Food

12 New Restaurants and Creative Pop-Ups to Start 2021

Fresh on the scene: noodle bars, sandwich shops, and pizza.

Yoko & Kota, chef Erik Bruner-Yang's new pan-Asian restaurant at The Roost. Photograph by Vina Sananikone

Business owners are still dealing with plenty of pandemic woes—plus newer restrictions and bans on indoor dining—but that hasn’t completely halted restaurant openings, or chefs getting creative with new pop-ups and ghost kitchens.

New Restaurants

Yoko & Kota
1401 Pennsylvania Ave., SE
Maketto chef Erik Bruner-Yang’s latest project: a pan-Asian dumpling, noodle, and Chinese barbecue restaurant at The Roost food hall. The concept, inspired by time he spent at Yokota Air Base in Japan as a kid, marries a variety of Asian flavors in dishes like crystal shrimp dumplings, Peking duck buns, rice noodle bowls, and rotating barbecue plates. Neighboring beer garden Shelter pours a DC Brau and Maketto collaboration beer, Tuk Tuk, to match.  Pickup, delivery, and outdoor dining.

Compliments Only
1630 14th St., NW
True to name, the new 14th Street sandwich shop from Subbies alums Emily Cipes and Pete Sitcov (Yang’s, the Italian Store) is getting plenty of praise. The hearty subs come stuffed with fillings like bacon-spiked Old Bay egg salad, pulled buffalo chicken with ranch or blue cheese, and a classic Italian cold cut combo. Plus they have fun names (i.e. “Marisa Tomei Eats Free”). Hungover? Try one of the “I think I’m dying” kits with bubbly drinks, salty eats, and Tylenol. Pickup and delivery.

The Duck & The Peach
 300 7th St., SE
A team of alums from José Andrés’s ThinkFoodGroup, including former chief operating officer Hollis Silverman, are behind this ambitious new restaurant on Capitol Hill. The all-day New American venture serves a daytime menu with homemade pastries, Small Planes coffee drinks, sandwiches, and salads. Nights center around family-style meals for two-to-four such as rotisserie roasted chicken or red wine-braised short ribs with seasonal sides. (Kids menus are also available.) The Duck & The Peach is the first of three concepts opening at the location—Italian spot La Collina and gin bar The Wells will follow. Pickup, delivery, and patio dining.

The Duck & The Peach rotisserie roast chicken. Photo by Melena DeFlorimonte/M. Shonell Photography.

Martha Dear
3110 Mount Pleasant St., NW
Tail Up Goat alums chef Demetri Mechelis and Tara Smith are behind this popular pizza takeout—and by popular, we mean it often sells out shortly after online orders go live at noon. Credit thin-crust, Neapolitan sourdough pies with toppings like nduja sausage and peppers or veggie (mushroom, spinach, halloumi, herbs, lemon); umami-packed dippers such as bagna cauda; and thoughtfully paired natural wines. Pickup only.

Tiki Thai
12100 Sunset Hills Rd Suite 107, Reston
The team behind Ashburn’s Sense of Thai St has expanded to Reston with a tiki-centric theme. Veteran bartender Jeremy Ross, whose resume runs from the Oval Room to a recent episode of Chopped, is behind the drinks. Here you’ll find a lengthy menu of tikis—all available to stay or go—including classic mai tais alongside new creations like a tequila and Thai basil-spiked “Long Thailand.” The extensive food menu gets creative, too—check out the tiki tacos, Thai ramen, and pupu platters alongside grilled items and curries. Pickup, delivery, and indoor dining.

Criollo, a Peruvian pop-up at Service Bar. Photograph by Rey Lopez.

