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Beef tartare plated on a dark blue plate at Melina.
Beef tartare from Melina in North Bethesda.
Melina/official photo

The 20 Hottest New Restaurants Around D.C., December 2021

Where to try octopus gnocchi, wagyu-filled ramen and sushi, Indian street snacks, and more

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Beef tartare from Melina in North Bethesda.
| Melina/official photo

Eater writers and editors always get the same question. Friends, family, acquaintances, and randos all want to know, “Where should I eat right now?” That’s where the Eater Heatmap enters the conversation, pointing diners toward the most intriguing or otherwise buzzworthy new restaurants in the D.C. area. This list considers restaurants that have been open for six months or less, dating back to April 2021. For our map of the D.C. area’s 38 essential restaurants, go here.

New to the map this month:

Melina, Team Cava’s Greek showpiece in North Bethesda; Jack’s Ranch, Tysons Corner’s sprawling new spot for smoky meats and Italian from a Hell’s Kitchen finalist; Dolce Vita, restaurateur Med Lahlou’s ambitious Mediterranean stunner in Logan Circle; Takara 14, a colorful sushi-and-sake sanctuary overlooking 14th Street NW; Kaiju Ramen, a racy, neon-lit noodle shop on Barracks Row; and Kismet Modern Indian, an Old Town offshoot of D.C.’s Bib Gourmand-designated Karma Modern Indian.

Leaving the list: Cracked Eggery and No Goodbyes

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Z&Z – Manoushe Bakery

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1111 Nelson St
Rockville, MD 20850
(301) 296-4178
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The Palestinian-American family that supplies its Z&Z za’atar to trendy D.C. restaurants and boutique grocers plans opened a standalone restaurant in Rockville, Maryland, to showcase their manoushe, the Arab flatbreads they’ve sold at farmers’ markets for the past five years. Brothers Danny and Johnny Dubbaneh also bring on board their popular meat pies alongside sides like tabbouleh, hummus, labneh, and za’atar-dusted french fries. For dessert, Z&Z has knafeh, a crunchy, stretchy pastry of phyllo dough, cheese, and simple syrup often flavored with flowers. To drink, there’s mint tea, cardamom coffee, and Bonjus, a Lebanese fruit juice.

A manoushe topped with za’atar and vegetables from Z&Z
A manoushe topped with za’atar and vegetables from Z&Z.
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

2. Melina

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909 Rose Ave
North Bethesda, MD 20852

Melina makes a big splash in Bethesda with its gorgeous Greek dishes, which come as no surprise from a Greek chef with loads of experience cooking in Greece’s upscale restaurants. Chef Aris Tsekouras puts veggies first in many of the dishes, like heirloom carrots roasted to a deep golden color before joining a tightly composed plate of smoked Manouri cheese, spiced granola, and pickled raisins. There are plenty of meat and seafood options as well, like a tender, slow-roasted lamb neck with salty, nutty Kefalograviera cheese, plus sweet roasted peppers, grapes, tomatoes, parsley, and pickled onions; and a stunning plate of beef tartare with lemony avgolemono foam, cabbage, wild fennel, and egg yolk. Tsekouras also bakes breads in-house. The restaurant comes from the folks behind the fast-expanding Cava empire.

six orange, roasted carrots with soft boiled egg, hazelnuts, and cream
The roasted carrots at Melina steal the spotlight on the plate.
Melina/official photo

3. Wren Tysons

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1825 Capital One Dr S
Tysons, VA 22102
(703) 707-0478
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A scenic Japanese-American restaurant starring delicate small plates landed atop the lavish new Watermark Hotel next to Capital One’s global headquarters in Tysons, Virginia. Wren executive chef and Japanese native Yo Matsuzak, best known in D.C. for transforming former Thomas Circle hot spot Zentan into a respected izakaya, sends out freshly shucked local oysters, sashimi, a baby beet salad with a yuzu pistachio vinaigrette, miso-marinated sea bass, and a wagyu burger. Cocktails from beverage director and Omni alum Luis Mantilla include a trio of gin and tonics, a white negroni, and hard cider punch for two.

A bowl of bright hamachi.
Hamachi tartare with yellowtail sashimi, olive tapenade, white truffle vinaigrette, and house made potato chips.
Wren/official photo

4. Los Compañeros

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1819 Columbia Rd NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 238-1819
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The business partners behind Johnny’s Half Shell, a D.C. favorite for 21 years across multiple locations, reinvented the Adams Morgan restaurant they shut down last fall. Chef Ann Cashion and John Fulchino replace the space with a full-service Mexican restaurant serving tequila-driven drinks to complement their Taqueria Nacional brand nearby. Taqueria and fonda fare includes Gulf shrimp enchiladas, Yucatan-style grilled chicken, a Veracruz crab cake, and throwback queso from Cashion’s Austin Grill days. Aside from quesadillas, fish tacos, tres leches cake, and churros, the whole menu is gluten-free. 

