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Discount brews, lunch deals, brunch, and more. By Anna Spiegel
Warm up with cheap beer. Photograph via Shutterstock.

It's not a snow day, federally speaking, but the flakes are falling, the roads are slushy, and the restaurant/bar specials are coming. We'll update the list throughout the day. In the meantime, it's great weather to start planning your next drink by the fire.

Agua 301

301 Water St., SE

Tacos are $2.50 all day long, while Coronas are just $3.

Buffalo & Bergen at Union Market

1309 Fifth St., NE

Stop by for an all-day happy hour featuring $5 wines, bourbon-spiked cider, and Rebel IPA.

DC Empanadas at Union Market

The food truck's stall in Union Market offers a buy two-get-one-free deal until 2 today. There's also chicken-andouille gumbo to warm up.

DC Reynolds

3628 Georgia Ave., NW

The Petworth bar offers a lunchtime deal: a sandwich, fries, and soda for $9.

Drafting Table

1529 14th St., NW

The 14th Street bar/restaurant opens early for an "adult snow day" at 2, offering happy hour deals until close. A hot, boozy rum cocktail is also on offer.

Hank's on the Hill

633 Pennsylvania Ave., SE

The Capitol Hill location of Hank's offers happy hour all day at the bar, including $5 wines, beers, and punches, and $1.25 select oysters. The Dupont location is closed due widespread power outages in the area.

Jack Rose

2007 18th St., NW

Starting at 5 you'll find $6 hot apple brands toddies, warm whiskey-cider, and mulled wine. The deals go all week long.

Jaleo

All area locations

Head in to any location for a $10 dining deal that includes a bocata sandwich and soup (either gazpacho or butternut squash with goat cheese).

Nage Bistro

1600 Rhode Island Ave., NW

The restaurant offers happy hour specials and half-price coffee drinks through 7 today.

Oyamel

401 Seventh St., NW

Warm up with a Mexican meal that includes a orange-infused tequila margarita, black bean soup with avocado and crispy ancho chiles, and Oaxacan hot chocolate ($12 total). There's also a special hot cocktail with five-spiced tequila ($12).

Screwtop Wine Bar

1025 N. Fillmore St., Arlington

The Arlington spot is open for brunch as of 10 with Sunday-like mimosas.

Urbana

2121 P St., NW

The Dupont eatery will offer the same special every time it snows this winter, work or no: $5 pizzas to go or eat on premises (typically $15), and $7 specialty cocktails and hot cocoa.

Zaytinya

701 Ninth St., NW

The Mediterranean spot says cheers to the snow day with half-priced bottles of wine.

Posted at 10:47 AM/ET, 01/06/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
A lobster tank, plenty of pisco, and Peruvian sushi come to Penn Quarter. By Anna Spiegel
China Chilcano brings Peruvian flavors and vibrant decor to Penn Quarter. Photographs by Andrew Propp.

The winter’s biggest restaurant opening is here: José Andrés debuts China Chilcano, his first Peruvian eatery. The Penn Quarter spot embraces Peru’s many culinary influences—Chinese, Japanese, Spanish—and in Andrés-ian fashion runs with them to create an energetic and playful concept, with a few surprises thrown in. Here's what to expect.

There’s dim sum.

Chinese laborers, many of Cantonese descent, played a large role in influencing Peruvian cooking. The resulting hybrid cuisine is called Chifa, and variations of it pop up across the menu. More traditional Chinese dishes include a selection of dim sum dumplings and pot stickers, or hand-rolled rice noodles in an aromatic pork-and-chicken broth. A selection of chaufa—fried rice dishes—plays with a mix of flavors such as chaufa Cubana, in which the grains are sautéed with garlic, fried eggs, bacon, and tomato sauce.

And sushi-like "causagiris."

Another big influence came from 19th-century Japanese immigrants, who embraced Peru’s coastline and access to fresh seafood as well as native vegetables and chilies. Take a seat at the raw bar to see Nikkei, Japanese-Peruvian cuisine, in action. Former Sushi-Ko chef Koji Terrano teamed up with Think Food Group for the restaurant, and may be spotted behind the bar making ceviches, sashimi, and "causagiri." The latter looks like nigiri sushi, but instead of rice, raw and cooked fish is served on a platform of puréed potato and aji amarillo chilies, similar to causa potato dishes found throughout Peru.

The Elements dining area is more serene than the vibrant Marketplace, with plenty of wood.

Guinea pig could be on the menu.

