Food

10 DC-Area Restaurants We Can’t Wait to Try in 2019

New spots for Middle Eastern, Korean, and Greek are coming
Kevin Tien is opening Emilie’s.

It’s going to be a big year for sequels. Big names and rising talents alike are opening new spots, and—unlike Caddyshack II—we expect them to be as good as their predecessors. Here, the ten we’re most pumped to visit.

1. Emilie’s

1101 Pennsylvania Ave., SE
Opening: Late 2019
Chef Kevin Tien has turned out some of Washington’s most memorable plates (hello, uni toast) from Himitsu, his tiny spot in Petworth. Now his globally minded cooking is getting a bigger stage in Capitol Hill. A kitchen in the center of the 70-seat dining room will turn out fresh pastas, house-baked breads, ferments and pickles, and a number of daily-changing dishes. Much of the menu will circulate to diners on trays and carts, including a mobile oyster bar for tableside shucking. When the weather warms up, look for a patio, too.

2. Reveler’s Hour

1777 Columbia Rd., NW
Opening: Summer
The team behind Tail Up Goat wants to get even more idiosyncratic at their next, more casual restaurant, also in Adams Morgan. Or as co-owner Jill Tyler puts it, “It’s going to give us a playground to go down the rabbit hole.” Chef Jon Sybert plans to serve an expanded menu of pastas, vegetable dishes, and wood-fired items, but stay tuned for a burger night, too. A “handsome, old-school” bar will be a draw for wine lovers, thanks to star somm Bill Jensen and his menu of playful, rotating grape themes.

3. Albi

1346 Fourth St., SE
Opening: Summer
Former Arroz and Requin chef Michael Rafidi has left the shadow of Mike Isabella to open a Middle Eastern restaurant of his own. Albi—Arabic for “my heart”—will be rooted in Rafidi’s Palestinian ancestry plus his recent travels to Lebanon and Morocco. The ingredients, however, will be local: Rafidi is working with a Maryland farmer to grow produce specifically for the restaurant. He’s also partnering with Maxwell Park owner Brent Kroll on an adjoining outpost of the hip Shaw wine bar.

4. Jônt

Location: 1906 14th St., NW
Opening: Spring
Time is the big theme for Ryan Ratino’s 18-seat tasting counter, which will open above his restaurant Bresca. His ingredients—dry-aged quail, miso, spruce-tip vinegar—will require a lot of it. Given the proper time to ferment, Ratino explains, the results are “mind-blowing.” If you don’t have the couple of hours for the 8-to-11-course menu, Jônt will also offer à la carte “guilty pleasures” in its 35-seat lounge. Expect a mix of approachable highbrow (affordable caviar service) and elevated lowbrow (dry-aged beef-and-heritage-pork hot dogs).

5. Anju

1805 18th St., NW
Opening: Early 2019
A fire destroyed the Korean restaurant Mandu in 2017, but the Dupont Circle space will get new life as a Korean pub. Chefs Danny Lee and Scott Drewno—who are also behind Chiko in Capitol Hill—are devising a menu of snacks and Mandu throwbacks (such as bibim bap) to go along with Asian beers and soju infusions. A bar will dominate the first floor, but the most coveted seats will likely be the six-tops upstairs, where diners can book a prix fixe feast that culminates in jeongol, a bubbling Korean-style hot pot.

6. Mama Chang

3251 Old Lee Hwy., Fairfax
Opening: Early 2019
Chef Peter Chang’s next Chinese venture will pay tribute to the women in his life: his grandmother, mother, wife and pastry chef Lisa Chang, and daughter Lydia Chang, who runs his restaurants’ business operations. The menu will center on home-style Hunan and Szechuan dishes such as tea-braised egg-and-pork-belly stew and sweet-and-sour pickled cabbage. Many of the recipes have been passed down through generations of Chang family matriarchs.

7. Philotimo

1100 15th St., NW
Opening: Summer/fall
Nick Stefanelli—the chef behind the Southern Italian tasting room Masseria and the three-story Wharf trattoria, cafe, and market Officina (see our review)—is going Greek for his next act. The restaurant, in Fannie Mae’s new downtown headquarters, will import specialty cheeses, wild herbs, and olive oil plus highlight food and wines representing regions from Thessaloniki to the island of Crete.

8. The Imperial

2001 18th St., NW
Opening: Early 2019
Jack Rose Dining Saloon owner Bill Thomas set out to build one of the grandest dining spaces in Washington. The Imperial merges three buildings into one light-filled restaurant with an expanded home for cocktail den Dram & Grain below and a rooftop bar above. The something-for-everyone menu includes dry-aged steaks, house-made pastas, a raw bar, and lots of vegetable share plates. While Thomas is known for his vast whiskey library, here he’s assembled a collection of 400 other vintage bottles, including decades-old Chartreuse and pre-embargo Cuban rum.

9. Pennyroyal Station

3310 Rhode Island Ave., Mount Rainier
Opening: February
At Bar Pilar, chef Jesse Miller served the kind of standout bar food that made you wish you lived down the block. Now he’s opening his own neighborhood joint in Mount Rainier, along with industry vets Erin Edwards and Garrick Lumsden. The no-fuss spot will be open all day, with stuffed biscuits and coffee in the mornings and, at night, a veggie “charcuterie” board and truffled potato croquettes in onion soup.

10. The Block

967 Rose Ave., North Bethesda
Opening: Early fall
Annandale’s Asian food hall—a one-stop shop for everything from Thai noodle soup to French-toast egg rolls and doughnut ice-cream sandwiches —is expanding to a second, bigger location with a new roster of vendors. The 8,600-square-foot space, designed to look like an Asian night market, will feature a bar plus seven stalls serving street foods, Nashville hot chicken, breakfast sandwiches, and what co-owner Arturo Mei calls “cool Instagram desserts.”

This article appears in the January 2019 issue of Washingtonian.

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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.