Food

15 Exciting DC-Area Bars and Restaurants That Opened in July

Outdoor bars, carryout kitchens, and full-scale restaurants make their debut during a pandemic.

A Japanese rice bowl at chef Erik Bruner-Yang's new kissaten-inspired Cafe Spoken. Photograph courtesy of Foreign National.

It’s an incredibly difficult time for restaurants and bars right now. But in spite of it all, a number of independent businesses are still opening and expanding their services around DC. All of these places debuted in July, from full-on restaurant openings to ghost kitchen launches, carryout-only operations and outdoor food and drink gardens. Remember: double check hours and reservation policies before you make plans, as both are subject to change these days.

Café Spoken
1770 Euclid St., NW
Japanese kissaten (tea houses) are the inspiration behind chef Erik Bruner-Yang’s all-day cafe in the Line DC hotel, which recently reopened. Savory breakfast fans will love a Japanese-style breakfast bowl with grilled fish, soft egg, pickles, and herbs over rice, while anyone with a sweet tooth will find Chinese doughnuts and waffles. The all-day lineup includes the kind of dishes expats and Japanophiles crave (and can’t always find) like katsu sandwiches, onigiri rice balls, curry plates, and omu rice. A lengthy beverage menu offers everything from teas to boozy milkshakes. In addition to his Line hotel ventures, Bruner-Yang has also hired new chef Armani Johnson to change things up at Navy Yard eatery ABC Pony, and helped launch Mediterranean pop-up, Coin Mezze,  with chef Casey Bauer out of The Brixton. Limited indoor dining, takeout, and delivery.

Call Your Mother opens a bright bagel shop in Georgetown. Photograph by Kayla Wallace.

Call Your Mother Georgetown
3428 O St., NW
Petworth’s popular wood-fired bagel chain debuts its long-awaited Georgetown shop—in a bright pink hue—on Wednesday, July 29. The menu is similar to new locations in Capitol Hill and Bethesda with several bagel and cream cheese flavors, chocolate babka, and sandwiches like a breakfast combo with “bodega-style” local eggs, American and cheddar cheeses, spicy honey, and bacon or pastrami. If you’re looking for a full dining experience, the team recently opened “Sorta South American” cafe Mercy Me nearby-ish in Foggy Bottom. The place recently launched sit-down weekend brunch (indoors and out) in addition to the daytime cafe counter. Takeout only.

Electric Cool-Aid
512 Rhode Island Ave., NW
Shaw’s new psychedelic frozen drink garden comes from a team of bar industry vets. That translates to a no-frills-yet-fun menu of frosty pina coladas, frose, and canned beer, wine, and cocktails. A rotating roster of food trucks like Timber Pizza and Swizzler provide daily meals, while a staple Good Humor cart is on the grounds if you don’t want to drink your dessert. Outdoor seating.

Frozen drink garden Electric Cool-Aid. Photograph by Jeff Elkins

Iron Age Korean Steak House
3365 14th St., NW
The second Korean tabletop barbecue restaurant to open in the District arrived in Columbia Heights earlier this month. Diners cook marinated meats and seafood on tabletop grills in the clubby, dimly lit space. There’s an all-you-can-eat option for lunch ($18) and dinner ($25). Soju, Korean beers, and sake round out the menu. Indoor dining only.

Jackie
79 Potomac Ave., SE
Chef Jerome Grant, who earned a James Beard nod for this cooking at the African American Museum’s Sweet Home Cafe, is at the helm of the revamped American bistro adjoining Dacha Navy Yard beer garden. The eclectic menu, which draws on Grant’s roots—the son of Filipino mother and African American father—and global travels. On the menu, that translates to dishes like scallop crudo and miso-fried chicken alongside “mom’s spaghetti” with Filipino longganisa sausage and banana ketchup bolognese. To drink: Jackie Kennedy-inspired cocktails like a Camelot old-fashioned. Outdoor patio and indoor seating.

Jont, a tasting room from Bresca chef Ryan Ratino, opens in Logan Circle. Photograph by Rey Lopez.

Jônt
1906 14th St., NW
Bresca chef/owner Ryan Ratino just debut his highly anticipated tasting room atop his Michelin-starred 14th Street restaurant. Guests can reserve space at a 12-seat chef’s counter for nightly tasting menu or elegant “European-style” Sunday lunch. Alternatively, opt for a la carte drinks and snacks in the 12-seat adjoining salon. Indoor service only

Little Miner Taco North Bethesda
967 Rose Ave., North Bethesda
This popular taco truck-turned-Brentwood taqueria recently opened another stationary location in The Block food hall at Pike & Rose in North Bethesda. The birria-style braised beef tacos served with aromatic dipping broth make their star appearance alongside new items exclusive to the Asian food hall such as kimchi quesadillas and conchita pibil (roasted pork) ramen with chicharrones. For kids, who always eat free: cheese quesadillas. Takeout, delivery, and indoor seating.

