7 New DC Bars and Restaurants You Need to Try Now

Red Apron Burger Bar dishes up grass-fed Virginia beef patties in combos like the Double Vision with pimento cheese, tomato aioli, and bacon. Photograph courtesy of Neighborhood Restaurant Group

Red Apron Burger Bar

1323 Connecticut Ave., NW

The folks behind Red Apron Butcher jump into the burger game in Dupont Circle. Chef Nate Anda exclusively sources grass-fed Virginia beef for the patties: Black Angus or lesser-known Ancient White Park. Offerings range from a classic single patty with cheese and “special sauce” for under $6, to more decadent options such as a double-beef-and-chorizo burger with tomato aioli and bacon-braised onions. Also on tap: chicken and veggie burgers, spuds fried in beef fat, soft serve, and a variety of cold brews from NRG beer guru Greg Engert.

La Puerta Verde brings Mexican flare and regional cooking to Ivy City. Photograph by Albert Ting

La Puerta Verde

2001 Fenwick St., NE

Restaurateur Ari Gejdenson (Ghibellina) just opened his third concept in Ivy City’s Hecht Warehouse development: a Mexican restaurant that joins Ari’s Diner and Dock FC soccer bar. The 85-seat cantina specializes in regional Mexican fare from chef Carlos Camacho, including coastal dishes such as ceviches and grilled whole fish in banana leaves, and a variety of tacos (three for $9). Wash it all down with margaritas, Mexican beers, and horchata. 

Servers shave slices of prized “jamon Iberico de Bellota” alongside fresh bread at Joselito. Photograph by Rey Lopez

Joselito Casa de Comidas

660 Pennsylvania Ave., SE

Get a taste of Spanish cafe culture on Capitol Hill at this lively eatery from restaurateur Javier Candon (SER). The all-day menu offers contemporary dishes, all of which can be ordered in three sizes: tapas, half-racion (entree-sized), or racion (family-style). Look for items like sherry-steamed clams, grilled Iberian pork, and a hangover chicken soup brewed table-side for those who indulged in the bar’s sherry cocktails and sangria.

Free State Atlantic Bar

501 G St., NW

Want a taste of Maryland without actually going to Maryland? Then check out this MD-themed watering hole in DC’s Chinatown. Co-owner Brian Leonard—a Free State native himself—is also behind Lost & Found in Shaw, and adopts a similar laid-back vibe for the new digs. Drinkers can order Mid-Atantic brews or Maryland-themed cocktails like a frozen rye slushy, and snack on Fisher’s Popcorn. For something more substantial, head to Bantam King ramen shop upstairs.

Three styles of paella are served at Pamplona, including this seafood variety. Photograph by Evy Mages


3100 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington

Clarendon gets a colorful new spot for tapas, though chef James Martin’s menu goes well beyond ubiquitous croquetas. The former Restaurant Nora head chef designed an ambitious Basque menu with modernist touches (i.e. Serrano ham with olive oil ice cream), plus classics such as paella and homemade pan con tomate with house-preserved summer tomatoes. Look for a 50-seat patio for sipping sangria in the spring.

Dig into gorditas with a cold Corona at Mezcalero. Photo courtesy Mezcalero.


3714 14th St., NW

Mexico City natives Alfredo Solis and sister Jessica Solis expand to Columbia Heights, spinning off their popular Logan Circle taqueria, El Sol. The roomy new space means a larger bar, which serves over 50 mezcals and cocktails from former Marvin bartender Arturo Zaloga. Diners can pick between a wide range of dishes on the regional Mexican menu, including 17 styles of tacos with house-made tortillas, ceviches, guisados (stews), and huaraches (house-made masa flatbreads).

Pit master Shawn McWhirter, a Hill Country Vet, has been with DCity since the beginning. Photograph by Jessica Sidman

DCity Smokehouse

203 Florida Ave., NW

Once housed in a takeout space, DCity is back and bigger than ever. The new Shaw digs allow for table service, a full bar with local brews and bourbon cocktails, and more meats. Pit master Shawn McWhirter—who has been with DCity since the beginning—dishes up pulled pork, brisket, ribs, and hearty barbecue sandwiches for lunch and dinner. Try the Meaty Palmer on Texas toast with smoked turkey, pork belly, avocado, and chipotle aioli.

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.