clock menu more-arrow no yes
Boqueria in Penn Quarter serves head-on Mediterranean shrimp baked inside a bed of sea salt.
Rey Lopez/For Boqueria

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

Where to eat right now around the DMV

View as Map
Boqueria in Penn Quarter serves head-on Mediterranean shrimp baked inside a bed of sea salt.
| Photo by Rey Lopez/For Boqueria

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: Bombay Street Food, High Street Cafe, Reverie, Philly Wing Fry

New to the hot list: Boqueria, Él Bebe, Rooster & Owl, Zeppelin

For all the latest Washington D.C. dining intel, subscribe to Eater DC’s newsletter.

Read More
Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Julii

Copy Link
11915 Grand Park Ave
North Bethesda, MD 20852
(301) 517-9090
Visit Website

The Levantine-influenced French bistro from the founders of Cava Grill added to the dining scene at the Pike & Rose development in December, bringing an elegant ambiance accented in gold to go with impeccably presented dishes from bubbly chef Sasha Felikson (formerly of Doi Moi). Early hits inside the jewel box include the crispy trout entree, pistachio and fennel salt dinner rolls with whipped labneh butter, roasted bone marrow, and warm salmon nicoise salad. The packed bar area has quickly become a popular meeting ground for Basil Hayden Old Fashioneds and a refreshing mezcal cocktail called the Conquistador.

2. El Sapo Restaurant Cuban Social Club

Copy Link
8455-1 Fenton St
Silver Spring, MD 20910
(301) 326-1063
Visit Website

El Sapo has injected an energetic dose of Cuban culture into Silver Spring, adding mojitos, branded coconuts, and live music to the Maryland suburb. Chef Raynold Mendizábal, who runs Urban Butcher a short Vespa ride away, is drawing nightly packed crowds for takes on his native country’s classic ropa vieja. Diners are encouraged to stay and sip hard-to-find rums plucked from a roving wicker box (his favorite is the Santa Teresa 1796). The venture is a family affair: Mendizábal’s sister, who’s also a manager, makes cross-shaped art adorned with puka shells and coins that add extra flair to the electric green space. One of the signature cocktails, an espresso martini with Tito’s Vodka, is designed to keep caffeinated customers dancing.

Braised oxtails from El Sapo
El Sapo/Facebook

3. Cielo Rojo Restaurante

Copy Link
7056 Carroll Ave
Takoma Park, MD 20912
(301) 755-0833
Visit Website

An old Subway shop in Takoma Park got a major upgrade when Cielo Rojo, a traditional Mexican taqueria run by veterans of the San Francisco restaurant scene, opened in late January. Mexico City native David Perez is milling his own corn — sourced from farmers in Oaxaca and elsewhere across the border — to make tortillas for tacos, enchiladas, and quesadillas. Salads, catcus paddles, and drunken mushrooms fill out options for vegetables. Perez is also stewing chicken tinga and braising pork carnitas with oranges and Negro Modelo beer.

Chicken mole quesadillas from Cielo Rojo.
Cielo Rojo/Facebook

4. Call Your Mother

Copy Link
3301 Georgia Ave NW
Washington, DC 20010

The self-described “Jew-ish” bagel shop and deli in Park View has generated a tremendous following in a hurry. The shop from the Timber Pizza team of Andrew Dana and chef Daniela Moreira was so packed on it’s opening weekend in October that it had to shut down for two days the following to reconfigure the menu and temporarily pausing latke production. The za’atar covered bagels and the sandwiches stuffed with wild combinations — like peach jam, cream cheese, bacon, jalapeños, and potato chips — keep bringing the crowds back.

Rey Lopez

5. Rooster & Owl

Copy Link
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.

6. Hazel

Copy Link
808 V St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 847-4980
Visit Website

Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s anchor in Shaw has been in business for two and a half years, but it assumed a whole new identity in December when recently installed executive chef Robert Curtis introduced a veggie-heavy menu full of riffs on Turkish tavern food. Curtis’s confit duck dirty rice is drool-worthy, and his roasted cauliflower re-purposes stems and scraps into lemon-soaked morsels that make the dish pop.