A crab cake at Los Compañeros.
A Veracruz crab cake at Los Compañeros.
John Fulchino/Los Compañeros

5. Jack's Ranch

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1755 Tysons Central St
Tysons, VA 22182
(703) 663-4755
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This massive Italian restaurant gallops into Tyson’s Corner with Hell’s Kitchen alum Declan Hogan helming the kitchen. From the group behind barbecue spot Texas Jack’s, this new restaurant adds a good dose of house-smoked meats to Italian cuisine. Diners can find smoked Berkshire porchetta, pizzas, a beer burger served with house fries cooked in beef tallow, as well as classic Italian dishes. Look for lasagna layered with braised beef shank, ricotta, Parmigiano, and pecorino; as well as a gorgonzola-stuffed gnocchi dressed in wild mushroom cream sauce.

A pair of hands holds a whole pizza topped with thin ribbons of prosciutto and fresh arugula
Jack’s Ranch opened with Italian food, like this Neopolitan pizza with arugula and prosciutto.
Jack’s Ranch/Facebook

6. Shabu Plus

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2321 18th St NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 450-2151
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The final piece of chef Darren Norris’s three-part Japanese complex in Adams Morgan debuted in July with a focus on shabu shabu and kaiseki small plates that call back to his days running acclaimed izakaya Kushi. The middle floor, lined with large sake barrels and dragon artwork from local muralist Chris Pyre, invites seated customers to cook an assortment of top-notch meats like A7 Australian wagyu, local poultry, and sustainable seafoods in a bubbling dashi broth of choice (Norris suggests the duck bone collagen). The personalized experience kicks off at the start, when sake fans pick their own decorative cup out of a woven basket presented tableside. A new $35 prix fixe lunch from Fridays to Sundays captures the strip’s weekend crowd.

A shabu shabu spread of Miyazaki strip loin, duck bone dashi, konbu dashi, seasonal mushrooms, daikon greens, napa, and soft tofu from Shabu Plus
A shabu shabu spread of Miyazaki strip loin, duck bone dashi, konbu dashi, seasonal mushrooms, daikon greens, napa, and soft tofu from Shabu Plus
Havar Espedal/Shabu Plus

7. Leila

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7943b Tysons Corner Center
Tysons, VA 22102
(571) 730-7910
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A cluster of D.C. nightlife vets and notable Indian chef bring Tysons Corner Center a sprawling new spot to sample flame-grilled kabobs, fluffy naan, baba ghannoush, and flaky baklava across a stylish, 5,000-square-foot space that caters to a lunch, happy hour, dinner, late-night, and Sunday brunch crowd. Jassi Bindra (Punjab Grill) consults on a menu filled with flavors from Northern India, the Persian Gulf, and Middle East, centered around breads and meats cooked in an imported tandoor oven and mains like chicken fesenjoon (pomegranate and walnut stew, saffron basmati rice). The 210-seat restaurant and hookah lounge is the brainchild of DJ Bikram Keith, who tapped Versus’s Vinoda Basnayake (Casta’s Rum Bar, Morris American Bar and Heist) to helm the nightlife experience. DJs spin until 2 a.m. from Thursday to Sunday.

A colorful mix of spreads in bowls at Leila.
An array of colorful spreads and starters at Leila.
John Robinson/Leila

8. Quattro Osteria

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600 Florida Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001

This chic Italian restaurant in Shaw sells pasta made on-site from a chef who has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants in Tuscany. Indecisive diners can opt to go the prix fixe route, with options for three courses ($50) or five $75. Co-owner Louie Hankins, who also runs jungle-themed rooftop bar, El Techo, and taco joint Rito Loco next-door, teamed up with brothers and Naples natives Giovanni and Salvio Ippolito on the project. Seating sections include a patio, breezy bar, and romantic dining room dotted with crystal glassware, candlesticks, soft blue seating, and shimmering gold accents.

Tortelli stuffed with beef ragu and dressed with rapini puree and foamy smoked mozzarella from Quattro Osteria
Tortelli stuffed with beef ragu and dressed with rapini puree and foamy smoked mozzarella from Quattro Osteria
Kimberly Kong for Quattro Osteria

9. Dolce Vita Coastal Mediterranean Cuisine

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1610 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20009

Restaurateur Med Lahlou boosts his 14th Street NW portfolio (Lupo Verde, Lupo Pizzeria) with a stylish new sanctuary for meze and wood-fired favorites from Spain, Morocco, Italy, and Greece. Highlights include luxe iberico sliced tableside; whole branzino flanked with Morocco’s pungent herb chermoula; Greek moussaka; and octopus gnocchi dressed with spicy ‘nduja. A Moroccan Spritzer is the ultimate fusion cocktail, built with Tanqueray, Aperol, Massaya arak, mandarin, prosecco, club soda, and mint syrup it makes on-site. Ghibellina’s former two-story home got a full Euro-chic makeover, complete with images of Italian celebrities and idyllic coastal towns splashed across brick and regal blue chairs visible from the street.

