The 10 Hottest New Bars and Restaurants to Try Now

The 10 Hottest New Bars and Restaurants to Try Now
Cool down with iced coffees and cocktails at the Colada Shop, one of August's hot newcomers.

August may be slow when it comes to the government, but it’s white-hot for bar and restaurant openings. Get out there and start checking out the exciting newcomers before the big-time crowds are back in town.

The Brown bartenders: Tom Brown (left) of the Passenger and Left Door, and Derek Brown (right) of the Columbia Room, Southern Efficiency, and Eat the Rich. Photograph by Scott Suchman
The Brown bartenders: Tom Brown (left) of the Passenger and Left Door, and Derek Brown (right) of the Columbia Room, Southern Efficiency, and Eat the Rich. Photograph by Scott Suchman

The Passenger

1539 Seventh St., NW

It’s back. Barman Tom Brown’s beloved cocktail bar returns to Shaw after the original closed last year (ICYMI: brother Derek Brown’s Columbia Room was also resurrected nearby). Thankfully, many of The Passenger’s best traits made the transition: a laid-back vibe, knowledgeable staff ready to mix your every whim, and a chalkboard menu of unfussy cocktails around $10—try the expert gin martini. Also, stomach padding eats like pork cheek-chili nachos, a half-smoke, and kimchi-grilled cheese. The space is spread out over two floors—with eventual plan for a rooftop bar—but if it’s anything like the ol’ days, expect crowds.

Cocktails, coffees, and Cuban fare come together at the Colada Shop. Photograph by Brian Oh
Cocktails, coffees, and Cuban fare come together at the Colada Shop. Photograph by Brian Oh

Colada Shop

21430 Epicerie Plaza, Sterling

Barmini alum Juan Coronado and Daniella Señor—also a veteran of José Andrés‘s empire—open their first Cuban cafe in Sterling with chef Mario Monte. Guests can expect much more than Cuban sandwiches–though the version here should be great. The all-day-to-evening menu includes the signature colada—a communal coffee drink of espresso and whipped sugar—as well as creative cocktails like a Negroni with peanut-infused gin. Breakfast-goers can pick from pastries or Spanish-style tortilla omelets, while sandwiches and empanadas are served any time. A Logan Circle sister location is slated to open this fall.

Osteria Al Volo

1790 Columbia Rd., NW

A Union Market pasta vendor sets up permanent shop in Adams Morgan, continuing the tradition of  carb-loaded meals in the former Pasta Mia space. A simple menu of dishes—most under $20—includes antipasti and house-made pastas such as burrata-stuffed ravioli and papardelle with lamb ragu. Look for specials such as grilled bronzino, and upcoming cooking classes from chef Daniele Catalani (an alum of Roberto Donna’s Galileo).

Rasika chef Vikram Sunderam creates casual street fare for Bindaas. Photograph by Jeff Elkins
Rasika chef Vikram Sunderam creates casual street fare for Bindaas. Photograph by Jeff Elkins

Bindaas

3309 Connecticut Ave., NW

Don’t miss a new restaurant again: Subscribe to our weekly newsletters.

Rasika chef Vikram Sunderam and restaurateur Ashok Bajaj go casual in Cleveland Park for their new Indian venture. The wallet-friendly menu draws from regional street fare, ranging from familiar items like grilled kabobs to lesser-known specialties such as pao buns or Southern-style rice noodles with coconut and crab. Wash it all down with Indian beer and spiced cocktails. Try for a reservation or come early—the space adjoining Ardeo+Bardeo is cozy (35 seats) and wait times can stretch.

Ocean Blue opens in Sterling with elaborate aquariums and a canal for delivering sushi via boat. Photography by Jeff Elkins
Ocean Blue opens in Sterling with elaborate aquariums and a canal for delivering sushi via boat. Photography by Jeff Elkins

Ocean Blue 

21438 Epicerie Plaza, Sterling

Sea-to-table takes on a literal meaning at this Sterling seafood spot, which employs a full-time marine biologist to care for its elaborate aquariums. Little sushi-laden boats float along a 150-foot canal, carrying small dishes directly to tables (think an aquatic version of conveyor-belt Japanese). Chef John Kushner, an alum of Bobby Flay’s empire, is behind the menu that draws from a global range of islands—from Hawaiian poke to Caribbean fish tacos and plenty of tropical drinks.

Latin/Asian fare and creative cocktails come together at Sakerum, which also boasts a colorful rooftop bar. Photograph courtesy of Sakerum
Latin/Asian fare and creative cocktails come together at Sakerum, which also boasts a colorful rooftop bar. Photograph courtesy of Sakerum

Sakerum

2204 14th St., NW

Veteran barkeep Gina Chersevani (Buffalo & Bergen) is behind the creative cocktails at this Latin/Asian spot—and by creative, we mean creations like a flaming bowl of sake, rum, and yuzu garnished with six pieces of sashimi. Patrons can head up to the year-round rooftop bar, or settle in the dining room for elaborate sushi rolls (think lobster and seared Wagyu), ceviches, and yes—more small plates.

Kingfisher opens on 14th Street with a laid-back vibe, free popcorn, and daily happy hour. Photography courtesy of Kingfisher
Kingfisher opens on 14th Street with a laid-back vibe, free popcorn, and daily happy hour. Photography courtesy of Kingfisher

Kingfisher

1414 14th St., NW

The 14th Street Corridor has plenty of high-concept bars and restaurants, so this no-frills bar beneath the Sav-On-Liquors store is a pleasant respite. Canned beer and canned wine are staples at the bar, in addition to beer-and-a-shot combos, simple cocktails, and free popcorn. A jukebox and free board games provide entertainment.

Chef Alex McCoy dishes up po' boys and muffaletta at Tchoup's Market. Photography by Jeff Elkins
Chef Alex McCoy dishes up po’ boys and muffaletta at Tchoup’s Market. Photography by Jeff Elkins

Tchoup’s Market

3301 Georgia Ave., NW

Chef Alex McCoy brings a taste of New Orleans to Park View with a Louisiana-style cafe, housed in the former Alfie’s pop-up space. Patrons can dig into classics like po’ boys, gumbo, and barbecue shrimp, or try less-common eats such as yakamien (a Creole/Chinese beef noodle soup). A newly-revamped, covered patio is the place to settle in with a cold Abita beer.

Vola's Dockside Grill offers a place to eat and drink by the water in Old Town, Alexandria. Photograph via Facebook
Vola’s Dockside Grill offers a place to eat and drink by the water in Old Town, Alexandria. Photograph via Facebook

Vola’s Dockside Grill and Hi-Tide Lounge

101 N. Union St., Alexandria

Head to Old Town’s Torpedo Factory for this new waterfront bar and restaurant, courtesy of the hospitality group behind the recently-revamped Majestic and Virtue Feed & Grain. Diners can post up on the roomy patio or in the 160-seat restaurant for beach-y American fare like lobster rolls, crab cakes, and steamer pots loaded with shellfish, sausage, and corn. The adjoining Hi-Tide is smaller (38 seats) and goes for a retro vibe with vintage posters and tiki drinks.

Live Oak

1603 Commonwealth Ave., Alexandria

Former Fiola and Eventide head chef Justus Frank is behind the creative Southern menu at this Del Ray newcomer, designed by local talent Griz Dwight. Classic dishes and ingredients get a modern twist, such as collard greens-stuffed tortellini, head-on shrimp n’ grits, and Buffalo-style pork cheeks. Bring a bourbon to the cozy front porch to channel the Low Country vibe.


Questions or comments? You can reach us on Twitter, via e-mail, or by contacting the author directly:
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.