Despite a tight labor pool and economic stressors continuing to trigger global shortages and delays in equipment and food, several notable projects are finally ready to blossom around town this spring.
D.C. is gearing up to welcome sprawling Japanese food hall, sushi bar, and izakaya Love, Makoto; a high-profile Wharf opening from celebrity chef Philippe Chow; a sports-betting bar and more at Foggy Bottom’s Western Market; an all-day cafe from chef Tim Ma in Navy Yard; a sultry sushi cave for Georgetown; a lively Mexican and Lebanese restaurant in Ivy City; a dreamy cocktail and small plates spot from Maydan’s co-owner Rose Previte; a “Greek-ish” wine and meze club in Adams Morgan; a set of scenic lounges from chef Nicholas Stefanelli at the Morrow Hotel; a West African venture in Sixteenth Street Heights, and much more.
Maryland’s dining scene also gets a big boost this season with a pair of Italian spots in Bethesda from Team All-Purpose; a new food hall for Chevy Chase; a supersized Bar Charley spinoff in Gaithersburg; and a modern restaurant and music venue for downtown Silver Spring. And Virginia will finally welcome its long-awaited Astro Beer Hall in Shirlington later this spring.
Here are the most anticipated area openings to follow over the next few months:
Bryant Street Market
What: Popular Mexican street foods spot Taqueria Habanero and Bar Alegria, a 26-seat offshoot of the Habanero family’s Tequila & Mezcal in Columbia Heights, are part of the opening lineup MRP Realty’s shiny new Northeast food hall. Located near the Rhode Island Avenue Metro station, Bryant Street Market also goes live this month with vendors Blowfish Poke and Tiger Sugar. The 12,400-square-foot food hall carves out room for nine vendors in all. The rapidly expanding Bryant Street development will also welcome pickleball pad Kraken Kourts this spring.
Where: 670 Rhode Island Avenue NE
When: Blowfish Poke debuts this week, and Tiger Sugar, Taqueria Habanero, and Alegria will all open Friday, March 17; Bold Dumpling will follow a few weeks later.
What: The partners behind the Dabney, the Michelin-starred Mid-Atlantic restaurant in Shaw, bring a chic, all-day French eatery to Mt. Vernon Square. James Beard award-winning chef Jeremiah Langhorne and co-owner Alex Zink will continue a commitment to local sourcing while importing French goods like butter, cheese, and wines. The casual corner newcomer lined with windows will operate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Unlike the Dabney, there will not be a wood-burning hearth at the center of the restaurant.
Where: 1027 Seventh Street NW
When: Mid-late March
Foggy Bottom’s flashy food hall near GWU and the World Bank started coming to life in 2021 with vendors like Rawish, Onkei, and Capo Deli. Bullfrog Bagels just opened a carbs and catering hub on Monday March 6, and a few more notable arrivals are set to pop this spring (2000 Pennsylvania Avenue NW).
- ExPat: Local chef and expansion-minded restaurateur Tim Ma (Lucky Danger, Laoban Dumplings) teams up with hospitality duo Ben Sislen and Jonas Singer on a new 8,000-square-foot sports (betting) bar serving American staples like wings and hush puppies and playful drinks with room for 400. Late March
- Alitiko: This fast-casual ode to owner Dimitri Piskapas’s childhood in Greece (Alitiko means “punk”) will serve gyros, sandwiches, Mediterranean sides, zucchini fritters, slow-roasted shawarma, glazed pork neck, and fries. Late March
- The Bussdown: This pan-African eatery from chefs and D.C. natives Solomon Johnson and Mike Woods fuses Caribbean and Cajun-Creole flavors. The duo started the ghost kitchen-based business in California during the pandemic and decided to bring a brick-and-mortar edition to their hometown. Early April
What: Internationally renowned chef Makoto Okuwa teams up with local restaurateurs Eric Eden and chef David Deshaies (L’Ardente and Unconventional Diner) to bring a 20,000-square-foot Japanese food hall to D.C.’s Capitol Crossing development. Love, Makoto’s first phase will encompass three full-service restaurants: a sushi dining room and bar; a beef-centric yakiniku with ceramic grills embedded in the tables; and an izakaya serving sake, cocktails, and shareable snacks. The sushi and yakiniku menus will be omakase-style, comprised of snacks, mains, desserts, and optional upgrades. At the yakiniku, add-ons could include potato mochi with a blue cheese dip, truffled egg souffle, and garlic prawns. Sushi omakase add-ons could include Ossetra caviar, Japanese sea urchin, and wagyu beef with truffle. Phase two, opening this summer, will be a fast-casual destination for udon, ramen, soba, dumplings, salads and katsu sandwiches, plus a Japanese coffee shop and bakery with nitro matcha and Japanese pastries.