A look at Dolce Vita’s dining room, dotted with blue chairs and Italian vistas.
Lahlou Restaurant Group corporate executive chef Juan Olivera oversees a dining room dotted with blue chairs.
Laura Chase de Formigny/Dolce Vita

10. Takara 14

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1326 14 Street NW 2 nd Floor
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 507-8973
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A color-soaked spot for lychee sake and superb sushi quietly opened above Ammathar Thai Cuisine last month. A set of pastel stairs lead diners to a cherry blossom-filled dining room, where Nakazawa alum John Yi prepares gorgeous house rolls like the “Opal” (blue fin tuna, salmon, yellowtail, pickled radish, wrapped in sesame soy), mixed mushrooms sauteed in sake butter, and omakase options for nigiri and sashimi. A splurge-worthy A5 wagyu roll with sesame truffle salt ($30) joins raw fish boxes at lunch and happy hour cocktail combos with bonito flake-filled Brussels sprouts ($11). A surprisingly spacious two-level bar in the back resembles a Bangkok party pad, packed with string lights, glittering chandeliers, and rainbow-hued chairs.

Takara 14’s Diamond sushi roll wrapped in cucumber.
Takara 14’s cucumber-wrapped “Diamond” roll with fresh crab, salmon, tuna, and wasabi tobiko.
Takara 14/official photo

11. Maïz64

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1324 14th St NW #64
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 450-4962
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This sleek, modern Mexican newcomer in Logan Circle is the first attempt for Oaxaca-born, Mexico City-based chef Alam Méndez Florián to make a splash in D.C. Méndez Florián, who opened Urbano 116 in Alexandria before it pivoted to Tex-Mex, developed a Maïz64 menu that’s full of vegetable dishes (sweet corn tamales with charred tomatillo salsa and goat cheese sauce; yellow corn tostadas smeared with pumpkin seed and tomato sikil pak) and inventive entrees like a charcoal-roasted octopus al pastor with grilled pineapple relish and eggplant ash puree. Suckling pig terrine tacos arrive on freshly prepared tortillas made out of heirloom blue corn from the state of Tlaxcala. Seasonal sorbets and cocktails — such as a Oaxacan punch full of mezcal joven, warming spices, and tropical fruit — match the fine dining approach.

A rectangular slice of suckling pig terrine sits on top of a blue corn tortilla studded with dots of lime-green avocado puree and tomatillo salsa at Maiz64.
A suckling pig terrine taco from Maïz64.

12. Michele’s at Eaton DC

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1201 K St NW
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 289-7600
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Matt Baker, the prominent D.C. chef behind Ivy City’s Michelin-starred Gravitas, expands his local portfolio with a new French-American restaurant in the lobby-level Eaton hotel space on K Street NW. At Michele’s, Baker incorporates lots influences from New Orleans and Houston with dishes like Louisiana crawfish-studded linguini, a hamachi crudo that takes tips from Texas’s beloved tacos al pastor, and a banh mi en croute that showcases Vietnamese flavors and French technique. Pastry chef Aisha Momaney, who works with Baker at cafe and market Baker’s Daughter, brings sour cream cheesecake and a bananas Foster ice cream sundae to the table. The 124-seat restaurant dressed in cobalt blue and neon pink takes the place of chef Tim Ma’s American Son, which arrived shortly after the hotel’s debut in the fall of 2018.

Crawfish linguini from Michele’s in D.C.
Crawfish linguini from Michele’s in D.C.
Leading DC

13. Immigrant Food+

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925 13th St NW
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 888-0760
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The latest restaurant from nationally acclaimed chef Enrique Limardo (Seven ReasonsImperfecto) transforms a corner of D.C.’s new, literary-themed Planet Word museum into a swanky spot for artsy global plates, dim sum mash-ups, and continent-hopping cocktails from a Minibar alum. The extension of fast-casual “gastroadvocacy” restaurant Immigrant Food by the White House serves its familiar fusion bowls by day and fancier, dramatically plated dishes after exhibits close. Opening hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

An orange-painted dining room with a draped cloth ceiling.
A wood-burning furnace that used to heat the school behind a preserved iron door is now framed with a bedouin tent design.
Elizabeth Sanjuan Photography/Immigrant Food +

14. Daru

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1451 Maryland Ave NE
Washington, DC 20002

On opening night, August 3, Daru fielded a line down the block of customers eager to sample the “Indian-ish” cooking and thoughtful cocktails from chef Suresh Sundas and bar expert Dante Datta. The co-owners, who met nearly a decade ago while working together at Rasika West End, had been steadily building anticipation for Daru for the past two years with a series of pop-ups and events. Try Sundas’s reshmi kebabs, featuring an undercurrent of blue cheese in the marinade and a sour cherry sauce on the side, and sip a hari daiquiri with clarified kefir and herb syrup that tastes like green chutney.

