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Joy by Seven Reasons is a party for all ages.
Jen Chase/Jennifer Chase Photography

Inside Joy, the Delightfully Playful Eatery Chevy Chase Has Been Waiting For

Michelin-starred chef Enrique Limardo brings Maryland a dressed-down version of his D.C. hit Seven Reasons

Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

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.

Ceviche limeño with passion fruit leche de tigre, red onion, sweet potato canchas, and micro-cilantro.
Jen Chase/Jennifer Chase Photography
Warm vichyssoise soup with potato, cauliflower-leeks, chile guajillo oil, sea bean, and rosemary oil.
Jen Chase/Jennifer Chase Photography

“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.

Neon signage of a smile drives the mood-lifting theme home.
Jen Chase/Jennifer Chase Photography

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.

Churrasco-style salmon balances atop a bed of fried quinoa, shishito, cherry tomato, roasted carrots, and circumference of ranch dressing.
Jen Chase/Jennifer Chase Photography
Bite-sized delights at Joy.
Jen Chase/Jennifer Chase Photography

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.

Joy’s bar feels familiar, wrapped in bright red tiles (at Seven Reasons, they’re green) and live wall elements.
Jen Chase/Jennifer Chase Photography

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.

Ube soft serve with salted peanut caramel, lemon-ginger syrup, honeycomb toffee, bee pollen, and waffle pieces.
Jen Chase/Jennifer Chase Photography
The “Many Reasons” dessert fills a waffle cone with almond vanilla soft serve, caramelized pepita crumble, and chocolate pearls.
Jen Chase/Jennifer Chase Photography
Prawns prepared with a homemade seasoning feature cascabel pepper, guajillo, onion, sour cream, roasted tomato and prickly pear sauce, and avocado.
A watercress Caesar salad and bluefin tuna crudo with soya mix, mango aji amarillo, pearl onion, and crispy quinoa.
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