The menu also includes a number of dishes one might think of as more traditionally Peruvian, such as flavored ice pops brought tableside in portable coolers, as street vendors in Lima would serve them. Think Food Group chef Rubén García, director of research and development for Andrés’s empire, says he’s hoping to recreate one of the country’s iconic dishes: cuy, or guinea pig. So far, sourcing fresh meat has been problematic—culinary guineas are different than their fluffy pet-shop brethren—though a solution is near. A farm in Maryland is awaiting permits, and the team plans to jump on the local cuy when they're available.

The best table overlooks a seafood tank.

Anyone who wants to gaze at their lobster before digging into the wok-cooked crustacean with black-pepper sauce can request the six-seat table next to a 300-gallon seafood tank, which holds live langosta and other water-dwellers for the kitchen. Another perk: The table is one of several outfitted with retro-style lazy Susans, which makes sharing the tapas-size plates easier. All that said, "best" is a bit subjective when it comes to seating. The restaurant is divided into three stylized areas: a funky Marketplace, the wood-heavy Elements, and Heaven, which in Andrés's vision is a ceviche bar. Each offers interesting perches, like our second favorite, a sunken, Japanese-style table beneath a billowing red lantern.

Ancient peoples inspired the lighting.

Swirling neon light fixtures run through the Marketplace section, modeled after Peru's Nazca Lines. The designs found on Nazca Desert plateaus are thought to be made by people of the ancient Nazca culture in order to communicate with the gods—good for aesthetic affect, and as a date-time conversation piece.

Pisco abounds.

Though the full collection of pisco brandy is still in the works, the bar hopes to build the biggest selection in the United States. Rare piscos are already available; ask for El Inquebrantable, a small-batch producer that only makes 200 bottles per year. More familiar sips include pisco sours, pisco muddled with fresh fruit, and pisco punch. There's also a strong selection of South American wines and unusual Peruvian beers, including Cumbres, a red-corn brew new to the United States.

China Chilcano. 418 Seventh St., NW; 202-783-0941. Soft opening Monday, January 5, at 4; official opening Wednesday, January 7. Open Tuesday through Thursday, 4 to 11; Friday and Saturday 4 to midnight; Sunday and Monday 4 to 10. Lunch and brunch coming in February.

The eclectic Marketplace is lit by red neon lights designed after Nazca Lines.

Many of the design elements are inspired by working Peruvian markets.

Many of the benches are scattered with colorful pillows.
The bar aims to eventually stock the largest collection of piscos in the country.

The menu mixes Chinese-Peruvian dishes, called Chifa, with Japanese-Peruvian cuisine, or Nikkei.

Posted at 01:56 PM/ET, 01/05/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Fresh danishes, local coffee, and Viennese sweets arrive next week. By Anna Spiegel
Bakers & Baristas will bring Compass Coffee and European-style desserts to Penn Quarter, like this orange-glazed braid with spiced plum. Photograph courtesy of Bakers & Baristas.

Penn Quarter will get a European-style patisserie next Thursday with the opening of Bakers & Baristas. Owner Aaron Gordon—who's also behind Red Light and Drafting Table on 14th Street—transformed the former Tangy Sweet space into a lofty Viennese pastry house, and brought on Blue Duck Tavern pastry chef Naomi Gallego to create a selection of desserts alongside chef Lindsay Meehan.

While Gordon's adjoining establishment Red Velvet will continue to serve cupcakes as usual, the team wanted to create a different kind of all-day sweet shop offering less-common baked goods from Europe. The 32-seat space channels a modern Viennese coffee house with painted-glass windows and a large display case, and guests can watch the production process through an open view into the pastry kitchen. Mornings will bring strong brews from local roaster Compass Coffee and a mix of sweet and cheese danishes—baked fresh with high-quality butter to avoid the stiff, gluey quality of many commercial versions. Simple, cafe-style sandwiches on house-baked bread and savory turnovers will be available at lunch, alongside a daily selection of treats such as citrus-filled brioche buns, blueberry-yogurt tarts, butterkuchen (a German sugar-almond cake), coffee cake, and Viennese cookies by the piece or bag.

The shop will eventually stay open until 10 in the evenings for dressier, dinner-style desserts, such as the rich Viennese-style sachertorte, quark cheesecake, and chocolate-caramel tarts. Look for an expansion of both the menu and hours after the soft opening, which begins on Thursday, January 15.

Bakers & Baristas. 501 Seventh St., NW; 202-347-7893. Soft opening hours: 7 to 6 daily. Full hours: 7 to 10 daily.

Posted at 12:57 PM/ET, 01/05/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Snag tickets to the five-course tasting today. By Anna Spiegel
Upcoming Filipino restaurant Bad Saint pops up at Crane & Turtle this weekend. Photograph by Sam Vasfi.

