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Photo: Courtesy of St. Pete Holland
Photo: Courtesy of St. Pete Holland

New Single from an Artist to Watch: St. Pete Holland’s “Different Hymn”

Every now and then, dads are right.

Last March, mine told me to check out a new musician – a friend’s son – who had a song on Spotify. Yeah, yeah, sure okay, Dad. Since when did he know what Spotify was?

A month or so later, I needed a procrastination aid and finally got around to looking up, Who was it? [scrolls through emails] St. Pete Holland. By this point, the song Dad had referenced evolved into a seven-track EP entitled Seven Deadly Hymns, which included that first studio-finished single “Yours and Mine.”

Preparing to be underwhelmed by another Romeo and Juliet ballad, I hit the play button on “Capulets.” I was not underwhelmed. In fact, I was kind of whelmed. A whistled intro led me into a perfect little not-love song.

Folksy but not folk and with a little bit of funk, St. Pete Holland is exactly what you want from a modern acoustic act out of Nashville. There is sweet naiveté in the lyrics and singalong beat, but clean progression, clever transformations and educated instrumental references make the earnestness more alluring than maudlin.

A combination of songwriting and guitar skills and a voice tinged with The Fray’s Isaac Slade and The Tallest Man on Earth won the act’s lead – who at the moment goes only by his musical moniker St. Pete/Pete Holland – Demolition Music’s 2017 Nashville Songwriters Competition.

It was also in Nashville where he met the other two core performers on the Seven Deadly Hymns EP, Jackson Bruck (Dukes of Hume) and Patrick Fuller (son of country rock’s Craig Fuller). “Nashville is incredible,” St. Pete says. “It’s porch-sitting. It’s open and vulnerable unlike anywhere else I’ve lived – NYC, Philly, London, L.A…”

St. Pete says he knows what he’s supposed to be doing is music, and soon enough, it’s going to be his main focus.

“When I was about 13, I started playing the guitar. I had stumbled on a Led Zeppelin remastered box set. I went crazy with it and thought it was the greatest thing in the world. I just wanted to be Jimmy Page.”

While his personal style has veered away from Zeppelin, the musician says to be a good songwriter you have to listen to what inspires you. By listening, and paying attention to the ideas that float by, he can sit down and build a song from the inside out to “come up with something that has a pulse when it’s done.”

“I wrote 100 songs in Nashville. Now it’s time to record.”

He has done a bit of recording recently – the latest single from St. Pete Holland, “Different Hymn,” dropped today.

St. Pete is currently based in Los Angeles, but frequently travels back east for musical collaboration (and because we all know that “best coast” thing is bullshit). Take a listen. Maybe we can get him to swing through the District.

For more information on St. Pete Holland and Seven Deadly Hymns, click here.

Photo: Mark Williams Hoelscher, @mwhphoto
Photo: Mark Williams Hoelscher, @mwhphoto

Capitol Cider House Brings Local Flavor to the District’s Burgeoning Cider Scene

A revisiting of Mid-Atlantic roots, Capitol Cider House’s local influence can be felt at every touch point, from the product it sources to the design aesthetic in the Georgia Avenue space. The Petworth newcomer opened three months ago and has been a welcome addition to the booming neighborhood.

Speaking of being neighborly, there’s a heavy emphasis on all things local with a commitment to sourcing within a 200-mile radius of the U.S. Capitol Building. The industrial space is outfitted with reclaimed wood pieces and splashes of patriotic red, white and blue – with a back-wall mural executed by DC creatives No Kings Collective. The open layout features community seating with high tops scattered throughout the main space, a smaller private room dubbed the “Brewer’s Table” and an outdoor patio.

Founder Jared Fackrell first started experimenting with cider two years ago after a family trip to the Finger Lakes in New York. There, he and his wife found themselves at a cider house where they were struck by the complexity of flavors, crispness and wine-like taste of the ciders they sampled. They returned to DC joking about creating their own cider, prompting Fackrell to purchase a how-to book on cider production.

The jokes materialized into a hobby where, armed with his Amazon Books purchase, prior homebrewing knowledge (he had brewed beer years ago) and self-built equipment, Fackrell set off on a course that would eventually lead to opening Capitol Cider House.

DC’s newest cidery arrives at a time when local and regional cideries are on the rise in popularity and growth. According to the United States Association of Cider Makers, dollar sales of craft cider increased 39 percent in 2016 when compared to 2015 and in the past year, market share grew 30 percent for regional ciders.

