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The dining room and bar at Cane on H Street NE
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

The 15 Hottest Restaurants in D.C., May 2019

Where to eat right now around the DMV

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The dining room and bar at Cane on H Street NE
| Photo by Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Readers, friends and family often come to Eater editors with one question: “Where should I eat right now?” Restaurant obsessives want to know what’s new, what’s exciting, which favorite chef just opened a new place. And while the Eater 38 is a crucial resource covering standbys and essentials across the city, it is not a chronicle of the ‘it’ places of the moment. Enter the Eater Heatmap, which will change monthly to highlight where discerning diners are flocking to right now.

Now leaving the hot list: Boqueria, Él Bebe, El Sapo Cuban Social Club, Tiki TNT, Urbano 116

New to the hot list: Cane, Hot Lola’s, Queen’s English, Seven Reasons, Stellina Pizzeria

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Queen’s English

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3410 11th St NW
Washington, DC 20010

Owners Henji Cheung and Sarah Thompson arrive from New York with warm smiles and a charming story. He’s the husband and chef trading in the Italian noodles he used to make for a lineup of Hong Kong-style dishes cribbed from his mother’s kitchen. She’s the wife and general manager stirring up cocktails with Chinese herbal syrup and sourcing natural wines from everywhere from Greece to Texas. Together they spend their days doing prep work for 24-hour golden chicken, twice-cooked lamb ribs, and steamed egg custard. A no-reservations policy means people may have to be patient to land a table.

Golden chicken from Queen’s English
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

2. Sonny’s Pizza/No Kisses

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Park View, Washington
DC, United States
(202) 601-7701
Visit Website

After months of teasing, this Park View pizza shop opened in mid-March with square slices and a mission of recreating the atmosphere of everyone’s favorite hometown pie parlor. The focaccia-like crust might be too soft for some people’s taste, but it’s tough to argue over the merits of slightly charred pepperoni cups perched atop melted cheese. No Kisses, the sibling bar next-door, has a hip neon jungle vibe, and an outdoor space out back allows people to bask in the sunshine with cocktails and pizza.

3. Rooster & Owl

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2436 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 813-3976
Visit Website

The husband-and-wife team of Yuan and Carey Tang finally put years of pop-ups behind them in February when they opened their “market-driven” shared plates restaurant in February. Just north of U Street NW, the four-course, $65 tasting menu at Rooster & Owl reflects Yuan Tang’s eclectic training in New York kitchens including the Red Fork and Jean-Georges. Tang plates up subversive takes on hearty American standards like Carolina barbecue starring dry-rubbed, grilled carrots or pot roast where pomme puree plays a starring role. Every meal begins with soft pineapple buns, a callback to the chef’s adolescence in Hong Kong.

Carolina barbecue carrots and corn bread ice cream from Rooster & Owl.
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

4. Seven Reasons

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2208 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 290-2630
Visit Website

The brick-lined townhome that used to house Piola reemerged in April as an ivy-covered Latin fusion destination, starring artfully presented dishes from an acclaimed Venezuelan chef. Chef Enrique Limardo most recently made a name for himself in Baltimore, helming Alma Cocina Latina for the past five years. For his first D.C. venture, Limardo presents his menu in seven sections: snacks, small plates, medium plates, large plates, desserts, cocktails, and wines. The format aims to unite flavors from his native country with those from Peru, the Amazon rainforest, and the Caribbean. The space will soon grow with the addition of a patio area for 30, outfitted with lounge seating and a full bar. 

Cauliflower tempura from Seven Reasons
Jen Chase/For Seven Reasons

5. Zeppelin

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1544 9th St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 506-1068
Visit Website

The partners behind ramen mainstay Chaplin’s just opened a new sushi, izakaya, and karaoke bar up the street. Sushi chef Minoru Ogawa (Sushi Capitol, Sushi Ogawa) is flying in fish from the Toyosu market in Tokyo. The refurbished two-level space, formerly home to Shaw Bijou, has versatile vibes. On the first floor, guests can gulp cocktails made from a rare highball machine while nibbling on yakitori skewers. Upstairs, there are two nightly seatings for its omakase menu. Starting at 10:30 p.m., the karaoke party gets rolling, complete with a whopping selection of 30,000 songs.