The Filipino food craze continues with a pop-up of the upcoming Bad Saint restaurant at Petworth's Crane & Turtle on Saturday, January 10, and Sunday, January 11. Limited tickets are available starting Monday at noon, and given the lines chef Tom Cunanan drew at the last preview, you may want to speed-dial for reservations.

The $60 set dinner is meant to be an "intermediate-level workshop" in Filipino cuisine, according to co-owners Genevieve Villamora and Nick Pimentel. Both an "omnivore's menu" and a vegetarian version will highlight less common ingredients and dishes. More information on how to score reservations, taken by phone this Monday through Wednesday from noon to 3, is available on the event site.

Though Bad Saint will be the first Filipino restaurant in the District when it opens this winter, it isn't the only place to try the increasingly popular cuisine. Bistro 7107 in Crystal City has won fans with its sisig and other dishes, and there's always Restaurant Eve's January-long Filipino tasting menu, which changes daily.

Posted at 10:26 AM/ET, 01/05/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Greek fried chicken and other homestyle fare for the chef's first Maryland eatery. By Anna Spiegel
Chef Mike Isabella expands the Kapnos line, opening Kapnos Kouzina in Bethesda. Photograph by Greg Powers.

Big news from restaurateur Mike Isabella: The chef’s expanding empire will stretch to Bethesda this year with the opening of Kapnos Kouzina. The 5,200-square-foot Greek restaurant will be Isabella’s first in Maryland, located in the Bethesda Row development at 4900 Hampden Lane. A summer debut is expected.

While some restaurateurs opt for a string of nearly identical eateries, Isabella is using the Kapnos concept to explore different areas of Greek cuisine with each restaurant. The first, on 14th Street, centers on whole, spit-roasted animals and the cooking of inland Greece, while the upcoming Kapnos Taverna in Arlington will focus on seafood-centric coastal fare when it debuts this month. Kouzina (translation: kitchen) draws from homestyle traditions, and will be outfitted like a market with pantry items and wine on display, and bowls of fruits and vegetables throughout.

Executive chef George Pagonis—who's currently battling his way to the finals of Top Chef season 12—draws from his Greek family traditions for the menu, as well as his years working in his father’s Alexandria diner before moving on to grander kitchens such as New York City's Aureole and Zaytinya. While a selection of small plates can be found at all the Kapnos eateries, along with dips, spreads, and fresh-baked breads, Kouzina will focus on rustic, shareable platters for two to four diners. A few early examples include Greek-spiced fried chicken with wildflower honey, braised lamb in a stew of lentils, tomatoes, and eggplant, and whole roasted sea bass in a spicy clam broth. The eatery will also serve lunch, a first for a Kapnos and Isabella; the menu will boast the chef’s first-ever burger, naturally a lamb version. (Sorry, G fans, the close proximity of Taylor Gourmet means the team won’t be opening an adjoining sandwich shop like on 14th Street.)

Isabella says Kouzina might not be the last of the Kapnos line, but wouldn’t elaborate on specific upcoming ventures. Not that he isn’t a chef on the move; Graffiato Richmond just opened, Taverna should debut in Ballston within a few weeks, the Mexican cantina Pepita is scheduled for later this year, and Isabella has signed on to two airport concepts in California and Florida. And that's just what’s been announced so far.

“This is the biggest year of my life,” says Isabella.

Stay tuned for more details on Kouzina as the opening nears.

Posted at 09:00 AM/ET, 01/05/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Submit queries now to a special edition of Tuesday’s Kliman Online.

Each year after Washingtonian publishes its 100 Best Restaurants List, questions begin to pour in. How do we pick the places? Why isn’t a certain spot on the list? Do we really eat at all the restaurants?*

The anticipated issue just hit the stands, and Todd Kliman will devote his weekly chat to fielding all of your 100 Best queries in a special edition of Kliman Online. The session begins Tuesday, December 30, at 11, so submit your questions early.

*Short answer: yes, and many more.

Posted at 10:41 AM/ET, 12/29/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Patties and 14 shakes for DC and Maryland. By Anna Spiegel
The new Z-Burger truck hits the streets in January. Photograph courtesy of Z-Burger.

Local chain Z-Burger will hit the streets in the first week of January with a new food truck. The burger-mobile will operate in DC and Montgomery County, offering a street-friendly version of its restaurant menu: beef and veggie burgers, hot dogs, and 14 varieties of milkshakes.

Co-owner Peter Tabibian has been diversifying the fast food joint’s reach, including numerous giveaways and the addition of the health-minded Z-Sandwich in Tenleytown. The first truck is meant to be part of a growing fleet that will expand in 2015, along with more brick-and-mortar locations of Z-Burger; six currently operate in the area.

Posted at 08:47 AM/ET, 12/29/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
PETA leads a demonstration on Tuesday. By Anna Spiegel
Boundary Road is the site of PETA's foie gras protest. Photograph by Jeff Martin.

