New This Week: DC Restaurant Openings, Brunches, Happy Hour, and More

From discount drinks to outdoor lunches.

By: Anna Spiegel

Looking for a new happy hour spot? Hungry for eggs Benedict on a beautiful patio? Ready for a new restaurant? We have you covered on all fronts. The Washington restaurant scene is buzzing with fresh dining experiences, from newly opened eateries to lunches and brunches launching at established places. Here’s what’s new this week for a variety of cravings.

Boozy $3 punch and fried chicken

New fried chicken and doughnut hot spot GBD just rolled out its sit-down dinner menu and bar last week. Up this Thursday: happy hour from 5 to 7 Tuesday through Friday. Tonight’s specials include $3 glasses of punch, $4 Tempranillo and Riesling wines on tap, and $4 brews like De Struise Pannepot and Ballast Point Sculpin (the brews will rotate daily on the whim of brewmaster Greg Engert). Order up snacks such as smoked chicken skin chips or crispy Buffalo wings and make an early evening of it.

Lunchtime tacos and tortas

Richard Sandoval’s 14th Street Mexican spot El Centro D.F. just launched lunch service on Monday. Weather permitting, you’ll head up to the 45-seat roof deck—likely less crowded than it is on beautiful evenings—for the menu of guacamole, ceviche, tacos, entrée salads, and more. The ground-floor taqueria is the place to hole up with a steak torta and Dos Equis during springtime rain and scorching summer afternoons. The meal is served Monday to Friday 11 to 3.

House-made pastas in a cozy atmosphere

The highly anticipated Red Hen opened this Tuesday, and we got one of the first previews of the Bloomingdale Italian joint. Take a look through the pictures and menu to work up an appetite for rustic fare such as smoked ricotta crostini, house-made linguini with clams, and wood-grilled hen cacciatore. A plus for the inevitable weekend crowd in a 60-seat space: It takes reservations.

A (nearly) all-seafood menu

Craving crustaceans, raw oysters, and other fin fare? Then check out our photo tour of Azur, a new European-style seafood spot opening for dinner this Thursday. Chef/owner Frederick De Pue transformed the former Café Atlantico space into a nautical-themed eatery with a menu devoted to the sea. Think a full raw bar and caviar menu, truffled oyster croquettes, whole fish baked in a salt crust, and grilled prawns with popcorn grits.

Tableside steak tartare and a Champagne cart

A little decadence is never a bad thing, and that’s exactly what you’ll find at the swank Capella Hotel’s Grill Room and Rye Bar. The two officially opened to the public this week. Early birds can drop by in the morning for coffee and freshly baked pasteries on terrace tables overlooking the canal. In the evenings, comfy leather chairs in the Rye Bar are the spot for sipping a Manhattan before dinner, which could involve steak tartare prepared tableside to your liking and a rolling cart of Taittinger Champagne.

A prix-fixe brunch

In addition to opening an ambitious seafood restaurant this week (see above), De Pue is launching brunch this Saturday and Sunday at his Shaw neighborhood spot, Table. The three-course menu is $34 per person, and includes a pastry basket, a choice of appetizers, and main courses like stuffed French toast or baked eggs en cocotte with mushrooms and mustard cream sauce. Brunch runs through the weekend from 11 to 2, with reservations taken on the website.

Eggs al fresco

Stephen Starr’s Le Diplomate has been packed since the buzzy brasserie opened just under two weeks ago, so we’re guessing brunch—officially starting this Saturday and Sunday—will be no different. Get there early to snag a prime spot on the spacious outdoor patio, or snag a booth in the airy restaurant (a limited number of reservations are also available). The diverse menu allows for a variety of options, from a special-occasion meal with Champagne cocktails and a shellfish plateau to health-conscious egg white omelets Provençal to an indulgent double-patty cheeseburger “Americaine.” Brunch runs Saturday and Sunday, 10 to 3.