Shrimp and vegetable tempura from Zeppelin
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

6. The Pembroke

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1500 New Hampshire Ave NW
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 448-4302
Visit Website

The Dupont Circle Hotel unveiled its new restaurant in February, marking the last step of a stylish multi-million dollar renovation. Washington Post critic Tom Sietsema was smitten with the lamb tagine and saffron risotto. Chef Marlon Rambaran, an alum of Fontainebleau Miami Beach and the Meatpacking District’s Bagatelle, plays up global flavors across Morocco, France, Italy, Spain, and Ireland. The 127-seat restaurant is a beauty complete with coral-colored booths, retro artwork, and a front-row seat of busy city life outside.

Designer Martin Brudnizki crafted a mid-century modern look at Pembroke.
Dupont Circle Hotel/official photo

7. Coconut Club

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540 Penn St NE
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 544-5500
Visit Website

This shamelessly Instagram-friendly Island bar by Union Market has legitimate culinary chops thanks to chef Adam Greenberg, who traded in tapas as an early member of the Barcelona Wine Bar group for playful small plates spanning from tuna or salmon poke with lotus root chips to spam fried rice and spicy coconut chicken. Drinks come in disco balls and fresh-cracked coconuts, and one large-format cocktail literally shoots sparks.

Ora king salmon poke from Coconut Club.
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

8. Stellina Pizzeria

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399 Morse St NE
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 851-3995
Visit Website

Stellina Pizzeria just brought the booming Union Market neighborhood a whimsical atmosphere for patiently fermented pizza crust, Don Ciccio cocktails, house-made pasta, and street foods from Italy’s southern coast. Chef Matteo Venini and restaurateur Antonio Matarazzo worked together at  Lupo Verde. Fans of Venini’s cacio e pepe can sample the Italian staple in both pasta and pizza form. Another white pie is blanketed in mortadella. Other recommended orders include Sicilian arancini, a breaded swordfish sandwich, and an eggplant Parmesan-based Il Cuzzetiello panino built on pizza dough. The owners’ European fashion sense is evident across a space: a mural shows a legendary Italian comedian wearing a colorful suit by Dolce & Gabbana. 

An octopus and burrata panino and several pizzas from Stellina Pizzeria
Meaghan Webster/For Stellina

9. Estuary

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950 New York Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 844-5895
Visit Website

After a rough year that included several closures, brothers Bryan and Michael Voltaggio are throwing their all into a modernist Maryland menu at their new restaurant in the third floor of the Conrad Hilton in CityCenterDC. Go for what may be the prettiest crab roll on the planet, a sous vide lamb belly pastrami, or pan-roasted Atlantic cod “ramen” with cuttlefish and enoki mushroom noodles.

Atlantic cod with a cod-bone tonkatsu broth and cuttlefish and mushroom noodles.
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

10. Cane

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403 H St NE
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 675-2011
Visit Website

Trinidadian-born Peter Prime and his sister Jeanine are recreating the vibes of rum shops from back home in this narrow restaurant on H Street NE. Prime turns his fine-dining pedigree towards doubles — rounds of fry-bread stuffed with curried chickpeas and spicy chutney — grilled oxtails, and smoked coconut soft serve. Fresh juices make up the base of rum-heavy cocktails and punches.

Trinidadian doubles from Cane.
Gabe Hiatt/Eater D.C.

11. Olivia Restaurant

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800 F St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 347-4667
Visit Website

Restless restaurateur Ashok Bajoj (Rasika, Sababa, Bindaas) spent a year dreaming up an overhaul for NoPa Kitchen + Bar in Penn Quarter, orchestrating a Mediterranean makeover that brought in flavors from Spain, Morocco, Italy, Portugal, Greece, and Tunisia. Along with giant wine bottles hanging from fishnets on the ceiling, diners will find takes on European and North African dishes such as Galician octopus carpaccio and chicken pastilla with green harissa and pistachios in a phyllo dough.

Burrata with garlic breadcrumbs and spicy green zhug.
Greg Powers/For Olivia

12. Punjab Grill

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427 11th St NW, Washington
DC 20004, United States
(202) 813-3004
Visit Website

The upscale Indian brand made its splashy stateside debut in March, granting D.C. diners an ultra-luxe destination for chutney flights, Petrossian caviar served with naan, and lamb garnished in real 24-carat gold leaf. Every inch of the 4,700-square-foot restaurant was made in India and painstakingly assembled to resemble a home of rich regional rulers in India, known as maharajas. Chef Jaspratap “Jassi” Bindra grew up in Kanpur, India, and has helmed kitchens across some of the finest resorts and restaurants across his country. Here, Bindra adds playful, global twists to Punjabi cuisine from North India.

