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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 2019. We took those answers, combined them with some of our personal, internal excitement and here it is: a great list of 2019 bar + restaurant openings to be jazzed for the next twelve months. You’re welcome.

Anju by the ChiKo team (Dupont Circle / Early 2019) – Who else but Danny Lee and Scott Drewno could take the old Dupont Mandu space (RIP) and transform it into something interesting, yet chock full of nods to the original (and much loved) Mandu menu? Expect a mix of old favorites (bibimbap) and new (bulgogi beef jerky), plus all of the soju you can drink.

Cane by chef Peter Prime (H Street / Early 2019) – Peter Prime’s Spark at Engine Company 12 was one of our favorite restaurants of 2018 (fry bread forever), so we would follow him and his mastery of Trinidadian flavors anywhere. Lucky for us, Prime is continuing his love letter to Trinidad and Tobago’s food scene with the opening of Cane, which will feature family recipes and all the (local) rum you can drink.

Coconut Club (Union Market / Early 2019) – “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 fresh pressed juices to which you can or don’t have to add alcohol. We’re there.

 

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Estuary (Penn Quarter / Early 2019) – What is going on with the Voltaggio Brothers? At one time they were a sure bet in the DMV food scene, but with the closures of Range, Family Meal, Lunchbox and Aggio, something isn’t quite adding up. Regardless, we’re interested in their next steps… and hopeful that Estuary will be slightly more affordable than their MGM steakhouse.

Hanumanh by the Thip Khao team (Shaw / Early 2019) – Mother son duo chefs Seng Luangrath and Bobby Pradachith knocked it out of the park with Thip Khao and their newest venture seems like it’s destined to be a hit. Featuring the same Laotian flavors that won over both Columbia Heights and Falls Church, Hanumanh might just be your newest pre-9:30 Club dinner spot. Or your pre-Atlantic Plumbing dinner spot. Or your “it’s Thursday night and I need something spicy enough to knock me into Friday” spot.

Hatoba by the Daikaya team (Navy Yard / Early 2019) – The best ramen in town is coming to Navy Yard. The ramen you crave whenever it’s cold, whenever it rains, whenever you’re sick, is coming to Navy Yard. More locations hopefully means a less ridiculous wait at Daikaya… but probably not.

The Imperial by the Jack Rose team (Adams Morgan / Early 2019) – The whiskey and beer fiends behind Jack Rose are slowly but surely taking over the neighborhood and we’re 100% okay with it. The Imperial will be the new home of Dram & Grain, Jack Rose’s adventurous and intimate bar within a bar, plus it will offer a more curated version of their sprawling whiskey options.

 

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Mama Chang by chef Peter Chang (Fairfax, VA / Early 2019) – With an adorable name and a vaguely confusing theme, Mama Chang is Peter Chang’s tribute to the women in his life, including his grandmother, mother, wife and daughter. Most of the articles about it cite “feminine influences” or “feminine influences” and while we’re not exactly sure what that means (at least when it comes to food), we’re intrigued. And hungry.

Pennyroyal Station by chef Jesse Miller (Mt Rainier, MD / Early 2019) – 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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Olivia by Ashok Bajaj (Penn Quarter / Early 2019) – Goodbye Nopa, hello Olivia. Ashok Bajaj is turning his American brasserie into a Mediterranean restaurant that will highlight the flavors of Portugal, Morocco, Tunisia and more. 2018 was an interesting year for Bajaj, between the closing of Ardeo + Bardeo, the opening of Sababa and the 30 year celebration of Bombay Club. We’re fascinated to see what 2019 will bring him.

Quarter Market Food Hall (Ballston VA / Early 2019) – All of your favorite D.C. spots are coming to Virginia. From Timber to Ice Cream Jubilee to Buredo to Bartaco, Ballston has truly lucked out.

Oyster Oyster by chef Rob Rubba, Max Kuller and Adam Bernbach (Shaw / Mid 2019) – This is the closest thing to a supergroup in the D.C. restaurant scene. Rubba (formerly of Hazel), Kuller (Estadio) and Bernbach (Maxwell Park) are combining their love of food and booze with sustainability. There’s no confirmed news on where the plant-centric menu (plus oysters) will find a permanent home, but you can expect plenty of pop-ups.

Jônt by chef Ryan Ratino (14th Street / Spring of 2019) – Chef Ratino is turning the second level of Bresca into a tasting menu experience, a restaurant within a restaurant where you can watch the chef flex his Michelin star muscle. Bad name aside (it sounds like an off brand energy drink), we can’t wait to stuff our faces with whatever Ratino is cooking.

 

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Albi by chef Michael Rafidi (Navy Yard / Summer of 2019) – Chef Michael Rafidi and sommelier Brent Kroll are the new D.C. dream team. With his tenure at Arroz behind him, Rafidi has joined up with Kroll to open up a Middle Eastern restaurant downtown (where you can expect a mix of Palestinian, Moroccan and Lebanese cooking, but with a local twist), as well as a second Maxwell Park location. It’s an ambitious plan, but if anyone can make it happen, it’s these two.

Philotimo by Nicholas Stefanelli (Downtown / Summer of 2019) – 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.

Reveler’s Hour by the Tail Up Goat team (Adams Morgan / Summer of 2019) – Are you the kind of person who walks out of Tail Up Goat and thinks, “I loved every minute of that, but god I wish it was wilder?” If so, the team has heard your cries and their answer is Reveler’s Hour, a more casual and rowdier version of the restaurant that is on everyones top ten list. Expect a bigger bar, nightly specials and a brunch menu. It’s aiming to be your next go to.

Rumi’s Kitchen (Mount Vernon Square / Fall of 2019) – D.C.’s Persian scene is bound to level up with the arrival of Atlanta implant Rumi’s Kitchen. The menu is jam packed with all your favorite’s like succulent lamb, filling kabobs and loads of saffron, plus more traditional dishes like Ghormeh Sabzi and their often talked about Mirza Ghasemi (smoked eggplant forever). This might give Northern Virginia favorite’s like Shamshiry a run for their money, but at the very least, we’re hoping it’ll blow Moby Dick out of the water.

 

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Emilie’s by chef Kevin Tien (Capitol Hill / Late 2019) – Tired of fighting for Himitsu reservations? Then get ready to lose your damn mind because one of D.C.’s best chefs is expanding his foothold in D.C. Like his Petworth restaurant, Kevin Tien’s new spot will feature a variety of ever changing menu items, including fresh bread and pickled things galore, but without the cramped atmosphere (hopefully).

Amparo Fondito by Chef Christian Irabien (Somewhere! / Sometime!) – 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.

 

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