The debate over the cruelty versus deliciousness of foie gras is front and center again, thanks to H Street's Foie La La competition and reaction from PETA. The animal-rights organization has rallied to dissuade restaurants and diners from engaging in the ten-day foie gras tasting, where eight eateries including Granville Moore's and Ocopa compete to serve the best dish made with the delicacy, or what PETA calls the "diseased livers of tortured birds." The opposition will set up outside Boundary Road—whose chef/owner, Brad Walker, founded the event—and will stage three "waiters" (PETA members) wearing "bloody" (painted) aprons, serving "dead ducks" on silver platters.

Foie gras is a controversial ingredient, primarily due to the method of force-feeding ducks and geese so their livers enlarge. California went as far as to ban the stuff entirely in 2012. Groups like PETA argue that making foie gras is unusually cruel, and the culinary world is divided. Some welcome the ingredient into their kitchen—and even provide incentive to eat it, such as 1789's foie gras giveaway to Californians—while others like Wolfgang Puck have spoken out against it.

One restaurant scheduled to participate in Foie La La, Micho's Lebanese Grill, has dropped out. Partner Fady Joubran says that the casual Lebanese spot was drawn to the event as a neighborly competition, but wasn't aware of foie's controversial production method at the time.

"It's not something we offer anyway," says Joubran. "We didn't know this is how they feed the animals."

Walker, who started Foie La La last year, says he wants to be "respectful of other people's opinions," but will continue serving the liver and sponsoring the event.

"PETA stands for a lot of good things, but they're very miseducated about this situation," says Walker. "There's a lot of science behind what's actually happening to these ducks in the production of foie gras, and in comparison to the commercial production of beef, pork, and chicken, there's a lot of other things to worry about."

While Walker says the response to the foie gras festival has been primarily positive, he’s also fielded several complaints and has written an explanation of his views in response. You can read the letter in full at the end of this post.

The protest comes a little late in the game, since the competition for the best liver dish ends Thursday. Still, PETA is known for putting on a dramatic rally—lettuce bikinis, anyone?—so there's plenty of chance for impact. The rally starts Tuesday at 1, during the restaurant's lunch hour.

Read Brad Walker's response to complaints below.

Hi there. Thanks for making your opinion regarding foie gras known to us. Please take a moment to read our response to your opinion.

First of all, please know that we take the proteins we serve very seriously. We serve hormone-free meats and poultry, and sustainable seafood.

So why foie gras? How is this process described by PETA possibly humane?

First of all, let’s consider our source. PETA advocates the cessation of all human consumption of animal protein. We do not agree with this point of view. We feel animal proteins, produced responsibly as possible, are an important part of our diets.

Second, let’s compare the production of foie gras with commodity beef, chicken, and pork. Commodity markets lead to large production facilities designed to produce meats as quickly and as monetarily efficient as possible. Certainly their concern is not animal welfare. While it might seem counterintuitive, the production of foie is actually more attuned to the animal’s welfare than large scale operations. For example, if a duck raised for foie were confined in a way similar to battery chicken, the liver would be damaged and useless. It is necessary that the birds are allowed to move freely. Please visit the website of our producer here. Let us not forget, ducks are not physiologically the same as humans. The concept of force-feeding may seem terrible out of context, but please refer to the attached article regarding stress tests on these birds.

I think most importantly, I would like to speak to the reverence we have for this, and all, proteins. We are not scarfing utility beef in the form of a drive-in burger while driving down the highway. We are treating this modest portion of a specialty meat with the utmost of respect. That’s really what the argument is all about, isn’t it? Respecting where our meat comes from and taking the utmost care to prepare and enjoy what is truly precious.

I feel this clip concisely and clearly illuminates highlights of our argument.

Thanks for your time.

We respect your opinion and hope you respect ours as well.

Sincerely,

Brad Walker
Chef/Owner
Boundary Road Restaurant

Posted at 12:51 PM/ET, 12/22/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The "Top Chef" finalist leaves before she begins. By Anna Spiegel

Photo by South Moon Photography/Alissa Dragun.

News came last month that Top Chef's Lindsay Autry, a finalist on season nine, was taking over the kitchen at Dupont's Firefly. Now plans have changed, even before the chef really started at the restaurant.

A representative says Autry got engaged over the weekend to longtime boyfriend and Palm Beach Food and Wine Festival founder David Sabin. The two will remain in Florida. A new leader has yet to be selected to replace Todd Wiss, who's headed to other locations within the Kimpton Hotel restaurant group. Stay tuned for more details.

Posted at 11:53 AM/ET, 12/22/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
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 ()