Since we can barely keep up with the breakneck pace of DC's restaurant openings, we figure you could use a little help tracking the hottest new arrivals. This crop of newcomers pulls from across the globe — think Cuban comfort foods, BBQ, pasta and Japanese dishes with Southern twists. And after the recent restaurant explosion in Shaw, it's nice to see some other neighborhoods heating up again. Here are the 10 most exciting openings worth checking out.
Must-order: Veal sweetbreads; slow-roasted Icelandic cod; dry-aged rib-eye with buttered Maryland crab
Insider tip: Be on the lookout for the upcoming four-person chef’s table that will sit in the middle of the dining area, as well as the upcoming lunch and brunch.
Must-order: Veggie Cuban sandwich; mushroom croquetas; medianoches sandwich
Insider tip: Ask for the off-menu cafe bonito, which is espresso with condensed milk, evaporated milk and sugar.
Must-order: Chicken liver terrine; tuna carpaccio; roasted sardines
Insider tip: Owner Javier Candon is an accomplished mixologist, so try his cocktails and especially his wonderful housemade patxaran — Spanish brandy infused with huckleberries, cinnamon, coffee beans and star anise traditionally served as a digestif.
Must-order: The Standard; Piggyback pork burger; chili cheese fries
Insider tip: For a fun experiment, order one Angus beef burger and one featuring the Ancient White Park — a rare breed of heritage cattle — and conduct your own taste test. (Spoiler alert: both types of aged Virginia beef are winners.)
Must-order: Fried chicken with gochujang glaze; hamachi with Thai chile fish sauce vinaigrette; the Mixed Bag cocktail, a blend of Fernet, amaro, lime and ginger
Insider tip: Nobody gets bumped to the head of the wait list (not even the owners’ parents), so be prepared to put your name down and have a drink across the street at Petworth Citizen or Hank’s Cocktail Bar. Show up at the right time on a weeknight, though, and you might not have to wait at all.
Must-order: Rigatoni amatriciana; seafood mafalde pasta; burrata with olive salt
Insider tip: A roster of grab-and-go pastries is available during brunch, and the restaurant plans to offer savory takeaway items like sandwiches down the line.
Must-order: Chopped pork shoulder sandwich; brisket sandwich with crispy onions; crispy Brussels sprouts
Insider tip: Items often sell out by 7 PM on weekends, so get there early for the best selection and check Facebook for updates on what’s left.
Must-order: New York strip; Wagyu strip; upside-down lemon tart
Insider tip: Take a closer look at the photos on the walls — you just might spot younger versions of the headliner chef/brothers among the books and artwork from their family home.
Must-order: Gin and tonic oysters; lobster jambalaya; tuna tartare
Insider tip: Book a seat at Maryland Fry Bar, a five-seat bar that offers two tasting-menu options of amazingly fresh seafood that's fried in an ultra-light batter. (À la carte ordering is also available, but the tasting menu is a great deal.)