D.C. restaurant workers are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, bars are emerging from winter hibernation, and patio-friendly weather is already arriving in fits and starts. The public health emergency is not over by any means — indoor dining is still capped at 25 percent through at least the end of March — but a post-virus reality seems within sight. Restaurant openings have barely slowed throughout the novel coronavirus pandemic, and spring is packed with intriguing new options for Latin small plates, coastal Mexican, Italian-American, Irish, Caribbean, Spanish, and more. These are the 15 most anticipated openings of the spring, as selected by Eater D.C.’s editors.
What: Chef Enrique Limardo’s follow-up to scene-y Latin restaurant Seven Reasons will mesh Mediterranean and South American flavors with his surreal plating and modernist cooking techniques.
When: Opens Friday, March 19
Where: 1124 23rd Street NW (West End)
Las Gemelas Cocina Mexicana
What: The group behind popular high-end Mexican restaurant Espita are opening a cocktail bar in the Union Market district with a menu full of snacks, toasts, and lots of seafood dishes that bring Southern Mexican beach towns to mind. Chefs Rob Aikens, Ben Tenner, and their team of cooks want to show off cooking and plating with more “finesse” — think toast topped with carrot turmeric hummus and smoked cashew or a salmon crudo tostada with salsa verde, cucumber, smoked trout roe, and cilantro oil — to complement the twin taqueria that just opened on the opposite end of where the bar sits in Latin market La Cosecha. The opening bunch of cocktails all cost between $10 and $12.
When: Late March
Where: La Cosecha, 1280 Fourth Street NE
Mattie and Eddie’s
What: Cathal Armstrong, the chef that built his fine dining reputation at Restaurant Eve (now-closed) before opening Hummingbird and pan-Asian Kaliwa, is opening an Arlington restaurant named after his grandparents that will serve Irish pub classics out of ingredients pulled from Mid-Atlantic farms. Expect local oysters, black pudding, shareable sausage rolls, corned beef and cabbage, and fish and chips.
When: Late March
Where: Westpost (formerly Pentagon Row), 1201 S Joyce Street, Arlington, Virginia
Barca Pier & Wine Bar
What: A floating bar in Old Town fashioned out of converted shipping containers takes tips from traditional Spanish beach bars, or chiringuitos, complete with views of the Potomac River and D.C. in the distance. Mediterranean-influenced small plates and finger food will join a lengthy wine list, beer, and cocktails. Alexandria Restaurant Partners’s new sister restaurant Ada’s on the River sits next door.
When: Tentatively scheduled to open Tuesday, March 30
Where: 2 Pioneer Mill Way, Alexandria, Virginia
What: Restaurateur John Kunkel’s Miami-based restaurant for buttermilk biscuits, bourbon-bacon chocolate cake, fried chicken, and (whole) lobster mac ‘n’ cheese slides into the former Mt. Vernon Triangle home of New Orleans restaurant Acadiana. The Southern replacement is lined with leather and brass touches from Rockwell Group, the same designers behind Jaleo Las Vegas and Nobu New York. Yardbird’s first location in the Mid-Atlantic joins existing outposts in Dallas, Los Angeles, and Singapore (there’s six in all). D.C.-specific dishes will include wagyu beef carpaccio and local Elysian Farm lamb shank with homemade pasta and spring vegetable ragu, a representative says.
When: April 1
Where: 901 New York Avenue NW
What: Lore Group, an international outfit known for its sharply designed luxury hotels in London and Amsterdam, is close to opening Lyle DC, its second D.C. property, in the former Carlyle hotel in Dupont. After planting an opulent brasserie full of Corinthian columns in its Penn Quarter hotel, Riggs DC, Lore is going for a New American place with aspirations of becoming a more casual neighborhood spot. Chef Nicholas Sharpe has a menu full of dishes that are not as simple as they sound, including a gluten-free, twice-fried chicken that sets up overnight with potato starch before getting a final coating of rice flour.
When: Early April
Where: Lyle hotel, 1731 New Hampshire Avenue NW
What: The final piece of the Roost food hall in Capitol Hill is a full-service restaurant dedicated to the type of old-school, Italian-American food found at red sauce joints across the Northeast. There will be no riffing here, just penne alla vodka, cheesy garlic bread, and chicken Parm made with locally sourced ingredients. Chef-partner Matt Adler, who used to run Navy Yard’s Osteria Morini and later worked for Michael Schlow’s restaurant group, consulted for Neighborhood Restaurant Group to help each vendor at the Roost sharpen their menu. Because it’s an NRG project, beer director Greg Engert is bringing on Italian-style dry-hopped pilsners and sours from Italy.