New Pop-Ups and Ghost Kitchens

Criollo
926-928 U St., NW
Lima native chef Carlos Delgado and the team behind popular cocktail haunt Service Bar will open a full-service Peruvian restaurant in Shaw this year. But first, they’re previewing Peruvian comfort foods and Pisco cocktails on U Street. Delgado, who comes from restaurants like Ocopa and China Chilcano, serves up a small plates such as octopus ceviche and chicken causa alongside entrees such as  lomo saltado. Though the new menu is part of a kitchen overhaul for the bar, you’ll still find Service Bar classics like fried chicken sandwiches. Pickup, delivery, and patio dining.

FedWings
1517 Connecticut Ave., NW
First came FedWich, a sandwich pop-up from popular barbecue joint Federalist Pig that’s operating out of Kramer’s. Now pit master Rob Sonderman has honed in on another meaty treat for his ghost kitchen: dry-brined, hickory smoked, flash-fried wings. The drums come with an array of homemade sauces, from classic blue cheese to sticky garlic, and sides like fries and slaw—plus heating instructions to recrisp them in the oven. Pickup or delivery.

Little sandwiches star at Itty Bitty Sandwich City. Photograph by Julep PR.

Itty Bitty Sandwich City
2001 18th St., NW
Big ol’ hoagies have been the star of pandemic pop-ups thus far. Instead, the team at Imperial is thinking small with a menu of sliders and “pie bites.” Sous chef Chris Reynolds has created a dozen decadent mini-sandwiches that can ordered in sets of three, six, or a dozen such as lobster rolls, eggplant parms, beef Wellingtons, or crispy filet-o-fish. Rounding out the menu are sides (fries, mac n’ cheese), little sweets like apple tarts, and $12 bottled cocktails from the bar pros. Pickup or delivery.

Lucky Danger
455 I St., NW
Chef about town Tim Ma (ex-Kyirisan and American Son) plays homage to his Chinese-American heritage with a new ghost kitchen, which takes over Prather’s in Shaw. The menu reads like a cheffy celebration of Chinese-American takeout classics. Crab rangoons, beef and broccoli, kung pao chicken, and lo mein are all there, plus fun cocktails. (We have our eye on the “Duck Sauce” drink with tequila, Szechuan pepper, and peach.) Best plan ahead, or get lucky—orders, which exclusively go live on Tock at midnight, have been selling out. Pickup and delivery.

Pete’s Place Noodle Bar, a “kinda Korean” ghost kitchen from Philly chef Peter Serpico, opens in DC. Photography courtesy of Pete’s Place.

Pete’s Place Noodle Bar
1250 5th St., NE
High-profile Philly chef Peter Serpico has returned to his roots in the DC area with a “kinda Korean” ghost kitchen out of St. Anselm. Several styles of ramen include spicy chicken or vegetarian pickled pepper. You can also get non-noodle dishes such as Korean double-fried wings and bibimbap. Pickup and delivery.

Lonely Hunter Pizza
3201 Cherry Hill Ln., NW
At the beginning of the pandemic, Reverie chef Johnny Spero was turning out some of the tastiest burgers in town from his finer-dining Georgetown restaurant. Now, in advance of a forthcoming pizza and Aslin beer spot in Arlington*, he’s turned his attention to pizza (though yes, you can still get a smashburger). The thin-crust pies come topped with combination like clams, garlic, and white sauce or Spanish-style confit potatoes with brava sauce and stracciatella cheese. Pickup, delivery, and patio dining.

Little Sesame tests out rotisserie chicken and veggies. Photograph by Anna Meyer Photo for Little Sesame.

Little Sesame Rotisserie PopUp
5027 Connecticut Ave., NW
The hummus shop is testing out a new rotisserie shawarma concept in a new place, taking over Sugar Fox in Chevy Chase DC (Jan 6 through March 14). Customers can pick between shawarma-spiced, spit-roasted rotisserie chickens or marinated, spiced cauliflower. The entrees come in whole or half portions, or can be ordered as part of family-style meals for two-or-four with sauces, vegetable sides, and a half pint of Little Sesame hummus. Pickup and delivery.

*Correction: Nighthawk Pizza will be located in Arlington, not Bethesda.

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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.