Striped seabass with tomato and Sichuan pepper chutney from Daru, opening soon near the H Street NE corridor
Striped seabass with tomato and Sichuan pepper chutney from Daru
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

15. L'Ardente

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200 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 448-0450
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Chef David Deshaies, the Frenchman who runs Unconventional Diner and Central Michel Richard, breaks in the Capital Crossing development with an ambitious Italian kitchen that boasts all the bells and whistles to match a soaring space covered in golden-glossed chandeliers, terrazzo tile floors, and black marble countertops. A 40-layer lasagna stuffed with beef sugo, truffle mornay, and truffle-infused Sottocenere cheese sets a decadent tone. The wood-burning grill and charcoal oven come from Barcelona producer Mibrasa, and a pizza oven bakes naturally leavened pies topped with hot salami and sausage.

A charred, split chicken cooks on a wood-fired grill at L’Ardente.
A spatchcocked barbecue chicken with agrodolce glaze and salsa verde from L’Ardente.
Rey Lopez/For L’Ardente

16. KAIJU RAMEN 怪獸拉面

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525 8th St SE
Washington, DC 20003
(202) 481-2269
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The owner of Maryland’s Akira Ramen & Izakaya livens up Barracks Row with a Godzilla-themed ramen shop ready to lure big spenders with an $80 wagyu option. Most bowls hover around $15, filled with tonkotsu, miso, shoyu, or veggie broths simmered for 10 hours and noodles made daily. Eye-popping apps like an octopus corn dog draw inspiration from its name, which means “giant monster” in Japanese. Chef Junzo Miyajima hails from Saitama, Japan, and formerly worked at NYC’s lauded En Japanese Brasserie.

Kaiju Ramen’s neon-lit interior.
Edward Wong enters the D.C. market with an energetic, neon-lit ramen restaurant.
Kaiju Ramen/official photo

17. Ilili

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100 District Square SW
Washington, DC 20024

The high-end Lebanese restaurant based in NYC’s Flatiron District slides into the jewel box-styled space on the Southwest Waterfront that formerly housed Mike Isabella’s Requin. Chef and principal owner Philippe Massoud has D.C. ties; he helped open bygone Mediterranean hit Neyla in Georgetown. At Ilili, a varied menu showcases a compilation of Eastern Mediterranean meze and sharable mains like a decadent lamb shank or a whole organic chicken with kabis (pickled turnips), sumac, and garlic whip. The show-stopping look, inspired by courtyard gardens of Beirut homes, features custom daisy tile floors, hand-painted wallpaper, and natural elements like reclaimed wood from a Massachusetts tobacco barn.

A lengthy bone marrow order comes topped with steak tartare.
Ilili serves steak tartare and bone marrow topped with pomegranate seeds and pickles
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

18. Bistro du Jour

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99 District Square SW
Washington, DC 20024
(202) 984-7400
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A Parisian cafe that segues from croissants and La Colombe coffee drinks during the day to fizzy French cocktails and coq au vin by night reactivates a high-profile corner space that formerly housed a location of gelato shop Dolcezza, marking D.C. restaurant group Knead Hospitality + Design’s third waterfront venue in Southwest. The chic cafe opens daily at 7:30 a.m. with brioche donuts and pastries supplied by partner bakery Mah-Ze-Dahr and bechamel-blanketed eggs over sourdough. As the day progresses, traditional French fare like French onion soup, duck confit, and steak frites join the mix. For drinks, there’s a nice bubbly section, fresh-squeezed juices, and a short list of spirits (think: one gin, one vodka, one rum).

Daily dinner at Bistro du Jour brings confit de canard to the table (duck leg, parsley breadcrumbs, green lentils, and red wine-shallots).
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

19. Santé at The Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City

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1250 S Hayes St
Arlington, VA 22202
(703) 415-5000
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The Ritz-Carlton hotel in Pentagon City revamped its restaurant as a Mediterranean place that serves modern meze, small pours of glamorous Napa wines, and an espresso martini built with a brand of chocolate rum owned by Bruno Mars. Longtime Ritz-Carlton executive chef Phil Skerman’s is in charge of Santé, which translates to “health” in French, alongside chef de cuisine Kevin Marshall-Broderick. Starter highlights include thick chickpea fries served with a Greek yogurt dip, grilled Virginia oysters with citrus and harissa butter, and a pan-seared shrimp saganaki with black garlic and tomato fondue. Middle Eastern influences show up in a lamb kofta appetizer, a fattoush salad, and cf charred Atlantic salmon with dukkah vinaigrette.

20. Kismet Modern Indian

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111 N Pitt St
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 567-4507
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The team behind Karma Modern Indian, the sleek Chinatown restaurant on Michelin’s Bib Gourmand list, expanded to Old Town last month with a casual, industrial-styled offshoot. Karma chef and New Delhi native Ajay Kumar sends out a grilled snapper with peri-peri sauce; saffron-infused vegetable korma; and jhaal muri, Calcutta’s beloved street snack packs filled with puffed rice, date chutney, and green chili. Karma’s best-selling chicken tikka, made with a blend of tandoori spices the kitchen grinds on-site, also makes its way across the river.