Roasted cauliflower is a crowd-pleaser at Hazel.
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

7. Zeppelin

Copy Link
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

8. Coconut Club

Copy Link
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.

9. St. Anselm

Copy Link
1250 5th St NE
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 864-2199
Visit Website

The flashy Northeast restaurant, a joint effort between founder Joe Carroll and James Beard Foundation Award-winning restaurateur Stephen Starr (perennially packed Le Diplomate), opened for daily dinner service in September with a 120-seat dining room, 13-seat chef’s counter, a 19-seat U-shaped bar, and an 18-seat patio. In the kitchen, Marjorie Meek-Bradley was just named Eater D.C.’s 2018 Chef of the Year for her takes on steak, salmon collar, and sides worthy of starring roles.

10. Boqueria

Copy Link
777 9th St NW
Washington, DC 20001

The New York-based tapas bar just expanded with its second D.C. location, bringing Penn Quarter a sprawling spot to dine on large-format paellas and whole suckling pigs. The 164-seat stunner features a modern-looking dining room straight out of Barcelona, complete with swaying palms, abstract artwork, and lots of Spanish reds served at its thick marbled bar. Chef Marc Vidal’s favorite addition to the menu is the time-intensive rotisserie chicken that’s basted with lard and served with salsa verde.

Boqueria’s paella comes packed with ingredients plucked from the sea.
Rey Lopez/Boqueria

11. Olivia Restaurant

Copy Link
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. Yume Sushi

Copy Link
2121 N Westmoreland St A-2
Arlington, VA 22213
(703) 269-5064
Visit Website

Executive chef Saran Kannasute fulfilled his lifelong dream of opening his own restaurant when Yume arrived in December. The co-owner and Bangkok native stands smiling behind the bar, carving up a theatrical seven-course omakase experience with inventive elements — gold leaf, lavender-infused smoked salmon, blow-torched Spanish pork, truffle oil, and tender blue fin tuna cheek — any night of the week. The sleek 80-seat spot, situated on a newly developed retail strip near East Falls Metro, boats a huge sake collection with more than 100 options.

Yume Sushi’s large Memoirs of a Geisha mural is modeled after the Mona Lisa, watching diners from any seat.
Yume Sushi/Facebook

13. Tiki TNT

Copy Link
1130 Maine Ave SW
Washington, DC 20024
(202) 900-4786
Visit Website

The palatial tiki bar overlooking the Washington Channel opened in December, giving visitors at the Wharf development a laid-back venue to drink frozen Coca-Cola spiked with rum and a host of other cocktails created by Todd Thrasher. The owner and renowned mixologist asked several of his chef buddies — Erik Bruner-Yang, Bryan Voltaggio, and David Guas — to contribute to a menu that includes rotisserie chickens, pulled pork platters, and a whipped, non-fermented poi dip.

14. Él Bebe

Copy Link
99 M St SE Ste 120
Washington, DC 20003
(202) 863-2323
Visit Website

The brain trust behind D.C.’s group of Circa bistros took time designing its passion project, a tequila and mezcal bar ideal for pre-gaming by the ballpark. Graffiti art from a Miami-based friend of the restaurant group gives Él Bebe a unique look. Cocktails that smoke with dry ice come in colorful, mustachioed skull mugs. The menu reads heavy with snacks — like smashed potatoes with tamarind ketchup — and dips. Taco fillings such as soy-glazed pork belly venture away from Mexico.

The dining room and bar at Él Bebe
Rey Lopez/Eater D,C,

15. Urbano 116

Copy Link
116 King St
Alexandria, VA 22314
(571) 970-5148
Visit Website

This electrifying addition to Old Town comes packed with a colorful lucha libre wrestler theme and modern industrial vibes reminiscent of Mexico City. Urbano lured chef Alam Méndez Florián from Mexico City for his first stateside gig. He’s brought refined moles, tacos, Oaxcan corn tortillas, and ceviches with him. Craving a quick taco or churro? Look for the hot pink neon to-go window along King Street. Or, just pop in for a quick shot of mezcal.

