Well, that didn’t take long.
Only a day after Gypsy Soul, the Southern-leaning restaurant from James Beard Award-winning chef RJ Cooper, went dark, restaurateur Mike Isabella (Graffiato, Kapnos) confirmed by phone this morning that he will be taking over the space."
Isabella will install a Kapnos Kouzina in the space. The focus, Isabella said, will be on rustic, regional Greek cooking, with a raw bar and family-style sharing (Bethesda is also soon to get a Kapnos Kouzina). The chef was attracted to the space because, he said, of the design and the stellar open kitchen.
When opening a new place, one of the biggest decisions a restaurateur will make is what to call it. And while some names seem pretty random—Sally’s Middle Name, we’re looking at you—they’re part of larger trends. Here’s what the last few years have brought us.
Gypsy Soul is currently closed in Fairfax’s Mosaic District, and the shutter may be permanent. The restaurant’s webpage, social media, and OpenTable accounts are down. When reached for comment, chef/owner RJ Cooper was unable to verify the restaurant's status, referencing an ongoing legal dispute with the landlord.
Stay tuned for more details as they’re available.
Summer Restaurant Week: Hundreds of restaurants around Washington participate in Summer Restaurant Week, offering prix-fixe $22 lunches and $35 dinners. Looking for the best meals and deals? Check out our Restaurant Week guide, which includes menus at the top-rated restaurants, hot newcomers, pro tips, and more.
Drink more wine: Head to the Partisan from Monday to Friday for the return of Lambrusco Week—a celebration of effervescent wines from the Emilia-Romagna region. Each evening a selection of ten wines will be available at special pricing; wine director Brent Kroll will be on hand from 5 to 7 to discuss the varietals. Guests can pair charcuterie plates ($21 to $60) with the vino. Sister ventures Red Apron locations and B Side will also run Lambrusco-centric specials.
Cider fest: Sip six ciders from Millstone Cellars while dining on a five-course menu from the team at Birch & Barley on Monday. Call 202-567-2576 for reservations ($65 exclusive of tax and gratuity).
Birthday specials: Dupont’s stalwart Italian, La Tomate, celebrates its 28th year on Monday by launching a month-long series of specials (through September 17). Guests can drop by for a happy hour deal between 4 and 7 featuring a snack buffet and drink for $10, or opt for a three-course dinner ($28) that includes a salad or soup, choice of three entrees, and dessert; a glass of wine can be subbed in for the appetizer or sweet.
Anniversary party: Brookland Pint celebrates its first anniversary on Tuesday at 5 by throwing a family-friendly neighborhood party. A kids buffet (free with purchase of an adult entree) will be set up along with an arts and crafts room. 3 Stars Brewery presents outdoor games and brews, while kids can head to the free buffet (with the purchase of an adult entree) or play in an arts-and-crafts room. All can enjoy birthday cake. Admission is free.
Cake-pop class: Cook with your kids on Tuesday at Baked by Yael, which offers classes for kids from 10:30 and 1:30. Reservations ($35 to $45) are available online. Register early and receive a $5 gift card to the shop.
Pacific Northwest dinner: Mussel Bar & Grille in Bethesda hosts a Pacific Northwest beer dinner on Wednesday at 7. Dishes like geoduck pancakes, wild King salmon, and roasted elk are paired with regional brews. Tickets ($70) are available by calling 301-215-7817.
History & hops: The Heurich House Museum in Dupont Circle welcomes Blue Mountain Brewery from Afton, Virginia on Thursday from 6:30 to 8:30 as part of their History & Hops series. Take a tour of the historic home of DC’s early top brewmaster, and indulge in unlimited tastings. Admission is 21+ only, and tickets ($30) are available online.
Bitter end: Drink Lab returns for a final summer session at Salt & Sundry’s Union Market location on Thursday from 7:30 to 9. The evening features Dan Searing, Room 11 co-owner and author of The Punch Bowl: 75 Recipes Spanning Four Centuries of Wanton Revelry. He demonstrates how to best mix bitter liqueurs in a cocktail. Tickets ($60) are available online.
Truckeroo: The monthly gathering of food trucks returns to the Fairgrounds on Friday from 11 to 11. A variety of trucks like Arepa Zone, Cajunators, and Surfside will be in attendance, dishing up street eats alongside live music, cold beer, and corn hole. There is no charge for admission; food and drink prices vary.
