Fans of recently-closed U Street stalwart Vinoteca can look forward to a new wine-fueled replacement that’ll sling Southwestern fare from the chef at critically acclaimed sister spot The Royal.
Lulu’s Winegarden encourages group guzzling, opening next month with a 40-bottle lineup (all $49 a pop). Owner and wine director Paul Carlson closed 12-year-old Vinoteca last fall, vowing to reopen as a reinvented business this year (1940 11th Street NW). The newly announced venture, first reported by Washingtonian on Thursday, is an ode to Carlson and his wife-business parter Brittany’s baby girl, Lucilla, who goes by Lulu.
Chef Cable Smith, an Austin hospitality vet by way of Albuquerque, New Mexico, plans to honor his Southwestern roots by sprinkling in dishes like white queso, a crab and burnt grapefruit-topped tostada, and smoked pastrami-style pork belly on Texas toast.
Other casual edibles in the mix include a fermented chile-smothered crispy chicken combo and vegan mushroom n’duja toast. French onion dip arrives in toast form, topped with salt and vinegar chips and onion ash.
Latin-influenced Royal, which maintains a respected Michelin Bib Gourmand nod, also plans to helm the cocktail program. Look for a spiked (or not) Agua Frescas filled with fruits, herbs, and botanicals.
Owner and wine director Paul Carlson plans to show love for small producers across the liquid lineup, including personal favorites grown in Baja, Mexico. While bottles are the focus, Lulu’s will also offer a small by-the-glass section.
The refreshed space aims to bring al fresco vibes inside via earthy tones, natural woods, twinkling string lights, glowing candles, and lush greenery spilling out of light cinder blocks. Groups can saddle up to four large wooden tables with built-in ice buckets to keep bottles cold. There’s also a bar and ledge seating for 24, along with plenty of standing room.
Lulu’s Winegarden will also sport two outdoor areas. A front-facing patio will debut upon opening, complete with communal tables, heaters, and room for Fido. Vinoteca’s beloved backyard bocce court will make a comeback in the spring as a renovated respite outfitted with outdoor grills. Lulu’s winegarden will operate Wednesdays through Sundays.
During the 4,000-square-foot space’s longtime run as Vinoteca, the rosé mainstay rose as a popular place for charcuterie and cheese spreads, flatbreads, happy hour, and bottomless brunch.
“A business is like a living, breathing thing — it’s ran its course and we are truly in a competitive market. To remain competitive it’s time to start a new chapter and evolve,” Carlson told Eater last fall.