A stylish new day-to-night cafe with a design plucked from the Mediterranean coast recently opened in Dupont Circle. Residents Cafe & Bar slides into the space that housed DGS Delicatessen’s back bar (1306 18th Street NW). The name refers to the main partners, all immigrants who landed in D.C.
David Nammour, whose third location of Muncheez slid into the front part of DGS this summer, is a managing partner. Muncheez serves late-night falafel, but no alcohol, so opening an adjacent bar made sense. The drinks are the star of the show at Residents, especially the espresso martinis.
“We thought, ‘What is our differentiator?’” asks Nayef Issa, a managing partner and longtime party promoter in D.C. “There are a lot of good cocktail bars but what is one thing we can focus on the city isn’t focusing on?”
Willard alum Radovan Jankovic is the mixologist in charge of making the signature cocktail memorable. There’s no Kahlua in sight, but there are are three variations of the drink — with vodka, bourbon, and rum. The traditional vodka version gets its creamy flavor from ghee (clarified butter) and Vigilante espresso.
A Slayer espresso machine with a five-figure price tag is already working overtime. Since opening a couple weeks ago, patrons are ordering the martinis “in droves,” even at 2 a.m.
In the morning, Residents serves cappuccinos and cortados, fresh coconut water, fresh-squeezed OJ, and chia and matcha lattes.
Mediterranean plates also have lots of thought behind them. Chef Asad Holmberg, who moved to America in 2010 and studied culinarily arts at Johnson and Wales, was sous chef at now-defunct Arroz and more recently cooked at Masseria, Nicholas Stefanelli’s Michelin-starred Italian tasting room near Union Market.
At Residents, Holmberg is serving croissants, salmon tartine, and a chia parfait for breakfast and lunch. At night, there’s charred octopus with red chermoula, eggplant croquettes, and herb salad. Fresh linguini gets joined by espelette pepper, fennel pollen, and Parmigiano.
Seasonal cocktails carry simple names like Cucumber, Strawberry, and Watermelon. Each one features juices blended on-site and eclectic ingredients. The Cucumber, for instance, is filled with Chareau (a California aloe liqueur), a bittersweet Corsican aperitif called Cap Corse Blanc, lime, club soda, and gin.
Issa handles the party planning and music production. A high-end sound system means speakers are dotted everywhere, and the playlist is full of French disco and house tracks that are popular in Europe.
Customers have to walk through the cafe and descend a candle-lined staircase to enter an additional cocktail lair downstairs. There’s a feathery hunter green wall where patrons can do a “half sit” along a soft, narrow ledge — a design element Issa spotted in Europe.
A “Residents Hour” (3 p.m. to 6 p.m.) shaves prices on drinks and food. Espresso martinis drop from $14 to $10. Calamari or salt cod fritters with potato, pimenton, and lemon aioli are $7 each.
During the week, Residents opens at 8 a.m. for breakfast, runs lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and starts dinner at 5 p.m. The bar closes at 10 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday, midnight on Wednesday and Thursday, and 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Issa, managing partner of JBC Events and a former investor in Provision 14, could see the club going national.
“If this goes well, there will be a Residents of Dupont, Residents of LA, and Residents of Miami,” he says.