As members of a CSA (community supported agriculture), Fackrell and his wife saw the value of reconnecting with food and knowing where produce comes from – a big driver behind his devotion to keeping that local flair for Capitol Cider House. When asked what he thinks is the driving force behind the renewed interest in cider both regionally and nationally, Fackrell notes, “Part of it stems from this reconnection of where your food is coming from. Folks are starting to revalue the taste of something over the appearance.”

The local curiosity of knowing where food products are sourced and how they are made is evident come pressing time at the cidery. Every Monday through Wednesday, the team clears the main space for apple processing: furniture is pushed back, sleeves are rolled up and 3,000 pounds of apples are pressed. Passersbys can get a not so behind-the-scenes look at what goes into this process courtesy of the floor-to-ceiling window storefront. Fackrell notes that many a curious pedestrian has stopped to peer in, press a nose to the glass and take a video, helping to demystify how it all works.

With two cideries already on the DC scene, Capitol Cider House’s approach is distinct from its counterparts. Those with a palate geared toward craft beers will likely be intrigued by Ivy City’s Supreme Core offerings, whereas guests with a penchant for Spanish wines or Basque-style cider will find appealing options at DC’s first cidery, Anxo. In contrast, Capitol Cider House will focus on the barrel-aging process to produce smaller-batch ciders, fortifying them to create an apple, port-like product.

Twelve taps behind the bar feature 10 ciders, including Anxo and Supreme Core, with the remaining two saved for mead and beer. The menu also includes over 30 bottled ciders. Not sure where to start? Opt for a flight of four ciders chosen at the drinker’s discretion or preselected by the cidermaker.

As for food, the cidery partnered up with Union Kitchen alums to bring local, homegrown fare to the table. Guests will find Sri Lankan street food in the form of roti and sambol from Ten Tigers Parlour’s Short Eats pop-up, as well as a slew of Colombian-style empanadas from M’Panadas. Additionally, the food menu includes cheese plates and hot dogs with hamburgers coming soon.

In the next few months, expect another collaboration with Distillery Lane Ciderworks near Frederick, Maryland (Fackrell worked with the distillery to produce his first house cider Quincey, which has since poured its last drop), cold weather cider options (think mulled versions perfect for the impending cooler temperatures) and more house products added to the tap list.

Sunday jazz brunch is a recent endeavor that will likely become a mainstay, a nostalgic nod to Fackrell’s days as an undergrad in New Orleans. Customers can expect more food pop-ups, events with guest bartenders showcasing cider in cocktails and other fun collaborations.

Three months in, the neighborhood’s reception of Capitol Cider House has been warm and welcoming – the bar even has a group of regulars. But Fackrell isn’t ready to slow down yet. With the apple harvest coming up, he’s already thinking ahead and excited about  producing cider and “introducing more of our products under the tap list.”

To those still unsure about the cider craze?

“I would offer that most people who come in here and don’t know anything about cider who are willing to at least try, some of them will walk out with a different impression – the same way that I walked out up in New York.”

Visit Capitol Cider House on Thursday and Friday from 4 p.m. to midnight, Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Learn more at www.capitolciderhouse.com and follow the cidery on social media at @capciderhouse.

Capitol Cider House: 3930 Georgia Ave. NW, DC; 202-621-0982; www.capitolciderhouse.com

Photo: Kelli Scott
Photo: Kelli Scott

NoMa’s The Eleanor Offers Bowling and Bragworthy Bites

Don’t label The Eleanor just a bowling alley. It’s much more than that, according to founder Adam Stein.

Ever since he was a student at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, Stein dreamed of opening a lounge with a bowling component to make it a multi-use entertainment space. That vision is realized with The Eleanor.

“You can come here for lots of different reasons,” Stein says. “You can come here because you want to bowl. You can come here because you want to play pinball games. You can come here because you want to have a three-course meal. We’ve got tons of events booked already and through the end of the year.”

Since opening June 19 in NoMa, The Eleanor has offered a place to enjoy 20 beers on tap, well-crafted cocktails, a projector for movie nights and, of course, two mini-bowling lanes with duckpin-sized balls.

The lanes are 45 feet long as opposed to the standard 60 feet, which Stein says can be harder, but it’s also a lower bar of entry. The floors aren’t waxed, so there’s no need to change shoes to play. Also, all of the balls are four pounds. While it’s best to reserve a lane and prepay online, walk-ins are accepted on a waitlist basis. Pricing is $10 per person for one hour of bowling with a $10 ball rental fee.

If you’re not interested in giving bowling a spin, choose from arcade games like Mortal Kombat 3, Pac-Man and Battle Royale, or head over to the Skee-Ball lanes.