Alexandria Restaurant Week: Just when Washington's Restaurant Week is heading into its final days (see above), Alexandria Restaurant Week begins begins on Friday. Over 60 restaurants participate in specially priced meals, mostly offering a) a dinner for two, or b) a three-course dinner for one, both priced at $35.
Block party: North Bethesda's Pike & Rose development hosts a block party and slider smackdown on Sunday from 1 to 4. Restaurants like City Perch and Stella Barra participate in the slider “taste-off,” as well as serving other dishes. Beer and wine are available for purchase, while entrainment includes sidewalk sales, kids activities, and more. Tickets for the slider tastings are $10 kids, $20 adults; admission is free otherwise.
Washington isn’t known as a barbecue town, but DCity Smokehouse is changing that perception. The popular Truxton Circle ‘cue spot will make its Fox 5 debut on Tuesday during a segment on the Ice & Coco talk show, starring Ice-T and wife Coco Austin.
Pitmaster Rob Sonderman and chef Shawn McWhirter debut at noon, engaging in a BBQ Throwdown against smokehouses in Phoenix and Atlanta. Their aspiring prize-winning dish: the Meaty Palmer sandwich, stacked with smoked turkey, pork belly, tomato and avocado, and sauce with chipotle-aioli and cilantro-ranch. The sandwich looks tougher to crack than an SVU investigation based on Ice's expression—we can vouch that it’s well worth the effort.
Tune in to FOX 5 DC on Tuesday at noon to catch the local competitors.
This cash-only dim sum parlor isn’t exactly leisurely—instead of choosing dishes from rolling carts, you order them off a checklist, and the servers work the room briskly—but few places deliver such great bang for your buck. Come ready to load up on the starchy stuff: a hearty bowl of noodles tangled with ground pork and bean paste, sesame-sprinkled biscuits, and thousand layer pancakes.
2) Cava Mezze
The original location of this Greek-themed local chain looks like it was transported from the old country and plunked down in outer Rockville. At lunch, you can score three mezze for $15—the lineup includes the excellent, jalapeño-flecked feta dip and skewers of grilled meatballs—or get souvlaki and gyros in slider form.
3) China Bistro
This humble dining room is one of our favorite Chinese spots in the region—a perennial on our annual Cheap Eats list. The part of the menu to hone in on is the dumpling section. They’re handmade and come by the dozen, and while there isn’t a filled bundle we don’t like, we’re especially fond of the shrimp-and-chive and beef-and-celery varieties.
If you’re looking for takeout, the Rockville Town Square branch of this Richmond-based grocery store has one of the better prepared foods sections we’ve come across. We go for the fresh crab cakes, creamy slaw, and roasted artichokes. The place focuses on locally made products, and the cheese and beer cases offer plenty of reasons for Marylanders to be proud.
5) Spice Xing
Sudhir Seth—who also owns Bethesda’s beloved Passage to India—is behind this color-drenched Rockville Town Square dining room. During the week, a lunch buffet runs $10.95 per person (it’s $14.95 on weekends) and is laden with salads, curries, tandoori meats, chutneys, and warm breads.
Late summer used to be a time for the hoi polloi to try out Washington’s most popular restaurants. But the rise of food tourism and the success of Restaurant Week—developed precisely to sustain eateries through the sparsely populated late-summer days—means reservations are tight even in summer. At Rose’s Luxury, near tourist spots on Capitol Hill, the line gets longer, while at the Red Hen in Bloomingdale, it’s business as usual on weekends, according to sommelier Sebastian Zutant. He recommends showing up at about 7 on a weeknight and haunting the bar to watch a patron eat dessert. Then, Zutant says, “pounce.”
But after August's booming month, there's a nearly 20 percent decline in the average tables served by month in DC. From 2012-2014, Restaurant Week has occurred in January, February (due to the 2013 Presidential inauguration), and August—noticeably the busier months for restaurants in the area. To avoid the long lines and wait times, try booking tables in September, October, and November, when restaurants aren't serving so many tables. Not only will you snag a spot at hard-to-get restaurants, you'll be supporting Washington restaurants during the late-summer, early-fall slump.
This article appears in our August 2015 issue of Washingtonian.