Let’s face it: if there is one thing D.C. loves, it is a new restaurant or bar opening.
At the end of last year we asked some of our our favorite D.C. food writers to tell us which they really liked, liked a little less, hated etc. While we were at it we ALSO asked them which restaurant openings they were SUPER excited about in 2018. We took those answers, combined them with some of our personal, internal excitement and here it is: a great list of 2018 BAR + RESTAURANT openings to be jazzed for the next twelve months.
In anticipated order of opening:
Mi Vida (98 District Square SW) – The Wharf continues it’s food domination with chef Roberto Santibañez’s Mi Vida, where you can expect a mix of traditional Mexican dishes and street food inspired plates. Honestly, we’re excited for any restaurant that can deliver a killer margarita and the waterfront views aren’t too bad either.
Kaliwa (751 Wharf Street SW) – Lets face it, most of the Wharf initial restaurant openings seemed to look a little too much like each other – an upscale casual American/European inspired destinations with a buzzy chef attached (we get it, urban development is speculation and speculation tends to place odds on favorites). But Cathal Armstrong’s Filipino/Thai/Korean inspired destination promises to be something different. Armstrong and his team have proven that they can handle the fine dining (Restaurant Eve) and casual/market (Society Fair) balance long before it became a “thing to do” and Kaliwa will boast a “night market vibe” with an open hearth during the winter, a summertime open grill and beer bar, and a take-out menu. Sounds like a place you’d REALLY want to hang out by the water: colorful, fun, loose, a little weird, a lot delicious.
Morris (1020 7th St. NW) – From the folks who brought you the Dupont “speakeasy” The Sheppard (nothing with a liquor license is a speakeasy… but that’s a rant for another time), Morris is one of the newer spots opening up at the Convention Center. Like its sister bar, you can expect an old school vibe (there will definitely be jazz music) but with a much larger space and cocktail menu to boot. If you’re a fan of Petworth Citizen or Le Diplomate (both spots where co-owner David Strauss has worked), then you have a good reason to be excited.
A Rake’s Progress (1770 Euclid Street at the LINE hotel) – Spike Gjerde is currently test driving his vegetable-and-sustainable food driven menu with A Rake’s Golden Hour in the upstairs space of the freshly opened the LINE (the downstairs Brothers & Sisters by Erik Bruner-Yang is already in full round-the-clock swing and a delight) and if the bites we tasted over the holidays were anything to go by, the wait for this debut DC project by the Woodberry Kitchen’s team is well worth it.
Lupo Marino – Are you a big fan of Lupo Verde? Then you better start planning your trip to The Wharfs’ Lupo Marino. The restaurant will focus on pumping out pizza and Italian street food. There hasn’t been a lot said about this project, but we’re hoping they’ll have late night hours. After being smushed up against strangers at The Anthem, there’s nothing we want more than a piping hot pizza.
Chloe by Haidar Karoum (1331 4th street SE)- When Chef Haidar took a break from cooking a year or so a go, he was sorely missed. The man behind Proof, Estadio and Doi Moi menus, needed a break after 17 years of being in the kitchen non-stop. He is back now with this The 3,200-square-foot space with an open kitchen, a green herb wall and outdoor patio space. The menu – a little bit of everything – because the famously diverse chef didn’t want to “limit himself” to just one origin story, but the first look at the offerings looks a delight.
Paisley Fig – the Historic Heller’s is a great old bakery space in one of our favorite neightborhoods in the city. Lizzie Evelyn is one of our favorite pastry chefs around (and the brains behind Room 11’s beloved choco taco) and while we love grabbing her cookies around town, we can’t wait to see what she does with a proper storefront all her own. The fact that these two found each other is worth celebrating. Now, pass the pastry basket.
Sushi Nakazawa (1100 Pennsylvania Ave NW) – One of the most anticipated restaurants of the year is primed to be the most hated restaurant of 2018. Plenty of publications have written 1,000 of words about why you should / shouldn’t have hate in your heart for D.C.’s newest sushi restaurant, but if you’ve managed to miss all of the longreads, let us summarize it for you:
- Sushi Nakazawa is moving into the Trump Hotel.
- Durning an interview with New York Magazine Owner Alessandro Borgognone had this to say about D.C. dining culture: “With D.C., I had reached a point where I saw so much bad that I was actually looking for the good. I couldn’t find it.”
- The restaurant is currently being sued for wage theft.
What a time to be alive.
City Winery (1350 Okie St NE) – They’re already in New York, Chicago, Nashville, Atlanta and Boston, and this year D.C. is finally getting its very own City Winery. Half concert venue, half restaurant, City Winery is looking more and more like a booze focused Hamilton. Perfect for those times when you want to see live music, but you’d rather be sitting with a good drink than standing with a cheap beer.
