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Will 2014 be the year the New York Times and other national rags stop mentioning politics and expense accounts when writing about D.C.’s food scene? Wishful thinking, perhaps. But the city’s culinary cred will only demand more respect this year. Sure, plenty of big name celebrity chefs—Philadelphia’s Jose Garces, New York’s Daniel Boulud, Boston’s Michael Schlow—will make their D.C. debuts, but the most exciting openings come primarily from locals. If this list is any indication, 2014 will be a year with a lot of encores. Restaurateurs who’ve proven their chops—pork or otherwise—with at least one restaurant are coming back with something bigger and more badass. Look out for interesting hybrids like French-Japanese and Peruvian-Chinese, and many more places focused on the holy trinity of seasonal, local, and made-from-scratch. So what’s on the way and noteworthy?
Red Apron Butcher and Parts & Labor
709 D St. NW
Neighborhood Restaurant Group is already coming off a blockbuster year with the openings of Bluejacket, Iron Gate, and fried chicken and doughnut shop GBD. Its next place looks to be just as hype-worthy. Fans of the porkstrami sandwich and salumi at Union Market or in the Mosaic District in Merrifield will get a more extensive Red Apron Butcher in Penn Quarter, where charcuterie king Nate Anda will offer around 100 varieties of cured and aged meats plus a greater selection of sandwiches and prepared foods. The butchery and charcuterie shop will be accompanied by an adjacent restaurant and bar called Parts & Labor, where former 701 chef Ed Witt will further showcases Anda’s meats. Red Apron will open with breakfast and lunch first, and the dinner-only restaurant and bar will follow.
418 7th St. NW
Washingtonians waited years for Wagamama to arrive in Penn Quarter, only for the British noodle chain to pull out of the location. Well, screw Wagamama. Instead, the space will get something better: a Peruvian-Chinese restaurant from José Andrés. The famed Spanish chef is no stranger to Chinese fusion; his Las Vegas restaurant China Poblano combines Chinese and Mexican. But China Chilcano, which gets its name from a Peruvian fish stew as well as a traditional pisco-based drink, will serve Chifa cuisine—the Peruvian term for Chinese cooking that incorporates many Peruvian ingredients. Look out for dim sum plates and dumplings plus ceviche and causa (a mashed yellow potato dish with layers of meats, seafoods, or other ingredients).
1351 H St. NE
After a many-month “residency” and test kitchen at Hanoi House, Toki Underground chef Erik Bruner-Yang is approaching the opening of his food and fashion market, Maketto. The joint venture with men’s clothing brand Durkl will be part retail, part restaurant, with Bruner-Yang serving up Asian street foods with influences from his travels to Cambodia and Taiwan. Local roaster Vigilante Coffee, which has been hosting pop-ups all over town for the past year, will also find a permanent home at Maketto.
Seven Faces Barroom
251 Florida Ave. NW
An all-star team of bartenders—Owen Thomson, Patrick Owens, and Ashley May—is finally getting a bar of its own. The trio brings some serious cocktail cred: Thomson, who previously oversaw cocktail programs at Range and Think Food Group, now works at Bar Pilar. And Owens and May have built a following for their monthly Spirits in Black nights, where metal music inspires the cocktails. While the team is keeping most of the details under wraps, we do know Seven Faces will not be metal-themed. May says the 1,200-square-foot place will be “very laid back” and combine all the things that the three love about their favorite watering holes. And while of course there will be drinking, May assures there will be food, too.
The last time a Washington-area native and alum from McCrady’s Restaurant in South Carolina returned to D.C., we got Rose’s Luxury, one of the best new restaurants of 2013. Equally worth watching out for: Jeremiah Langhorne, the former chef de cuisine of McCrady’s who was born outside Fairfax and grew up in the Shenandoah Valley. Langhorne doesn’t have a location for his “polished casual” modern American restaurant yet, but he’s hoping to land in Shaw. He plans to take inspiration from Thomas Jefferson and American cuisine of the early 1800s, with a wood-fire hearth modeled after the one at Monticello and similar kitchens of the era. The menu will focus heavily on vegetables and sustainable seafood, but Langhorne doesn’t want to pigeonhole his cuisine: “I’m very into food just being delicious,” he says.
1309 5th St. NE
This Union Market restaurant made Y&H’s most-anticipated list last year. But unfortunately, it’s been delayed so many times that it’s still not open. 2014 looks more promising. The contemporary American restaurant comes from chef John Mooney of New York’s Bell Book & Candle. Bidwell will embrace all the buzzwords du jour—local, seasonal, organic, and sustainable—sourcing its ingredients from Union Market vendors as well as an aeroponic rooftop garden, where Mooney plans to grow vegetables, fruits, and herbs.
Dolcezza Gelato Factory
550 Penn St. NE
Dolcezza may already have four area cafes plus a presence in local grocery stores, farmers markets, and restaurants, but nothing quite compares to freshly churned gelato. Founder Robb Duncan’s new factory and coffee “lab” will give sweet seekers a front row seat to the gelato-making process plus samples of the latest creations. The Dolcezza HQ will produce eight to 10 different flavors a day, which will be posted on a chalkboard next to a down-to-the-minute timestamp of when they were churned. Guests can grab a pint to go, or sit and enjoy a bowl along with coffee from Portland, Ore.-based Stumptown Coffee Roasters. The new 4,000 square-foot space also greatly expands Dolcezza’s retail capabilities. Previously, Duncan produced everything from a 300-square-foot basement in the original Georgetown location.
2446 18th St. NW
Adams Morgan gets one step closer to transforming from drunk intern destination to dining hub with this new restaurant from the team behind Ripple in Cleveland Park. Ripple chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley will oversee the menu, which will feature items like andouille corn dogs, merguez sausages with harissa and lentils, cippolini onion rings with barbecue sauce, and a crispy pig ear salad. Cocktails will be a big focus, as they are at Ripple, along with craft beers and hard-to-find wines. The three-story space, previously home to The Reef, will include a cocktail-centric bar on the ground floor, a revamped 20-seat bar in the main dining room, and a covered bar on the rooftop.
405 8th St. NW
Chef Frederik de Pue’s Penn Quarter seafood spot Azur only survived about five months, but here’s hoping that the restaurant he’s replacing it with will be more on par with his stellar Shaw restaurant, Table. The third-floor dining room of Menu MBK (Market, BistroBar, Kitchen) will feature “European country cooking” similar to Table, while the mid-level BistroBar will serve drinks, casual bar snacks, and small plates. On the ground floor market, shop for produce from local farms plus sauces, baked goods, charcuterie, cured and smoked fish, coffee, and other premade meals. Even more reason to look forward to Menu: Pastry chef Jason Gehring, formerly of Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken, is on board.
828 Upshur St. NW
The September opening of Petworth Citizen in Petworth was just half of restaurateur Paul Ruppert’s plans for bringing new eating and drinking destinations to the neighborhood. The co-owner of Room 11 and The Passenger has a second restaurant in the works across the street from Petworth Citizen, which will serve Japanese-French-inspired food. Chef Makoto Hamamura, a former sous chef at fine-dining destination CityZen, came on board to oversee both spots. Hamamura didn’t have previous experience in the American bar-food fare he was tasked with creating at Petworth Citizen, but the French-Japanese spot will fuse his Japanese heritage and his training as a sushi chef and in French-focused kitchens.
Photos by Darrow Montgomery. Bidwell rendering via Bidwell.