Where: 200 Massachusetts Avenue NW
When: Late March/early April
What: Hong Kong native Philippe Chow, the revered chef behind a showy pair of Manhattan power spots, brings his beloved Peking duck and other family-style favorites down to the Wharf. The 7,000-square-foot space at the base of the luxury Amaris condo complex features a huge covered patio with views of the Potomac River. Chow’s original showpiece debuted on the Upper East Side in 2005 and quickly amassed a devoted A-list following for its modern Beijing-style menu. Celebrity sightings at the glitzy, white-tablecloth stalwart include actor Forest Whitaker and Nick Cannon. Along with Peking duck theatrically carved tableside, popular orders include chicken satay; hand-pulled noodles; salt and pepper prawns; crispy beef; lobster fried rice; and soup dumplings.
Where: 635 Wharf Street SW
- Phase 2 also includes burgers (Lucky Buns); buttery Maine lobster rolls (Mason’s Famous); Manhattans with a hair cut (Scissors & Scotch); NYC import Blank Street Coffee; and Thompson Hospitality’s Milk & Honey and newly announced Makers Union.
What: Steps down the alley from Michelin-rated Middle Eastern hotspot Maydan, co-owner Rose Previte unveils an intimate cocktail and small plates bar that evokes a Bedouin tent. The casual neighborhood destination plans to showcase Moroccan tagines, Tunisian brik (flaky pastries), Spanish gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp), and absinthe tea service. Medina will also offer private dining service.
Where: 1328 Florida Avenue NW
Any Day Now
What: Chef Tim Ma’s new all-day restaurant in Navy Yard will serve coffee and scallion pancake breakfast sandwiches by day and creative renditions of American classics by night.
Where: 2 I Street SE
What: The team behind outer Arlington’s raw fish favorite Yume Sushi expands across state lines with the opening of an opulent new flagship in an iconic Georgetown address. Tucked inside the tony mixed-use cluster of Cady’s Alley, 130-seat Kyojin will feature a luxe look from Miami-based studio Francois Frossard Design. Bangkok-born chef and co-owner Saran “Peter” Kannasute will have more room to build upon the boundary-pushing sushi and omakase menus he’s known for at 5-year-old Yume. Hot izakaya offerings will be a new feature at Kyojin.
Where: 3315 Cady’s Alley NW, Suite B
Charley Prime Foods
What: D.C. restaurant vets Jackie Greenbaum and Gordon Banks (Little Coco’s, El Chucho, Bar Charley, Quarry House Tavern) debut a modern American restaurant at Gaithersburg’s Rio Lakefront Mall. Longtime chef and partner Adam Harvey will lead the kitchen with Little Coco’s chef de cuisine Russell Pike. Billed as a grown-up Bar Charley, Charley Prime Foods’ broadened menu will combine its love for steaks and homemade pastas (a la Little Coco’s). Located in the former Tara Thai space, the 90-seat restaurant can fit another 100 across its pretty waterfront patio. Editlab@Streetsense put together the new look.
Where: 9811 Washingtonian Boulevard, Gaithersburg, Maryland
What: The chefs behind D.C.’s Michelin-starred tasting room Rooster & Owl hatch a family-friendly little sister in West Falls Church’s mixed-use Founder’s Row development. Ellie Bird, named for owners Yuan and Carey Tang’s youngest daughter, is a 70-seat casual counterpart featuring some of the comfort foods the couple offered to go from Rooster & Owl when they altered their business model during the pandemic. In addition to versions of those dishes (seafood paella, homemade pastas), they are adding pork chops, pineapple buns, brunch items like Spam and egg sliders, and a kids’ menu.
