Food

8 New Restaurants and Bars to Try Now 

Breakfast tacos, miso-washed cocktails, and the return of a DC classic.
Ambar. Photograph by Evy Mages.

Ambar Clarendon

2901 Wilson Blvd., Arlington

Restaurateur Ivan Iricanin brings Balkan dining to Arlington with a spinoff of his Capitol Hill eatery (there’s also a Belgrade location). New to the 130-seat concept is a wood-fired grill for smoky kebabs, house-made sausages, and seafood, plus a rotisserie for larger cuts of lamb and suckling pig. Popular carryovers include a rakia bar for sampling over 50 varieties of the popular Balkan spirit, and the indulgent all-you-can-eat small plates brunch ($29) and dinner ($35).

Half Smoke, a sausage-centric playground, opens in Shaw. Photography by Evy Mages
HalfSmoke, a sausage-centric playground geared towards millennials. Photograph by Evy Mages

HalfSmoke 

651 Florida Ave., NW

Shaw’s new sausage-centric playground caters to millennials. Among the many draws for Generation Y: mini-funnel cakes, chef-y tater tots, mac n’ cheese balls, “turducken” sausages, unlimited toppings, Jenga!, and popsicles served inside margaritas. As for the menu, it’s wallet-friendly and highly-customizable, meaning you can order a gluten-free sausage salad (if you dare).

The new Johnny's Half Shell space in Adams Morgan boasts the original Cashion's sign in the dining room.
The new Johnny’s Half Shell space in Adams Morgan boasts the original Cashion’s sign in the dining room. Photograph by Jeff Elkins

Johnny’s Half Shell 

1819 Columbia Rd., NW

Veteran DC chef Ann Cashion and business partner John Fulchino debut the third iteration of their Mid-Atlantic/Gulf seafood spot in 17 years—now housed in the Adams Morgan space where they first opened Cashion’s Eat Place in 1995 (it’s a long story). Regulars of both eateries will find familiar elements, especially when it comes to Cashion’s cooking. Look for new dishes like summer chili-braised chicken alongside the classics (barbecue shrimp, luscious crab imperial).

Ocean Prime opens near the White House with sushi and steaks. Photograph by Evy Mages
Ocean Prime opens near the White House with sushi and steaks. Photograph by Evy Mages

Ocean Prime 

1341 G St., NW

Is sushi the new raw bar for steakhouses? That’s what it seems, at least in this particular micro-section of Downtown DC, where Mastro’s and Ohio-based newcomer Ocean Prime both serve elaborate rolls alongside rib-eyes. At OP, patron’s will also find hearty seafood entrees with sustainably-minded catches.

Union Drinkery's back patio will eventually host luaus and pig roasts. Photograph by Evy Mages.
Union Drinkery’s back patio will eventually host luaus and pig roasts. Photograph by Evy Mages.

Union Drinkery 

3216 Georgia Ave., NW

“No bullshit, no themes” is the mantra of this Park View neighborhood bar from the team behind A&D. To that end, expect to drink canned beer and $9 cocktails, and pad the stomach with dishes like fried catfish and poutine from adjoining sister restaurant Small Fry.

Tilt Side Bar takes over the former bocce room at Black Jack. Photograph via Facebook
Tilt Side Bar takes over the former bocce room at Black Jack. Photograph via Facebook

Tilt Side Bar 

1612 14th St., NW

Sorry, bocce fans—Black Jack’s courts are no more. Instead, you’ll find a separate back room bar with a pinball-heavy decor (but no actual pinball machines). There’s also a separate food and drink menu, both with unusual items—think a peanut butter-washed vodka cocktail, and lobster rangoon.

Delivery breakfast tacos are here. Photo courtesy Republic Taco.
Delivery breakfast tacos are here. Photo courtesy Republic Taco.

Republic Taco

Delivery-only

The same team that brought Texan kolaches to DC is behind this new breakfast taco delivery service. Chris Svetlik and Brian Stanford of Republic Kolache teamed up with Dacha chef Quinten Frye and UberEats for the venture. Simple bacon-and-egg tacos are offered alongside heartier combos (brisket, chorizo) from 8 to 11, daily.

Dirty Habit is dark, really dark. Photo by Jai Williams.
Dirty Habit is dark, really dark. Photo by Jai Williams

Dirty Habit 

555 Eighth St., NW

As far as restaurant themes go, this is a new one—insane asylum-chic, complete with a padded private dining room. The new Kimpton restaurant in Penn Quarter’s Hotel Monaco goes for an edgy, “pleasantly-uncomfortable” vibe. Chef Kyoo Eom stayed on at the property from the Poste days, and offers an Asian-accented menu that’s far from institutional (foie gras dumplings, kimchi-braised short ribs). Sarah Ruiz’s cocktails get equally creative, like the miso-washed Negroni.

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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.