New restaurant and bar openings show no sign of slowing down in 2016. Chefs behind some of the area’s top restaurants are expanding with new concepts, while other industry veterans are finally getting the chance to break out on their own. Fine dining will prove it’s not dead, while fast-casual offerings will continue to grow. There will be pizza. And pastrami. And plenty of reasons to get tipsy, whether it’s from D.C.’s first cidery, a Belgian beer wonderland, a tiki temple, or the return of a favorite cocktail bar. Start getting hungry (and thirsty) now, because here’s a look at 10 of the most promising openings in the year ahead.
1. Pineapple and Pearls
715 8th St. SE
Opening: early 2016
Foodie darling Rose’s Luxury is about to get an even more luxurious sister restaurant. Pineapple and Pearls will operate as a cafe by day and fine dining destination by night. The cafe, which will open first, will serve coffee, pastries, sandwiches, and other breakfast items, while the restaurant will offer a prix-fixe tasting menu. Chef/owner Aaron Silverman says the new restaurant will be reminiscent of Rose’s “but super fine-tuned.” As he explains, “A lot of things are going to be plated with tweezers. A lot of things are going to be presented tableside… But it’s going to be our fun take on that.” Those who begrudge waiting in line for Rose’s Luxury will be happy to know Pineapple and Pearls plans to accept reservations. The catch: The restaurant will be closed on Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays.
2. ANXO Cidery & Pintxos Bar
300 Florida Ave. NW
Following D.C.’s boom in breweries, it was only a matter of time before the city got its first cidery—or rather, cideries. ANXO Cidery & Pintxos Bar will take inspiration from Spain’s Basque country in both its food and drink. Former Boundary Road chef Brad Walker is working on a menu of pintxos (small bites) as well as heartier dishes traditionally found in Spanish cider houses, like a steak for two. The team has already been collaborating with Maryland cider-maker Millstone Cellars, but they eventually plan to forage for local heirloom apples and crabapples to make their cider in-house. The bar will also carry a variety of ciders from other producers. In order to make their cider more widely available, the ANXO team has signed a lease for second production facility (plus another bar and restaurant) that is slated to open in Brightwood Park in September.
3. Tail Up Goat
1827 Adams Mill Road NW
Opening: early 2016
This Mediterranean-inspired restaurant in Adams Morgan brings together top talent from two of D.C.’s top dining destinations. Former Komi sous chef Jon Sybert will head the kitchen; former Komi Service Director and Wine and Beverage Director Bill Jensen will oversee the drinks; and former Little Serow Service Director Jill Tyler will run the front-of-house. The menu will take inspiration from the bright, briny flavors of Southern Italy and Sicily with an emphasis on vegetables, breads, and pastas. Rather than creating a tasting menu like their alma maters’, Tail Up Goat’s team will offer an a la carte menu of appetizer- and entree-sized dishes, some of which will be served family style.
4. All Purpose
1250 9th St. NW
The owners of two Bloomingdale hotspots—The Red Hen and Boundary Stone—are joining forces to open an Italian-American restaurant centered around pizza. Chef Mike Friedman is going back to his New Jersey roots to create New York–style pies. Buttercream Bakeshop pastry chef Tiffany MacIsaac is helping with the dough recipe as well as desserts. The pizzas will be baked slowly in deck ovens, which will give them a deeper flavor and crunchier crust, Friedman says. Other offerings will include bruschetta, charcuterie, porchetta, and panzanella-stuffed quail. The drink menu will focus on American and Italian natural wines (made with minimal chemical and technological intervention), regional beers, and classic cocktails. As for the look and feel? “It will have grit to it,” Friedman says. “It’s not going to be a shiny white tablecloth joint... I want it to have a great, airy, warm feeling to it.”
5. Columbia Room
1224 9th St. NW (Blagden Alley)
Opening: early 2016
It’s been a year since Derek Brown closed his acclaimed cocktail bar in the back of The Passenger, but Columbia Room’s long-awaited revival is happening soon. Brown isn’t revealing too many details quite yet, but the new space will be far bigger than its 10-seat predecessor. And if the drinks are anywhere as good as they are at Brown’s three other bars (Mockingbird Hill, Eat The Rich, and Southern Efficiency), it’s bound to be another major drinking destination.
6. The Sovereign
1206 Wisconsin Ave. NW
D.C. has plenty of Belgian bars and restaurants, but none quite like this. Rather than offering standard brews from the mega-companies that now dominate the Belgian beer scene, The Sovereign will highlight as many beers as possible from a dozen smaller breweries that are harder to come by in the U.S. Headed by Neighborhood Restaurant Group Beer Director Greg Engert, The Sovereign will pour 50 drafts and 250 bottles, including more traditional beers with dry, funky, sour, and complex flavors. Up-and-coming Belgian brewers plus American, Italian, and Canadian brewers making Belgian-style ales will also be featured. Chef Peter Smith, formerly of PS7’s, will oversee the bistro menu, which will feature braised meats and “Dutch-style” mussels—all perfect for pairing with beer.
1824 8th St. NW
One of Northern Virginia’s top chefs is finally venturing into the District. Tim Ma—the force behind Maple Ave Restaurant and Water & Wall—will open an Asian-French bistro called Kyirisan in Shaw. The 50-seat upscale casual restaurant will take inspiration from Ma’s Chinese heritage, and dishes may include seared scallops with coconut risotto, basil ice cream, and spring onion, and “chicken and waffles” with deep fried duck livers and stroopwafel. Ma also plans to offer a chef’s table for eight to 12 people that’s similar to his Gather + Feast supper club series.
1201 U St. NW
Mai tais and scorpion bowls popped up on a number of bar menus in 2015. In 2016, D.C. will get a dedicated tiki bar with Archipelago from bartenders Owen Thomson, Joe Ambrose, Ben Wiley, and Noah Broaddus. The bar’s location (the former home of The Islander) helped determine the theme, and the owners plan to go all in on decor with bamboo, tiki idols, and a palm tree mural. More importantly, the crew will bring some serious cocktail chops to their umbrella drinks with fresh juices and fanciful garnishes. The bar’s food menu will tie in Chinese and Polynesian flavors. “The escapist culture was really important in that period when [tiki bars] first took off in America,” Thomson says. “And I think people are into that again.”
9. Smoked & Stacked
1239 9th St. NW
Chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley is beginning to gain a national profile thanks to her role on the latest season of Top Chef. Locally, though, Meek-Bradley is already known for solid cooking at Ripple and Roofers Union. Now, she’s stepping into her first project in which she has an ownership stake: Smoked & Stacked. The fast-casual restaurant in the Washington Convention Center will center around pastrami sandwiches served on milk bread. Meek-Bradley makes pastrami every week for Sunday brunch at Ripple, and it’s quickly become a favorite not just among diners but staff. “It’s not really a sandwich shop so much as a pastrami shop,” says Meek-Bradley. The limited menu will also include smoked chicken, portobello mushroom, and breakfast sandwiches (which diners can customize), as well as beer and wine.
10. Buttercream Bakeshop
1250 9th St. NW
Tiffany MacIsaac was no doubt the queen of D.C.’s dessert scene in her previous gig at Neighborhood Restaurant Group. She’s since broken out on her own with a custom cake and cookie business and is poised to open her first bakeshop this winter. Expect all manner of sweets from sticky buns to oatmeal cream pies, as well as some savory baked goods. And if the images that fill MacIsaac’s Instagram page are any indication, the treats will look as good as they taste. Momofuku Milk Bar will be put to shame.