Food

Despite the Pandemic, a Bunch of New Restaurants Are Planned for 2021. These Are Our Favorites.

A Japanese food hall, a new José Andrés joint, and of course, lots and lots of pizza.

Mercado Little Spain. Photo: Liz Clayman

Pandemic be damned, a full roster of restaurants is expected to open this year. Here are the ones we’re most excited about.

Chelita

920 N St., NW

This Peruvian place from Carlos Delgado—formerly chef at José Andrés’s China Chilcano—and the owners of U Street’s Service Bar will serve ceviche and Pisco sours starting in the spring. Also on the Andean menu: anticuchos (skewered meat) and an upstairs bar.

Chiko

7280 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda

One of DC’s top fast-casual operations is heading to the burbs in early 2021. Expect all the takeout-friendly Korean/Chinese hits you’d find at the Dupont and Capitol Hill locations, such as rice bowls with buttery Wagshal’s brisket, crimson kimchee stews, and Szechuan-spiced fried-chicken sandwiches.

Dauphine’s

1100 15th St., NW

The site of the former Washington Post building will soon be home to a leafy green-and-coral restaurant from the crew behind Navy Yard’s Salt Line. Slated for spring, the spot will feature two dining rooms, outdoor space, charcuterie and oyster bars, and chef Kyle Bailey’s take on New Orleans classics.

Della Barba

1382 E. Capitol St., NE

Pizza master Joseph Barber—currently operating out of a takeout-only kitchen in Ivy City—will be spinning out Detroit-, New York–, and Chicago-style pies from his new cafe on the fringes of Capitol Hill’s Lincoln Park. He’s also adding housemade bacon, baguettes, and pastries to the lineup, coming in early spring.

Ensemble

4856 Cordell Ave., Bethesda

Another “ghost food hall” will join the scene in early 2021. Steve Salis’s new venture combines many of his existing concepts—barbecue joint Federalist Pig, bakery Sidekick, and upscale American diner Ted’s Bulletin—under one roof. The pandemic-born eatery will be contact-free, with an app-based ordering system.

Frank Pepe’s

7101 Democracy Blvd., Bethesda

The Connecticut chain of New Haven–style “apizzas” is still planning to land at Westfield Montgomery Mall at some point in 2021. Look for coal-fired pies—which regularly draw lines at the Northern original—topped with fresh clams, or a simple slice with crushed Italian tomatoes.

Honeymoon Chicken

4201 Georgia Ave., NW

In addition to his Bethesda food hall, restaurateur Steve Salis is launching this fried-chicken outfit in Petworth’s long-deserted Slim’s Diner space. It’s aiming to open this winter and will sling crispy wings, sandwiches, KFC-style buckets, and its own mumbo sauce.

Ilili

100 District Sq., SW

Chef Philippe Massoud will embrace his Levantine roots at this New York ex-port, slated to come to the glassy Wharf dining room that housed Mike Isabella’s Requin. Look for the restaurant—and its Mediterranean mezze, herbaceous Lebanese salads, and fresh-baked pita—midyear.

Imperfecto

1124 23rd St., NW

Enrique Limardo, chef at 14th Street’s modern-Latin Seven Reasons, is behind this West End fine-dining restaurant, which is planning a February debut. The globetrotting menu will marry Latin ingredients and Mediterranean flavors.

Jeremiah Langhorne Restaurant

1027 Seventh St.,, NW

Dabney chef Jeremiah Langhorne is known for his ember-cooked Mid-Atlantic fare, but he’ll soon take a Francophile approach at his yet-to-be-named Mount Vernon Square dining room, expected to open in late 2021.

Love, Makoto

200 Massachusetts Ave., NW

This Japanese food hall is the brainchild of former Sushi Taro chef Makoto Okuwa and Unconventional Diner co-owner Eric Eden. When the hybrid eatery opens in late summer or early fall, it will include a Japanese bakery, ramen shop, full-service dining room, and robata grill.

Mah Ze Dahr

1550 Crystal Dr., Arlington

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Investment banker turned James Beard–nominated pastry chef Umber Ahmad steers this New York–based bakery, which opened a Navy Yard location last year. In April, she’ll bring her brioche doughnuts and lemony cheesecake to National Landing.

The Mill at 10 Duke

10 Duke St., Alexandria

One of the South’s top chefs—Oxford, Mississippi’s John Currence—is hoping to head north at some point in 2021, to a warehouse on the Old Town waterfront. He’s planning a low-key dining room and market.

Spanish Diner

7271 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda

What was once José Andrés’s Jaleo will become an offshoot of the hit diner he runs in his New York food hall. Coming this spring, it’ll feature an all-day menu of Spanish snacks and comfort plates, including béchamel-laced pastas and olive-oil-fried eggs over French fries.

Stellina

508 K St., NW; 2800 S. Randolph St., Arlington

The counter-service pizzeria next to Union Market—known for pairing gorgeous Neapolitan pies with whimsical flavors like cacio e pepe—is expanding to Shirlington and downtown DC. New to the District location, in a former waffle shop: diner-style dishes, brunch, and a pizza-meets-waffle sandwich.

The Wells

727 C St., SE

Former ThinkFoodGroup chief operating officer Hollis Silverman is on a tear: She’s opening two Capitol Hill restaurants—La Collina plus the Duck and the Peach—this winter. The last piece of her mini-empire will be this swanky, green-hued gin bar.

Yardbird

901 New York Ave., NW

The Southern comfort-food spot out of Miami will serve fried chicken for brunch, lunch, and dinner when it opens in late 2021. You can have the crispy birds with cheddar waffles or grits and hot honey sauce, or turned into a Nashville hot sandwich.

While restaurant opening information is always fluid, it’s especially so this year. All opening time frames are tentative.

This originally appeared in the January, 2021 issue of Washingtonian.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.

Daniella Byck
Assistant Editor

Daniella Byck joined Washingtonian in August 2018. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she studied journalism and digital culture.