With a local restaurant industry finally starting to see the light after a debilitating, two-year pandemic, many owners and chefs consider this spring a symbol of rebirth and renewal — and better time than ever to swing open their doors for the first time.
Despite economic stressors continuing to trigger global shortages and delays in labor, equipment, food, and even opening essentials like plates, tables, and chairs, several notable projects that entrepreneurs initially hoped to unveil this winter, last fall, or even earlier, are finally ready to show off their shiny new interiors, breezy patios, and thoughtful food and drink menus.
D.C.’s pizza presence spikes this spring with arrivals from Nighthawk in Arlington, Boogey & Peel in Dupont, Frank Pepe in Bethesda, and Stellina in Mt. Vernon Triangle. As temperatures continue to rise, the new Chesapeake Crab Shack & Bar in Shaw and Hello Betty in Bethesda will capitalize on a prime time to pick Maryland blue crabs.
In downtown Silver Spring, a Charlie Palmer Steak alum mans a new temple to meat at J.Hollinger’s, while Arlington’s forthcoming Beauty by Society Fair is all about Champagne, sugar, and female empowerment. And high-profile complexes and food halls continue to fill out with exciting additions for Cantonese barbecue (Hei Hei Tiger) at Urbanspace Tysons; tacos and orange crushes (Hippo Taco) atop Foggy Bottom’s Western Market; and a Greek wine bar (Kaimaki) and sleek Japanese speakeasy (Ākēdo) at Midtown Center.
Here are 20-plus restaurant openings to follow this spring:
What: Arlington’s Westpost development* (formerly Pentagon Row) will welcome a new, ’90s-themed beer hall that pairs low-ABV Czech pilsners and saisons with thin-crust pizzas, fried chicken, and smash burgers. Nighthawk comes from chef Johnny Spero (Reverie), Arlington bar owner Scott Parker, and Northern Virginia brewery Aslin Beer Company. Spero tapped longtime Reverie cook Ryan Garisek to spearhead the kitchen. During the pandemic, dough-obsessed Garisek helped Spero run a successful pizza pop-up called Lonely Hunter out of their Georgetown tasting room. At Nighthawk, patrons will also be able to roam around the shopping center while sipping Aslin’s colorful cans, thanks to a new on-site alcohol licensing permit.
Where: 1101 S. Joyce St, Arlington, Virginia
When: Tuesday, March 22, and Wednesday, March 23, with a full opening on Friday, March 25
*Come April, Westpost will add a pair of Maryland imports: upper Bethesda’s sushi and sake bar Kusshi and Baltimore’s Mexican street food spot Banditos, which operates a food truck in the plaza in the interim.
What: Tysons Corner Galleria’s upper-level food hall finally fills out with fresh options for West African cuisine (Hedzole); pour-over coffee (Twelve Twenty Coffee); cooked-to-order empanadas from husband-wife duo Gabriela and Tyler Steelman (Empanadas de Mendoza); and fish and chips (London Chippy), which just grew out of a food truck. They join existing vendors Andy’s Pizza and Donburi. And start-stop Hei Hei Tiger, Team Tiger Fork’s Cantonese barbecue counter only open for a quick month before the pandemic, will make its full-blown debut later this spring with crispy pork belly, noodle soups, milk tea and taro-swirled soft serve, and brisket fried rice. An octagon-shaped bar will bring Tysons cocktails made with medicinal ingredients, first made popular at Blagden Alley’s portal to Hong Kong.
Where: 2001 International Drive, McLean (on the third floor mezzanine)
When: Tuesday, March 22
Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana
What: The iconic New Haven-style pizza parlor out of Connecticut will add a first-ever D.C. area outpost at Bethesda’s Westfield Montgomery Mall. Founded nearly 100 years ago, the cult chain maintains a devoted New England following for its chewy, coal-fired pies with a thin, oblong crust and charred finish.
Where: 7101 Democracy Boulevard, Bethesda, Maryland
When: Monday, March 28
What: Born out of a food truck in early 2020, D.C.’s fledgling breakfast brand tacks on a second brick-and-mortar locale that caters to Shaw’s late-night, 9:30 club crowd. The eventual 24-hour operation means customers can stroll into the snazzy, neon-lit shop any time to fuel up on inventive, delightfully messy egg sandwiches and bowls built on tots or veggies. Sandwich building blocks like bacon and pulled pork or chorizo patties come from Alexandria-based Logan’s Sausage. Its first standalone location opened in Cleveland Park last fall in the short-lived home of Tino’s Pizzeria.
Where: 1921 8th Street NW
When: End of March
What: Mike Ellis, the former executive chef at D.C.’s Charlie Palmer Steak, teams up with Jerry Hollinger (The Daily Dish) to open a modern American restaurant in downtown Silver Spring. Look for a la carte cuts of meat along with produce sourced from D.C.-area and Pennsylvania farms. The completely renovated space next to the Fillmore is shooting for an “urban rustic” vibe, says Ellis, who helped Palmer win a Michelin star at Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg, California. The Silver Spring building most recently housed neighborhood chophouse the Classics, which closed in 2018, and originally opened in 1998 as Ray’s the Classics under founder Michael Landrum. Sundays will be a busy affair, with a live jazz brunch followed by prime rib night.
