A Vibey French-Japanese Izakaya Opens on 14th Street

Bar Japonais comes from the owners of French-Chinese hotspot Bar Chinois.

A martini and salmon sashimi with scallio oil and passionfruit aji amarillo at Bar Japonais. Photograph by Nina Palazzolo.

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Bar Japonais, 1520 14th St., NW.

It’s been more than a year since Spanish restaurant Estadio ended its 13-year run in Logan Circle. Now, the slushitos have been replaced by sake and Champagne. Bar Japonais, a French-Japanese izakaya from the owners of French-Chinese Bar Chinois in Mount Vernon Triangle, opened in its place this week.

The fusion concept has been a long-simmering one for co-owner Dean Mosones, who was born in Japan and studied French: “I always had an affinity for both traditions and both cultures. So it was always on my mind to hopefully get to do this.” Mosones has partnered with Margaux Donati, whose bar-centric resume spans from French brasserie Le Diplomate to Japanese sushi and yakitori spot Zeppelin, as well as Mark Minicucci, who has a marketing and design background.

Tuna rose with truffle ponzu soy. Photograph by Nina Palazzolo.

The food leans Japanese, while the drinks are more French—but the two influences occasionally meld together with dishes like a teriyaki bavette steak with miso uni butter or ginger creme brûlée. The menu consists mostly of smaller, shareable plates including grilled skewers, crudos (yes, there’s a tuna rose), handrolls, and other izakaya staples such as gyoza or karaage fried chicken.

The hambagu with julienned furikake potatoes. Photograph by Nina Palazzolo.

A handful of entrees include okonomiyaki (a Japanese-style pancake with cabbage, shrimp, and pork belly) as well as hambagu, a blend of beef and pork haché topped with tobanjan (chili bean paste) barbecue sauce and furikake potato strings.

Bar Japnais’s Cosmo with Calpico white peach foam. Photograph by Nina Palazzolo.

To drink, expect a mix of French wine (especially bubbles), sake, and cocktails. Their twist on a Cosmo comes with a Calpico white peach foam, while a margarita riff incorporates blood orange, yuzu, and togarashi. There’s even an “Ode to Estadio”—a sherry and vermouth drink with yuzu and salted cucumber bitters.

The bar at Bar Japonais. Photograph by Nina Palazzolo.

Mosones describes the look they are going for as stylish, sleek, and minimalist. The space retains the same general layout as Estadio with an open kitchen and center bar, but the team has opened it up a bit more and add in some banquettes and high-tops. They also plan to have a 40-seat patio.

“The ambiance we’re looking for is kind of vibey, lower lights, energetic—like places in the Meatpacking District or West Village,” Mosones says. “Just really moody and chatty and feels a little more sophisticated.”

This story has been updated from a previous version published in July 2023. 

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.