Recess Tapas Lounge Opens Tonight (Menu)

Fuel up on Latin-inspired small plates before you hit the dance floor—or the mojitos.

Tapas are serious business for chef Will Vivas. Photograph courtesy of Recess Tapas Lounge.

Nightclubs aren’t generally known for super-tasty food, but chef Will Vivas wants to challenge that mindset with the Recess Tapas Lounge. The subterranean dance spot Recess Lounge has been open since 2009, but co-owners Brandon Howard and Fisayo Esconsay are looking to draw an early-evening crowd with a 59-seat dining room that will serve Vivas’s small plates menu until 10 PM, when the deejays take over.

A newcomer to Washington, Cuban-born Vivas literally grew up in a commercial kitchen—in Venezuela, where his mother ran a small restaurant inside their house. Later, he moved to the States to attend a four-year culinary program in New York City. He opened his first restaurant in New Jersey at 22, and recently gave up his well-reviewed namesake venture, Vivas, in Belmar, New Jersey, citing the difficulty of running a 240-seat restaurant in an area hit hard by the economic slump.

Latin-inspired dishes on the menu include mushrooms “aged” for more than a month in spiced balsamic, a seared lamb chop with rosemary demi-glace, and crispy chicken or cod croquettes. Vivas is also making miniaturized versions of traditional homestyle (i.e., filling) items, like Peruvian lomo saltado (marinated steak topped with fries) and Cuban-style empanadas. You’ll also find summery drinks such as mojitos and pitchers of sangria sweetened with passion-fruit syrup. Doors open at 4:30 PM; don’t forget your dancing shoes.

Recess Tapas Lounge. 727 15th St., NW; 202-637-7667. Open Tuesday through Saturday, 4:30 to 10 PM (last seating at 9:30 PM).

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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.