Where: 8606 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, Maryland
When: Early April
Bindaas Bowls & Rolls
What: Restaurateur Ashok Bajaj (Rasika, the Bombay Club) is opening his first fast-casual operation as an outgrowth of Indian street food brand Bindaas. The Bowls & Rolls version, located around the corner from the original Rasika in Penn Quarter, will feature chicken kathi rolls, masala popcorn, and gunpowder fries that James Beard award-winning chef Vikram Sunderam introduced at Bindaas locations in Cleveland Park and Foggy Bottom. Bowls can be customizable by protein (lamb, fish, chicken, and shrimp) and sauce, with vegetarian options too. The 35-seat setup will operate daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Prices average around $12 to $14.
Where: 415 Seventh Street NW
When: Thursday, April 7 (all proceeds from the first 100 customers will go towards World Central Kitchen to help those in Ukraine)
What: A color-soaked seafood stop brings feel-good, coastal California vibes to North Bethesda’s Pike and Rose* complex. A 40-foot boat transformed into a full-service bar on the patio serves sunny cocktails like margaritas, sangrias, and the restaurant’s own orange crush in addition to ice cold, local brews. Some menu items draw from Maryland’s culinary canon, like a smoky fire-roasted bucket of blue crabs tossed in Old Bay vinegar that draws inspiration from both crab boils and beach barbecues, while the fish and chips and the peel-and-eat shrimp carry over from its California outpost. It’s the second Hello Betty restaurant for Denver-based restaurant group Sage Restaurant Concepts, which first debuted the Baja-inspired seafood cafe in Oceanside, California in 2014.
Where: Canopy by Hilton, 940 Rose Avenue, Bethesda
*D.C.’s beloved fried chicken chain Roaming Rooster will also expand to the Pike & Rose complex this spring.
What: After a two-year hiatus, the Mendelsohn family’s Sunnyside Restaurant Group reopens Santa Rosa Taqueria in a new two-story home on Capitol Hill. Located just a blocks from the original, the fresh space sports a modern and airy look with a 60-seat patio and large Day of the Dead-themed mural from local artist Rodrigo Pradel. Chef Brian Lacayo brings back the brand’s beloved barbacoa and carne asada tacos to go along with new drops like a Korean barbecue taco, wings, and more. Meanwhile, beverage director Gina Chersevani (Buffalo & Bergen, Last Call) will oversee a liquid menu of 10 different margaritas, plus a list of specialty beers.
Where: 301 Pennsylvania Avenue SE
Beauty by Society Fair
What: Restaurateur Meshelle Armstrong picked the quaint home of a former consignment shop as the site to resurrect her Society Fair market and pioneering speakeasy Bar PX, which both closed in Alexandria in 2019. Their reincarnation as Beauty by Society brings Arlington a “champagne and sugar boutique” stocked with female-made wines and local goods. A versatile menu includes charcuterie boards, flatbreads with dips and light bites, and sweets like pastries and cakes. Armstrong operates Alexandria’s Hummingbird Bar & Kitchen with co-owner Zena Polin, the founder of The Dish & Dram and The Daily Dish in Maryland. A grab-and-go retail section sells pantry items like homemade bolognese sauce, soups, and cookie mixes. Beauty by Society Fair’s own batch of cookies, made with potato chips, chocolate chunk and marshmallow fluff, is a Polin specialty.
Where: 576 23rd Street S., Arlington
What: Lima native Carlos Delgado, who led the kitchen the at José Andrés’s China Chilcano before the pandemic, is teaming up with Service Bar partners Chad Spangler and Glendon Hartley to open an ambitious, two-story Peruvian restaurant in Blagden Alley. Coastal and Andean cooking will be points of emphasis for Delgado, who will roast whole fish in a Spanish Josper oven, slice up ceviche, and grill beef heart anticuchos (and other skewers) over a Japanese robatayaki setup. Spangler and Hartley will incorporate mountainous ingredients like huacatay (black mint) into cocktails, and the pair plans to build one of the largest pisco collections in the U.S. Spangler says the group has scrapped previous plans to open multiple projects with separate names inside that space to prevent any confusion.
Where: 920 N Street NW
When: Early spring
What: Experimental chef Damian Brown, a comfort foods wizard with a crazy Instagram following for his wonderfully wacky waffle and flavor combos, brings Truxton Circle a vibrant, mimosa-fueled offshoot of his wildly popular, all-day District Heights brunch spot Uncaged Chefs. For Brown’s first D.C. proper project, sliding in ANXO Cidery & Pintxos Bar’s former address, he imports popular creations like Cinnamon Toast Crunch-topped fried chicken on French toast waffles and a salmon cake Benedict with cilantro hollandaise and sweet pepper relish on a tater tot waffle. The upbeat, two-story replacement to Anxo, complete with a Rick and Morty wallpaper motif, lives up to its new name with a dizzying assortment of mimosas in every color of the rainbow (plus lots of slushy brunch drinks).