Where: The Roost, 1401 Pennsylvania Avenue SE
De Rhum Spot
What: Paul Yellin, a walking rum encyclopedia who grew up in Barbados and was the executive chef at a resort in St. Lucia for four years, is opening a two-level bar with a patio in Columbia Heights. De Rhum Spot will offer a similar menu to Cane Rhum Bar, the Charleston, South Carolina, restaurant Yellin closed last spring after a 4-year run. Street food representing several Caribbean islands includes jerk chicken, lightly fried Gulf mahi mahi bites, stamp n go (saltfish fritters), ginger beer-braised pork, and a seared ahi tuna tower. Permitting issues delayed a fall opening, but Yellin hopes to have a health inspection in hand shortly and plans to open before the liquor license transfers over from the property’s past life.
Where: 2827 Sherman Avenue NW
What: The restaurateurs and seafood purveyors behind Ivy City Smokehouse, Tony and Joe’s, and Nick’s Riverside Grill, are opening a wood-burning grill and raw bar to usher in the next phase of development for Buzzard Point, the Southwest waterfront neighborhood that’s home to D.C.’s pro soccer stadium. A market section called Beside the Point will sell soft-serve ice cream, calamari cones, lobster rolls, fries, sushi, bagels, spreads, and smoked salmon.
Where: 2100 Second Street SW
What: Mexico City chef Alam Méndez Florián takes a mulligan with new partners after his first D.C. area project, Urbano 116, swapped out contemporary Mexican for Tex-Mex. The two-level space that used to hold B Too will include a taco bar and an emphasis on mezcal, but it will open for takeout and delivery first. Méndez Florián’s menu will include dishes like Ensenada-style shrimp tacos, a shrimp quesadilla with soft shell crab, and grilled octopus al pastor. Pastry chef Elisa Reyna and mixologist Arturo Rojas are also based in Mexico.
Where: 1324 14th Street NW
Era Wine Bar
What: Mount Rainier, Maryland’s dining renaissance continues 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 comes from first-time restaurateurs Michelle and Ka-ton Grant, a well-traveled duo who’ve called Mount Rainier home since 2018. The two-level corner fixture located near new comfort foods spot Pennyroyal Station will offer 25 wines by the glass (and at least 50 by the bottle), plus wine lockers for members below.
Where: 3300 Rhode Island Avenue, Mount Rainier, Maryland
What: The food truck that specializes in a variety of egg sandwiches — from standard bacon and cheddar to riffs with fried green tomatoes or burger patties — announced this week it’s opening two standalone stores, including one in Cleveland Park. A 24-hour shop is expected to open in Shaw this summer.
Where: 3420 Connecticut Avenue NW
What: Long Shot Hospitality, the restaurant group behind legendary Irish pub the Dubliner and New England-style seafood spot the Salt Line, is taking on Cajun and Creole cuisines with a New Orleans-style restaurant in a newly constructed space at the base of the Midtown Center development downtown. Chef Kristen Essig, formerly of Coquette in New Orleans, has moved to D.C., and Neal Bodenheimer of nationally celebrated cocktail bar Cure is also a partner. The restaurant has a 30-seat outdoor bar, a tiled fountain, and a covered patio. Inside there’s a raw bar, a charcuterie case, and a sunken dining room.
When: Late spring
Where: 1100 15th Street NW
Baker’s Daughter Chinatown
What: Baker’s Daughter, chef and restaurateur Matt Baker’s pandemic-era companion cafe to his Michelin-starred, tasting menu-focused Gravitas, expands to Chinatown this spring. Compared to the first, which opened in September near Gravitas in Ivy City, the sophomore location will be “more coffee oriented” with grab-and-go pastries, sandwiches, soups, salads, and fresh-pressed juices. His star breakfast sandwich creation is made from homemade sourdough, fried egg, Virginia ham, applewood-smoked bacon, gruyere cheese, arugula, and espelette pepper aioli. Pastry chef Aisha Momaney will expand the new brand’s lineup of baked goods, adding prepackaged single-serving custards and cakes.
When: Late spring
Where: 675 Eye Street NW
What: Celebrity chef and humanitarian José Andrés will sub out the Bethesda location of his pioneering tapas destination Jaleo with an offshoot of NYC’s hit comfort foods spot Spanish Diner. The 6,500-square-foot replacement, billed as Andrés’s “Iberian take of the classic American all-day restaurant,” plans to open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Spanish Diner debuted in 2019 to much critical acclaim inside ThinkFoodGroup’s Mercado Little Spain.
When: Late spring
Where: 7271 Woodmont Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland