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From "My Irish Table" to a feast of the Philippines. By Anna Spiegel
The "noche buena" tasting menu at Restaurant Eve. Photograph courtesy of Restaurant Eve.

Filipino is the new "it" Asian cuisine, having already trended in New York, and currently drawing long lines for pop-ups in DC. Now Restaurant Eve is following the sisig trail, offering a Filipino "noche buena" holiday feast through the month of January.

Co-owner Meshelle Armstrong has roots in the Philippines, and the menu takes inspiration from the traditional family-style meal, where guests gather at each other's homes for a late meal on Christmas Eve. Chef Cathal Armstrong's lineup of dishes will change daily in seasonal Eve style; look for items such as street-style barbecue with banana ketchup and beef noodle soup.

The shared menu is $60 per person, and must be reserved specifically when calling or booking online. The regular menu is also offered during this time.

Posted at 11:24 AM/ET, 12/19/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Notable openings, closings, and chefs on the move. By Anna Spiegel
Rare Sweets bakeshop debuted in CityCenterDC with seasonal desserts. Photograph courtesy of Rare Sweets.

Openings

CityCenterDC gets its first bakery, Rare Sweets, a shop offering seasonal cakes (by the slice and whole), cookies, gelatos, and a mix of sweet and savory breakfast items. La Colombe coffee supplies the caffeine kick. [Washingtonian]

Georgetown now claims a branch of the Delaware-based sandwich chain Capriotti's. The location is open late for the college crowd, until 3 on Thursdays and 4 on Friday and Saturday. [Washingtonian]

Eater DC has a photo tour of the Big Stick, a ski chalet-themed bar near Nationals Park from the Justin's Cafe team. Faux-fure blankets sound pretty nice in this weather. [Eater DC]

Soul food truck Puddin' debuts a pop-up stall in Union Market. Look for shrimp and grits, gumbo, and bourbon bread pudding through December. [Washingtonian]


Closings

Local brewery Chocolate City Beer is closing after three and a half years. The last day in Brookland will be December 31; growler hours will be held as usual on December 20 and 27. [DCist]

The Prince of Petworth has word of two Dupont burger joint shutters: Black and Orange, which still has a location on 14th Street, and Smashburger, which is moving to Alexandria. [PoPville]

While not technically a closing, the EatWellDC restaurant group is selling its casual Columbia Heights spot, the Heights. New owner Ammar Daoud doesn't plan for significant changes in staff or concept as of now. [Washingtonian]


Chefs on the move

The historic Tadich Grill, one of America's oldest restaurants, names a chef and GM for its first-ever spinoff to be located in DC. Wil Going, formerly of Chef Geoff's and Lia's, will head the kitchen, while Ron Robbins has been appointed manager. The Pennsylvania Avenue eatery will open in the first quarter of 2015. [Washingtonian]

Posted at 09:42 AM/ET, 12/19/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
This year, our critics ranked the area's top restaurants from 1 to 100.

Komi—the tiny Dupont Circle townhouse known for leisurely Mediterranean tasting menus—is officially Washington's very best restaurant, according to, well, us.

Since 1969, Washingtonian has assembled an annual list of the region's best dining spots. Over the years, the list has grown from 50 eateries to 100, and moved from a few pages inside the magazine to the cover story of each January's issue. This year, we ranked all 100 of the winners in order.

The whole list—which includes reviews, highlights, and tips on food news—is on newsstands now. It's also available to digital subscribers through our iPad app.

In the meantime, here are some of the top winners of 2015:

