10 Local Food Happenings You Should Know About Right Now

Live Oak, Sweet Home Cafe, Ocean Blue, and more.
Photograph by Evy Mages

1. District Distilling Co.

Former Bar Pilar chef Justin Bittner returns to the 14th Street corridor for an ambitious project that’s part distillery, part retail shop for house-made spirits, and part bar/restaurant serving Manhattan flights and crispy suckling pig—all in a group of 19th-century rowhouses. 1414 U St., NW.

2. Haikan

The ramen wizards behind Chinatown’s Daikaya and Bantam King are at it again, this time with roomier Shaw digs—including a 40-seat patio—and a new lineup of fun snacks (e.g., mapotofu poutine), Sapporo-style noodle soups, and creative cocktails such as sparkling sochu-yuzu sangría.. 805 V St., NW.

3. Field & Main

Ashby Inn veterans Neal and Star Wavra are behind this Virginia wine-country restaurant that embraces the hearth-to-table trend. A sister sandwich shop next door, Riccordino’s, specializes in Chicago-style subs. 8369 W. Main St., Marshall.

4. Live Oak

Del Ray has a new spot for creative Southern cuisine, courtesy of Justus Frank, a former head chef at Fiola and Eventide. Classic dishes receive modern tweaks, such as collard-stuffed tortellini and Buffalo-style pork cheeks. 1603 Commonwealth Ave., Alexandria.

5. Sweet Home Cafe

Chef/TV personality Carla Hall consulted on this 400-seat cafe in the National Museum of African American History & Culture. Dishes draw from four regions rich with culinary history: the Creole coast, northern states, the mountainous West, and the agricultural South. 1400 Constitution Ave., NW.

Haikan’s mapo tofu poutine. Photograph by Jeff Elkins
Haikan’s mapo tofu poutine. Photograph by Jeff Elkins

6. Ocean Blue

At this Loudoun County seafood spot, little sushi-laden boats float to tables via a 150-foot canal and elaborate aquariums are tended by an on-staff marine biologist. Chef John Kushner, an alum of the Bobby Flay empire, is behind a menu that draws from a global range of islands. 21438 Epicerie Plaza, Sterling.

7. The Emporiyum

Get your tickets now—one of DC’s biggest foodie festivals is bound to sell out. November 12 and 13, a national and local lineup of 90-plus vendors will take over Union Market, where you can watch chef demos while picking up trendy pantry items such as Sfoglini pastas and bacon jams. Tickets, $15 to $40 (VIP admission), are at theemporiyum.com.

8. Osteria Al Volo

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. Antipasti and house-made noodles, such as burrata-stuffed ravioli or pappardelle with lamb ragu—all under $20—fill the unfussy menu. 1790 Columbia Rd., NW.

9. Ambar Arlington

Restaurateur Ivan Iricanin expands to Clarendon, opening a sister restaurant to his Balkan original on Capitol Hill. A wood-fired grill turning out rotisserie meats and seafood is a new feature, though you can still find deals including all-you-can-eat-and-drink brunch. 2901 Wilson Blvd., Arlington.

10. Capitol City Mid-Atlantic Oktoberfest

Capitol City Brewing Company throws its 17th annual Oktoberfest celebration October 1 from noon to 7. The party includes more than 65 breweries pouring tastes, plus an oompah band, giant pretzels, and crowds. Tickets, at capcitybrew.com, start at $30. 4001 Campbell Ave., Arlington.

This article appears in our October 2016 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.