At Kitchen & Kocktails by Kevin Kelly, 24K Magic isn’t a reference to Bruno Mars — it’s the name of the alliterative restaurant’s massive mimosa tower that glitters with edible gold and fresh fruit.
The eye-popping addition to downtown D.C.’s dining scene just opened off Franklin Square in the former home of Toro Toro (1300 I Street NW), with a focus on upscale Southern cuisine and frozen cocktails across a 99-table, two-story space spanning 7,500 square feet.
“I believe in the most delicious, Insta-grammable comfort food,” says Kelley.
The over-the-top restaurateur says his team dropped a whopping $100,000 on flowers for the interior design — and it shows. When diners walk in, they’re met with what might be D.C.’s largest floral-covered restaurant wall yet, a seemingly infinite array of roses that lines the wall leading down to Kitchen & Kocktail’s basement lounge.
“I want to make sure our diners want to stay and enjoy themselves after their meal,” says Kelley, referring to the lounge where a TV screen projects rotating visuals like a rainbow-lit design for Pride.
Head chef John Brown is keeping the menu identical to Kelley’s additional locations in Dallas and Chicago, where dishes include mac and cheese adorned with sizable chunks of lobster meat; surf-and-turf served with three lamp chops and lobster tail; blackened or fried catfish; and staple sides ranging from candied yams to fried okra. Southern friend chicken and waffles are served either classic, Nashville hot or Jerk seasoned, smothered, or coated with an Asian-influenced Hennessey sauce.
Kelley’s cocktails showcase a mix of Black-owned spirits such as D’usse cognac, Uncle Nearest whiskey, and SweetBeat vodka. Gilded cocktails include more than just towering mimosas. For $31, “The Gold Fashioned” is mixed tableside and unveiled in a cloud of smoke before being topped with edible gold flakes. The “Candy Cloud” is topped with cotton candy that dissolves quickly with a shot of liquor, and all Don Julio frozen margaritas are served in a repurposed tequila bottle and topped with an optional floater of Don Julio Blanco.
While Kelley’s two other locations require a strict dress code forbidding bodysuits, crop tops, and flip flops among other attire, Kelley says he won’t be enforcing those rules in the District.
“We trust our customers, our customers have been fantastic,” says Kelley. “We want them to feel welcome and at home.”
The restaurant is open until 11 p.m. on weekends and 10 p.m. on the weekdays.