Call Your Mother (3301 Georgia Ave NW) – After Bon Appetit named Timber Pizza pizzeria of the year, Andrew Dana and Daniela Moreira didn’t sit on their laurels too long – they are swiftly in process of opening their “Jew-ish deli” in Park View (the former Alfie space), which will focus on that elusive D.C. unicorn – a perfect bagel. Which, in this interpretation, means pulling the best of . While you await the permits to pass through and doors to open, you can preview said bagels at the FreshFarm Markets on Dupont Circle and in Silver Spring starting in February. WaPo has the full scoop here.
Florentijn – Chef Jan Van Haute (formerly of the Belgian Embassy, of course) is doing a lot of dabbling with his upcoming restaurant. There will be both a breakfast and lunch menu, as well as dinner options, a chef’s table, a bar and a wine counter where you can chat it up with your sommelier. If you’re going with a group of people who want a little bit of everything, this might be your best bet when it comes to The Wharf.
Officina by Nicholas Stefanelli (the Wharf) – This is the official description from the Wharf Website: “Each of the three stories of Officina by Nicholas Stefanelli offers something a little different. On the ground floor, shoppers can peruse the olives, prosciutto, and other take-home goods at an artisanal market. The second floor features a full-scale restaurant focused on the bold flavors of southern Italy. And on the third floor, guests can enjoy sweeping views of the Potomac from the rooftop bar and private dining spaces.” It all sounds like a natural next step for Stefanelli whose Masseria is one of the sexiest special occasion dining destinations in town. Lets see if he can maintain that effect on a bigger scale.
La Vie – The folks behind Pamplona and Provision 14 are taking over a corner of The Wharf and if there’s one thing you can expect, it’s that there will be a lot of drunken partying. Foodwise, there will be plenty of seafood dishes, including lobster burgers, moules frites and crudo, but more importantly there are windows that look out over an apartment swimming pool and chandeliers galore. You’re going to get drunk here and take a very expensive Lyft at least once. Get used to it.
Amparo – Christian Irabien Gamboa is here to save the forever-not-too-exciting D.C. Mexican food scene. A recent pop-up featured dishes such as “the feathered serpant” and “hand made noodles with wild mushrooms and corn truffle” and while any other details are being kept under a shroud of mystery, the glimpses we’ve seen offer plenty of incentive to be excited to learn more.
Coconut Club (540 Penn Street NE) – “Relaxed island vibes” are not necessarily what you associate with NE D.C. but we love the Hawaiian vibe Chef Adam Greenberg (formerly of Barcelona and a three time Chopped winner) is going for: Spam fried rice, poke not-in-bowls, jerk chicken with coconut sauce and more. Plus a bonus for any and all drinking/non-drinking combo outings: all drinks are freshed pressed juices to which you can or don’t have to add alcohol. We’re there.
Reverie (3210 Grace Street NW) – In terms of pure local goodwill, Johnny Spero’s Reverie is shaping up to be this year’s Tail Up Goat (it was shaping up to be last year’s too but … timing issues happen). A casual but dreamy location offering a la carte deliciousness with dishes topping out at $30 and a small, affordable tasting menu. Spero, whose resume includes Minibar, Noma, Cappy’s and most recently Columbia Room, will stick with his trademark style of showcasing ingredients in fun and unexpected ways.
Gravitas (1401 Okie St NE) – Plenty of restaurants tout their ingredient focused menus these days, but Matt Baker is the only chef who has gone as far to build a bar inside a working greenhouse, so consider us sold. The chef is taking inspiration from his years in Singapore, as well as his time at D.C.’s very own Minibar, Marcel’s, Occidental and CityPerch. Baker has been doing some small pop ups right in Ivy City (including Republic Restoratives and One Eight Distilling) and you can expect two tasting menus, one featuring meat and one without. No matter what kind of food you go with, it sounds like it’s going to be fresh as hell.
Danny Meyer’s Union Square Cafe (200 Massachusetts Ave NW) – Now, D.C. should have learned by now that a major out-of-town restaurateur is not a success guarantee, and opening a restaurant outpost named after its location in NY seems like an even easier way to offend the delicate D.C. diner sensibilities, but if anyone can pull this off, it is Meyer, who has proven that he knows how to open a restaurant anywhere, on any scale (Fine dining-check, bbq -check, coffee-check, pizza -check, Shake Shack -check). Here’s hoping it works (and if it doesn’t, it will be fun to see the D.C. food press have a field day with it not working). Click here for more details.
And that is that.
Holler if we missed something you felt was unmissable. And, happy eating.