The nexus of 14th Street NW and U Street NW will get a new Greek restaurant when Semeli opens tomorrow, filling a void left behind when Kapnos shut down about a year ago amid the chaotic implosion of Mike Isabella’s restaurant empire.
Two-level Asian-Latin hot spot Sakerum announced plans last month to dedicate its 50-seat rooftop entirely to Greek meze with a daily dinner menu that starts at 5 p.m. The permanent switch pays tribute to Sakerum owner Stephanos Andreou’s upbringing in Nicosia, Cyprus. Semeli is named after his mother. The traditional Mediterranean meze menu plays up her Cypriot background and some of her own recipes he plans to frame and hang on the walls, he says.
A prix fixe, meze-style meal includes 14 plates for $39 per person. A rotating catch of the day (market price) will come with a whole fish and side options. Vegan meze will join the menu soon, he says. In place of sake, ouzo — an anise-flavored aperitif popular in Greece and Cyprus — will be poured freely across the rebranded, olive tree-lined respite.
In place of Asian metal lanterns, dangling white pots are filled with overflowing greenery.
Semeli also refers to the mythological name of the woman who gave birth to Dionysos, the Greek God of wine. Expect lots of eclectic labels sourced from all over Greece, one the oldest wine-producing regions in the world.
During its weekday “Opa Hour” from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., glasses are $7. There’s also various $7 appetizers presented on an olive wood platter. Its signature Semeli platter is also discounted to $15.
Downstairs, three-year-old Sakerum also boasts a solid happy hour full of $5 rolls, sake, and bites. This summer, Andreou expanded his Japanese footprint across the city with the debut of Tokyo Pearl in Dupont Circle, a graffiti-lined bento box spot that flips into a hookah lounge at night.
More Greek options en route to D.C. include celebrity chef Argiro Barbarigou’s first U.S. restaurant in the West End and Masseria and Officina chef Nicholas Stefanelli’s regional Greek restaurant, Philotimo, coming to the Midtown Center development downtown early next year.
Status: Scheduled to open on Tuesday, November 12, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and until 11 p.m. on weekends; 2204 14th Street NW; website.
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