Food

The Top 12 DC-Area Restaurants Coming in 2020 (Ranked!)

Get excited for Indian-inspired cocktails, udon noodles, and sustainable vegetarian fare

Chef Darren Norris will serve shabu shabu at his forthcoming Adams Morgan restaurant Shabu Plus. Photograph by Havr Espedal.

The year has already kicked off with some blockbuster restaurant openings. The team behind Tail Up Goat opened their new pasta and wine bar, Reveler’s Hour, in Adams Morgan. (We are early fans of the dry-aged meatballs with citrusy polenta.) Meanwhile, a who’s who of Washington joined famed New York restaurateur Danny Meyer for the splashy debut of his Roman seafood trattoria Mare Maialino in Navy Yard last night. And there’s much more to come. We’ve ranked the top 12 openings of 2020 below.

12. Huevos

4000 Wilson Blvd., Suite C
Opening: Spring
Chef Victor Albisu could eat eggs all day, and at his next restaurant, you can too. The Poca Madre and Taco Bamba owner is taking over a Ballston space previously occupied by Mike Isabella for a venture dedicated to eggs in many forms—baked into empanadas, mixed into a salad with caviar, whipped into airy soufflé pancakes, and much more.

11. Cranes

724 9th St., NW
Opening: Winter
Spanish meets Japanese cuisine at this Penn Quarter spot from chef Pepe Moncayo, who comes to DC from Singapore with a Michelin-riddled resume. The a la carte and “Spanish kaiseki” (i.e. tasting) menus will feature dishes like a baby shrimp torta with tamarind romesco as well as padron peppers with sesame sauce and bonito flakes. A “sake lounge” will offer an extensive selection of sakes and cocktails plus snacks.

10. Pennyroyal Station

3310 Rhode Island Ave., Mount Rainier
Opening: February
Chef Jesse Miller served some of the city’s best bar food (and a killer bar brunch) during his tenure at Bar Pilar. But over the past year-plus, he’s been working with industry vets Erin Edwards and Garrick Lumsden to ready his own neighborhood spot. Pennyroyal will be open all day, offering buttered biscuits with fried chicken in the mornings and mac and cheese with smoked brisket and bone marrow at dinner.

9. Daru

1451 Maryland Ave., NE
Opening: Spring
Chef Suresh Sundas and barman Dante Datta met as part of the opening team at Rasika West End. Eight years later, they’re bringing their talents to their own drinking (and eating!) destination focused on Indian flavors. Spiced cocktails will riff on classics—an old-fashioned with jackfruit or Scotch and soda with gooseberries—while food is designed for snacking. Expect spicy duck kebabs, stuffed paratha, and masala peanuts, plus a few larger dishes like chicken tikka masala.

Call Your Mother and Timber Pizza’s Andrew Dana and Daniela Moreira are opening a “sorta South American” restaurant next. Photo courtesy Mercy Me.

8. Mercy Me

1143 New Hampshire Avenue, NW
Opening: March
Andrew Dana and Daniela Moreira have built quite the following for their “Jew-ish” deli bagels at Call Your Mother and “Neapolitan-ish” pies at Timber Pizza. For their next act, they’re opening a “sorta South American” all-day cafe, restaurant, and bar inspired by Moreira’s Argentinian roots. The duo have tapped former Doi Moi chef Johanna Hellrigl to oversee a menu with acai bowls and empanadas and barman Micah Wilder to stir up Argentinian aperitivi and other tropical cocktails.

7. Makan

3400 11th St., NW
Opening: Late January
Former Maketto and Spoken English chef James Wozniuk is diving into Malaysian food at his new Columbia Heights restaurant (and already-open sports bar, Thirsty Crow, downstairs). The cuisine brings together influences from throughout the Asian and Muslim worlds with dishes such as roti jala (net-like crepes served with curries for scooping), spicy house-made noodles, or petai (“stink beans” that look like fava beans “but smell like gasoline.”) Weekend dim-sum is also in the works.

6. Shibuya Eatery

2321 18th St., NW
Opening: February
Chef/restaurateur Darren Norris has finally answered our prayers for an udon restaurant in DC—and then some. The former owner of Kushi (a pioneering izakaya in DC) is opening three spots under one roof. Shibuya Eatery will serve up handmade soba and udon noodles as well as kushiyaki skewers. Above that, Shabu Plus will offer shabu shabu and a modern kaiseki tasting menu. And on the top floor, Death Punch Bar will be an unfussy destination for pool and cocktails.

Brother and sister Ken and Aki Ballogdajan will serve creative sushi at The Roost. Photograph by Stacey Windsor.

5. The Roost

1401 Pennsylvania Ave., SE
Opening: First quarter
Yes, another food hall. But there’s a lot to look forward to at this particular “culinary clubhouse” from Neighborhood Restaurant Group (the folks behind Iron Gate, The Partisan, Bluejacket, among others). The 12,500-square-foot space will bring together 12 concepts, including an all-day coffee shop, a sushi counter from the siblings behind Kenaki in Gaithersburg, a red-sauce Italian American joint, a taco spot from Red Apron chef and butcher Nate Anda, and another location of Red Apron with poutine and charcuterie. The venue will also have two bars devoted to low-ABV drinking—Shelter with 50 taps and Show of Hands serving wine and cocktails using house-made spirits.

4. Tonari

707 6th St., NW
Opening: Winter
The team behind DC’s top ramen joints (Daikaya, Haikan, Bantam King, Hatoba) is branching out beyond noodle soup at this Chinatown spot replacing Graffiato. The restaurant will specialize in “wafu” pasta and pizza—the Japanese take on the Italian staples. Think spaghetti with spicy fish roe and pillowy pies topped with clam and miso.

3. Jônt

1906 14th St., NW
Opening: March/April
Chef Ryan Ratino is getting even more ambitious with this 18-seat tasting counter above his modernist hotspot Bresca. Ratino will experiment with his own dry-aged meats, vinegars, misos, and lacto-fermented fruits and vegetables for the 8-to-11 course menu. A 35-seat lounge will offer à la carte “guilty pleasures,” including affordable caviar service.

2. Oyster Oyster

1440 Eighth St., NW
Opening: January/February
Former Hazel chef Rob Rubba has given up meat and teamed up with Estadio owner Max Kuller (a fellow vegetarian) and bar talent Adam Bernbach to open a place where sustainability is a driving force. Oyster Oyster refers to the bivalve and the mushroom—both ingredients with environmental benefits that will make appearances on Rubba’s $49 four-course menu of local “vegetable cookery.” Meanwhile, the bar will serve organic, biodynamic wines and cocktails utilizing kitchen scraps.

Chef Michael Lee Rafidi will open Albi in Navy Yard along with sommelier Brent Kroll, who’s set to debut another Maxwell Park. Photograph by Scott Suchman

1. Albi

1346 Fourth St., SE
Opening: Winter
Chef Michael Lee Rafidi created gorgeous (and delicious) plates helming the kitchens of Mike Isabella‘s Arroz and Requin. His forthcoming Middle Eastern restaurant—whose name is Arabic for “my heart”—will be rooted in his Palestinian ancestry plus travels in the Levant region of the Middle East. While the inspiration is global, Rafidi is sourcing local with Maryland produce grown specifically for the restaurant. He’s also partnering with Maxwell Park owner Brent Kroll on an adjoining outpost of the hip Shaw wine bar.

Correction: This story initially misidentified Shabu Plus as Shibuya Plus. It also included the wrong address for Oyster Oyster.

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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.