Food

7 New DC-Area Restaurants to Try Now

Try green-chili chicken tacos with queso fresco at Mike Isabella's Pepita. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

In the District

Garrison

524 Eighth St., SE; 202-506-2445

The kitchen’s preserved vegetables stand in for flowers on each table. Photograph by Andrew Propp.

Vibrant jars of pickles on display hint at the meal to come at locavore chef Rob Weland’s first solo venture. (He was formerly at Cork and Poste.) A partnership with Maryland’s One Acre Farm influences the menu, filled with a bounty of vegetables—nettle-and-ricotta ravioli with chanterelles; yogurt-sauced eggplant—and wood-fired meats and fish. Bar consultant Gina Chersevani is behind such sips as gin with house-pickled peaches.

Masseria

1340 Fourth St., NE; 202-608-1330

A tasting-menu-only dining room in the middle of the warehouses flanking Union Market? It may seem incongruous, but former Bibiana chef Nick Stefanelli is giving it a go at this gorgeous industrial-chic dining room. The menus—including three courses for $62 and five for $84—showcase ambitious Italian dishes such as tripe braised in Sicilian lobster broth, and they can be paired with wines chosen by former CityZen sommelier David Kurka. An enclosed courtyard set with wishbone chairs and Spanish tile is the place to sample a rotating cigar selection.

The Riggsby

1731 New Hampshire Ave., NW; 202-787-1500

The Ticket to Cuba—with rum, yuzu, and sparkling wine—at the Riggsby. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Boston chef Michael Schlow—who also owns the Mexican small-plates spot Tico on DC’s 14th Street—is behind this retro, supper-club-inspired restaurant in the Carlyle hotel. Certain elements are truly classic—tablecloths, steak with béarnaise, Harvey Wallbanger cocktails—while others are riffs on tradition (try the jalapeño tater tots). Bringing the vibe into the 21st century are big, colorful paintings by the chef/owner’s wife, Adrienne Schlow, and a playlist that mixes Sinatra with the Afro-Cuban All Stars.

In Maryland

AG Kitchen

931 Ellsworth Dr., Silver Spring; 301-588-9400

New York chef Alex Garcia is behind AG Kitchen. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Tacos, frozen rum cocktails, and platters of seafood paella are all on offer at this Silver Spring spinoff of chef Alex Garcia’s Latin eatery in New York. The Food Network personality gets creative with the casual menu—burgers are glazed in guava, and the guacamole gets a dose of pomegranate—but returns to his Cuban roots for the lunchtime paladar, which offers quick-grab versions of ropa vieja and other traditional dishes.

Inferno Pizzeria Napoletana

12207 Darnestown Rd., Gaithersburg; no phone yet

Longtime Oval Room chef Tony Conte ditched fine dining last year to pursue a passion for pizza. The result: a 40-seat eatery specializing in Neapolitan pies. (Conte holds a hard-to-attain Vera Pizza Napoletana certification of authenticity.) When it opens in early September, look for seasonal pizzas and wood-oven-cooked fish and polenta.

In Virginia

Captain Gregory’s

804 N. Henry St., Alexandria; 571-281-005

The smell of freshly baked sweets greets drinkers at this intimate bar tucked behind a secret wall in Alexandria’s Sugar Shack Donuts shop. (Fun fact: The speakeasy takes its name from the inventor of the doughnut hole.) The menu mixes classic cocktails with house creations such as a blend of olive-oil-infused vodka and herbs, while sweet and savory bar snacks borrow from the Shack’s daily flavors—you can start with, say, a fig-Brie-and-bacon-filled Long John and follow it up with a doughnut sundae. Text for reservations Wednesday through Sunday—there are only 21 seats.

Pepita

4000 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 703-312-0200

Chef Mike Isabella is building a Ballston mini-empire—he’s behind the Greek Kapnos Taverna, the upcoming noodle bar Yona, and this colorful cantina and patio that takes cues from coastal Mexico. Barman Taha Ismail oversees an impressive cocktail list and tequila and mezcal collection. A small menu offers tacos, torta sandwiches, and platters heaped with roasted fish or smoked ribs.

This article appears in our September 2015 issue of Washingtonian.

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Anna Spiegel
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.