at next-door Union Market. If you’re not in the mood for prix fixe, the bar menu will ensure you get your Mediterranean fix.  Masseria: 1340 4th St. NE, DC; 202-608-1330;

You might not know it yet, but snuggled in the shadow of Brookland is Woodbridge, the next hot neighborhood. This is where you will find Chef Aaron Wright (Tabard Inn) dishing up “eclectic Mediterranean” food in a neighborhood joint defined by white brick, natural light, and vermouth.  Nido: 2214 Rhode Island Ave. NE, DC; 202-627-2815;

Mike Isabella expanded his empire in 2015, and seemed bent on taking over Ballston. With Pepita, he stakes his claim via a stunning cocktail menu featuring 50+ beverages (including some excellent non-alcoholic options). Drink here before eating next door at his Kapnos Taverna.  Pepita: 4000 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA; 703-312-0200;

Prequel rewrote the DC government’s investment rules, took over the old Living Social space (complete with reinforced flooring for sumo wrestling) on F Street and established a foodie crowd funding institution. Now Washingtonians are treated to a carousel of pop-ups, residencies, and concept tests. The only sad bit is when tenants sprout wings and move on (we still miss Bluebird Bakery, which successfully crowdfunded the next step to its own storefront). But we’re comforted that the upstairs wine bar is a permanent fixture.   Prequel: 918 F St. NW, DC; 202-510-9917;

Provision no. 14
This is a beautiful space, with carefully thought-out details to delight the visually oriented. This has long been one of my snotty grudges against restaurants: the dining room phalanx of boring tables and chairs is straight-up depressing. But 2015 saw a transformative blossoming of interior design eye candy across DC’s restaurant scene Provision 14 gets top spot because the food is also creative, the cocktails (while pricey) are both adorable and delicious, and you won’t get salmonella.  Provision No. 14:2100 14th St. NW, DC; 202-827-4530;

The path to opening SER was anything but “Simple, Easy, Real,” the restaurant’s acronym. After winning Ballston BID’s strangely run Restaurant Challenge – which came with free rent in a difficult-to-fill location and a quarter-million-dollar, interest-free loan – owners Javier and Christiana Candon still found themselves over budget…and turned to Kickstarter. Queue happy endings all around. SER now introduces diners to the wealth of delicious Spanish cuisine beyond tapas and sangria. And that difficult-to-fill, slightly out-of-the-way location? Crowdfunding all but ensures a base cliental of their 76 Kickstarter supporters.  SER: 1110 N. Glebe Rd. Arlington, VA; 703-746-9822;

Stanton & Greene
Stanton & Greene was a stark transformation from its predecessor, Pour House. And as that dimly-lit, Steelers-centric, beer-pong’ing watering hole once symbolized everything about the neighborhood (and our tastes, a decade ago), so does Stanton & Greene now. The new owners restored as much of the building as possible, including the original patterned tin ceiling (I could stare for hours), stripped black paint off the windows, and brought in Erik Holzherr (Wisdom) to create a solid list of signature cocktails.  Stanton & Greene : 319 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, DC; 202-555-1212;

The Dabney
Virginia boy Jeremiah Langhorne made his name in Charleston at the acclaimed McCrady’s, but now he’s come home to open his own restaurant. The Dabney doesn’t just do local sourcing – they do local ingredients. What this means in practice is sunchoke soup, sweet potato rolls stuffed with crispy pork belly, and celery ice cream on peanut butter cake. Langhorne has done his research to find true “mid-Atlantic cuisine.”   The Dabney : 122 Blagden Alley NW, DC; 202-450-1015;

The Riggsby
Boston super-chef Michael Schlow (Tico) opened his second DC restaurant, where he whimsically invokes old Hollywood. The restaurant’s “Cocktail Party” happy hour features a “Nick and Nora Martini” and deviled eggs, while Restaurant Week will feature a “Three-Martini Lunch” where each course has a martini as an option. These are the kinds of details we love.  The Riggsby (in the Carlyle Hotel): 1731 New Hampshire Ave. NW, DC; 202-234-3200;

The Royal 
Paul Carlson (Vinoteca) opened his Colombian-inflected project with little fanfare, but it has quickly become an industry favorite. What first caught my attention was the homemade vermouth on tap. If you’ve only ever had rail vermouth, then your life is incomplete. Then I noticed more details: pews from a North Carolina church, an antique fire extinguisher converted to a cocktail tap, the vintage sign that gives the joint its name. Oh, and the hours – The Royal is open 7-1a.m. daily and 2a.m. Friday and Saturday.  The Royal: 501 Florida Ave. NW, DC; 202-332-7777;

Villain & Saint
Hype is part of the business model at Villain & Saint, since it also doubles as a 150-person music venue. Robert Wiedmaier (Marcel’s, Brasserie Beck) branched out to blend his talent for food with his passion for music. Villain & Saint features a psychedelic rock and roll vibe, complete with lava lamps and band paraphernalia. Wiedmaier helps vet acts, and the kitchen reflects the high standards he’s known for, resulting in a rare venue that multitasks well.   Villain & Saint: 7141 Wisconsin Ave. Bethesda, MD; 240-800-4700;

Mike Isabella’s other new Ballston restaurant opened in 2015 was Yona, a place from which partner and chef Jonah Kim (PABU Baltimore) could enter the local Raman wars. But where Yona really shines is with the Korean-inflected small plates menu. Isabella has now brought Ballston three very different restaurants, and has almost single-handedly shifted the neighborhood’s culinary balance away from burgers and slices – does this make him mayor yet?  Yona: 4000 Wilson Blvd Suite C, Arlington, VA (entrance on N. Quincy Street); 202-234-5000;

Photo: Masseria Linguine by Scott-Suchman