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).