1. Komi, Johnny Monis’s tasting-menu destination in Dupont Circle.
2. Minibar, José Andrés’s 25-course modernist thrill-ride in Penn Quarter.
3. Rose’s Luxury, the Capitol Hill hotspot that channels both the American South and Southeast Asia.
4. Fiola Mare, Fabio and Maria Trabocchi's luxurious Georgetown seafood dining room.
5. Rasika, the pair of modern-Indian restaurants in Penn Quarter and the West End.
6. Little Serow, Johnny Monis’s fiery Thai place in Dupont Circle.
7. The Red Hen, the rustic regional Italian restaurant in Bloomingdale.
8. Fiola, the opulent Italian dining room in Penn Quarter.
9. The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm, on a 40-acre farm in Lovettsville, Virginia.
10. Vin 909 Winecafe, an Annapolis hangout with the area’s best pizza.
11. Seasonal Pantry, Dan O’Brien’s dinner party-like communal table in Shaw.
12. Del Campo, a Latin-themed steakhouse in Penn Quarter.
13. Casa Luca, the sophisticated trattoria in downtown DC.
14. Le Diplomate, a Franocophile fantasy of a bistro in Logan Circle.
15. Central Michel Richard, the buzzy Penn Quarter dining room that handles gougères as well as it does fried chicken.
16. Ananda, a palatial Indian restaurant in Fulton, Maryland.
17. Mintwood Place, a cozy French/American bistro in Adams Morgan.
18. Plume, the luxurious modern-American hideaway in downtown DC's Jefferson Hotel.
19. Izakaya Seki, the spare, father-and-daughter-owned Japanese izakaya off U Street.
20. Marcel’s, the bastion of old-world elegance in Foggy Bottom.

While some of the selectees are perennial high-flyers, some notable newcomers made strong debuts: extravagant Georgetown seafood restaurant Fiola Mare came in at #4, and Fulton Indian dining room Ananda landed at #16. Close readers will also notice some striking departures—1789, the Source, Vidalia, Makoto, and Blue Duck Tavern, all places that have been on the list for years, didn’t make the cut.

The most dramatic change involves last year's winner: The Inn at Little Washington, which had been ranked #1 for the past two years, fell out of the top 20. What went wrong? Among other things, our critics cited flaws in the kitchen and the recent shift to a tasting menu-only format, which results in smaller portions and “strips away a lot of what made the restaurant so memorable: its too-muchness.”

Check out the 2014 Very Best Restaurants list here, and find all our food coverage here.

Posted at 06:30 PM/ET, 12/18/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
And sets an opening for 2015. By Anna Spiegel
The Pennsylvania Avenue location of Tadich Grill will open in early 2015. Photograph courtesy of Arcanum Architecture, Inc.

More details are emerging about the upcoming Tadich Grill, the first-ever spinoff of the historic San Francisco restaurant headed to Pennsylvania Avenue.

Chef Wil Going, formerly the executive director of food and beverage at Chef Geoff's and Lia's, has been tapped to helm the kitchen. Like the original 165-year-old Frisco restaurant DC's location is modeled after, the eatery will serve a large menu of seafood dishes such as cioppino and the signature hangtown fry (fried oysters with eggs and bacon), mesquite-broiled meats, and California wines. Ron Robbins, formerly the GM at Café Deluxe on Wisconsin Avenue, will take on the role of general manager.

Any change is a big one for a nearly two-centuries-old concept, but going has been particularly slow in Washington. Approval to start development had to be granted by five different governmental bodies due to the Pennsylvania Avenue address, including the US Commission of Fine Arts and the National Park Service. The opening is now slated for the first quarter of 2015.

Posted at 03:06 PM/ET, 12/18/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
EatWellDC says farewell to the Columbia Heights eatery. By Anna Spiegel
The Heights will change ownership before 2015. Photograph via Flickr user REPLACE.

The Heights, currently under the EatWellDC restaurant group's umbrella along with the Pig, Logan Tavern, Commissary, and Grillfish, is set to change hands by 2015. The eatery underwent another big change somewhat recently when it closed last year for a design and menu makeover from new chef Kerry Tate.

New owner Ammar Daoud doesn't plan for a shift in concept or staff, so look for a similar lineup of casual American fare. Holiday promotions will also continue as planned. Stay tuned for any future changes.

Posted at 01:46 PM/ET, 12/18/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The yet-to-be-named dining room will debut in mid-2016.  By Ann Limpert

Donald Trump calls José Andrés a "true culinary genius." Photograph by Jason Varney.

