Because food is our favorite thing in the world, at the end of last year we asked some of D.C.’s best food writers to tell us about what they liked and hated. While we were at it we also asked them which restaurant openings they were excited about in 2020. We took those answers, combined them with some of our personal, internal excitement and here it is: a great list of 2020 bar + restaurant openings to be jazzed for the next twelve months. You’re welcome.
Maialino Mare (Navy Yard / Just opened!) – Danny Meyer continues his slow and methodical takeover of D.C. with the opening of Maialino Mare in Navy Yard. As Union Square Hospitality Group’s first full-service restaurant outside of New York, it’s kind of a big deal. Expect superb seafood laced with roman classics, a staunch no-tipping policy and a rooftop bar stocked with spritzes (delightfully called Anchovy Social). We have high hopes.
Reveler’s Hour (Adams Morgan / Just opened!) – Tucked in a sizeable spot right across the street from The Line on Columbia Road NW, it’s a pasta and wine paradise brought to you by the magic (mainly Jill Tyler, Jon Sybert and Bill Jensen) behind Tail Up Goat. You could pass by its all black and glass exterior a million times before you noticed the culinary (and wine) gem inside… But you should not pass go. You should not collect $200. You should sit down and eat your weight in pasta, and drink your weight in wine and stumble back home happy. Hopefully home is close.
Makan (Columbia Heights / January 2020) – Chef James Wozniuk, it has been widely agreed, is the reason Maketto was the runaway success it was. A big reason for that was his love (or fascination with?) of Malaysian cooking, and never ending inspiration from travel, cookbooks, YouTube. The result is a Southeast Asian spot we’re already mentally lining up for. Kendric Wu is in charge of the cocktail menu, and the good news is: if you’re in the mood for something a little different but from the same team – the pair is already in action at the Thirsty Crow bar downstairs.
Pennyroyal Station (Mt Rainier, MD / February 2020) – The chef behind Bar Pilar, AKA one of 14th Street’s best bars, is putting down roots in Mt Rainier with his new all day restaurant. From coffee in the morning to cocktails at night, to all of the food in between.
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Shabu Plus, Shibuya Eatery & Death Punch Bar (Adams Morgan / February 2020) – Chef Darren Norris is going all out when it comes to his upcoming three level restaurant on 18th Street. The star of the show is his shabu shabu restaurant, which will also feature sashimi flown in daily from Tokyo as well as a modern multi-course Japanese menu. Not your thing? Head to the basement (Shibuya Eatery) for more casual udon dishes or the top floor (Death Punch Bar) for cocktails, music and pool.
Silver Lyan (RIGGS Hotel / February 2020) – In 2018, London’s Dandelyan, under the curation of Ryan Chetiyawardana, was voted the best bar in the world. The announcement aligned with Chetiyawardana’s announcement that Dandelyan will close. Now, we here at D.C. have the extra special treat of getting their new opening. What to expect? Almost anything. Chetiyawardana has been described as “a molecular mixologist,” with his locations operating almost as kitchens (vs bars). He has an eye to sustainability: at a now-closed White Lyan he became known for a bar program dependent on house-distilled spirits, devoid of all perishables — including ice and fruit — that to many paved the way for the rise in batch-made cocktails.
Albi (Navy Yard / Winter 2020) – Michael Rafidi is the reason Arroz (during its short but glorious run) was instantly way more than just a hotel restaurant. Brent Kroll is the reason Neighborhood Restaurant Group was known for more than just its beer menu, and his Maxwell Park solo outing is still the one of the most refreshing and cool ways you could drink wine in D.C. So, knowing that these two are teaming up for a place whose name translates to “Heart” in Arabic, has us excited in all sorts of ways. What to expect? According to Rafidi’s interview with Eater: “Nothing’s going to be traditional at Albi,” he says. “Everything’s going to be my interpretation of the dishes, and just a fresh extension. I’m not going to do anything that my grandma does better than me. I’m going to do something that’s inspired by that.” We’re ready.
Anabelle (Dupont Circle / Winter 2020) – Restaurant Nora’s space has, at least for me, been one of the most heartbreaking holes in the D.C. restaurant landscape (the fact that I live nearby and walk nostalgically by it often doesn’t help, probably). Pouillon is a legend and the fact that two of the godfathers of our restaurant world have decided to infuse new life to it is only fitting. Ashok Bajaj (the man behind Rasika, Bombay Club, Oval Room, Bindaas and more) and Frank Ruta (previously, famously and also nostalgically, of Palena, and most recently of Mirabelle) are teaming up on a modern American eatery. Expect polish, impeccable service, and fingers crossed, the best burger around.
