Let’s get this out of the way right up front: Dirty Habit’s name is cheesy. Get past the unfortunate name, and great things await within.
Dirty Habit marks the complete renovation of the former Poste Moderne Brasserie space in the Kimpton Hotel Monaco. A luxe restaurant and bar centered around expertly-crafted cocktails, an innovative social-plates menu (so trendy), and an expansive patio, Dirty Habit actually houses three distinct bar concepts, each with separate drink menus.
Feel like being outside? Hit up the patio, with its focus on social drinking, beers, and lighter cocktails. Enjoy fishbowls? Move into the atrium, a large, glass-walled room with an additional menu of cocktails. Feeling fancy? Head all the way in to the restaurant’s foot bar, industrial and chic, with yet another, deeper cocktail menu.
After a quick tour and some introductory cocktails, we were lucky enough to dine in the atrium bar, whose all-glass walls can be lightened or darkened depending on the weather outside. “How do they do it?” I asked. “Technology and shit,” I was told. Impressive.
The restaurant and bar has a strong focus on social interaction, with a bar-centric food menu equally suited for happy hours, sit-down dinners, and late-night bites.
Head Bartender Sarah Ruiz crafted a cocktail menu that walks the line between classics done right and innovative house specialties. If you’re with a group, try the large-format Praying Osmanthus, a golden pineapple filled with sochu, sherry, orgeat, and fruit juice. An enormous adult Capri Sun.
When you’re riding solo, don’t miss the Migroni, a riff on the classic Negroni that features Campari, sweet vermouth, and miso-washed Beefeater gin.
Dirty Habit’s fried chicken wings are an excellent start. Double-fried, and with a strong Korean influence (thanks to Executive Chef Kyoo Eom), the wings combine crushed peanuts and chili threads with a sweet and spicy sauce; cubed daikon radish helps cut the richness of the sauce.
Tartares are also excellent here; the beef version features perfectly-cut American wagyu beef with shallot, parmesan, and a black garlic aioli. Even better is the tuna tartare with sea beans, shaved radish, garlic chips, and the briny pop of trout roe. A subtle addition of gochujang adds a late-blooming heat that keeps the fork dipping back for more.
Duck and foie gras are heavily featured on the current menu. The best iterations of each respective ingredient are seen in the kitchen’s crispy duck ravioli, a (huge) fried parcel of shredded duck, scallion, and a bacon-soy vinaigrette that’s runs right up to the edge of being too salty (but keeps from diving over); and in the poached dumplings with guinea hen, foie gras, and a chili oil-topped, umami-laden mushroom broth. Alongside is a barrel-aged soy sauce, full of complexity, that demands each dumpling be dunked.
Large plates are just as pleasant. An outstanding burger continues the high/low theme with the addition of kewpie mayo, a fried egg, and a sticky teriyaki sauce. DO NOT sleep on a side order of some of the best fries in DC, crunchy and salty af.
Smoked Chilean sea bass took the honors of best plate of the night; a perfectly-seared piece of meaty fish is set atop a crispy shrimp rice cake (the texture, taste, and mouthfeel of which is outstanding) and surrounded by wilted spinach with sesame oil, shallot, and scallion. Meaty, salty, and clean, in all the best ways.
Name aside, the Kimpton Hotel Group continues its string of excellent openings. After just one visit, it’s easy to see that this Dirty Habit will be tough to break.
Dirty Habit is kitty-corner from the Verizon Center, and is open seven days a week. For more information, visit dirtyhabitdc.com.