10 DC Restaurants We Can’t Wait to Try in 2018

From Italian to Thai to Tex-Mex, there's a lot to get excited about
Tuna sashimi with beets, apples, and a truffle vinaigrette from a Gravitas pop-up at Mess Hall. Photograph by Ronald Flores.

The Wharf continues to develop, big names are planning splashy debuts, and some familiar locals are breaking out on their own in 2018. Here are ten places that will get you psyched about dining out this year.

Chloe
1331 4th St, SE
Opening: January 5

Chef Haidar Karoum has been out of the spotlight since leaving his post overseeing EstadioDoi Moi, and Proof almost two years ago. Now he’s back with a place all his own, drawing on cuisines from his professional past, upbringing, and travels. The eclectic dinner menu includes masa soup alongside gnocchi carbonara with smoked king oyster mushrooms, while lunch (coming in the next few weeks) will offer up a classic banh mi and noodle bowls.

A Rake’s Progress
1770 Eucild St., NW
Opening: End of January

Spike Gjerde, the Baltimore star behind Woodberry Kitchen, is finally bringing his Mid-Atlantic cooking to DC. His Adams Morgan restaurant in the hip new Line Hotel will serve local game cooked from a wood-burning hearth and salads assembled tableside. A sister cocktail joint (A Rake’s Bar) and lobby coffee shop (The Cup We All Race 4) are already open.

Kaliwa
751 Wharf St., SW
Opening: Late January/early February

Restaurant Eve chef Cathal Armstrong is turning a love affair with Asian food into a steady relationship at the Wharf. His menu will bring together three of his favorite cuisines—Filipino, Thai, and Korean—though not as fusion. Instead, Kaliwa will serve lumpia spring rolls alongside Thai dumplings and homemade kimchi, while street snacks will be sold from a revamped Airstream trailer on the boardwalk. Armstrong and his business partner, barman Todd Thrasher, are also opening a neighboring rum distillery and tiki bar called Potomac Distilling.

Spoken English
1770 Eucild St., NW
Opening: February

Tachinomiya—standing room-only restaurants—have become quite trendy in Japan. Chef and restaurateur Erik Bruner-Yang will soon see if he can make the concept catch on in DC, too. His team will offer share plates like chicken skewers and roast duck from a wood-burning grill in a first-come, first-serve space fit for up to 16 guests. To drink: sake cocktails and beers. This will be his second Line hotel restaurant; He also recently opened Brothers and Sisters serving Asian-inflected American classics.

Sushi Nakazawa
1100 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Opening: March

New York restaurateur Alessandro Borgognone has gotten off to a controversial start. For one, he’s opening the second location of his sushi omakase restaurant in the divisive Trump hotel. For another, he made a few insulting comments about DC’s restaurant scene out of the gate. Still, we can’t help but have high expectations for a restaurant that’s received four stars from the New York Times and whose chef, Daisuke Nakazawa, is an apprentice of Jiro Ono, the Tokyo sushi master featured in Jiro Dreams of Sushi. The place will also have a “maritime liaison,” who travels the country to build relationships with fishermen and secure the very best seafood.

St. Anselm
1250-1274 5th St., NE
Opening: Spring

After the smash success of Le Diplomate, we’ve been curious to see what Philadelphia restaurateur Stephen Starr will do next in DC. Turns out he’s partnering with New York restaurateur Joe Carroll to open a second location of Brooklyn steakhouse St. Anselm. Expect much more than ribeyes, though. The menu will include all kinds of grilled foods, from sardines to artichoke hearts to lamb chops. The Union Market-area restaurant will also feature regular “beefsteak dinners” where guests wear aprons and eat with their hands from big, passed-around platters of meat.

Officina by Nicholas Stefanelli
The Wharf
Opening: Spring

Masseria chef/owner Nicholas Stefanelli is going even bigger with a three-story establishment at the Wharf. On the ground floor, you’ll find an Italian market with fresh pastas, cheeses, seafood, meats, and other products the chef loves to use in his own cooking. Upstairs, an 80-seat trattoria will offer a pasta-centric Southern Italian menu. Above that, an al fresco rooftop wine bar.

Gravitas 
1401 Okie St., NE
Opening: Early 2018

It seems like Matt Baker‘s Ivy City restaurant has been delayed forever (it made this list last year), but the chef swears it’s really coming. When it opens in the former Pappas Tomato factory, Gravitas will let diners build their own four- to seven-course tasting menus. Baker will invoke his Southern upbringing and world travels for dishes like sunchoke veloute with poached lobster as well as beets braised like short ribs. (Half of the menu is vegetarian). A rooftop garden will help supply the kitchen and a greenhouse bar.

Reverie
3210 Grace St., NW
Opening: Late spring

Johnny Spero has honed his skills at Minibar and Columbia Room. Now, the 32-year-old is about to embark on his first solo venture, Reverie, in Georgetown. Expect a modernist menu with dishes like celeriac roasted in hay and fig leaves with caramelized carrot juice and lemon verbena or lovage ice cream with a preserved berries and chamomile compote.

Republic Cantina
57 N St., NW
Opening: Summer

DC isn’t exactly known for great Tex-Mex, but Texas native and Republic Kolache founder Chris Svetlik is looking to show Washingtonians that it’s more than a “bastardized, gringo version of Mexican food.” His new Truxton Circle cantina will serve kolaches (stuffed sweet and savory pastries), coffee, and breakfast tacos in the mornings. For lunch and dinner, expect classics like fajitas and enchiladas, but also Texas-style barbecue and Texas toast sandwiches.

Additional reporting by Anna Spiegel. 

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Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.