Black mole comes with grilled cornish hen, a black bean tamal, and grilled plantain 
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

1. Julii

11915 Grand Park Ave, North Bethesda, MD 20852

The Levantine-influenced French bistro from the founders of Cava Grill added to the dining scene at the Pike & Rose development in December, bringing an elegant ambiance accented in gold to go with impeccably presented dishes from bubbly chef Sasha Felikson (formerly of Doi Moi). Early hits inside the jewel box include the crispy trout entree, pistachio and fennel salt dinner rolls with whipped labneh butter, roasted bone marrow, and warm salmon nicoise salad. The packed bar area has quickly become a popular meeting ground for Basil Hayden Old Fashioneds and a refreshing mezcal cocktail called the Conquistador.

11915 Grand Park Ave
North Bethesda, MD 20852

2. El Sapo Restaurant Cuban Social Club

8455-1 Fenton St, Silver Spring, MD 20910
Braised oxtails from El Sapo
El Sapo/Facebook

El Sapo has injected an energetic dose of Cuban culture into Silver Spring, adding mojitos, branded coconuts, and live music to the Maryland suburb. Chef Raynold Mendizábal, who runs Urban Butcher a short Vespa ride away, is drawing nightly packed crowds for takes on his native country’s classic ropa vieja. Diners are encouraged to stay and sip hard-to-find rums plucked from a roving wicker box (his favorite is the Santa Teresa 1796). The venture is a family affair: Mendizábal’s sister, who’s also a manager, makes cross-shaped art adorned with puka shells and coins that add extra flair to the electric green space. One of the signature cocktails, an espresso martini with Tito’s Vodka, is designed to keep caffeinated customers dancing.

8455-1 Fenton St
Silver Spring, MD 20910

3. Cielo Rojo Restaurante

7056 Carroll Ave, Takoma Park, MD 20912
Chicken mole quesadillas from Cielo Rojo.
Cielo Rojo/Facebook

An old Subway shop in Takoma Park got a major upgrade when Cielo Rojo, a traditional Mexican taqueria run by veterans of the San Francisco restaurant scene, opened in late January. Mexico City native David Perez is milling his own corn — sourced from farmers in Oaxaca and elsewhere across the border — to make tortillas for tacos, enchiladas, and quesadillas. Salads, catcus paddles, and drunken mushrooms fill out options for vegetables. Perez is also stewing chicken tinga and braising pork carnitas with oranges and Negro Modelo beer.

7056 Carroll Ave
Takoma Park, MD 20912

4. Call Your Mother

3301 Georgia Ave NW, Washington, DC 20010
Rey Lopez

The self-described “Jew-ish” bagel shop and deli in Park View has generated a tremendous following in a hurry. The shop from the Timber Pizza team of Andrew Dana and chef Daniela Moreira was so packed on it’s opening weekend in October that it had to shut down for two days the following to reconfigure the menu and temporarily pausing latke production. The za’atar covered bagels and the sandwiches stuffed with wild combinations — like peach jam, cream cheese, bacon, jalapeños, and potato chips — keep bringing the crowds back.

3301 Georgia Ave NW
Washington, DC 20010

5. 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

6. Hazel

808 V St NW, Washington, DC 20001
Roasted cauliflower is a crowd-pleaser at Hazel.
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s anchor in Shaw has been in business for two and a half years, but it assumed a whole new identity in December when recently installed executive chef Robert Curtis introduced a veggie-heavy menu full of riffs on Turkish tavern food. Curtis’s confit duck dirty rice is drool-worthy, and his roasted cauliflower re-purposes stems and scraps into lemon-soaked morsels that make the dish pop.

