The doldrums of D.C. summer are coming to an end, and some of the biggest names in D.C. restaurants are primed to welcome diners back from vacation season with a slew of intriguing debuts. Here’s a look at the most anticipated openings coming down the pike, including some biggies held over from the summer.
What: Union Market developer Edens is opening a Latin American market in the same Northeast district as the city’s top food hall. Vendors will sell everything from Panamanian coffee, Salvadoran pupusas, and Peruvian sandwiches to vegan Bolivian fine dining, seafood-centric Mexican, and modernist Colombian.
Where: 1280 Fourth Street NE
When: Opening party September 7 with tenants coming on throughout the fall
What: Himitsu founding chef Kevin Tien is leaving his decorated Petworth restaurant behind to focus on his first solo project, a 100-seat dining room in Capitol Hill that will present a multinational menu under the umbrella of “new American” cuisine. Expect family-style dishes, breads, spreads, and roving carts serving a la carte plates suitable for sharing. Known for finding the through-line between traditions from Asia, Latin America, and the American South, Tien has built up a staff that includes alumni of Pineapple and Pearls, Del Mar, and Rappahannock Oyster Co.
Where: 1101 Pennsylvania Avenue SE
When: Late September/Early October
What: Carlie Steiner, the founding partner and beverage director of Himitsu, is taking sole control of the Petworth restaurant and rebranding in the wake of chef Kevin Tien’s departure. Steiner is collaborating with Amanda Moll, a first-time executive chef coming over from Doi Moi, on a small plates menu that will add Middle Eastern flavors and a burger of the week into the mix while continuing Himitsu’s track record of preparing raw fish dishes and hopping across Southeast Asian, Latin, and American styles of cooking.
Where: 828 Upshur Street NW
When: September 18
What: D.C. hitmaker Erik Bruner-Yang (Maketto, Brothers & Sisters, Spoken English) is collaborating with an all-star cast to plant a new ’80s- and ’90s-themed all-day cafe blending Asian, Italian, and American influences in the bottom floor of a high-end condo building in Navy Yard. Bruner-Yang is working with the Hilton Brothers (Chez Billy Sud, the Brixton, Players Club) for the first time. Former Ellē sous Chris Yates and Paolo Dungca, an alum of Kaliwa and Bad Saint, are coming on as executive chefs.
Where: 2 Eye Street SE
When: Late September/Early October
Butter Chicken Company
What: Bombay Street Food owner Asad Sheikh tries to continue his hot streak by opening a fast-casual Indian counter downtown that makes one thing: butter chicken. Trays of the specialty will come with naan, spinach, and chickpeas. Sheikh plans to offer 300 trays per day and close whenever the shop sells out.
Where: 818 18 Street NW
When: Late September
What: Michael Rafidi, who resigned from Mike Isabella’s group after earning widespread acclaim for his cooking at Arroz and Requin, returns to the D.C. scene as a chef-owner at this contemporary Middle Eastern place. Rafidi has partnered with sommelier extraordinaire Brent Kroll, and together they’ll open an outpost of Kroll’s Maxwell Park wine bar next-door. Rafidi has been teasing Albi’s hearth-fueled cooking — including charred eggplant dip and a killer kibbeh nayeh — through pop-ups at some of the hottest restaurants in town (Spoken English, Ellē, A Rake’s Progress).
Where: 1346 Fourth Street SE
What: The team that just sold 14th Street NW mainstay Bar Pilar is shifting its attention to an all-day comfort food spot just across the Maryland border. Executive chef Jesse Miller’s menu will be big on crab and hearty dishes like fried chicken biscuits and manicotti. The refurbished 1920s-era property in Mount Rainier, which seats 73 inside, is a combination of two old building. There are 60 seats on a patio facing where a trolley station used to be.