A photo of a Kismet chicken starter on a black plate.
Tandoor-grilled chicken with yogurt and cream at Kismet.
Kismet/official photo

1. Z&Z – Manoushe Bakery

1111 Nelson St, Rockville, MD 20850
A manoushe topped with za’atar and vegetables from Z&Z
A manoushe topped with za’atar and vegetables from Z&Z.
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

The Palestinian-American family that supplies its Z&Z za’atar to trendy D.C. restaurants and boutique grocers plans opened a standalone restaurant in Rockville, Maryland, to showcase their manoushe, the Arab flatbreads they’ve sold at farmers’ markets for the past five years. Brothers Danny and Johnny Dubbaneh also bring on board their popular meat pies alongside sides like tabbouleh, hummus, labneh, and za’atar-dusted french fries. For dessert, Z&Z has knafeh, a crunchy, stretchy pastry of phyllo dough, cheese, and simple syrup often flavored with flowers. To drink, there’s mint tea, cardamom coffee, and Bonjus, a Lebanese fruit juice.

1111 Nelson St
Rockville, MD 20850

2. Melina

909 Rose Ave, North Bethesda, MD 20852
six orange, roasted carrots with soft boiled egg, hazelnuts, and cream
The roasted carrots at Melina steal the spotlight on the plate.
Melina/official photo

Melina makes a big splash in Bethesda with its gorgeous Greek dishes, which come as no surprise from a Greek chef with loads of experience cooking in Greece’s upscale restaurants. Chef Aris Tsekouras puts veggies first in many of the dishes, like heirloom carrots roasted to a deep golden color before joining a tightly composed plate of smoked Manouri cheese, spiced granola, and pickled raisins. There are plenty of meat and seafood options as well, like a tender, slow-roasted lamb neck with salty, nutty Kefalograviera cheese, plus sweet roasted peppers, grapes, tomatoes, parsley, and pickled onions; and a stunning plate of beef tartare with lemony avgolemono foam, cabbage, wild fennel, and egg yolk. Tsekouras also bakes breads in-house. The restaurant comes from the folks behind the fast-expanding Cava empire.

909 Rose Ave
North Bethesda, MD 20852

3. Wren Tysons

1825 Capital One Dr S, Tysons, VA 22102
A bowl of bright hamachi.
Hamachi tartare with yellowtail sashimi, olive tapenade, white truffle vinaigrette, and house made potato chips.
Wren/official photo

A scenic Japanese-American restaurant starring delicate small plates landed atop the lavish new Watermark Hotel next to Capital One’s global headquarters in Tysons, Virginia. Wren executive chef and Japanese native Yo Matsuzak, best known in D.C. for transforming former Thomas Circle hot spot Zentan into a respected izakaya, sends out freshly shucked local oysters, sashimi, a baby beet salad with a yuzu pistachio vinaigrette, miso-marinated sea bass, and a wagyu burger. Cocktails from beverage director and Omni alum Luis Mantilla include a trio of gin and tonics, a white negroni, and hard cider punch for two.

1825 Capital One Dr S
Tysons, VA 22102

4. Los Compañeros

1819 Columbia Rd NW, Washington, DC 20009
A crab cake at Los Compañeros.
A Veracruz crab cake at Los Compañeros.
John Fulchino/Los Compañeros

The business partners behind Johnny’s Half Shell, a D.C. favorite for 21 years across multiple locations, reinvented the Adams Morgan restaurant they shut down last fall. Chef Ann Cashion and John Fulchino replace the space with a full-service Mexican restaurant serving tequila-driven drinks to complement their Taqueria Nacional brand nearby. Taqueria and fonda fare includes Gulf shrimp enchiladas, Yucatan-style grilled chicken, a Veracruz crab cake, and throwback queso from Cashion’s Austin Grill days. Aside from quesadillas, fish tacos, tres leches cake, and churros, the whole menu is gluten-free. 

1819 Columbia Rd NW
Washington, DC 20009

5. Jack's Ranch

1755 Tysons Central St, Tysons, VA 22182
A pair of hands holds a whole pizza topped with thin ribbons of prosciutto and fresh arugula
Jack’s Ranch opened with Italian food, like this Neopolitan pizza with arugula and prosciutto.
Jack’s Ranch/Facebook

This massive Italian restaurant gallops into Tyson’s Corner with Hell’s Kitchen alum Declan Hogan helming the kitchen. From the group behind barbecue spot Texas Jack’s, this new restaurant adds a good dose of house-smoked meats to Italian cuisine. Diners can find smoked Berkshire porchetta, pizzas, a beer burger served with house fries cooked in beef tallow, as well as classic Italian dishes. Look for lasagna layered with braised beef shank, ricotta, Parmigiano, and pecorino; as well as a gorgonzola-stuffed gnocchi dressed in wild mushroom cream sauce.