808 V St NW
Washington, DC 20001

7. 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

8. 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

9. St. Anselm

1250 5th St NE, Washington, DC 20002

The flashy Northeast restaurant, a joint effort between founder Joe Carroll and James Beard Foundation Award-winning restaurateur Stephen Starr (perennially packed Le Diplomate), opened for daily dinner service in September with a 120-seat dining room, 13-seat chef’s counter, a 19-seat U-shaped bar, and an 18-seat patio. In the kitchen, Marjorie Meek-Bradley was just named Eater D.C.’s 2018 Chef of the Year for her takes on steak, salmon collar, and sides worthy of starring roles.

1250 5th St NE
Washington, DC 20002

10. Boqueria

777 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001
Boqueria’s paella comes packed with ingredients plucked from the sea.
Rey Lopez/Boqueria

The New York-based tapas bar just expanded with its second D.C. location, bringing Penn Quarter a sprawling spot to dine on large-format paellas and whole suckling pigs. The 164-seat stunner features a modern-looking dining room straight out of Barcelona, complete with swaying palms, abstract artwork, and lots of Spanish reds served at its thick marbled bar. Chef Marc Vidal’s favorite addition to the menu is the time-intensive rotisserie chicken that’s basted with lard and served with salsa verde.

777 9th St NW
Washington, DC 20001

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. Yume Sushi

2121 N Westmoreland St A-2, Arlington, VA 22213
Yume Sushi’s large Memoirs of a Geisha mural is modeled after the Mona Lisa, watching diners from any seat.
Yume Sushi/Facebook

Executive chef Saran Kannasute fulfilled his lifelong dream of opening his own restaurant when Yume arrived in December. The co-owner and Bangkok native stands smiling behind the bar, carving up a theatrical seven-course omakase experience with inventive elements — gold leaf, lavender-infused smoked salmon, blow-torched Spanish pork, truffle oil, and tender blue fin tuna cheek — any night of the week. The sleek 80-seat spot, situated on a newly developed retail strip near East Falls Metro, boats a huge sake collection with more than 100 options.

2121 N Westmoreland St A-2
Arlington, VA 22213

13. Tiki TNT

1130 Maine Ave SW, Washington, DC 20024

The palatial tiki bar overlooking the Washington Channel opened in December, giving visitors at the Wharf development a laid-back venue to drink frozen Coca-Cola spiked with rum and a host of other cocktails created by Todd Thrasher. The owner and renowned mixologist asked several of his chef buddies — Erik Bruner-Yang, Bryan Voltaggio, and David Guas — to contribute to a menu that includes rotisserie chickens, pulled pork platters, and a whipped, non-fermented poi dip.

1130 Maine Ave SW
Washington, DC 20024

14. Él Bebe

99 M St SE Ste 120, Washington, DC 20003
The dining room and bar at Él Bebe
Rey Lopez/Eater D,C,

The brain trust behind D.C.’s group of Circa bistros took time designing its passion project, a tequila and mezcal bar ideal for pre-gaming by the ballpark. Graffiti art from a Miami-based friend of the restaurant group gives Él Bebe a unique look. Cocktails that smoke with dry ice come in colorful, mustachioed skull mugs. The menu reads heavy with snacks — like smashed potatoes with tamarind ketchup — and dips. Taco fillings such as soy-glazed pork belly venture away from Mexico.

99 M St SE Ste 120
Washington, DC 20003

15. Urbano 116

116 King St, Alexandria, VA 22314
Black mole comes with grilled cornish hen, a black bean tamal, and grilled plantain 
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

This electrifying addition to Old Town comes packed with a colorful lucha libre wrestler theme and modern industrial vibes reminiscent of Mexico City. Urbano lured chef Alam Méndez Florián from Mexico City for his first stateside gig. He’s brought refined moles, tacos, Oaxcan corn tortillas, and ceviches with him. Craving a quick taco or churro? Look for the hot pink neon to-go window along King Street. Or, just pop in for a quick shot of mezcal.

116 King St
Alexandria, VA 22314

Related Maps