Food

Donburi Opens a Fast-Casual Shop Near Dupont Circle on Monday

The Adams Morgan eatery expands with more Japanese rice bowls.
Salmon sashimi bowls at Donburi. Photo by Scott Suchman

Popular Adams Morgan restaurant Donburi is opening a second location near Dupont Circle on Monday. Owner James Jang will serve the eatery’s eponymous Japanese rice bowls in a multi-story space at 1134 19th St., NW (formerly Sophie’s Cuban) for lunch and dinner.

While the original shop on 18th Street only has 14 stools tucked around an L-shaped counter, the new Donburi will seat 60 customers in a fast-casual setup. Patrons will order at a counter, and then take buzzers to their tables that’ll signal when orders are ready. For the first week, Jang says the menu will be limited to rice bowls with fried toppings, including chicken karaage, crispy shrimp, and panko-crusted pork. Opt for sweet-savory donburi sauce with caramelized onion and egg, or tangy Japanese curry that’s stewed for nearly two days.

Just because service is fast-casual doesn’t mean the bowls are customizable (kudos for that). Next week, the menu will expand with more options, with a few cross-over dishes from Adams Morgan like salmon sashimi, and new offerings including slow-cooked pork belly and a vegan mapo tofu. Jang says a liquor license is in the works for September, and he’ll eventually add more small side plates for variety.

The block of 19th Street where Donburi is opening has seen a slew of recent closures, including former tenant Sophie’s, Science Club, Bonfire, and Smith & Wollensky (though on a positive note, Nooshi and the Greek Deli have lasted over a decade, and a Wawa is opening across the street).

“People call it the place where restaurants go to die, but I only found this out after we signed the lease,” says Jang. “I guess we’ll see.”

Donburi. 1134 19th St., NW. Opening Monday, August 28. Daily hours 11 AM to 10 PM. 

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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.