Oyster Oyster (Shaw / Winter 2020) – This is the closest thing to a supergroup in the D.C. restaurant scene. Rubba (formerly of Hazel), Kuller (Estadio) and Bernbach (Estadio / 2 Birds 1 Stone (RIP)) are combining their love of food and booze with sustainability. Hopefully you’ve been able to catch a pop-up or two, but either way, they’ll be opening their doors at 1440 8th St. NW soon enough.
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Philotimo (Downtown / Winter 2020) – Every morning we pass by Nicholas Stefanelli’s future restaurant. And every morning we’re a little hungrier by the time we get to the BYT office. With Union Market’s Masseria and The Wharf’s Officina, Stefanelli has had no problem showing off his Italian chops, but with Philotimo, the chef is stepping away from pasta and diving headfirst into the flavors of Greece. Located in one of the new wings of the insane Fannie Mae building, we have no doubt that Philotimo will be just as buzzy and beautiful as Stefanelli’s other restaurants. We’re excited, but our wallets are terrified.
Tonari (Penn Quarter / Winter 2020) – Taking over the Graffiato space, the Daikaya group (which is clearly on a mission to own that block) is bringing something unexpected into the mix: Japanese style pasta and pizzas. City Paper has a nice sneak peak into what the menu will be like, and we are definitely intrigued.
The Roost (Capitol Hill / Winter – Spring 2020) – Billing itself as a “culinary clubhouse,” The Roost isn’t your average food hall. It’s a chance to show off the vast offerings of Neighborhood Restaurant Group, which has been opening up killer restaurants and bars in D.C. for years. There will be a cocktail bar featuring low alcohol drinks called Show of Hands, a taco joint called Hi/Fi, a beer hall called Shelter and a Red Apron Butcher. A solid lineup if we do say so ourselves.
Mercy Me (West End / March 2020) – We might be watching the folks behind Call Your Mother / Timber Pizza battle it out against the residents Georgetown with bated breath, but at least we can be sure about Mercy Me (well, as sure as any restaurant opening). The “sorta south american” restaurant dreamed up by Andrew Dana and Daniela Moreira will feature a cafe, bar and restaurant all with their own distinct menus. With Executive Chef Johanna Hellrigl (formerly of Doi Moi) at the food helm, you can expect twists on the traditional (including a new pizza style, empanadas and more), while Beverage Director Micah Wilder (Zeppelin) will be pushing aperitivos. Sounds dreamy.
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Jônt (14th Street / Spring 2020) – Inspired by his recent visit to Japan, Ryan Ratino (who is the man in the kitchen at Bresca downstairs, as well) is taking a more experimental approach to his new, upstairs project. Expect a tasting menu (8-11 courses) steeped in house made vinegars, miso, and other fun, fermentation flavors. For those looking for an a-la-carte experience – dining at the bar is the way to go.
Peaceable Kingdom (Buzzard Point / Spring 2020) – In the wake of the Audi Field opening, SW’s Buzzard Point restaurant scene is heating up. The crown jewel for 2020 is the 20,000 sq. ft Spike Gjerde food hall and stand alone restaurant named after a Edward Hicks painting. Peaceable Kingdom continues his tradition of fresh, farm raised, Mid-Atlantic ingredients we’ve come to know and love at spots like Woodberry Kitchen and A Rake’s Progress.
Kitsuen (H Street / ??? 2020) – Pusha T is opening a ramen restaurant! It was supposed to open on New Year’s Eve, but it didn’t? We know there is going to be a dress code and a hookah lounge, but we don’t know anything about the menu. We have so many follow up questions. Please call us, Pusha.
The Sheppard (Mount Pleasant / ??? 2020) – It was in Dupont and then it closed, but now it’s opening in Mount Pleasant! Most speakeasy style bars are excuses to pack a small space and overcharge for subpar cocktails, but The Sheppard felt like the real deal. The newest iteration will feature $14 mixed drinks, a selection of snacks and an atmosphere that owner / mixologist David Strauss calls “Jack the Ripper-y.” Sign us the hell up.
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