Adams Morgan is quickly becoming a great neighborhood for Asian comfort fare: hot stone cauldrons of bibimbap at Mandu, heaping Japanese rice bowls at Donburi, and Sakuramen’s many varieties of noodle soups. Now the team behind the last introduces more homestyle food to the neighborhood with BUL, which opened just before New Year's. Co-owners Jonathan Cho and Jay Park took inspiration from the street food served in pojangmachas in their native Korea, stalls dishing up grilled skewers, mandu, and other street eats. You’ll find similar dishes served in a 70-seat restaurant, formerly Cafe Toulouse; a mural of the French artist still covers the building’s exterior. Here’s what to look for when you go.
Mom-made kimchee, hangover soup
Many of the menu's dishes are meant to evoke flavors that Cho and Park grew up with, and this means literally starting at home. The kimchee is made by their mothers, served as a side dish or roasted and fried up with rice and Berkshire pork belly. Other pojangmacha-style items include a large variety of grilled skewers cooked over an open flame—the restaurant’s name means "fire"—with several options for the adventurous, such as chicken gizzards and hearts. You'll also find booze-friendly items like seafood pancakes, and those meant for recovery, such as odeng, a savory fish soup Cho nicknames “hangover soup” for its restorative qualities.
An Asian-style bar (eventually)
The restaurant is still waiting on its liquor license, but expects to add a bar soon. Once permits go through diners can sip a variety of Asian spirits and beverages, including a mix of soju, sake, beer, and magkeolli, a milky alcoholic drink made from rice. Cho says the goal isn’t to open a full, Western-style bar—no tequila shots—but to focus on drinks that pair well with the food.
Vegetarian versions of the classics
The meatless crowd does well at Sakuramen, which serves delicious veggie soups. Vegetarians and vegans can also find riffs on traditional meaty dishes here, such as bibimbap made with three varieties of mushrooms instead of ground beef, tofu with roasted kimchee, and vegetable skewers.
Local kombucha on tap
Fermentation fans can order kombucha served like beer, poured from taps at the bar. Local producer Craft Kombucha makes flavors exclusively for the restaurant, made with green tea.
Sure, Adams Morgan is known for its youthful bar-hoppers, but the dining scene is decidedly more grown-up. Case in point: reservations, which are available online via OpenTable or calling the restaurant.
BUL. 2431 18th St., NW; 202-733-3921. Open Tuesday through Thursday 5:30 to 10:30, Friday 4:30 to 11, Saturday 11:30 to 11, Sunday 11:30 to 10. Closed Mondays. Note that hours are subject to change once the liquor license is attained.
Fall is a busy time in Washington, particularly for the restaurant industry. Since September, a number of highly anticipated spots have debuted, as have more casual finds and reinvigorated classics such as Ray's Hell-Burger. Time to get ever busier eating.
6507 America Blvd., Suite 101, Hyattsville
Korean fried chicken lands in University Town Center, courtesy of the beloved international chain. New dishes on the Asian-fusion menu include bulgogi wraps and sliders stuffed with the crispy birds.
11219 Lee Hwy., Fairfax
You'll find Tex-Mex with plenty of flair at this Austin-based restaurant, where everything from margaritas to combination platters come Lone Star State-big. Head in for happy hour, when you can hit the car-trunk nacho bar for free.
931 H St., NW
Daniel Boulud's first DC restaurant likely needs no introduction, since the French-American brasserie is one of the biggest openings of the season, if not the year. So far we're liking the fried chicken, coq au vin, Grand Marnier soufflé, and people-watching.
517 H St., NE
A locally and seasonally minded restaurant in the Atlas District from two longtime industry vets delivers dishes such as spelt linguine with house-made lamb sausage and grilled swordfish with romesco. The healthy kids' menu is a rare find in the neighborhood.
749 Eighth St., SE
The opening of this Barracks Row sweet shop drew lines out the door for doughnuts and Compass Coffee. Unusual flavors include cannoli, lemon meringue pie, and caramel-apple streusel.
950 I St., NW
The swankiest version of the Del Frisco's chain comes to CityCenterDC with caviar service, $160 surf and turf for two, and a 1,200-bottle wine collection. Hopefully someone else is paying—but if not, there's a $25 lunch deal.
1150 Connecticut Ave., NW
Go meatless at this vegetarian/vegan chain out of California, which serves fast-casual fare alongside local beers and wines. There's even a bacon cheeseburger with smoked-tofu "bacon" and a house-made seitan patty.
515 15th St., NW
Former DGS Delicatessen chef Barry Koslow helms this elegant Mediterranean restaurant in the W Hotel. The lineup sounds pretty tasty, with crab and guanciale croquetas, black pasta with chilies and clams, and a lamb burger.