1755 Tysons Central St
Tysons, VA 22182

6. Shabu Plus

2321 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
A shabu shabu spread of Miyazaki strip loin, duck bone dashi, konbu dashi, seasonal mushrooms, daikon greens, napa, and soft tofu from Shabu Plus
A shabu shabu spread of Miyazaki strip loin, duck bone dashi, konbu dashi, seasonal mushrooms, daikon greens, napa, and soft tofu from Shabu Plus
Havar Espedal/Shabu Plus

The final piece of chef Darren Norris’s three-part Japanese complex in Adams Morgan debuted in July with a focus on shabu shabu and kaiseki small plates that call back to his days running acclaimed izakaya Kushi. The middle floor, lined with large sake barrels and dragon artwork from local muralist Chris Pyre, invites seated customers to cook an assortment of top-notch meats like A7 Australian wagyu, local poultry, and sustainable seafoods in a bubbling dashi broth of choice (Norris suggests the duck bone collagen). The personalized experience kicks off at the start, when sake fans pick their own decorative cup out of a woven basket presented tableside. A new $35 prix fixe lunch from Fridays to Sundays captures the strip’s weekend crowd.

2321 18th St NW
Washington, DC 20009

7. Leila

7943b Tysons Corner Center, Tysons, VA 22102
A colorful mix of spreads in bowls at Leila.
An array of colorful spreads and starters at Leila.
John Robinson/Leila

A cluster of D.C. nightlife vets and notable Indian chef bring Tysons Corner Center a sprawling new spot to sample flame-grilled kabobs, fluffy naan, baba ghannoush, and flaky baklava across a stylish, 5,000-square-foot space that caters to a lunch, happy hour, dinner, late-night, and Sunday brunch crowd. Jassi Bindra (Punjab Grill) consults on a menu filled with flavors from Northern India, the Persian Gulf, and Middle East, centered around breads and meats cooked in an imported tandoor oven and mains like chicken fesenjoon (pomegranate and walnut stew, saffron basmati rice). The 210-seat restaurant and hookah lounge is the brainchild of DJ Bikram Keith, who tapped Versus’s Vinoda Basnayake (Casta’s Rum Bar, Morris American Bar and Heist) to helm the nightlife experience. DJs spin until 2 a.m. from Thursday to Sunday.

7943b Tysons Corner Center
Tysons, VA 22102

8. Quattro Osteria

600 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001
Tortelli stuffed with beef ragu and dressed with rapini puree and foamy smoked mozzarella from Quattro Osteria
Tortelli stuffed with beef ragu and dressed with rapini puree and foamy smoked mozzarella from Quattro Osteria
Kimberly Kong for Quattro Osteria

This chic Italian restaurant in Shaw sells pasta made on-site from a chef who has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants in Tuscany. Indecisive diners can opt to go the prix fixe route, with options for three courses ($50) or five $75. Co-owner Louie Hankins, who also runs jungle-themed rooftop bar, El Techo, and taco joint Rito Loco next-door, teamed up with brothers and Naples natives Giovanni and Salvio Ippolito on the project. Seating sections include a patio, breezy bar, and romantic dining room dotted with crystal glassware, candlesticks, soft blue seating, and shimmering gold accents.

600 Florida Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001

9. Dolce Vita Coastal Mediterranean Cuisine

1610 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
A look at Dolce Vita’s dining room, dotted with blue chairs and Italian vistas.
Lahlou Restaurant Group corporate executive chef Juan Olivera oversees a dining room dotted with blue chairs.
Laura Chase de Formigny/Dolce Vita

Restaurateur Med Lahlou boosts his 14th Street NW portfolio (Lupo Verde, Lupo Pizzeria) with a stylish new sanctuary for meze and wood-fired favorites from Spain, Morocco, Italy, and Greece. Highlights include luxe iberico sliced tableside; whole branzino flanked with Morocco’s pungent herb chermoula; Greek moussaka; and octopus gnocchi dressed with spicy ‘nduja. A Moroccan Spritzer is the ultimate fusion cocktail, built with Tanqueray, Aperol, Massaya arak, mandarin, prosecco, club soda, and mint syrup it makes on-site. Ghibellina’s former two-story home got a full Euro-chic makeover, complete with images of Italian celebrities and idyllic coastal towns splashed across brick and regal blue chairs visible from the street.