Where: 125 Founder’s Avenue, Falls Church, Virginia
What: Owner/chef Candice Mensah’s roving West African venture Hedzole finds a permanent home in a small Sixteenth Street Heights space that formerly housed Social Kitchen. A daughter of Ghanaian immigrants, Mensah was born in D.C. and grew up in Alexandria, Virginia. With the support of family and friends, she debuted Hedzole in 2019 and quickly amassed a loyal following at farmers markets in Northern Virginia and D.C. Longtime favorites making their way to D.C. include her take on stewed oxtail over Ghanaian waakye and groundnut (peanut) soup, plus new dishes like goat curry and okra stews. For drinks, she plans to showcase South African wines and Black-owned labels in the U.S. Hedzole can seat 12 inside and 20 across its patio.
Where: 5505 Colorado Avenue NW
Aventino and AP Pizza Shop
What: Colin McDonough, Gareth Croke, Mike O’Malley and chef Mike Friedman—the team behind D.C. mainstays The Red Hen, All-Purpose, and Boundary Stone—bring Bethesda a pair of next-door Italian eateries centered around Roman cuisine. Sit-down Aventino, a sprawling space with room for 135, will specialize in antipasti, pasta, spritzes, and Negronis. All-day AP Pizza Shop, an ode to the neighborhood pizzerias the team grew up going to, will offer Italian coffee and pastries in the morning, paninis and salads for lunch, and pies made with all-American dough, local cheese, and seasonal toppings.
Where: 4747 Bethesda Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland
When: Late April
What: This “Greek-ish” wine and meze club for Adams Morgan comes from Eastern Point Collective—the restaurant group behind The Duck & The Peach, La Collina, and The Wells on Capitol Hill. Situated at the foot of the luxury Silva apartment building, Meli will operate Tuesdays to Saturdays (4 p.m. to 9 p.m.) for takeout and dine-in service inside and out. Look for chicken and veggie souvlaki skewers, spreads, and snacks like head-on prawns with harissa and lemon. The annual membership fee ($25) goes towards neighborhood nonprofit The Reed Cooke Neighborhood Association. Membership also includes access to Meli’s virtual market and subscriptions for wine, CSA, grill boxes, and more.
Where: 1630 Columbia Road NW
The Heights Food Hall
What: Situated near the Friendship Heights Metro stop, Alexandria-based Common Plate Hospitality’s (CPH) first project in Maryland includes a full-service restaurant (Urbano), full-service bar (The Heights Bar), speakeasy (The Turncoat), and eight local food stalls—including the winner of Urbano’s “Stall Wars” competition: Dario Arana-Rojas of Miami-style Saoco Cuban Eats. The Heights will also feature a sushi stall from Moon Rabbit chef Kevin Tien; a quick-serve spot called Extra Rice from Kuya Ja’s Lechon Belly chef Javier Fernandez; vegan Indian street foods from chef Priya Ammu (DC Dosa); and Arlington favorite Mimi’s Handmade, which plans to serve soft serve, cookies, and pints of ice cream.
Where: 5310 Wisconsin Avenue, Chevy Chase, Maryland
When: Late April
What: Spearheaded by Richie Brandenburg and Rubén Garcia, the showy food hall inside International Square will feature 16 food vendors, a full-service restaurant and bar, a large bar in the central atrium, an expansive outdoor dining space, retail, and more.
Where: 1850 K Street NW
The Morrow Hotel
Michelin-starred chef Nicholas Stefanelli opened French restaurant Le Clou at the foot of this snazzy new NoMa hotel in December and will add two more stylish ventures up top this spring (222 M Street NE).