2015 was already looking to be a big year for chef/restaurateur/goggle-wearing talk show fixture José Andrés, who will open both his veggie-friendly Beefsteak and the Chinese/Peruvian-themed China Chilcano in the coming months. Today, he announced plans for an even more ambitious undertaking—a dining room in the glitzy Trump International Hotel, scheduled to open in downtown DC’s Old Post Office in mid-2016.

There are scant details about the project—no concept or name yet—first reported by the Washington Post’s Tom Sietsema. But Andrés, the mastermind behind such local restaurants as Minibar, Jaleo, Oyamel, and Zaytinya, is no stranger to big-ticket hotel dining. He’s opened attention-getting spots in SLS Hotels in Vegas, Los Angeles, and Miami, including the Bazaar, a trippily decorated, critically beloved showpiece in Beverly Hills.

We’ll update with more information as it becomes available.

Posted at 01:30 PM/ET, 12/17/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Southern fare from chef Toyin Alli. By Anna Spiegel

Chicken and sausage gumbo. Courtesy of Puddin'.

Union Market's food selection just keeps growing, what with recent additions like Honeycomb Market from Toki Underground’s Erik Bruner-Yang, a pop-up biscuit stall by Mason Dixie Biscuit Co., and smoky cue courtesy of Andrew Evans’s newly opened Barbecue Joint stall. Now add another to the list: Puddin’, a stop for Southern-comfort classics by chef Toyin Alli.

We first tried Alli’s tasty, rib-sticking fare off the Puddin’ food truck, which launched earlier this year. A similar menu will be found in the market on Saturdays and Sundays in December, with shrimp and grits, chicken-and-sausage gumbo, and the namesake brown bourbon-brown butter bread pudding served from 8 to 8. If fried shrimp po’ boys make an appearance, make sure to give them a try.

Posted at 03:19 PM/ET, 12/16/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
A seasonal bakeshop arrives at CityCenterDC. By Anna Spiegel
Rare Sweets debuts with seasonal breakfast items, ice creams, and beautiful cakes. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Cheddar biscuits. La Colombe coffee. Slices of ginger-lemon cake. You'll find all of this and more at Rare Sweets, the newest addition to CityCenterDC. The shop, now open, comes courtesy of Meredith Tomason, a former pastry chef at Tom Colicchio's Craft in New York City. This is her first brick-and-mortar business after a year of running a catering operation out of Union Kitchen.

The opening menu (see below) takes seasonal cues, with an emphasis on fresh fruit desserts, raw sugar, and spices. Guests can drop by in the morning for coffee or hot cocoa and a mix of sweet and savory items, such as buttermilk biscuits, glazed doughnuts, house-made granola, and "egg in a basket," an egg baked into a fresh brioche bun. Classic and seasonal cakes such as a beet-based red velvet or chocolate malt can be ordered whole or by the slice; there are also miniature cakes. Those not in the mood for a slice can grab cookies and bars, or opt for house frozen treats such as chocolate-spice ice cream or pomegranate-black pepper sorbet.

The pretty space boasts marble countertops, cook books from Tomason's large vintage collection, and an open kitchen where guests can watch cakes being iced. Seating is limited to a few tables and a standing bar by the window, so prepare to load up for sweets on the go. Note that there's also a special holiday menu with items like yule log cakes, breakfast baskets for Christmas morning, and more.

Rare Sweets. 963 Palmer Alley, NW; 202-499-0077. Open daily, 7 to 7.

Opening Menu


Breakfast

Buttermilk Biscuits, Cinnamon Rolls, Cheddar Chive Biscuits, Seasonal Coffee Cakes, English Muffins $3.60

Egg in a Basket: $3.75

Chocolate Cake Donuts, Seasonal Glazed Donuts $2.50

Granola & Milk or Yogurt $3.60

Cakes

Classic Cake Slices $5

Double Chocolate, Black & White, Red Velvet Beet, Black & Yellow

Seasonal Cake Slices $5.50

Ginger & Lemon, Vanilla & Eggnog, Apple Stack, Chocolate Malt

Mini Cakes $6

Classic Coconut, Chocolate Peppermint, Toasted Almond

Party Cakes (whole Cakes available for order)

