The partners behind Seven Reasons, D.C.’s pricey Latin standout full of artfully plated dishes, just pushed play on a casual new offshoot up in Chevy Chase.
Venezuelan chef Enrique Limardo and co-owner Ezequiel Vázquez-Ger call the Maryland edition Joy by Seven Reasons. The 150-seat restaurant sits in snazzy outdoor shopping center The Collection (5471 Wisconsin Avenue, Chevy Chase, Md.).
The more affordable, family-friendly spinoff kicks off the a la carte meal with refreshing ceviches, crudos, salads, tequeños, and beef carpaccio.
“It’s more of everyday dining with some Seven Reasons touches,” Vázquez-Ger tells Eater. “It’s a fun, vibrant, and super colorful place.”
Eye candy is everywhere, between ceramic animal heads jutting out of a white brick wall, rainbow-hued ropes dangling over diners, and energetic Latin jazz soundtrack wafting around the dining room.
Maryland isn’t new territory for Limardo. When he helmed Alma Cocina Latina in Baltimore, his cooking there caught the eye of Washington Post critic Tom Sietsema and led to a business partnership with then-regular Vázquez-Ger.
The team just picked up a Michelin star for its luxe, Mediterranean-leaning Imperfecto — specifically, its “Chef’s Table” — where Limardo prepares elaborate tasting menus in the West End. Its scene-y D.C. predecessor Seven Reasons debuted on 14th Street NW in 2019.
The D.C. location offers a $90 prix-fixe menu with courses like cauliflower tempura and halibut filet with green papaya-mango salad, banana green curry, and citrus Thai dressing. There’s little menu overlap at Joy, which embraces some of the “more traditional dishes from South America,” says Limardo,
Mains include a pile of head-on prawns punched up with guajillo chile, and a thick slab of salmon steak gets a crunchy counterpart from fried quinoa.
“You wouldn’t think a piece of salmon could be that good but it’s incredible,” says Vázquez-Ger.
Like the original, cocktails loop in spirits from all over the world (think sake, pisco, and rum). Seven Reasons’s bold Old Fashioned makes an appearance in Chevy Chase, built with Venezuelan rum Santa Teresa 1796, amaro, and fig. Other Latin spins on classics include an Amazonian gin and tonic dressed with lavender flowers or a Caribbean Boulevardier livened up with espresso beans.
An “XL” menu section doesn’t lie. A “Colossal” ciabatta sandwich stars a slow-braised rack of short ribs. The interactive, on-the-bone order is designed for groups up to three, but Vázquez-Ger already spots some daring diners finishing off one apiece.
Joy strives to develop palates at an early age, but parents will have to pay up. A kid’s menu ($19-$22) fancies up chicken tenders with a rice panko crust, while spaghetti with a white cream sauce is Limardo’s answer to bland, buttery noodles.
The pasta for grown-ups is a fettuccine with tomato sauce, ajillo butter, calamari, and shrimp. Whimsical desserts for all ages loop in bee pollen, bright purple ube soft serve, and broken-up waffle pieces.