D.C. chef and restaurateur Tim Ma’s anticipated Navy Yard cafe is now running on all cylinders. Any Day Now opened in June with just breakfast, going all in on scallion-pancake sandwiches stacked with steamed egg and American cheese. Sales of the stellar handhelds have blown past eggspecations, reports Ma, with upwards of 600 orders on weekends.
On Friday, July 21, the coworking-friendly daytime cafe evolved into a full-service restaurant and bar at night. The polished, 75-seat cafe breathes fresh life into the old home of ABC Pony, Erik Bruner-Yang’s Italian-Asian hotspot that closed in 2022 at the foot of the snazzy Novel South Capitol apartment complex (2 I Street SE). Any Day Now does breakfast and lunch from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily, and dinner is now served from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursdays to Mondays (reserve via OpenTable).
The all-day global comfort foods spot represents a culmination of the Chinese-American chef’s past portfolio, pulling elements from Ma’s Maple Ave in Vienna, Virginia, Kyirisan in Shaw, and American Son downtown. Chicken skins coated in an orange glaze channel an order of General Tso’s from Ma’s popular Lucky Danger takeout. His heritage also shows up in a side of Chinese broccoli jazzed up with pepperoni XO sauce and jalapeno soubise.
Mostly manning the menu is chef de cuisine and partner Matt Sperber, who cooked at Sean Brock’s Husk in Charleston, South Carolina, Momofuku CCDC, and most recently, Navy Yard seafood standby Salt Line.
For dinner, Sperber taps into the greasy-spoon culture of his New Jersey home state with cheffed-up takes on diner fare. A “fancy” omelet conjures caviar service with sour cream and onion spread, black truffle, and potato chips, while tuna tartare with smokey blue cheese and grilled homemade sourdough pays homage to a tuna melt.
Instead of everyday chicken-and-waffles, Korean-fried chicken and okonomiyaki waffles meet on the same plate with homemade barbecue sauce and white miso-ranch dressing. Calamari also hits different here, livened up with charred broccoli, Thai basil, and a black walnut crumble. Culinary influences from Sperber’s Puerto Rican mom show up in a bowl of adobo-spiced plantain tots that riff on traditional tostones.
The same scallion pancakes the kitchen rolls daily to build its hit breakfast sandwiches reappear at dinner as the “bun” for a burger and vessel to sop up a whipped yuzu ricotta spread. Its eggy handhelds that average 1,000 sales a week continue to come stuffed with homemade maple-sage sausage, cured bacon, or fermented kimchi (vegetarian).
Sperber, who’s a trained butcher, also puts his carnivorous chops to work at dinnertime. A five-spice oxtail tagliatelle — coined as a cross between Taiwanese noodle soup and birria tacos — features fermented pineapple and a ricotta salata topper; homemade merguez (lamb sausage) shines in a feta-cucumber salad; and barbecued spare ribs arrive slathered in a plum-guava sauce. A tonkatsu-style fried eggplant with Japanese curry sauce rounds out the entrees section.
The kitchen doesn’t mess much with classic diner desserts. The wraparound glass counter is stocked with slices of double-chocolate, coconut custard, and carrot cake, along with apple pie “a la Ma.”
Any Day Now’s daytime drinks like homemade cold brew and matcha green tea lattes are fueled by Red Rooster Coffee, and the Floyd, Virginia roaster also contributes to nighttime pick-me-ups like a Star Platinum (coffee, house rum blend, calamansi, and anise).
Like the food, cocktails delve into nostalgia and embrace the “dawn of the bad cocktail scene” of the ’80s and ’90s, says general manager and beverage director Ryan Ward. Only this time, the throwback drinks taste better.
Sex Pistol #5 refines the Cosmo with sumac-infused sake, pomegranate, and citrus, while the Stone Ocean updates a Tequila Sunrise with reposado tequila, clarified orange juice, and homemade Luxardo boba. A Fernet and Coke grows up with the addition of oolong tea, cocoa, rye, and lemon. The sleek, U-shaped bar also sends out 15 global wines, each by the glass or bottle, plus canned, bottled, or draft beers.
To create sit-and-stay atmosphere at night, lower-level lounge seating was added around the bar and private dining nooks now sit in the back.