Bar Chinois, Mt. Vernon Triangle’s high-energy hangout for Frenchified cocktails and Chinese dim sum since 2021, is ready to expand in D.C.
Bar Chinois partners Dean Mosones, Mark Minicucci, and Margaux Donati plan to dip into Japanese cuisine with the opening of a stylish new izakaya called Bar Japonais in early 2024. The critically acclaimed bar team just secured a lease for the old Estadio space, the Spanish stalwart that closed in February after a 13-year run at the foot of Logan Circle (1520 14th Street NW).
The French beverage program that party-starting Bar Chinois is known for will make its way over to 14th Street NW, representing the common thread between the two sibling establishments. Popular cocktails since day one include the “Big Pink” with tequila, Créme de Cassis currant liqueur, and Q grapefruit soda and a Calvados daiquiri with lime and simple syrup. Donati, who has French heritage, plans to continue to make bubbles a big draw at Bar Japonais with lots of Champagne and rosé at the ready.
The hip French wine bar-meets-lively Asian eatery, listed on the Washington Post’s fall 2022 dining guide, caters to cool-kid crowds from pre-dinner to late with dumplings, bao, sharable plates, and fast-moving cocktails from its gregarious bar manager Jacob Simpson. Bottomless brunch also packs the house on weekends, and its monthly drag show edition on Sunday, June 11, appears to be sold out.
“We’ve managed to do something pretty different and interesting at Bar Chinois, so we want to create a sister concept to blend the two,” Mosones tells Eater.
Bar Japonais, still in its early stages, is in the scouting process to find a veteran chef to man a menu full of tataki and fresh fish. “We won’t be a full-on sushi restaurant but we will offer a select amount of rolls,” notes Mosones.
While there’s already sushi (Takara 14) and ramen (Jinya) nearby, as well as newcomer Nama Ko at the top end of the strip, the nightlife corridor is relatively amiss of a Japanese-themed izakaya.
“We believe in a style of eating where people can eat their way through the menu and try different things,” he says.
The team’s swanky sophomore project, which will seat twice many as rectangular-shaped Bar Chinois, plans to largely keep Estadio’s layout and bones intact. A central bar surrounded with stools and high-top seating will join freestanding and banquette tables, a semi-private space, and 40-seat seasonal patio at the corner of 14th and Church Streets NW.
“Estadio did a great job at really leaning into a rustic Spanish style. What we are doing is very different; our design is going to be more on the minimal and modern side,” he says.
The look of Bar Japonais will build upon elements of scene-y Bar Chinois, which features a patio out front and an open, industrial interior dotted with glassy red light fixtures. Neon signage behind the teal-tinged bar spelling out “Welcome friend” in Chinese characters joins a daring, red-lit French phrase splashed in cursive across a brick wall (455 I Street NW).
“We want our guests to feel the same sense of familiarity they have at Bar Chinois,” he says, adding “we are really excited about having a bigger space.”