2015 was the year of Filipino food, family-style dishes, vegetable-centric menus, and fast-casual everything. What’s in store for D.C.’s food and drink scene in 2016? Here are five trends to look out for.
The reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated. A new crop of diners is on its way in 2016, including Slim’s Diner in Petworth, Blue Diner and Fare Well on H Street NE, Community in Bethesda, and The Unconventional Diner in Shaw. Be warned, though, not all of these eateries will be your typical greasy spoons. Fare Well, from the owner of Sticky Fingers, is all vegan, while The Unconventional Diner dubs itself “high-end.” Still, you can count on some all-day breakfasts and classic comfort food. And maybe, just maybe, some 24-hour service.
D.C.’s top cocktail bars were all over tiki drinks this year. Barmini hosted a Tiki Week, Jack Rose Dining Saloon turned its upstairs space into a tiki bar, and Mockingbird Hill introduced a “Sherry Goes Tiki” menu over the summer. In 2016, D.C. will get a full-time tiki bar with Archipelago opening on U Street NW from four local bartenders. Don’t be surprised to find even more bars and restaurants mixing up mai tais and stocking up on mini umbrellas.
This year, Mike Isabella teamed up with chef Jonah Kim to open a Japanese-Korean restaurant called Yona and partnered with chef Jennifer Carroll for a pop-up that will eventually become a French Mediterranean restaurant called Requin. Expect even more joint ventures in the years to come. Chef collaborations are everywhere, and it’s only a matter of time until they evolve into actual business relationships.
Tasting Menu–Only Restaurants
Fine dining falls in and out of favor, but in 2016, it will be very much in. The newest upscale restaurants won’t be defined by white tablecloths or dress codes, but tasting menus are sure to star. At the Shaw Bijou, Eleven Madison Park and Per Se alum Kwame Onwuachi (currently on Top Chef) will offer 15 to 18 courses in his 32-seat dining room. Former CityZen chef Eric Ziebold will offer a seven-course tasting menu at Métier beside his just-opened restaurant Kinship. And Rose’s Luxury chef Aaron Silverman will devote his efforts to prix-fixe at his forthcoming fine dining spot, Pineapple and Pearls.
Distillery Cocktail Bars
When New Columbia Distillers launched in 2012, the gin producer couldn’t even give out samples at its Ivy City facility. But thanks to changes in the law, distilleries can now serve cocktails on-site. That means tasting rooms are evolving into full-blown watering holes. The next generation of distilleries will be as much places to drink away the evening as they are manufacturing plants. The Murray Hill Club at Jos. A. Magnus & Co. is already setting an example, and new distilleries Cotton & Reed and Republic Restoratives also have big plans for their bars. Meanwhile, at least two distillery pubs are on the way: Farmers & Distillers and District Distilling Company. Get ready for people to start using the term “still to table” a lot more.