Classic Flavors (6 inch $35, 8 inch $55, 9 inch $65)

Seasonal Flavors (6 inch $40, 8 Inch $60, 9 Inch $70)

Cookies & Bars

Oatmeal Raisin, Chewy Sugar Cookies, Gingersnaps, Cocoa Crinkles, Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chip/Walnut $2.00

Chocolate Brownie, Brown Butter Blondie $2.30

Ice Cream & Sorbet

Small $5.40 Large $6.40

Winter Spice, Vanilla, Mint Cocoa Nib, Milk Chocolate Spice, Oatmeal Raisin, Blood Orange Sherbet, Green Apple Sorbet, Pomegranate Black Pepper Sorbet

Beverages

La Colombe Coffee & Espresso Drinks $2.50-$4.00, Hot Chocolate $3.40, Running Byrd Sweet Tea $2.75

Posted at 11:13 AM/ET, 12/15/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Plus late-night hours. By Anna Spiegel
Free Bobbie sandwiches mark the opening of the Georgetown Capriotti's. Photograph courtesy of Capriotti's.

The quickly expanding, Biden-approved sandwich chain Capriotti’s debuts its third Washington location on Monday in Georgetown. The Delaware-based eatery opens with the usual freebies, offering complimentary “Bobbies”—Thanksgiving-style sandwiches—to the first 100 people in line at 11.

The menu of fresh-roasted turkey sandwiches and subs in three sizes is the same as at other locations, but the M and 34th Street branch will keep late hours for Georgetown’s many students and bar-hoppers. Service runs until 3 on Thursday, and 4 on Friday and Saturday.

The new space is pretty historic for Washingtonians, having once housed the legendary Cellar Door music club.

Capriotti’s. 3347 M St., NW; 202-659-3354.

Posted at 08:58 AM/ET, 12/15/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Notable openings, closings, and chefs on the move. By Anna Spiegel
Say farewell to Nick Stefanelli's signature hay-smoked sweetbreads at Bibiana. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Openings

Pizza Vinoteca, a 100-seat pie joint, opened in Ballston Thursday with grilled pizzas, 36 wines by the glass, and a few high-tech twists. Also: Merlot-infused crust. [Washingtonian]

Spanish sandwich chain 100 Montaditos unveiled its third Washington location at the Yards. Other branches are located in Arlington and Bethesda.

Woodley Park's Open City debuted a branch on the National Cathedral grounds. The menu is smaller than at the original, with coffees, panini, and salads. [Eater DC]

&pizza, the local pie chain that’s offering customers free tattoos, launched its first Virginia location in the Springfield Shopping Center. This is the seventh in Washington.


Closings

One of Washington’s venerable restaurants, CityZen, closed its doors over the past weekend. Founding chef Eric Ziebold has moved on to open his own ventures in Mount Vernon Triangle, while the Mandarin Oriental Hotel is readying to reveal another dining concept in the space. [Washingtonian, Washington Post]


Chefs on the move

Rumors that former Palena chef/owner Frank Ruta is taking over the swanky Capella hotel’s Grill Room prove true. Tim Carman reports that the veteran chef starts in Georgetown January 1, along with former Palena pastry chef Aggie Chin. [Washington Post]

Longtime Bibiana chef Nick Stefanelli calls it quits at the Penn Quarter eatery to open his own Italian restaurant near Union Market. Taking his place: Jake Addeo, mostly recently of Trattoria Doppio Zero in Hong Kong, and a former cook at New York standouts Felia and Esca. [Washington Post]

Kapnos chef George Pagonis is back on Top Chef season 12. He was eliminated for a quick-fire mishap on the first episode, but cooked his way back into the competition. [Washingtonian]

Sam Kass, one of the most recognizable culinary faces at the White House, is stepping down after six years. The senior policy adviser on nutrition and executive director of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign is headed to New York to be with wife Alex Wagner, based there as an MSNBC host. [Politico]

James Horn, the wine and beverage director for Mike Isabella Concepts and a partner in the business, is also leaving DC for the Big Apple due to family reasons. [Eater DC]

Posted at 09:00 AM/ET, 12/12/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()