1817 Columbia Rd., NW
It may be fall, but it's always summer at this beach-inspired spot from the Cashion's team. Go for orange crushes, baskets of fried fare, peel-and-eat shrimp, and a boozy ice cream luge come dessert.
1650 Wilson Blvd., Arlington
Michael Landrum brings the shuttered Hell-Burger back to life across the street from the original location. Expect the same addictive burgers, plus free popcorn and a new menu of grilled cheeses (yes, vegetarians are now allowed).
2910 District Ave., Suite 170, Fairfax
A health-minded chain opens its first East Coast location in the Mosaic District, with menus based around the "anti-inflammatory" diet. Thankfully it's not too restrictive, allowing for grass-fed skirt steak tacos, chicken sausage pizza, huevos rancheros, and cocktails (a kids' menu is also available).
2121 P St., NW
The Dupont eatery closed temporarily to revamp its decor and menu. Now an Italian menu of pastas, pizzas, and secondi is served in the Art Deco-inspired space, with an emphasis on gluten-free noodles and doughs.
152 Waterfront St., Fort Washington
Longtime Washington chef Bob Kinkead designed the menu for this National Harbor restaurant. Look for plenty of Chesapeake-style fare, a raw bar, and boozy drinks in 52-ounce "Walrus bowls."
Find Anna Spiegel on Twitter at @annaspiegs.
Absinthe cocktails. Pork belly bao buns. Three styles of Asian fried chicken. These are just a few of the things you’ll find at Mama Rouge when the French- and Southeast Asian-inspired eatery debuts on the Georgetown waterfront October 14. We got an exclusive look inside the new eatery.
Husband-and-wife owners Aulie Bunyarataphan and Mel Oursinsiri operated Bangkok Joe’s in the space for 12 years before closing to revamp the design and concept. While Joe’s specialized in Thai food—as do their other ventures, Arlington’s T.H.A.I. and Tom Yum District—Mama Rouge draws from a mix of European and Asian traditions.
The drink list mixes Sriracha Bloody Marys with sparkling Calvados cocktails. More melding appears on the lunch and dinner menu in dishes such as orange-Sriracha fried chicken with soy butter, or a ham-and-cheese bánh mì. Other items fall into classic camps, such as French daily specials of steak au poivre and duck a l’orange, or crispy pork spring rolls alongside bowls of Vietnamese pho. A concise brunch menu offers crepes, pastry baskets, and savory scallion-crab pancakes. While prices aren’t pocket change, they’re gentle overall for a Georgetown waterfront restaurant.
The 100-seat dining room and bar also received a complete makeover, courtesy of Collective Architecture with VSAG. Vibrants blues and reds mix with more traditional French light fixtures and banquette seating. Come warm weather, you can sip boozy punch on a 30-seat outdoor patio.
Eager to try it out? Reservations are accepted beginning on October 6.
Mama Rouge. 3000 K St., NW; 202-333-4422. Opening hours: Monday through Wednesday 11:30 to 10:30, Thursday 11:30 to 11, Friday 11:30 to midnight, Saturday 11 to midnight, Sunday 11 to 10:30. Brunch served Saturday and Sunday 11 to 2:30. Find Anna Spiegel on Twitter at @annaspiegs.
The National Harbor has a new seafood spot with the opening of Walrus & Oyster Ale House, a 150-seat eatery by the Star Restaurant Group. Longtime Washington chef Bob Kinkead consulted on the seafood-centric menu, while Kris Carr is behind beachy beverages such as the Baltimore Crush. As the outdoor sipping weather lingers, take advantage of the spot's 75-seat deck. Here’s what else you should know.
The oysters: A “shucking bar” menu offers 15 varieties, divided into local and Atlantic or West Coast. Even more fun than slurping fresh bivalves is their names, including Sweet Jesus oysters from Maryland and Royal Miyagis out of California. Those looking for cooked varieties can order a basket of fried oysters and hushpuppies.
The other food: Fishy, in a good way. Seafood makes up most of the menu—think chorizo-stuffed clams, fried shrimp baskets, lobster rolls, and more. A number of dishes draw from Maryland traditions, such as a jumbo lump crabcakes and broiled oysters. Not into fin fare? Meaty eats include slow-braised beef brisket and barbecue chicken.
The drinks: Big and beachy. Groups can order boozy punches made with fresh fruits in 52-ounce "Walrus bowls," while ambitious solo drinkers can opt for 20-ounce goblets. Other sips include a raspberry Dark and Stormy and an Old Bay-spiked Bloody Mary made with fire-roasted tomatoes. And of course, you’ll find oyster shooters.
The poem: The restaurant gets its name from Lewis Carroll's poem "The Walrus and the Carpenter." A nod to the latter can be found in the wood-filled decor, while a portion of the verses can be found on the outside wall.