When describing The Eleanor, Stein says he didn’t want anything “super slick” or “overly designed.” Instead, he opted for a laid-back but funky lounge with a hometown vibe. There are counter-height tables instead of low-tops to add to the casual atmosphere, and the local focus is found not only in the ingredients but in the name itself, which is a reference to DC Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton.

The menu adds humor to the spot with cocktails like Wildflowers Don’t Care Where They Grow. Other drinks are named after friends and family such as Jody’s Appletini, inspired by Stein’s mother as appletinis are her favorite cocktail. There are also two refreshing vodka slushies made with Spring 44 vodka, one with house-made horchata and Zeke’s cold brew coffee and the other with a house-made lavender lemonade.

The fare might seem typical at face value – burgers, nachos, fried chicken – but each dish has its own original twist. The buttermilk fried chicken thighs come with masala-spiced carrot puree and braised greens with a bacon and fish sauce. The chicken wings are coated in a General Tso’s-style sauce, the hushpuppies are made “elote loco-style” and the loaded hot dogs come with the optional add-on of kimchi.

Along with its quirky menu, The Eleanor offers a very convenient location across the street from the NoMa-Gallaudet Metro station. There is also free, onsite parking.

Stein considered Ivy City before settling on The Eleanor’s NoMa space on Florida Avenue. He was tempted by Ivy City’s warehouse spaces because they could fit full-sized bowling lanes, but he says he ultimately chose the right neighborhood.

“[NoMa is] only going to see an explosion of growth in the next two-and-a-half to three years,” he says. “We’re looking forward to it.”

Follow The Eleanor on Instagram and Facebook at @TheEleanorDC, and learn more about the bar at www.eleanordc.com.

The Eleanor: 100 Florida Ave. NE, DC; 202-758-2235; www.eleanordc.com

Photo: Courtesy of O-Ku
Photo: Courtesy of O-Ku

New & Notable: Mikko, Pappe 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

Mikko
Open: May 1
Location: Dupont Circle
Lowdown: The former chef to the Finnish ambassador just opened his own café serving the food of his homeland. Mikko Kosonen got his start at his family’s restaurant Stockholm and attended culinary school in Helsinki. In the U.S., he’s been cooking for diplomats, heads of state and royalty, but now he’s expanding his audience to include average Washingtonians. Nordic cuisine relies on simple preparations of ingredients like seafood, rye, mushrooms, berries and roots. The menu at Mikko is succinct but true to form, with specialties like house-smoked salmon, Danish-style open-faced sandwiches, Finnish soups and Nordic pastries. The café space is cozy, with dishes on display in a cold case at the entrance, a few seats at a counter facing the kitchen in the back and a street-side patio with additional seating, where I enjoyed a Karelian rice and egg pie alongside a gravlax sandwich. There’s also a small market offering a selection of Nordic cookies, chocolates, breads, jams and sauces. A note if you go: the operation is cashless. 1636 R St. NW, DC; www.chefmikko.com

O-Ku
Open: June 22
Location: Union Market
Lowdown: O-Ku, a Japanese restaurant with roots in Charleston and sister restaurants throughout the South, expanded to the Union Market neighborhood this summer. Each of the locations has its own executive chef with a distinct menu and the DC kitchen is helmed by Chef Bryan Emperor, who has studied Japanese cuisine for more than 25 years. His menu features traditional sushi and sashimi as well as modern interpretations of Japanese specialties and wood-fired, robata-style dishes from a binchotan grill. Highlights include puffed rice-crusted Japanese sea bass and an out-of-this-world king crab California roll. The industrial and minimalist two-story space has ample seating in the bar room and wood-accented sushi room, a plush Japanese whiskey lounge, and a roof deck with views of Union Market. 1274 5th St. NE, DC; www.okusushidc.com

Pappe
Open: June 4
Location: 14th Street
Lowdown: Vipul Kapila never ordered lamb vindaloo in Indian restaurants in the DC area because he couldn’t find a version that lived up to the fiery dish he remembers eating growing up in Delhi. That is, until he tried a truly authentic rendition at a restaurant in Falls Church. One bite, and he was hooked – so much so that he decided to team up with the chefs behind the dish, Sanjay Mandhaiya and Shankar Puthran, to open Pappe and finally bring a neighborhood Indian restaurant to 14th Street. That vindaloo is a star curry on the menu and I can attest, it is fiery. The menu also features three dishes that Mandhaiya learned while staging in India: butter chicken, chana pindi and taar gosht. Other popular items include vegetable samosas, prawn koliwada, junglee laal maas, fish chittnad and fire-grilled baingan bartha. The drink list draws on Indian spices like cardamom, tamarind and curry leaves for cocktails, sodas, teas and of course, mango lassis. The space is inspired by a New Delhi fabric market, with silk textiles draped over the tables, lanterns made from fabric-dyeing baskets and murals similar to those found painted on homes in Indian villages. The mural artist, John DeNapoli, is also behind the renditions of traditional Indian scenes that have been infiltrated with modern touches, such as a family in DC sports gear and an elephant marked with Uber and Lyft logos. The restaurant’s name means brother and Kapila said he wanted it to feel casual and welcoming while also capturing the bold, complex and exciting personality of his native country. 1317 14th St. NW, DC; www.pappedc.com

