Art collector Shane Pomajambo has painted his mark on the region’s art scene, filling his National Harbor gallery Art Whino with illustrative “lowbrow” art and bringing street-art flair to the colorful space formerly known as Blind Whino, in Southwest DC. Now the gallery owner is combining the visual and culinary arts at Ballston Quarter restaurant Whino, opening on June 18 with cool murals and eclectic small plates.
Here are five things to look for when the restaurant opens:
It’s not atypical to hear a restaurateur muse about how diners will have a different experience each time they stop at their restaurant. But with Pomajambo, the sentiment is literal. The massive, 6,200-square foot space is painted with murals to differentiate the spaces, and frescos will rotate quarterly to showcase new artists.
Currently, the roster of muralists painting such things as post-apocalyptic robots includes Los Angeles artist Woes; Brooklyn-based Dragon76; Hong Kong artist Caratoes; and local painter Rodrigo Pradel. When a new cohort of creators rolls through to create subsequent works, guests will be able to watch the artistry in action.
“When you prompt [the artists], you have decoration. But what they’re doing is their vision,” says Pomajambo “It’s almost like a living art gallery.”
International small plates
Pomajambo tapped chef Eleftherios “Terry” Natas, a veteran of DC’s El Centro D.F. and the late Graffiato, to helm the kitchen. Natas is decorating his own blank canvas—the menu—with shareable plates that pull inspiration from around the world. The lamb-and-beef gyro, dolloped with leek yogurt and wrapped in phyllo, is a nod to Natas’ Greek heritage. Meanwhile, the fennel-and-rosemary-scented porchetta sliders are dressed with an aji verde sauce sauce that channels Pomajambo’s Peruvian roots.
Brewery tap takeovers
Art isn’t the restaurant’s only dynamic feature. The intimate tasting bar will host two-week residencies, when local breweries can take over six taps and show off their releases. Eventually, the takeovers will expand to include national breweries as well. There are also opportunities to try rare (and splurgy) spirits such as single malt Macallan M and Louis XIII cognac—the latter of which retails for $4,100.
Things to do
The restaurant’s event calendar is already stacked with hard-seltzer tastings and gallery openings. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday events will highlight the bar offerings, with each day dedicated to sampling spirits, beer, or wine. Art openings and exhibitions will take place on Thursdays. Pomajambo plans to roll out Sunday brunch in due time, along with family-style Sunday suppers that spotlight different cuisines.
“There are a lot of transplants who live in the Ballston area and miss their parents,” says Pomajambo. “So we’re going to allow them to have a traditional Spanish dinner or traditional Greek dinner or traditional Italian dinner with their friends.”
Echoing hybrid retail/restaurant spaces like H Street’s Maketto, Whino will include a merchandise component. Similar to the hyped-up drops common in the sneaker world, Pomajambo is releasing limited-edition sculptures each month, many created in small, 100-piece batches. The pop-art collectables are sourced from artists around the world.
Whino. 4238 Wilson Blvd., Arlington. It will be open Monday to Wednesday from 3 PM to 10 PM; Thursday to Friday from 3 PM to 2 AM; Saturday from 11 AM to 2 AM; Sunday from 11 AM to 10 PM.