Burrata badal jaam with spiced eggplant and heirloom tomatoes at Punjab Grill.
Jennifer Hughes/Punjab Grill

13. Buena Vida/TTT Clarendon

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2900 Wilson Blvd Suite 103
Arlington, VA 22201
(703) 888-1259
Visit Website

Ambar owner Ivan Iricanin recruited chef Gerardo Vázquez Lugo, one of the most famous faces in the Mexican culinary world, to design the menus at this three-level complex in Clarendon. Buena Vida, the second-story dining room, gives Vázquez Lugo a chance to give history lessons about the country’s diverse heritage with dishes such as tableside Caesar salad from Tijuana and shellfish pozole from Colima. On the first floor, Tacos, Tequila, Tortas (TTT) is a more casual venue for Mexico City-style street food. An Acapulco-style seafood restaurant on the roof is still under construction.

Tropical ceviche from Buena Vida
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

14. Hot Lola's

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4238 Wilson Blvd Level C
Arlington, VA 22203

With his counter in the new Quarter Market food hall in Ballston, Himitsu chef Kevin Tien gives Nashville hot chicken a Sichuan-laced twist. Fried chicken comes in four spice levels (too hot, O.G. hot, dry hot, not hot) with an assist from a crisp made of numbing peppers, fennel seeds, star anise, and Thai chiles. Elsewhere in the complex, people can head to a sit-down soccer bar, Copa Kitchen, that serves Spanish comfort foods and sangria samplers. Turu’s, a New York-style pizza place from Timber Pizza Co., is also inside the market.

A hot chicken sandwich from Hot Lola’s
Hot Lola’s [official]

15. Mama Chang

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3251 Old Lee Hwy Ste101
Fairfax, VA 22030
(703) 268-5556
Visit Website

Peter Chang’s grand return to Fairfax, where the former embassy chef first developed a culinary following while cooking under pseudonyms, is this home-style Chinese restaurant that honors the women in his life with fiery dishes from his native Hubei province along with signature Sichuan specialities. Check out ultra-buttery sesame shaobing brad from the pastry expert expert Lisa Chang, the chef’s wife. People with a high tolerance for heat will want to check out the family-style flounder pot laced with pickled peppers.

Pan-fried pork dumplings from Mama Chang.
Rey Lopez/For Mama Chang

1. Queen’s English

3410 11th St NW, Washington, DC 20010
Golden chicken from Queen’s English
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Owners Henji Cheung and Sarah Thompson arrive from New York with warm smiles and a charming story. He’s the husband and chef trading in the Italian noodles he used to make for a lineup of Hong Kong-style dishes cribbed from his mother’s kitchen. She’s the wife and general manager stirring up cocktails with Chinese herbal syrup and sourcing natural wines from everywhere from Greece to Texas. Together they spend their days doing prep work for 24-hour golden chicken, twice-cooked lamb ribs, and steamed egg custard. A no-reservations policy means people may have to be patient to land a table.

3410 11th St NW
Washington, DC 20010

2. Sonny’s Pizza/No Kisses

Park View, Washington, DC, United States

After months of teasing, this Park View pizza shop opened in mid-March with square slices and a mission of recreating the atmosphere of everyone’s favorite hometown pie parlor. The focaccia-like crust might be too soft for some people’s taste, but it’s tough to argue over the merits of slightly charred pepperoni cups perched atop melted cheese. No Kisses, the sibling bar next-door, has a hip neon jungle vibe, and an outdoor space out back allows people to bask in the sunshine with cocktails and pizza.

Park View, Washington
DC, United States

3. Rooster & Owl

2436 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
Carolina barbecue carrots and corn bread ice cream from Rooster & Owl.
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

The husband-and-wife team of Yuan and Carey Tang finally put years of pop-ups behind them in February when they opened their “market-driven” shared plates restaurant in February. Just north of U Street NW, the four-course, $65 tasting menu at Rooster & Owl reflects Yuan Tang’s eclectic training in New York kitchens including the Red Fork and Jean-Georges. Tang plates up subversive takes on hearty American standards like Carolina barbecue starring dry-rubbed, grilled carrots or pot roast where pomme puree plays a starring role. Every meal begins with soft pineapple buns, a callback to the chef’s adolescence in Hong Kong.

