The latest restaurant from nationally acclaimed chef Enrique Limardo will transform a corner of D.C.’s new, literary-themed Planet Word museum into a destination for artsy global plates, dim sum mash-ups, and continent-hopping cocktails from a Minibar alum.
The new spot, opening downtown next week, is an extension of fast-casual “gastroadvocacy” restaurant Immigrant Food by the White House. Immigrant Food + gives D.C. a swanky dining venue that will hum after the exhibits close, like the Modern inside the MoMa in New York City, or Otium inside the Broad in Los Angeles.
“We aren’t looking for two Michelin stars [like the Modern has] but we are going to definitely create that vibe of being in a cultural spot with amazing food from an amazing chef,” partner Peter Schechter says.
Immigrant Food + will open Thursday, October 7, at 925 13th Street NW with fusion bowls for lunch and segue into fancier, dramatically plated dishes with a Latin-meets-Mediterranean bent that are typical of Limardo kitchens (Seven Reasons, Imperfecto). Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Immigrant Food COO Téa Ivanovic says customers can expect a more affordable price point than Limardo’s other restaurants. Chef Mile Montezuma oversees day-to-day operations in the kitchen.
The dinner menu (full version below) begins with appetizers that start around $10. That include breaded, fried tequenos stuffed with queso blanco and a trio of meze dips. Limardo’s globetrotting dim sum platters ($20 per person) are presented tableside in bamboo steamers. Bites swing from Latin — there are Yucatan-style roast pork buns and plantain-stuffed wontons with serrano chile, cilantro, carrots, and leeks — to Asian (yellowfin tuna tartare with pineapple, daikon, avocado, and shiso leaf) to Mediterranean (lamb and beef “almost kibbeh;” ground chicken and spicy passion fruit in kataifi dough).
A section of shareable dishes ($21 to $38) includes an “Asian cauliflower” that’s been marinated in kimchi, coated in a coconut crust, and served over a green plantain puree. Chicken milanesa comes in a cassava breading, and an 8-ounce “Thai steak” comes with rice, peanuts, bacon, and herb chimichurri.
The 2,500-square-foot restaurant features the same orange tones, woven light fixtures, and greenery that decorate Immigrant Food’s casual shop by the White House. A wood-burning furnace that used to heat the school in the historic building is now framed with a bedouin tent design. The Planet Word museum overlooks Franklin Park, which recently unveiled a controversial, $21 million makeover.
An epoxyed bar top is lined with book covers of famous scientists, novelists, and writers who were immigrants in America. Minibar alum Morgan Barron created a menu of seven cocktails that each adopt a literary namesake synonymous with each continent ($15-$16). The “Siddhartha” (Asia) features basil and cucumber, fresh lime juice, honey, and Japanese shochu. “Invictus,” named after the poem South African president Nelson Mandela regularly recited during his years in political prison, features blackberries produced in South Africa’s Western Cape, honey-cinnamon, and smoky rye topped off with beer foam.
A wine list highlights small, sustainable, and women-owned producers around the world. An “Eastern Old World” section features rare bottles of Monastery Tvrdos — a silky, ruby red wine made from the ancient Balkan vranac grape — and Benvenuti Malvazija, grown on terraced vineyards in high altitudes of Croatia.