Where: 310 Rhode Island Avenue, Mount Rainier, Maryland
What: The fourth ramen shop from the experts behind Daikaya, Bantam King, and Haikan will bring traditional Sapporo-style noodle soup to Navy Yard, including some chilled options. The 2,200-square-foot industrial space at the Boilermaker Building in the Yards development near Nationals Park will feature design nods to a pro baseball team in Sapporo, the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. Edit Lab at Streetsense is lining the walls with thousands of soup bowls and private ramen booths that carry their own shop themes. Hatoba, which means “dock,” will fit 50 inside and 30 outside.
Where: 300 Tingey Street SE #170
What: Former Maketto and Spoken English chef James Wozniuk and partner Kendrick Wu are putting a Malaysian restaurant and bar inside the old Meridian Pint space in Columbia Heights.
Where: 3400 11th Street NW
What: Chef and sommelier Danny Lledó planting a new Spanish restaurant that specializes in paella cooked over wood fires above his Slate Wine Bar in Glover Park. Lledó will channel his hometown of Denía on the Mediterranean coast of Spain with four to six varieties of paella and a menu that includes suckling pig, steak, and seafood. The name comes from “Xiquet de Casa” which translates to “local kid” — Lledó’s childhood nickname. The Studio 3877-designed space will feature large skylights, a cocktail lounge, 30 seats, and a glass-enclosed wine cellar.
Where: 2404 Wisconsin Avenue NW
When: Early October
What: Estadio owner Max Kuller’s newly formed restaurant group, In Living Kuller, brought on former Hazel chef Rob Rubba and 2 Birds, 1 Stone barman Adam Bernbach to open a sustainable restaurant in Shaw showcasing two types of oysters: bivalves and mushrooms. Bernbach will offer organic or biodynamic wines and herbal cocktails that integrate kitchen scraps. The small, 35-seat space, lined with neutral tones and slick subway tiles, will play up a veggie theme with dangling plant life, a partial green wall, and mint-colored banquettes. Architect Grizform is also behind the look of the group’s new Estadio in Charleston, South Carolina.
Where: 1440 Eighth Street NW
When: Early fall
What: Prolific D.C. restaurateur Hakan Ilhan performed a multi-million dollar renovation on the 6,000-square-foot space that enjoyed a 37-year run as Morton’s The Steakhouse. The 250-seat French brasserie replacement, complete with two new patio areas, will serve an extensive list of wines, alongside classics like eggs Benedict and French onion soup. To fill the need for more late-night dining options in the neighborhood, a limited menu will be served until last call (look for half-priced oyster deals). Richard Kaufman, the former general manager at 1789, will hold the same title at Liberté. The millennial-friendly look by Swatchroom is inspired by modern brasseries in London’s edgy Soho neighborhood.
Where: 3251 Prospect Street NW
What: Restaurateur Ashok Bajaj (Rasika, Bindaas, Olivia) acquired the historic Dupont building that housed Restaurant Nora, a pioneering organic spot, and plans to honor its past life while providing a modern touch.
Where: 2132 Florida Avenue NW
When: Late October
What: The shiny (an equally pricey) Wharf development on the Southwest Waterfront will welcome a second restaurant from Roberto Santibañez, the Mi Vida chef who’s partnered with KNEAD Hospitality + Design (Succotash, incoming Mah Ze Dahr). Santibañez, a Mexico City native behind a trio of Fonda restaurants in New York, is getting a two-story, 200-seat stage for steakhouse fare that pulls from Latin cuisine and California cooking.
Where: 99 Market Square SW Washington, D.C.
What: Bresca chef Ryan Ratino is opening an experimental kitchen that will churn out eight- to 11-course tasting dinners on the second floor above his modern bistro on 14th Street NW. The Michelin-starred chef is recently took a research trip to Japan to further his fermentation studies. He expects house vinegars, shoyu, and miso paste to aid a lineup of cured products like dry-aged dairy cow. An attached bar will offer a la carte dishes like a fancy hot dog and beef tendon chicharrones topped with caviar.
Where: 1906 14th Street NW
When: Late fall