Get a Sneak Peek of Coconut Club, Bringing the Beach to DC

Chef Adam Greenberg hosts a "winter luau" at his forthcoming island-style restaurant near Union Market.

Chef Adam Greenberg will open the island-inspired Coconut Club near Union Market. Photograph via Facebook

Poke. Coconut-jerk chicken. Tropical drinks served in disco balls. These are a few of the fun island-style eats and drinks you’ll find when chef Adam Greenberg opens Coconut Club. The beachy bar and restaurant near Union Market is gearing up for a debut next year, and is hosting a “winter luau” in the space for a sneak peek on Tuesday, December 5.

Greenberg comes from a diverse kitchen background that includes a decade with Barcelona’s hospitality group when it was still a four-restaurant operation, and a stint with the Capital Grille. Most recently you may recognize his face from the Food Network’s Chopped, which he’s won three times. Still, the chef isn’t solely focused on the cooking for his first restaurant—he’s also about building relaxed island vibes.

“I like to stay the food and drink are complimentary to how you’re supposed to feel when you’re in the restaurant,” says Greenberg. “The goal is: This is a party.”

Though the space is still raw, Greenberg says the look will be “more of a surfy kind of bohemian lifestyle” than island-kitsch like pink flamingos. The food and drink menu will have strong Hawaiian influences and some from the Caribbean—though the goal isn’t to be “authentic.” (“I’m a white Jewish kid from the suburbs,” says Greenberg). Instead of poke bowls, you might find a classic poke—tuna, soy, onions, sesame—served with several vessels for scooping like lettuce wraps and taro chips. Other dishes may include a riff on Spam-fried rice, rotisserie jerk chicken with coconut sauce, and whole grilled fish with Jamaican pickled peppers. Instead of tiki drinks, the bar will focus on healthy, fresh-pressed juices that can be drunken as-is or used in cocktails.

If all of that sounds enticing, look out for a series of events and pop-ups that Greenberg is planning prior to opening (the long-term goal is a summer 2018 debut). The winter luau on December 5 will kick things off at 8 PM with a whole roasted pig, and a slew of industry friends including dishes from Maketto, Cotton & Reed rum drinks, and a sandbox/photo booth from the Little Leaf team, among others. A portion of the proceeds from the all-inclusive tickets ($60) will be donated to the Mowat-Wilson Syndrome Foundation—a personal cause for Greenberg, whose niece suffers from the rare disease. Not coincidentally, he’ll be competing for the charity on Chopped the same night (the show will play in the background starting at 10 PM).

“She gives me so much love, and it’s a real honor to do this show for her,” says Greenberg.

Coconut Club. 540 Penn Street, Northeast. 

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.