Makers Union, Thompson Restaurants’ 4-year-old tavern in Reston, Virginia, busts out of the suburbs with a shiny new D.C. edition serving tomahawk dinners for two, “sea-cuterie” boards, and lots of brown liquors — plus a neon-lit reminder to “get nauti” in its Southwest Waterfront neighborhood.
The all-day American restaurant’s second locale (664 Maine Avenue SW) sets up shop next to Milk & Honey, Thompson’s months-old destination for Southern comfort foods. The Reston-based, minority-owned hospitality group’s expansive portfolio also includes Hen Quarter, Matchbox, The Delegate, American Tap Room, and Wiseguy Pizza.
Billed as a “made for the people” watering hole, Makers Union at the Wharf is the first of three area arrivals slated for 2023. The fledgling brand plans to crack open across the Potomac near Amazon’s HQ2 (510 14th Street South, Arlington, Virginia), followed by a switcheroo situation in Cathedral Commons when Makers Union replaces a now-closed Matchbox pizza (3701 Newark Street NW). The Wharf address was originally tagged as a Matchbox too, but those plans changed earlier this year.
Makers Union’s big bar showcases six D.C. breweries on draft at a time (plus pours of its own light lager), a dizzying list of whiskeys and bourbons, and cocktails like a Makers Maple Old Fashioned and rum punch. Lunch and dinner hours are Monday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday 11 a.m. to midnight (and Saturday starting at 10 a.m.); and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Weekend brunch runs 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The 3,550-square-foot casual restaurant is decked out with aquamarine-tinged banquettes, brass lighting fixtures, exposed brick, and floor-to-ceiling accordion doors that open up to a pet-friendly patio.
Makers Union’s catch-all menu kicks off with starters like Nashville hot chicken tenders, New Zealand lamb lollipops dunked in spicy harissa sauce, Virginia oysters, broccoli and cheddar soup, and the option to augment the brand’s popular cavatappi mac-and-gruyere cheese with lobster or crab. Poke or pesto grain bowls sit above a section of handhelds like a char-grilled Creekstone Farms burger with bacon and a prime rib French dip.
“Warren’s fine” fried chicken and cheddar waffles, named for the company’s owner Warren Thompson and slathered with bourbon maple syrup, makes an appearance on every menu. Anchoring dinner is a sizable steak meal for two, featuring a 42-ounce tomahawk ribeye with garlic butter and choice of salad, two sides, and shared dessert ($150). A selection of surf-and-turf mains include chili-lime rainbow trout, Devils Backbone beer-battered fish and chips, butternut squash and scallop risotto, and Moroccan-style, meat-free (Impossible) kebabs.
Unlimited weekend brunch — a family-style favorite at the Reston original — brings Maryland crab cake Benedicts, breakfast nachos, smoked salmon lox, and cornflake-crusted French toast to D.C. ($35 per person or $13.95 for kids 10 and under). Add bottomless mimosas in peach, watermelon, strawberry, or classic flavors for $25.