The steadily rising dining scene just across the D.C. border in Mount Rainier, Maryland, will get another boost this spring with the arrival of a new wine bar that showcases grapes from underrepresented regions like Mexico and the Middle East along with a range of global small plates.
Era Wine Bar (3300 Rhode Island Avenue) expects to start pouring in May on the same block as Pennyroyal Station, the anticipated American comfort foods spot that a group of Bar Pilar alums unveiled last fall.
Era will bring the neighborhood a brick-lined corner fixture offering 25 wines by the glass (and at least 50 by the bottle) that go with a selection of small plates. Era comes from first-time restaurateurs Michelle and Ka-ton Grant, a well-traveled duo who’ve called Mount Rainier home since 2018.
“We’ve spent time in almost 40, if not 45, countries [combined] and we’ve drank a lot of wine along the way,” says Michelle Grant, a tech consultant-turned-certified sommelier. “There’s no shortage of wine bars in D.C. but most are regionally focused — you’ve got French, Spanish, [or] Italian.”
A tasting room tucked under the main dining level will be outfitted with wine lockers for members, a cosmopolitan touch in the historically sleepy neighborhood. D.C. proper is relatively flushed with the high-brow storage component, between Ritz-Carlton-adjacent Wine Lair to the historic Georgetown Club.
Era’s wine list will highlight grapes grown in “underrepresented” regions from the Mediterranean and Middle East, she says. Think full-bodied reds from Israel, Jordan, and Lebanon, and “super food-friendly” Chenin Blanc and Shiraz from South Africa. Lesser-known North American varietals will also be in the mix.
“There is great riesling coming out of New York and Cab Francs out of Mexico,” she says.
Wine glasses will be filled with 3-, 6-, or 9-ounce pours.
“We love this idea of tasting in different quantities and picking what you like,” she says.
Small plates will pull from flavors in India (tandoori chicken wings), the Middle East (goat cheese-stuffed dates), and beyond with “oldie-but-goodie [wine] snacks,” Grant says. Instead of hiring a head chef, Grant will develop recipes with a culinary team that reflect the couple’s heritage and upbringing.
“Half of my family is from Southern Africa, and the other half is from Southwest India — but I also grew up in the D.C. area,” she says. “So on our dinner table you saw curries, vegetables, stews, salads, burgers, and pastas.”