1610 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20009

10. Takara 14

1326 14 Street NW 2 nd Floor, Washington, DC 20005
Takara 14’s Diamond sushi roll wrapped in cucumber.
Takara 14’s cucumber-wrapped “Diamond” roll with fresh crab, salmon, tuna, and wasabi tobiko.
Takara 14/official photo

A color-soaked spot for lychee sake and superb sushi quietly opened above Ammathar Thai Cuisine last month. A set of pastel stairs lead diners to a cherry blossom-filled dining room, where Nakazawa alum John Yi prepares gorgeous house rolls like the “Opal” (blue fin tuna, salmon, yellowtail, pickled radish, wrapped in sesame soy), mixed mushrooms sauteed in sake butter, and omakase options for nigiri and sashimi. A splurge-worthy A5 wagyu roll with sesame truffle salt ($30) joins raw fish boxes at lunch and happy hour cocktail combos with bonito flake-filled Brussels sprouts ($11). A surprisingly spacious two-level bar in the back resembles a Bangkok party pad, packed with string lights, glittering chandeliers, and rainbow-hued chairs.

1326 14 Street NW 2 nd Floor
Washington, DC 20005

11. Maïz64

1324 14th St NW #64, Washington, DC 20005
A rectangular slice of suckling pig terrine sits on top of a blue corn tortilla studded with dots of lime-green avocado puree and tomatillo salsa at Maiz64.
A suckling pig terrine taco from Maïz64.

This sleek, modern Mexican newcomer in Logan Circle is the first attempt for Oaxaca-born, Mexico City-based chef Alam Méndez Florián to make a splash in D.C. Méndez Florián, who opened Urbano 116 in Alexandria before it pivoted to Tex-Mex, developed a Maïz64 menu that’s full of vegetable dishes (sweet corn tamales with charred tomatillo salsa and goat cheese sauce; yellow corn tostadas smeared with pumpkin seed and tomato sikil pak) and inventive entrees like a charcoal-roasted octopus al pastor with grilled pineapple relish and eggplant ash puree. Suckling pig terrine tacos arrive on freshly prepared tortillas made out of heirloom blue corn from the state of Tlaxcala. Seasonal sorbets and cocktails — such as a Oaxacan punch full of mezcal joven, warming spices, and tropical fruit — match the fine dining approach.

1324 14th St NW #64
Washington, DC 20005

12. Michele’s at Eaton DC

1201 K St NW, Washington, DC 20005
Crawfish linguini from Michele’s in D.C.
Crawfish linguini from Michele’s in D.C.
Leading DC

Matt Baker, the prominent D.C. chef behind Ivy City’s Michelin-starred Gravitas, expands his local portfolio with a new French-American restaurant in the lobby-level Eaton hotel space on K Street NW. At Michele’s, Baker incorporates lots influences from New Orleans and Houston with dishes like Louisiana crawfish-studded linguini, a hamachi crudo that takes tips from Texas’s beloved tacos al pastor, and a banh mi en croute that showcases Vietnamese flavors and French technique. Pastry chef Aisha Momaney, who works with Baker at cafe and market Baker’s Daughter, brings sour cream cheesecake and a bananas Foster ice cream sundae to the table. The 124-seat restaurant dressed in cobalt blue and neon pink takes the place of chef Tim Ma’s American Son, which arrived shortly after the hotel’s debut in the fall of 2018.

1201 K St NW
Washington, DC 20005

13. Immigrant Food+

925 13th St NW, Washington, DC 20005
An orange-painted dining room with a draped cloth ceiling.
A wood-burning furnace that used to heat the school behind a preserved iron door is now framed with a bedouin tent design.
Elizabeth Sanjuan Photography/Immigrant Food +

The latest restaurant from nationally acclaimed chef Enrique Limardo (Seven ReasonsImperfecto) transforms a corner of D.C.’s new, literary-themed Planet Word museum into a swanky spot for artsy global plates, dim sum mash-ups, and continent-hopping cocktails from a Minibar alum. The extension of fast-casual “gastroadvocacy” restaurant Immigrant Food by the White House serves its familiar fusion bowls by day and fancier, dramatically plated dishes after exhibits close. Opening hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

925 13th St NW
Washington, DC 20005

14. Daru

1451 Maryland Ave NE, Washington, DC 20002
Striped seabass with tomato and Sichuan pepper chutney from Daru, opening soon near the H Street NE corridor
Striped seabass with tomato and Sichuan pepper chutney from Daru
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

On opening night, August 3, Daru fielded a line down the block of customers eager to sample the “Indian-ish” cooking and thoughtful cocktails from chef Suresh Sundas and bar expert Dante Datta. The co-owners, who met nearly a decade ago while working together at Rasika West End, had been steadily building anticipation for Daru for the past two years with a series of pop-ups and events. Try Sundas’s reshmi kebabs, featuring an undercurrent of blue cheese in the marinade and a sour cherry sauce on the side, and sip a hari daiquiri with clarified kefir and herb syrup that tastes like green chutney.

