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Chefs Share Which Fall Openings They're Pumped About

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Photo: Tim Ebner/

It's a good time of year to be in the District. The humidity has subsided, the air is crisp and the city is abuzz with excitement over all the fall restaurant openings in the works. Count chefs among those excited. Eater asked some of D.C.'s culinary personalities which restaurants they are most looking forward to this season. Looks like many of them are more than ready to step out of their kitchens and into the dining rooms of these upcoming spots.

"I'm most excited about Chef Spike Gjerde's Shoo-fly opening this fall," said Neighborhood Restaurant Group's Kyle Bailey. "I'm amped for the diner fare and love that he really does the local thing for every restaurant he opens. Plus Isaiah Billington is a preservation boss. The place is sure to be slammed." Meanwhile, Bailey has a fan in Firefly's Todd Wiss, who says, ""I'm really psyched about Neighborhood Restaurant Group's Bluejacket. NRG does a great job with quality of product, service, and has great chefs."

Ethan McKee, Executive Chef at Urbana, is saving up his excitement for a 2014 opening: Daniel Boulud's DBGB at City Center. "I have always been a fan of Daniel's cooking and I definitely gained inspiration from his cookbooks early in my career. I have been to his restaurants in New York and I am looking forward to having one here in D.C." B Too's Bart Vandaele agrees. "DGBG will elevate everything we have already. Not that Daniel [Boulud] will change the whole landscape. But it's exciting." He also has his eyes on Bluejacket because "that's kind of in my backyard. In 10 years that neighborhood completely changed from a wasteland pretty much to an upcoming neighborhood and I know the brews that they have, I was lucky enough to taste some of them, and I think it's going be quite amazing."

More love for Bluejacket comes from Ripple's Marjorie Meek-Bradley. "There are two places I'm really excited about. One is Bluejacket. And the other one is Maketto. I live on Capitol Hill so that's exciting. I've known Erik [Bruner-Yang] basically since I moved to DC. A lot of my friends have been to the pop-up. I haven't yet but I've heard great things so I really can't wait for Maketto."

Ruth Gresser, Owner and Chef at Pizzeria Paradiso, has her eyes on several new projects. "I'm looking forward to trying Baby Wale. And in terms of stuff that's upcoming, I heard Pedro Matamoros is working on a new project. I'm a big fan of his. Also I'm looking forward to when Amy Brandewein opens her own place, but I think it's not going to be this fall. Oh, and how could I forget Right Proper, Thor Cheston's brewery/restaurant."

Joe Goetze, chef at Founding Fathers, has hope for another New York transplant. "I'm looking forward to Osteria Morini because I've dined at their restaurant in New York with friends and had a really great meal. Hoping they bring their A-game to the D.C. arena." Meanwhile, John Manolatos of Cashion's Eat Place has a soft spot for another neighborhood spot. "One that I've been excited about for a while has been Iron Gate. I used to go there years and years ago when Cashion's first opened in the late 90s and it's nice to see old historical sites with new places in them. Also, I haven't been to Red Hen yet. I'm dying to go. Justin [Abad] goes there all the time and I have made it a point that I'm going to get over there this fall."

Jamie Leeds of Hank's Oyster Bar and Barry Koslow of DGS Delicatessen are both high on some recently opened restaurants. Leeds says, "Etto on 14th is one of my favorite new places, though they opened in the spring. Daikaya is also one of my favorites. As far as openings, I'm not really sure. Anything Japanese or anything ramen." Meanwhile, Koslow loves the just-opened Doi Moi. ""I love Haidar [Karoum]'s cooking and he happens to be forever a Jeb Stuart Raider." He also is an early fan of Thally. "Ron Tanaka is probably the most under the radar chef in the city. It also doesn't hurt that he set me up with my wife on a blind date while he and I worked at Citronelle together." And as far as soon-to-open restaurants, cast another vote for Iron Gate. "I'm pretty sure this is going to be a special restaurant. Tony Chittum is as talented as he is ugly. Just kidding. This might be one of the most inspired restaurants to hit the city in a long while."
—Ali Donahue
· A Dozen Fall Openings to Get Excited About [-EDC-]
· All Previous Fall Tracking Coverage [-EDC-]