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Green-thumbed Washingtonians looking to make a buck, listen up. Anxo (“Ahn-cho”), acidery and pintxos bar opening today in Truxton Circle,will pay you for crab apples if you’re willing to pluck them off trees on your property. Better yet, Anxo will eventually hand you a bottle of cider made from the fruit of your lawn.
“We are going to make a lot of cider this year with D.C. apples,” says co-owner Sam Fitz. He’s a partner in the bar along with his sister, Rachel Fitz, Cooper Sheehan, Tim Prendergast, Alex Vallcorba and Sara Vallcorba. He explains there are crab apple trees in medians, triangles, and circles throughout the District, and they’ve already identified 21 trees with attractive fruit. If you don’t have a tree, but want one, there’s an organization for that. Casey Trees added apple trees to their inventory and will put one in at a subsidized cost. Just don’t expect to see a generous fruit yield immediately.
A cidery makes sense for the District, given the Mid-Atlantic was historically a major cider producing and sipping region. However, when prohibition thwarted alcohol production, much of the tradition was lost. “That’s when people started eating apples instead of drinking them, so we’re trying to get back to where cider production was 100 years ago,” Sam Fitz says. Anxo has 10 apple trees on its expansive patio—a split between the Hewes and Harrison species.
There’s a 660-gallon barrel displayed on the first floor that Prendergast and his team used to produce two award-winning ciders, but Anxo will only make a tiny fraction of the cider it pours. Just 12 of the bar’s 36 draft lines will be used for beer, the rest will stream cider, plus one vermouth. Then there’s the cider list of about 100 bottles culled from regions around the world. If you like what you try, note that within a month of opening, Anxo will sell cider and wine bottles to go. The bar has its winery license—the first in D.C.—allowing it to sell booze at rates comparable to retailers like Whole Foods.
Padding stomachs for cider exploration is a selection of Basque pintxos from chef Alex Vallcorba. The word “pintxos” translates to skewers, and refers to bite-sized snacks. Like tapas, they’re for casual settings but don’t require a knife and fork. Vallcorba is from Barcelona, but grew up vacationing in Basque country and even staged at the region’s Michelin-starred restaurant, Asador Etxebarri.
The chef recommends the escalivada mondatito—a slice of bread topped with roasted, marinated eggplant, sweet baby pepper, and anchovy. Vallcorba sources his anchovies from the Cantabrian Sea, and is on a mission to convert the anchovy averse by showcasing this fresh-tasting variety. Pintxos will be displayed on platters at the downstairs bar, but don’t swipe them. A bartender will use tongs to pull the pintxos that look appealing before adding them to your bill.
Upstairs is a dining room that serves larger plates like hanger steak or roasted quail. Anxo takes upstairs reservations via RESY, while downstairs is first-come, first-served. A 48-seat patio will open within the month. Anxo is open Tuesday to Sunday from 5 p.m. to midnight and Friday to Saturday from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m., with the kitchen closing two hours earlier than the bar.
A second location is already in the works for 711 Kennedy St. NW in Brightwood Park. Sam Fitz has high hopes for the neighborhood’s future. “I would be shocked if within five years that wasn’t an area like Upshur Street. We’re one of three restaurants that I know are going in there,” he says. Anxo owns two buildings there; the first to open will be a two-story cidery. “It should be open by the end of this apple season so we can get this harvest in the tank to provide more cider for the city in 2017.”
Anxo Cidery & Pintxos Bar, 300 Florida Ave. NW; (202) 986-3795; anxodc.com