1451 Maryland Ave NE
Washington, DC 20002

15. L'Ardente

200 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001
A charred, split chicken cooks on a wood-fired grill at L’Ardente.
A spatchcocked barbecue chicken with agrodolce glaze and salsa verde from L’Ardente.
Rey Lopez/For L’Ardente

Chef David Deshaies, the Frenchman who runs Unconventional Diner and Central Michel Richard, breaks in the Capital Crossing development with an ambitious Italian kitchen that boasts all the bells and whistles to match a soaring space covered in golden-glossed chandeliers, terrazzo tile floors, and black marble countertops. A 40-layer lasagna stuffed with beef sugo, truffle mornay, and truffle-infused Sottocenere cheese sets a decadent tone. The wood-burning grill and charcoal oven come from Barcelona producer Mibrasa, and a pizza oven bakes naturally leavened pies topped with hot salami and sausage.

200 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001

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16. KAIJU RAMEN 怪獸拉面

525 8th St SE, Washington, DC 20003
Kaiju Ramen’s neon-lit interior.
Edward Wong enters the D.C. market with an energetic, neon-lit ramen restaurant.
Kaiju Ramen/official photo

The owner of Maryland’s Akira Ramen & Izakaya livens up Barracks Row with a Godzilla-themed ramen shop ready to lure big spenders with an $80 wagyu option. Most bowls hover around $15, filled with tonkotsu, miso, shoyu, or veggie broths simmered for 10 hours and noodles made daily. Eye-popping apps like an octopus corn dog draw inspiration from its name, which means “giant monster” in Japanese. Chef Junzo Miyajima hails from Saitama, Japan, and formerly worked at NYC’s lauded En Japanese Brasserie.

525 8th St SE
Washington, DC 20003

17. Ilili

100 District Square SW, Washington, DC 20024
A lengthy bone marrow order comes topped with steak tartare.
Ilili serves steak tartare and bone marrow topped with pomegranate seeds and pickles
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

The high-end Lebanese restaurant based in NYC’s Flatiron District slides into the jewel box-styled space on the Southwest Waterfront that formerly housed Mike Isabella’s Requin. Chef and principal owner Philippe Massoud has D.C. ties; he helped open bygone Mediterranean hit Neyla in Georgetown. At Ilili, a varied menu showcases a compilation of Eastern Mediterranean meze and sharable mains like a decadent lamb shank or a whole organic chicken with kabis (pickled turnips), sumac, and garlic whip. The show-stopping look, inspired by courtyard gardens of Beirut homes, features custom daisy tile floors, hand-painted wallpaper, and natural elements like reclaimed wood from a Massachusetts tobacco barn.

100 District Square SW
Washington, DC 20024

18. Bistro du Jour

99 District Square SW, Washington, DC 20024
Daily dinner at Bistro du Jour brings confit de canard to the table (duck leg, parsley breadcrumbs, green lentils, and red wine-shallots).
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

A Parisian cafe that segues from croissants and La Colombe coffee drinks during the day to fizzy French cocktails and coq au vin by night reactivates a high-profile corner space that formerly housed a location of gelato shop Dolcezza, marking D.C. restaurant group Knead Hospitality + Design’s third waterfront venue in Southwest. The chic cafe opens daily at 7:30 a.m. with brioche donuts and pastries supplied by partner bakery Mah-Ze-Dahr and bechamel-blanketed eggs over sourdough. As the day progresses, traditional French fare like French onion soup, duck confit, and steak frites join the mix. For drinks, there’s a nice bubbly section, fresh-squeezed juices, and a short list of spirits (think: one gin, one vodka, one rum).

99 District Square SW
Washington, DC 20024

19. Santé at The Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City

1250 S Hayes St, Arlington, VA 22202

The Ritz-Carlton hotel in Pentagon City revamped its restaurant as a Mediterranean place that serves modern meze, small pours of glamorous Napa wines, and an espresso martini built with a brand of chocolate rum owned by Bruno Mars. Longtime Ritz-Carlton executive chef Phil Skerman’s is in charge of Santé, which translates to “health” in French, alongside chef de cuisine Kevin Marshall-Broderick. Starter highlights include thick chickpea fries served with a Greek yogurt dip, grilled Virginia oysters with citrus and harissa butter, and a pan-seared shrimp saganaki with black garlic and tomato fondue. Middle Eastern influences show up in a lamb kofta appetizer, a fattoush salad, and cf charred Atlantic salmon with dukkah vinaigrette.

1250 S Hayes St
Arlington, VA 22202

20. Kismet Modern Indian

111 N Pitt St, Alexandria, VA 22314
A photo of a Kismet chicken starter on a black plate.
Tandoor-grilled chicken with yogurt and cream at Kismet.
Kismet/official photo

The team behind Karma Modern Indian, the sleek Chinatown restaurant on Michelin’s Bib Gourmand list, expanded to Old Town last month with a casual, industrial-styled offshoot. Karma chef and New Delhi native Ajay Kumar sends out a grilled snapper with peri-peri sauce; saffron-infused vegetable korma; and jhaal muri, Calcutta’s beloved street snack packs filled with puffed rice, date chutney, and green chili. Karma’s best-selling chicken tikka, made with a blend of tandoori spices the kitchen grinds on-site, also makes its way across the river.

111 N Pitt St
Alexandria, VA 22314

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