2436 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20009

4. Seven Reasons

2208 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
Cauliflower tempura from Seven Reasons
Jen Chase/For Seven Reasons

The brick-lined townhome that used to house Piola reemerged in April as an ivy-covered Latin fusion destination, starring artfully presented dishes from an acclaimed Venezuelan chef. Chef Enrique Limardo most recently made a name for himself in Baltimore, helming Alma Cocina Latina for the past five years. For his first D.C. venture, Limardo presents his menu in seven sections: snacks, small plates, medium plates, large plates, desserts, cocktails, and wines. The format aims to unite flavors from his native country with those from Peru, the Amazon rainforest, and the Caribbean. The space will soon grow with the addition of a patio area for 30, outfitted with lounge seating and a full bar. 

2208 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20009

5. Zeppelin

1544 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001
Shrimp and vegetable tempura from Zeppelin
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

The partners behind ramen mainstay Chaplin’s just opened a new sushi, izakaya, and karaoke bar up the street. Sushi chef Minoru Ogawa (Sushi Capitol, Sushi Ogawa) is flying in fish from the Toyosu market in Tokyo. The refurbished two-level space, formerly home to Shaw Bijou, has versatile vibes. On the first floor, guests can gulp cocktails made from a rare highball machine while nibbling on yakitori skewers. Upstairs, there are two nightly seatings for its omakase menu. Starting at 10:30 p.m., the karaoke party gets rolling, complete with a whopping selection of 30,000 songs.

1544 9th St NW
Washington, DC 20001

6. The Pembroke

1500 New Hampshire Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036
Designer Martin Brudnizki crafted a mid-century modern look at Pembroke.
Dupont Circle Hotel/official photo

The Dupont Circle Hotel unveiled its new restaurant in February, marking the last step of a stylish multi-million dollar renovation. Washington Post critic Tom Sietsema was smitten with the lamb tagine and saffron risotto. Chef Marlon Rambaran, an alum of Fontainebleau Miami Beach and the Meatpacking District’s Bagatelle, plays up global flavors across Morocco, France, Italy, Spain, and Ireland. The 127-seat restaurant is a beauty complete with coral-colored booths, retro artwork, and a front-row seat of busy city life outside.

1500 New Hampshire Ave NW
Washington, DC 20036

7. Coconut Club

540 Penn St NE, Washington, DC 20002
Ora king salmon poke from Coconut Club.
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

This shamelessly Instagram-friendly Island bar by Union Market has legitimate culinary chops thanks to chef Adam Greenberg, who traded in tapas as an early member of the Barcelona Wine Bar group for playful small plates spanning from tuna or salmon poke with lotus root chips to spam fried rice and spicy coconut chicken. Drinks come in disco balls and fresh-cracked coconuts, and one large-format cocktail literally shoots sparks.

540 Penn St NE
Washington, DC 20002

8. Stellina Pizzeria

399 Morse St NE, Washington, DC 20002
An octopus and burrata panino and several pizzas from Stellina Pizzeria
Meaghan Webster/For Stellina

Stellina Pizzeria just brought the booming Union Market neighborhood a whimsical atmosphere for patiently fermented pizza crust, Don Ciccio cocktails, house-made pasta, and street foods from Italy’s southern coast. Chef Matteo Venini and restaurateur Antonio Matarazzo worked together at  Lupo Verde. Fans of Venini’s cacio e pepe can sample the Italian staple in both pasta and pizza form. Another white pie is blanketed in mortadella. Other recommended orders include Sicilian arancini, a breaded swordfish sandwich, and an eggplant Parmesan-based Il Cuzzetiello panino built on pizza dough. The owners’ European fashion sense is evident across a space: a mural shows a legendary Italian comedian wearing a colorful suit by Dolce & Gabbana. 

399 Morse St NE
Washington, DC 20002

9. Estuary

950 New York Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001
Atlantic cod with a cod-bone tonkatsu broth and cuttlefish and mushroom noodles.
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

After a rough year that included several closures, brothers Bryan and Michael Voltaggio are throwing their all into a modernist Maryland menu at their new restaurant in the third floor of the Conrad Hilton in CityCenterDC. Go for what may be the prettiest crab roll on the planet, a sous vide lamb belly pastrami, or pan-roasted Atlantic cod “ramen” with cuttlefish and enoki mushroom noodles.