Tacos, Tortas & Tequila and Buena Vida
Open: May 4
Location: Silver Spring
Lowdown: Serbian restaurateur Ivan Iricanin, who popularized Balkan food in DC with Ambar and BABA, is steering his restaurant group south of the border with two new Mexican concepts in one building in Silver Spring. Both have a unique personality, but the common thread is house-made tortilla products and local, organic ingredients. Located on the ground floor, Tacos, Tortas & Tequila (TTT) is a casual taco joint that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu spotlights traditional tacos, tortas and tequila in addition to tostadas, quesadillas, taquitos, desserts, milkshakes, agua frescas, and Mexican sodas and beers. For breakfast, there are plenty of egg dishes and coffee drinks. On the second story, Buena Vida is a more upscale restaurant that offers an all-you-can-eat small plates deal for $19.99 during lunch and $35 during dinner. The dishes are more contemporary, like a mezcal-cured salmon tostada, a skate wing chicharron and fingerling sweet potato tostones. And Northern Virginia residents, fear not. Iricanin will be opening a second location of TTT and Buena Vida this fall in Clarendon opposite his Balkan spots. 8407 Ramsey Ave. Silver Spring, MD; www.tttrestaurant.com

NOTABLE

Butterfly Tacos y Tortas
Date: May 2
Location: Penn Quarter
Lowdown: José Andrés’ restaurant group, ThinkFoodGroup, has a spot in Penn Quarter dedicated to testing out new fast-casual concepts temporarily and gathering feedback from customers before officially debuting the restaurant. This R&D space is called ThinkFoodLab, and the latest occupant is Butterfly Tacos y Tortas. Think of it like the casual little sister of Oyamel, with a menu inspired by Mexico City’s street food. As the name implies, the two staple dishes are tacos and tortas. Don’t miss standouts like the taco filled with shredded beef in a smoky chile sauce and the torta stuffed with seared pork belly, guacamole, salsa, black beans and lime. There’s also a selection of salads, snacks, desserts and agua frescas, including fried potatoes with mole poblano and strawberry-lime-chile paletas. Fans of the concept will also be able to find the Mexican fare at a second location at D.C. United’s new Audi Field. 701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, DC; www.thinkfoodlab.com

Hill Country’s Backyard Barbecue
Date: May 16
Location: National Building Museum’s west lawn
Lowdown: Hill Country Barbecue Market has once again taken over the National Building Museum’s west lawn for the annual Backyard Barbecue pop-up. It’s all part of the museum’s Summer Block Party, which centers on an interactive exhibit called “Fun House.” On the lawn in the afternoons and evenings (Wednesday through Sunday), the restaurant serves up sliced brisket, pulled pork sandwiches, Texas cheesesteaks and smoked hot link sandwiches, along with cocktails, wine and beer. On Fridays and Saturdays, there’s also live music. The pop-up runs through September 3. 401 F St. NW, DC; www.hillcountry.com/dc

Photo: Courtesy of The Peoples Drug
Photo: Courtesy of The Peoples Drug

New and Notable: Church Hall, The People’s Drug 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

Church Hall
Open: March 30
Location: Georgetown
Lowdown: Remember that indoor mall in Georgetown with a food court? These are fast-fading memories as Georgetown gets cooler and makes an effort to keep up with the action further down the waterfront. So ICYMI, Church Hall seized the dead space and turned it into a massive, festive, friendly beer hall. The new spot might remind you of its sister bars (Penn Social, Big Chief, Franklin Hall, Highline RxR). Like the rest of the family, Church Hall is geared toward sociability with long tables, long sofas and games like Cards Against Humanity ready at your beck and call. We heart the 30-plus beers on tap (many local), booze slushies and cocktails on draft, as well as the upscale fairground food (we never say no to a funnel cake). 1070 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC; www.churchhalldc.com

