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.Read More
The 15 Hottest Restaurants in D.C., August 2019
Where to eat right now around the DMV
1. Queen’s English
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.
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2. 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 recently grew with the addition of a patio area for 30, outfitted with lounge seating and a full bar.
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3. Randy's Prime Seafood & Steaks
After a lifetime of molding the Great American Restaurants group into a powerhouse full of loyal followers in Northern Virginia, Randy Norton designed his dream restaurant. Attracting deeper-pocketed clientele than its other eateries — places like Sweetwater Tavern, Artie’s, and Mike’s “American” — Randy’s piles on the luxury with highly rated wines, prime beef and wagyu steaks, and a shellfish cake made out of lobster and crab. Next-door, the more casual Patsy’s American serves a list of greatest hits from GAR’s other venues.
Washington, DC 20001
Covered in vibrant murals and masks of its namesake monkey deity, Hanumanh is the next bold step forward for mother-and-son chefs Seng Luangrath and Bobby Pradachith, D.C.’s leaders of the Lao food movement. At their bar-centric spot in Shaw, customers can find potently fermented flavors and fistfuls of herbs that represent the tiny Southeastern Asian country of Laos. Luangrath and Pradachith are collaborating on new dishes — think char-grilled scallops in a green curry sauce augmented with pounded rice — while barmini alum Al Thompson is mixing up cocktails and zero-proof drinks.
5. Stellina Pizzeria
Stellina Pizzeria 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 inside, with artwork of a legendary Italian comedian sporting a colorful suit by Dolce & Gabbana.
6. Carving Room NoMa
The months-old sequel to pastrami pro Oded Weizmann’s established Mount Vernon Triangle sandwich shop expands upon the Israeli-born owner’s repertoire with Middle Eastern meatballs he used to eat as a kid. There’s also a new lineup of bright dips, charcuterie, and harissa-topped flatbreads cooked in a domed oven. Hits from the original Carving Room also make it over, like 100-percent brisket burgers and fried Moroccan “cigars”. The airy restaurant next to the NoMa-Gallaudet Metro, wrapped in welcoming blue tiles and reclaimed woods, is already a hit for weekday happy hour. Its brunch service is gaining steam, when its slow-roasted ribeye flatbread gets a steak-and-eggs twist.
7. Via Sophia
The month-old modern replacement to the historic Hamilton Hotel’s outdated 14K restaurant is attracting a fresh crop of customers craving Southern Italian fare and pizzas parading out of a Neapolitan wood-fired oven. Executive chef Colin Clark, the former chef de cuisine at Fabio Trabocchi’s Fiola Mare, weaves lots of fish dishes into the menu at the the 96-seat restaurant. There are three types of crudo to go with black bass accented with asparagus tips and whole branzino built for two. Don’t miss the gnocchi with Maryland crab and sea scallops. Adjacent lobby bar, Society, is ideal for an after-dinner drink.
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There may be no better ambassador for Burmese food in D.C. than Jocelyn Law-Yone, the retired English and Art history teacher donning an apron covered in patterns inspired by tribal textiles to cook dishes she grew up on in the capital city of Rangoon (now Yangon). Law-Yone, her daughter Simone Jacobson, and business partner Eric Wang have now expanded from Toli Moli, their Burmese bodega in Union Market, to a full-blown restaurant in the former Sally’s Middle Name space on H Street NE. There customers can find lahpet thoke, a traditional salad of fermented tea leaves mixed with other veggies, sesame seeds, and crunchy broad beans, as well as a range of snacks, noodles, and curries that will give many Washingtonians a memorable introduction to the cuisine.
9. Piccolina da Centrolina
Perennial James Beard award finalist Amy Brandwein doubled her footprint in CityCenterDC with an all-day cafe right across from Centrolina, her simple, essential Italian restaurant and market. Brandwein recently studied bread making in San Francisco and imported a wood-burning oven from France to churn out loaves of walnut raisin ficelle, rosemary focaccia, and brioche. Omelets and grapefruits go into the oven, and so do stuffed Sicilian scacce pockets and panuzzo buns that get stuffed with porchetta.
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.
A $50 million renovation to the W Washington DC includes an opened up restaurant in the lobby powered by a 15-foot wood-burning hearth, billed as the largest in the D.C. area. Without the aid of gas burners, chef Will Morris (formerly of Vermillion) is taming the flames with an enclosed firebox for gentle smoking and two wood-burning ovens. Early standouts include a plate of oven-roasted shrimp — in a rich sauce with chorizo, caper berries, piquillo peppers, herbs, and butter — and a grilled rockfish in cilantro lime butter atop a helping of creamy farro.
12. La Esquina de Clarendon
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. A rooftop bar, dubbed Buena Vida Social Club, was the last to open, serving open-faced crab sandwiches, beef tartare tostadas, and build-your-own shrimp taco platters.
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13. Shilling Canning Company
Washington, DC 20003
Chef-owner Reid Shilling’s long-delayed passion project in Navy Yard draws from Mid-Atlantic traditions from his Baltimore-area upbringing, Southern touches from his time as sous chef at the Dabney, and the ingredient-first approach he studied at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bistro in Napa Valley. Named after the farm and processing business run by Shilling’s great uncles, the restaurant will ramp up canning and meat-curing production throughout the summer. Following its early July opening, customers can expect to order from an ample raw bar and sample small plates like a salad of heirloom tomatoes, preserved cucumbers, purple basil, and fried squash blossoms, or larger dishes like a wood-grilled lobster in bourbon lobster butter with grits and pole beans on the side.
14. Oak Steakhouse Alexandria
Charleston, South Carolina-based Indigo Road, the restaurant group behind O-Ku in the Union Market District, brought its upscale steakhouse brand to Old Town last month. The anticipated 130-seat power spot, lined with exposed brick and crimson-colored leather banquettes, has nearly 20 wines by the glass and a menu that’s packed with much more than steak. Chef Joseph Conrad, a Bourbon Steak alum, works with tomahawks dry-aged for 70 days along with 36-ounce porterhouses and 22-ounce New York Strips. Vegetarians can try salads, a substantial veggie burger, and truffle mac and cheese. Meals start with Parker House made with Anson Mills cornmeal and slathered in cultured butter.
15. Chop Shop Taco
A sleepy industrial strip near the Braddock Road metro came to life in May with the arrival of a ‘90s hip-hop playing, taco-and-tequila slinging bar packed into a converted auto body shop. A large colorful mural reading “chop it up” sets the tone for chef Ed McIntosh’s mash-up menu that incorporates chopped meats roasted on a spit (duck, whole chickens, ribeye) and tortillas made with heirloom Mexican corn. It’s all delivered to communal tables in shiny silver camping bowls.
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