Upstairs at the Morrow: This vibrant rooftop playground with panoramic views of the city, from the Capitol to the Washington Monument, will serve cocktails, wine, charcuterie boards, and light bites. April
Vesper: This intimate, 11th-floor lounge will showcase live music, cocktails, grand hors d’oeuvres, and caviar service—plus extravagant tea-and-Champagne service on weekends. May
What: Two-story Vera brings Ivy City a flavorful cross-section of Mexican and Lebanese cuisines, caffeinated cocktails, energetic music, and more. The industrial-chic restaurant and lounge is the brainchild of Nayef Issa, co-founder of Dupont’s buzzy Residents Café & Bar, and partner Nour Chaaban. Vera is named for Veracruz, Mexico’s historic port city that welcomed a huge wave of Lebanese immigrants back in the late 1800s. Top Mexico City-based design studio Sulkin Askenazi put together a vibrant look that speaks to similarities between the two coastal countries.
Where: 2002 Fenwick Street NE
Citizens & Culture
What: Downtown Silver Spring’s sleek new 15,000-square-foot restaurant and music venue comes from Tsega Haile, who also owns Silver Spring and Clarendon coffee shop Kaldi’s Social House. Multi-level Citizens & Culture is outfitted with large flat-screen TVs, working fireplaces, and a lofted stage up top equipped with a state-of-the-art sound system for DJs and bands. A ground-floor patio leads to an expansive, vaulted ceiling main dining room with a full-length bar and menu from chief chef consultant Jessica Shields and executive chef Ryan Hackney.
Where: 8113 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, Maryland
Tom’s Watch Bar
What: National Harbor gets a new game-day headquarters for sports fans. The 12,100-square-foot bar and restaurant boasts three central oversized “stadium” screens, personalized audio at every table, more than 80 high-definition screens, two outdoor patios, two interactive TopGolf Swing suites, and seating for more than 300. Beer served in 40-ounce stein glasses joins bar fare like pickle-brined crispy chicken, prime rib dip, and an Old Bay shrimp basket that’s exclusive to D.C. The coast-to-coast chain made its area debut in Chinatown last year.
Where: 200 American Way, Oxon Hill, Maryland
What: A huge new Filipino restaurant for H Street NE builds upon the success of Hiraya, chef Paolo Dungca’s polished weekend tasting room that got its start at the Block food hall downtown. The permanent, two-level location will offer separate menus and atmospheres on each floor. Sun-drenched Cafe Hiraya, opening first, will serve Filipino pastries, breakfast sandwiches, vibrant lattes made with ube (purple yam), and brewed-to-order teas from Auntea Boba. The casual, all-day level will also specialize in silog — a Filipino morning staple comprised of sinangag (garlic fried rice), itlog (runny egg), and protein like longganisa sausage. The second level, coming online later, will showcase la carte small plates and prix fixe menus. For Hiraya 2.0, Dungca partners with Juan and Jeremy Canlas — the father-son duo behind local chain Supreme Barbeque and Auntea Boba.
Where: 1248-1250 H Street NE
Astro Beer Hall
What: The Village at Shirlington’s new 14,000-square foot beer, doughnut, and fried chicken mecca is a collaboration between Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken owners Elliot Spaisman and Jeff Halpern and Tin Shop’s Geoff Dawson and Peter Bayne. Expect similar cosmic decor, over-the-top sandwiches and doughnuts, and local beer offerings found at the downtown D.C. original. Astro Beer Hall Shirlington will also brew Compass all day at its full-service coffee counter and serve Astro’s decadent, creative doughnuts and breakfast sandwiches. The kitchen will also offer lunch, happy hour, dinner, and weekend brunch, with an expanded menu of Astro’s beloved fried chicken and bar bites like deviled eggs, fried pickles, loaded tots, and more.
Where: 4001 Campbell Avenue, Arlington, Virginia
When: Late spring
What: Hotel Zena’s lobby-level dining destination Figleaf will reopen as a brand new restaurant this spring. A Mediterranean-leaning menu with Latin influences will include street tacos, ceviches, meze, and flatbreads. Executive chef James Gee, who leads the kitchen at year-old Dovetail in nearby sibling hotel Viceroy DC, will now oversee both properties’ food and beverage programs.
Where: 1155 14th Street NW