The future: For now the Walrus only serves dinner, but look for lunch and weekend brunch to start in the future.
Good news for Tex-Mex fans: Austin-based Chuy’s opens its first Washington location in Fairfax today. The funky chain has made a name for itself over 32 years, known for its “big as yo’ face” burritos, Elvis obsession, and intolerance for Bush-twin antics (hey, some margs are just worth breaking the law). Here's what you need to know about the Texas export.
The conversation piece: The “nacho car,” a.k.a. a nacho bar located inside a car trunk. If you’ve never scooped seasoned beef from the back of a vintage vehicle, you’ve been doing it wrong. The best part: Unloading this chip trunk is free during happy hour. Specials including $5.25 margaritas and $3 domestic beers run from 4 to 7 and weekdays, and you can pair your beverages with gratis queso, taco meat, salsa, and more.
The other food: Big and Tex-ican. The grande menu reads the same at all Chuy’s locations, but follows a homemade philosophy; the team promises salsa made every hour, fresh sauces daily, and tortillas rolled in front of guests. Prices are gentle, but plates are designed to be more than filling. Think fried chicken breaded with Lay's potato chips and smothered in green-chili sauce, Anaheim chiles rellenos, and blue-corn enchiladas stiffed with pulled chicken and topped with a fried egg.
The margaritas: Eclectic, and made with fresh lime juice. Traditional rocks or frozen are always options, but you can literally mix things up with a Grandma's Rockin' Rita—apparently Grandma liked hers stiff, in a pint glass with Grand Marnier—or a Texas Martini, where tequila, Cointreau, and lime juice are shaken and served up with jalapeño-stuffed olives. Booze hounds can also add a floater of tequila or various liqueurs to any drink; see the menu for all the options.
The Elvis shrine: Chuy's is a pretty colorful place, especially the spacious patio outfitted with fiesta string lights and bright red umbrellas. Indoors you'll find a rainbow-hued school of fish hung from the ceiling, another area covered with hubcaps, and pictures of local pooches above the bar. As at other locations, an Elvis shrine pays homage to the King, the "patron saint of Chuy's." Elvis fans can look forward to the annual birthday bash on January 8, commemorated at all locations with specials and plenty of impersonators.
The future: More Chuy’s! The chain has already penned a lease in the Springfield Town Center (slated to open in October), with other locations possibly on the way.
One restaurant’s bad fortune is another’s good luck. The eatery that was supposed to open at 700 Sixth Street, Northwest, was a beer-centric project called Townhouse Kitchen—but before it could be completed, the money evaporated. The space became available, and business partners Gus DiMillo, David Wizenberg, and chef Jeff Tunks saw an opportunity to expand their empire. (The team also owns DC Coast, Acadiana, PassionFish, and Fuego Cocina, among other local spots.)
Penn Commons, a sister restaurant of District Commons in Foggy Bottom, will still serve plenty of craft brews through 40 draft lines when it opens Monday. Just as many seats fill the large bar area, a boon for an eatery within blocks of the Verizon Center. A snacking-friendly lounge menu offers the likes of dips and spreads with grilled bread, pulled-pork hand pies, and crispy fried oysters. Also suited for pregamers is a selection of house-ground chuck and brisket burgers—plus veggie and chicken alternatives—taken from Tunks’s menu at Burger Tap & Shake.
The dinner—and eventually lunch and brunch—offerings closely mirror District Commons. New American and Southern influences dominate, from Korean-style pork chops with spicy barbecue sauce to shrimp and grits. At 10 each night, a bell rings for homey, family-style meals served at a communal table. The main difference on the menu here: a Thursday night “sausage fest” with a mix of grilled Stachowski’s meats, homemade kraut, and pretzel bread. A good bet to cap off the evening is a dessert menu with boozy milkshakes and three kinds of sundaes.
Penn Commons. 700 Sixth St., NW; 202-905-2999.
Find Anna Spiegel on Twitter at @annaspiegs.
One of the biggest summer restaurant openings is upon us with the debut of Gypsy Soul, which serves its first dinner on Wednesday night. The Mosaic District eatery is the second for chef RJ Cooper, who also owns Rogue 24 in Shaw. Here’s what to expect at the travel-inspired spot.
The vibe: Modern-rustic, much like the cuisine. The 135-seat space mixes wood floors and tables with exposed pipes and cast metals. An open “show kitchen,” where you can watch Cooper and his chefs at work, is the focal point of the room.
The crowd-pleasing food: A section devoted to macaroni and cheeses, anyone? Many of the robust, Southern-inspired dishes hark back to Cooper’s days at Vidalia, where he earned a James Beard Award for Best Chef Mid-Atlantic. You’ll find bread baskets filled with buttery rolls and sage biscuits, jumbo lump crabcakes with homey potato salad, and short ribs atop Carolina-rice risotto. A few items also nod to Cooper’s Detroit upbringing, such as a cheffy version of a Greek diner salad (think barrel-aged feta and house-pickled beets instead of canned).