Nantucket Clam Shack
5014 Connecticut Ave., NW
It’s a sign of the Covid Summer times: a new virtual clam shack just debuted this week in Chevy Chase DC with a fleet of delivery robots who’ll bring lobster rolls, chowder, and steamers to your doorstep. (The beachy menu is also available for carryout and DoorDash delivery.) The ghost kitchen concept operates out of Italian trattoria I’m Eddie Cano, where chef James Gee—who worked in Nantucket for five summers—splits his time between the Italian and coastal American menu. Takeout and delivery only. 

Nantucket Clam Shack serves two styles of lobster rolls. Photograph courtesy of Nantucket Clam Shack.

Pearl’s Bagels
1017 7th St., NW
A new bagel shop in Mt. Vernon Square melds New York and Montreal styles—think a lightly sweet flavor from a honey-infused boil but with Big Apple chew. Husband-and-wife owners keep it local with toppings like Ivy City smoked fish and homemade spreads. DIY breakfast sandwiches are currently available. Composed bagel sandwiches will be available in the future. Carryout only.

Piece Out
2419 Mt. Vernon Ave., Alexandria
There’s a new stop for Detroit and New York-style pizzas and fresh pastas in Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood, courtesy of the owners behind Cafe Pizzaiolo.  Other plates lean red sauce—think parms, meatballs, and cannoli. Frosty drinks and gelato help beat the heat. Carryout and limited outdoor patio seating.

Shibuya Eatery chef/owner Darren Norris was previously behind pioneering DC izakaya Kushi. Photograph courtesy Shibuya Eatery.

Scrappy’s at Oyster Oyster
1440 8th St., NW
Chef Rob Rubba was on the brink of opening his ambitious, veggie-centric restaurant in Shaw before the pandemic. For now, he’s running a casual, seasonal, vegetarian (and delicious looking) pop-up out of the space with sandwiches, bagels, and farm dinners. Weekdays bring creations like a roasted mushroom cheese”steak” with heirloom tomatoes, pickled peppers, and a homemade vegan spin on cheese whiz. Farm dinners are available Thursday through Sunday. You can also grab natural and organic wines and interesting local brews. Carryout only.

Shibuya Eatery
2321 18th St NW
Chef/owner Darren Norris (formerly Kushi) is behind this tri-level Japanese restaurant in Adams Morgan that takes over the longtime Bourbon space. For now, look for homemade udon and and soba noodle bowls (hot and cold), kushiyaki grilled skewers, and small plates for carryout or limited outdoor dining. Originally planned as three-concepts-in-one, Norris plans to roll out the upstairs Death Punch bar and Shabu-Plus dining room soon. Outdoor dining, carryout, and delivery.

A Georgian spread at Tabla in Park View. Photograph by Reema Desai.

Tabla
3227 Georgia Ave., NW
The casual new Georgian restaurant in Park View from the Supra team specializes in two very delicious things: khachapuri (cheesy breads) and khinkali (soup dumplings). Both come in several varieties on the all-day menu—we’re partial to the chicken thigh flatbread and beef/spinach dumplings. There’s also grilled meats and veggies, sandwiches, and fun bites like Georgian fries. And for an afternoon drink on the patio, try a Chacha-spiked mule. Carryout, outdoor patio and indoor seating. 

Victura Park at the Reach
2700 F St., NW
The most sophisticated place to sip this summer may be the “winery-inspired landscape” outside the Kennedy Center—a pop-up collaboration between chef Erik Bruner-Yang and nightlife entrepreneurs Eric and Ian Hilton. With spacious, umbrellaed tables, surrounding art, and Potomac River views, the al fresco space at The Reach is more zen than your average sidewalk patio. The cafe, open Friday through Sunday, serves a simple picnic-style menu with ample wines, snacks like cheese and charcuterie boards, and sandwiches. Kids and dogs welcome.  Outdoor patio seating and takeout.

Wine Bar*
1939 12th St., NW
Friends and natural wine enthusiasts Sebastian Zutant (Primrose) and Menchie’s owners Nick Guglietta and Anthony Aligo are behind this nook of a wine bar off U Street, which boasts outdoor seats surrounded by planters. Unprocessed wines and simple sips like spritzes are joined by grazing dishes like pan con tomate, fancy tinned seafood, cheeses and meats, and charcuterie sandwiches. Outdoor patio seating. *The bar, formerly named Barkada, is in the midst of a name change after backlash that it appropriated a Tagalog slang word [City Paper].”  

Victura Park at the Reach. Photograph courtesy Victura Park at the Reach.

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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.