Magnolia Kitchen & Bar
Open: April 10
Location: Dupont Circle
Lowdown: The closing of Dupont Circle’s Circa was the end of an era. But we’re totally happy with the new spot that’s taken its place: Magnolia Bar & Kitchen. Magnolia comes from the same folks behind DC stalwarts Scarlet Oak and Southern Hospitality, featuring a busy menu of American fare with a little lux thrown in (think steak tacos with avocado or lamb Bolognese). And don’t overlook the cocktail menu – this is as much a place to grab a drink with friends after work as it is a dinner destination. We particularly like the Scarlet Buzz (sparkling rosé, Giffard pamplemousse, fresh squeezed grapefruit), topped with a Szechuan bud, which imparts the same tingly, mouth-numbing heat found in Szechuan Chinese cuisine. Also a winner: Birch Please (Birkir birch schnapps, blood orange juice, simple syrup, angostura bitters). The restaurant retains the patio and lots of televisions, so you can catch the big games while you enjoy those fancy cocktails. 1601 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC; www.magnoliadupont.com

The Peoples Drug
Open: May 11
Location: Alexandria
Lowdown: Old-timers might remember Peoples Drug Store, the pharmacy chain from another era – just imagine if CVS or Walgreens had a lunch counter and soda fountain where you could order a root beer float. Or maybe a Cameron’s Kick (Pig’s Nose blended scotch, Bushmills Irish whiskey, lemon juice, orgeat), in the case of this homage to a bygone time. The Peoples chain is long gone, but this cocktail bar has resurrected its memory with some mighty fine cocktails and a delightful menu of fresh, thoughtfully prepared sandwiches and burgers. 103 N. Alfred St. Alexandria, VA: www.thepeoplesdrug.com

Tastemakers
Open: April 21
Location: Brookland
Lowdown: Anything Captain Cookie and the Milkman does is fine by us. The masterminds behind the popular food truck have opened a marketplace and incubator in a former mayonnaise factory – and it’s going to be the hit of the summer. Skip the now-overcrowded Union Market and hang here with the cool kids before this location also gets overrun. We’re totally loving Benjamin’s on Franklin, the hall’s cocktail bar, with its menu of both classics and inventions featuring local liquors. Order a Junto (Catoctin Creek Watershed Gin, aperol, Shrub District pineapple allspice, simple syrup, egg white) while you figure out whether to get meatballs or tacos from the other stands in the hall. Or both. If you are in the mood to learn, there are classes held weekly, focused on everything from “Beginner Knife Skills” to “Dinner in Thailand.” Tastemakers is also an incubator and commercial kitchen, which means that shopping and eating here supports an ecosystem of local businesses and gets new ones on their feet. 2800 10th St. NE, DC; www.tastemakersdc.com

NOTABLE

Loves Me Not
Open: April 21
Location: Adams Morgan
Lowdown: Mellow Mushroom has transformed its upstairs dining room into a haunt for hard-drinking artists and the people who love them. Filled with artwork that Everyman can afford and second-hand furniture, this is AdMo as a grownup. It is still gritty and a little rough around the edges – but jumbo slice is a distant memory and the music is a lot better. The bar menu is the brainchild of Younghyun You, who made a splash at Nocturne. Here, the menu is shorter and there are fewer fireworks, but it still wows, with cocktails named for songs and poems and books. We loved Fear and Loathing (Wild Turkey 101, green chartreuse, gunpowder tincture, demerara), while all the bloggers are swooning over All the World Is Green (mezcal, becherovka, avocado cilantro puree, lime, honey syrup). We also appreciate the “Starving Artists Menu,” which features reasonably-priced classics. 2436 18th St. NW, DC; @lovesmenotdc

The Wing
Open: April 12
Location: Georgetown
Lowdown: Sorry, gentlemen – this one’s just for the ladies (but we’re happy to tell you ALL about it). The Wing is a members-only coworking space that champions the “professional, civic, social and economic advancement of women through community.” The powder room has bottles of Chanel perfume, and there’s a lactation station and a meditation room, all housed in a canal-adjacent rowhouse that was once home to DC’s first all-female architecture firm. In terms of style, think Jean Harlow meets Geraldine Ferraro meets Amal Clooney, with lavish displays of art and books by women. In terms of edibles, look for local, women-owned businesses highlighted at The Perch, the club’s in-house café and bar. The women of DC’s Republic Restoratives stock the bar and run the cocktail menu, which features drinks like the Notorious RBG (vodka, orange, lime, sage simple syrup, cranberry) and The Filibuster (matcha, Rodham Rye, lemon juice, honey). Other women-owned suppliers on the café menu of toasts, salads and ’wiches include Baked and Wired, Vaughan Cheeses and Woolf Lavender Farm. Now ladies, you have a choice: join up, or figure out which of your friends are members (they can bring guests). You know you need that Notorious RBG cocktail in your Insta feed. 1056 Thomas Jefferson St. NW, DC; www.the-wing.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

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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