The more adventurous food: “Beef marrow/sea urchins/antler mustard/ink toast.” Menu descriptions like this one look like they’re off Rogue’s modernist menu, though you won’t find tweezers in the Gypsy kitchen. The actual dish is more rustic than it sounds (translation: roasted bone marrow topped with uni and mustard greens). Lovers of other oddities can find Asian-style lettuce wraps with crispy pig ears and fermented cucumbers, chicken-skin cracklings, and a stuffed pork head.
The drinks: Inspired by travel. Cocktail expert Bryan Tetorakis (aka the “Cheftender”) has carved his own niche at Rogue 24, running a separate drinks tasting menu. Here you’ll find similarly creative sips, such as the Gnome, with vodka, Aperol, black pepper, and liquid arugula. The wine and beer list reads majority local and American. House-made sodas and fresh-brewed peach tea are on tap for the non-drinking crowd, along with a selection of La Colombe coffees.
The conversation piece: Biker-inspired bar stools. The comfy leather perches were modeled after Cooper’s own motorcycle, named Pumpkin for its orange coloring. Another fun fact: His license plate reads “BRAISE.”
On the horizon (short-term): Lunch and brunch. Saturday and Sunday brunch are expected to start the weekend after Labor Day, with afternoon service to follow. Entrée salads and more sandwiches are planned for lunch—we’re looking forward to trying that “redneck cheesesteak”—while brunch will bring Bloody Marys galore and over-the-top dishes such as duck confit hash with duck eggs and foie gras béarnaise, and fried chicken and waffles.
On the horizon (long-term): Big dishes and an ever bigger rooftop. Once the kitchen hits its stride, you’ll find a number of platters for two in each section of the menu, such as whole roast fish, racks of ribs, and slate-roasted 30-ounce rib eye. As for outdoor dining, the restaurant’s 80-seat rooftop is scheduled to debut in spring 2015.
Gypsy Soul. 8296 Glass Alley, Fairfax; 703-992-0933. Reservations accepted. Open (currently) for dinner, Monday through Thursday 5:30 to 10, Friday and Saturday 5:30 to 11:30, Sunday 5 to 9. Lunch and brunch to follow.
Find Anna Spiegel on Twitter at @annaspiegs.
The W Hotel has kept its new restaurant concept pretty hush-hush since Jean-Georges Vongerichten ended his contract for J&G Steakhouse in June. Today the hotel announced what will take its place: Pinea, a contemporary southern European restaurant focusing on the cuisines of France, Italy, and Spain.
Chef Barry Koslow, who parted ways with DGS Delicatessen last month, was already tapped to helm the new kitchen. Though the menu is still being developed, you can expect Mediterranean flavors, house-made pastas, and plenty of seafood. A merenda section of the menu, meaning “snack” in Italian, will be devoted to shareable plates of cheeses, charcuterie, pissaladière (savory, pizza-like pastries), and more.
Pinea, named after southern European pine trees, will open in September. Stay tuned for more details as they develop.
Find Anna Spiegel on Twitter at @annaspiegs.
More fried chicken for all: Boss Shepherd’s, Washington’s newest Southern spot, debuts on Monday. The seasonal American restaurant from J. Paul’s founder Paul Cohn opens for lunch and dinner next to the Warner Theatre.
Chef Jeremy Waybright, formerly of Alexandria’s Union Street Public House, serves up a menu that mixes classic and riffed-upon Southern dishes. Think Parker House rolls spread with sweet-cream butter, pork roast with corn succotash, pot pie “fritters” with sage-sausage gravy, and fried chicken with smoked egg yolk, butter-poached radishes, and biscuits. The lunchtime crowd may draw from a variety of sandwiches and burgers, including pastrami salmon with dill cream or local mushrooms on a pretzel roll with Mornay sauce. Waybright has already begun sourcing from a number of farms within the Chesapeake watershed for ingredients.
No Southern-inspired restaurant would be complete without whiskey. Brown-liquor fans will find two five-gallon barrels of A. Smith Bowman reserve behind the bar, as well as local spirits and beers, and 35 wines by the glass. Should you drop by for a first-date drink, here’s your icebreaker/fun fact: The restaurant is named for Alexander “Boss” Shepherd (a.k.a. the father of Modern Washington), a powerful city boss who revitalized the District after the Civil War.
Boss Shepherd’s. 1299 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 202-347-2677. Open at 11 for lunch and dinner Monday through Friday. Open at 4 on Saturday. Closed Sunday.
Find Anna Spiegel on Twitter at @annaspiegs.