News & Politics

100 Best Restaurants 2012: Ten to Look Forward To

This year is going to be packed with exciting debuts—from big-name chef spinoffs to a raw bar with grand ambitions



3241 M St., NW

Graffiato chef Mike Isabella goes from Jersey Italian to modern Mexican in his second restaurant, in the Georgetown space that housed the seafood-themed Hook. Diners will nibble on duck and goat tacos, guacamoles, and ceviches, while bigger appetites can go for “carbons,” Isabella’s riff on fajitas. As at Graffiato, Prosecco will be on tap. Projected opening: early spring.



1837 M St., NW

Dupont Circle is closer to becoming Little Manhattan, with yet another New York import. This time Barcelona-born chef Marc Vidal and restaurateur Yann de Rochefort are transforming the former Penang space into a 140-seat eatery with a patio for sipping both wine- and beer-based sangrías. On the menu, look for seafood paella and a lineup of tapas, including bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with Valdeón cheese, quail-egg-and-chorizo toast, and garlicky shrimp. Projected opening: Early 2012.



705 Sixth St., NW

Ramen fever continues as Sushiko co-owner Daisuke Utagawa heads to Penn Quarter to open a bilevel izakaya and noodle joint. Former José Andrés protégé Katsuya Fukushima will helm the kitchen, which will turn out eclectic ramen bowls with toppings that might range from basil and mozzarella to Manila clams. In an upstairs tavern, patrons can knock back sake and snack on fried pork cutlets. Projected opening: Summer.



1124 Ninth Street, NW

Corduroy chef/owner Tom Power will unveil this more casual restaurant next door to his upscale DC dining room, Corduroy. Don’t expect lobster carpaccio here: Offerings on the blackboard menu will lean toward comfort foods suchas pizza, Jersey-shore-style hot dogs, and pupusas. Projected opening: Late summer.



200 International Dr., Baltimore; 410-223-1460

Chef/restaurateur Michael Mina will open his third place in Baltimore’s Four Seasons Hotel. A soothing izakaya that shares a harbor view with his adjacent tavern, Wit & Wisdom, it will have a small-plates menu featuring sushi, sashimi, and grilled dishes to share. Projected opening: February.



5335 Wisconsin Ave., NW

Top Chef alum Bryan Voltaggio has a lot on his plate–he’s opened a lunch spot and is working on a diner in his hometown of Frederick. Next the Charlie Palmer-trained chef will move to this spot in the Chevy Chase Pavilion mall for a more ambitious project, a meat-focused restaurant that will break the steakhouse pattern by serving lesser-seen cuts fired on a wood grill. It will also feature a bakery and wine shop. Projected opening: early fall.


Rasika West End

1177 22nd St., NW

Ashok Bajaj’s modern-Indian dining room, Rasika, is getting a twin–the first direct spinoff of any of his six restaurants–in a glassy condo building in DC’s West End. Popular dishes, such as the crisply fried spinach called palak chaat and black cod with honey and dill, will carry over to the 140-seat dining room, but look also for new creations from chef Vikram Sunderam. Projected opening: March.


Society Fair

277 S. Washington St., Alexandria; 703-683-3247

Cathal and Meshelle Armstrong expand their Old Town dining empire with this sixth venture, a market with bakery, butcher, demonstration kitchen, and wine bar. Sandwiches stuffed with the likes of braised short ribs with fresh horseradish cream will be available to go, or you can linger over three courses during dinners five nights a week, which will sometimes be cohosted by chef Cathal Armstrong and cocktail guru Todd Thrasher. Projected opening: Early January.



12505 Park Potomac Ave., Potomac

The team behind the Greek chainlet Cava is trading Mediterranean dips for rustic Italian fare, including charcuterie, wood-fired pizzas, and several varieties of meatballs. The dining room will have a rough-hewn, reclaimed-wood decor. Projected opening: Early spring.


Untitled Jeff and Barbara Black Project

2910 District Ave., Merrifield

Restaurateurs Jeff and Barbara Black head to Merrifield’s Mosaic District–a mixed-use development in progress–with an ambitious project: the biggest raw bar on the East Coast. Besides more than 25 varieties of oysters, look for Gulf Coast-style seafood dishes, wood-grilled steaks that have been aged in-house, and a menu of craft cocktails. Projected opening: Fall.


Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.