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This tiny, clangy, brick-walled wine bar suddenly has plenty of competition on DC’s 14th Street. The good news: You’ll rarely find the hour-plus waits that were common when the place opened. Even better, chef Ron Tanaka is as solid as ever, executing a small-plates lineup that avoids flashiness in favor of a confident simplicity.
Unlike his former boss, CityZen’s Eric Ziebold, Tanaka doesn’t relentlessly change up his menu. Some of the best dishes—oil-cured tomatoes and goat cheese on grilled bread, a melty prosciutto-and-fontina sandwich on brioche, gloriously rich chicken-liver mousse—have been around since day one.
To go with your spread are blackboard wine flights and some 50 by-the-glass selections, all European. If you taste something you like, chances are you’ll find it inside the market the owners have opened a block away—the shop also features charcuterie, cheese, and prepared soups and salads. You can even buy a pot of that chicken-liver mousse, a dangerous thing to have around late at night.
Also good: Crostini with sliced avocado sprinkled with pistachio oil and salt; watercress salad with blue cheese and candied walnuts; lightly fried calamari and rock shrimp; roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon.
Open Tuesday through Sunday for dinner. Moderate.