Midtown Center, a burgeoning new development at 15th and L Streets, Northwest, has become a dining destination in recent months thanks to a wave of restaurant and bar openings. In addition to New Orleans hotspot Dauphine’s, there’s clubby Japanese dining room Shoto; Little Chicken with its big fry buckets and pitcher drinks; and three ventures from Masseria chef Nicholas Stefanelli. Those include Italian cafe Officina, Greek tasting room Philotimo, and now, Kaimaki. The Greek wine and gyro bar opened Thursday night.
Eventually, Stefanelli plans to run Kaimaki all day, starting in the morning with Greek coffee service that pays tribute to the place’s name (“kaimaki” refers to the coffee’s foamy cap). But with downtown DC office traffic inconsistent, Stefanelli is focusing on two things that will reliably draw diners: booze and spit-roasted meat, served late (for downtown, that’s 11 PM on weekdays and midnight on weekends).
The glassy bar space, which seats around 37 guests (there’s patio seating to come), channels a stony Mediterranean seascape. All the cooking happens a few steps away at Philotimo, which spit-roasts pork for gyros and souvlaki over a wood fire. Sandwiches are made with homemade pita and tzatziki, and stuffed with crispy fries. There are also snacks like Greek cheese and charcuterie boards, stuffed grape leaves, and, if you’re feeling fancy, savory loukoumades (doughnuts) topped with caviar.
To drink: Greek wine, and lots of it. Philotimo boasts a 4,000 bottle cellar, and explorers here will find plenty of lesser-known Greek and Mediterranean wines by the glass and bottle. Barman Joseph Kocjan is behind the drinks—if your only Greek spirit knowledge is ouzo, try mastiha, a slightly nutty liqueur mixed into drinks like the Medicane, with rum, fruit syrup, and bubbles.
Kaimaki. 1100 15th St., NW.