950 New York Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001

10. Cane

403 H St NE, Washington, DC 20002
Trinidadian doubles from Cane.
Gabe Hiatt/Eater D.C.

Trinidadian-born Peter Prime and his sister Jeanine are recreating the vibes of rum shops from back home in this narrow restaurant on H Street NE. Prime turns his fine-dining pedigree towards doubles — rounds of fry-bread stuffed with curried chickpeas and spicy chutney — grilled oxtails, and smoked coconut soft serve. Fresh juices make up the base of rum-heavy cocktails and punches.

403 H St NE
Washington, DC 20002

11. Olivia Restaurant

800 F St NW, Washington, DC 20001
Burrata with garlic breadcrumbs and spicy green zhug.
Greg Powers/For Olivia

Restless restaurateur Ashok Bajoj (Rasika, Sababa, Bindaas) spent a year dreaming up an overhaul for NoPa Kitchen + Bar in Penn Quarter, orchestrating a Mediterranean makeover that brought in flavors from Spain, Morocco, Italy, Portugal, Greece, and Tunisia. Along with giant wine bottles hanging from fishnets on the ceiling, diners will find takes on European and North African dishes such as Galician octopus carpaccio and chicken pastilla with green harissa and pistachios in a phyllo dough.

800 F St NW
Washington, DC 20001

12. Punjab Grill

427 11th St NW, Washington, DC 20004, United States
Burrata badal jaam with spiced eggplant and heirloom tomatoes at Punjab Grill.
Jennifer Hughes/Punjab Grill

The upscale Indian brand made its splashy stateside debut in March, granting D.C. diners an ultra-luxe destination for chutney flights, Petrossian caviar served with naan, and lamb garnished in real 24-carat gold leaf. Every inch of the 4,700-square-foot restaurant was made in India and painstakingly assembled to resemble a home of rich regional rulers in India, known as maharajas. Chef Jaspratap “Jassi” Bindra grew up in Kanpur, India, and has helmed kitchens across some of the finest resorts and restaurants across his country. Here, Bindra adds playful, global twists to Punjabi cuisine from North India.

427 11th St NW, Washington
DC 20004, United States

13. Buena Vida/TTT Clarendon

2900 Wilson Blvd Suite 103, Arlington, VA 22201
Tropical ceviche from Buena Vida
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Ambar owner Ivan Iricanin recruited chef Gerardo Vázquez Lugo, one of the most famous faces in the Mexican culinary world, to design the menus at this three-level complex in Clarendon. Buena Vida, the second-story dining room, gives Vázquez Lugo a chance to give history lessons about the country’s diverse heritage with dishes such as tableside Caesar salad from Tijuana and shellfish pozole from Colima. On the first floor, Tacos, Tequila, Tortas (TTT) is a more casual venue for Mexico City-style street food. An Acapulco-style seafood restaurant on the roof is still under construction.

2900 Wilson Blvd Suite 103
Arlington, VA 22201

14. Hot Lola's

4238 Wilson Blvd Level C, Arlington, VA 22203
A hot chicken sandwich from Hot Lola’s
Hot Lola’s [official]

With his counter in the new Quarter Market food hall in Ballston, Himitsu chef Kevin Tien gives Nashville hot chicken a Sichuan-laced twist. Fried chicken comes in four spice levels (too hot, O.G. hot, dry hot, not hot) with an assist from a crisp made of numbing peppers, fennel seeds, star anise, and Thai chiles. Elsewhere in the complex, people can head to a sit-down soccer bar, Copa Kitchen, that serves Spanish comfort foods and sangria samplers. Turu’s, a New York-style pizza place from Timber Pizza Co., is also inside the market.

4238 Wilson Blvd Level C
Arlington, VA 22203

15. Mama Chang

3251 Old Lee Hwy Ste101, Fairfax, VA 22030
Pan-fried pork dumplings from Mama Chang.
Rey Lopez/For Mama Chang

Peter Chang’s grand return to Fairfax, where the former embassy chef first developed a culinary following while cooking under pseudonyms, is this home-style Chinese restaurant that honors the women in his life with fiery dishes from his native Hubei province along with signature Sichuan specialities. Check out ultra-buttery sesame shaobing brad from the pastry expert expert Lisa Chang, the chef’s wife. People with a high tolerance for heat will want to check out the family-style flounder pot laced with pickled peppers.

3251 Old Lee Hwy Ste101
Fairfax, VA 22030

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