Where: 300 Florida Avenue NW
What: While Eater DC’s 2019 Chef of the Year Peter Prime recently parted ways to pursue other ventures, his sister Jeanine Prime pushes the long-awaited culinary ode to their native Trinidad past the finish line. St. James, named after the bustling district in Trinidad’s capital, Port of Spain, breathes life into brick-lined Quarter + Glory’s former home. At 2,800 square feet, the remodeled space with a prime new patio on 14th Street NW is almost three times larger than its popular H Street NE sibling Cane, which focuses on Caribbean street foods. A list of rum-forward, floral cocktails like a hibiscus highball comes from Service Bar’s Glendon Hartley, who’s the son of West Indian immigrants. The fresh cast of Caribbean talent also includes Trinidad native Dr. Winnette McIntosh Ambrose — a Chopped winner and owner of Sweet Lobby on Capitol Hill — who plans to make breads and pastries for both St. James and Cane. Small and large-format dishes that pay homage to the melting pot port city include West Africa’s callaloo, a stew full of leafy greens, Portuguese-style garlic pork, and curry crab.
Where: 2017 14th Street NW
Foggy Bottom’s flashy food hall near GWU and the World Bank started coming to life last year with vendors like Rawish, Onkei, and Capo Deli. A pair of notable new arrivals — one big and one small — are set to pop this spring (2000 Pennsylvania Avenue NW).
Local chef and expansion-minded restaurateur Tim Ma (Lucky Danger, Laoban Dumplings) teams up with hospitality duo Ben Sislen and Jonas Singer on a new 8,000-square-foot sports (betting) bar serving Southern-leaning spins on bar food and playful drinks.
Ma, Sislen, and Jonas just finalized plans to plant a tiny taco bar up top, too. Creative, globe-trotting taco fillings harken back to Ma’s days running the Wild Days menu atop Eaton hotel. The indoor-outdoor perch will also serve salads, summery frozen drinks, and orange crushes. Hippo Taco’s adorable name pays homage to George Washington University’s unofficial mascot — a beloved bronzed hippopotamus statue that sits on campus.
Downtown’s luxury new office complex, already home to buzzy centerfolds like Philotimo, Dauphine’s, and Shōtō, will welcome a fresh string of snazzy dining options this spring (1100 15th Street NW).
The global hospitality group behind showy Japanese izakaya Shōtō unveils a lively, fast-casual counterpart in the back. Open from lunch until late, Ākēdo (which means “arcade”) will transition from a Japanese street food spot with sandos and yakitori into a scene-y speakeasy with experimental cocktails and bottle service.
Chef Nicholas Stefanelli grows his Greek prix fixe showpiece Philotimo with an adjacent wine, cocktail, and mezze bar sized around 1,800 square feet. The stylish, after-work attraction will face the complex’s large courtyard on L Street NW.
Nestled in a hidden alley between L and M Street NW, Grazie Grazie owner Casey Patten expands past Philly cheesesteaks with a cute new buttermilk fried chicken project with the chefs/owners of Caribbean-styled Bammy’s (Gerald Addison and Chris Morgan).
Restaurateur Hakan Ilhan (Brasserie Liberté and Bib Gourmand-designated Ottoman Tavern) flips his pricey, prix fixe French place Mirabelle into a casual and affordable Italian spot suited for downtown’s tourist and office set. The menu will showcase homemade pastas and classics like meatball cacciatore and veal Milanese, with no entree over $28.95. An Aperol spritz-filled happy hour on weekdays starts early (2:30 p.m.), joined by lunch, weekend brunch, and dinner.
Where: 900 Black Lives Matter Plaza NW
What: Blagden Hospitality Group (Calico, Fainting Goat, rooftop hangout Hi-Lawn) busts into the Arlington market with a breezy, West Coast-styled adult oasis packed with local twists. A beachy bungalow vibe framed with wavy archways houses a 20-seat bar that makes its own amaro, cozy banquettes and booths, and airy access to a 125-seat patio. Chef/owner Nathan Beauchamp teams up with Evening Star Cafe alum Jonathan Till to build a menu full of Mid-Atlantic seafoods and veggies, plus proteins like lamb and duck. BHG beverage director Ian Fletcher sends out herby cocktails, low-ABV sips, fortified wines, and vermouth to go along with an expansive wine list that shows love for smaller producers. In the morning, a casual kiosk will send out pastries and espresso drinks from Lancaster’s Passenger Coffee.
Where: 3033 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington (one block from the Clarendon Metro station)
Chesapeake Crab Shack & Bar
What: Daniel Kramer, the restaurateur behind beloved pub Duke’s Grocery and Korean barbecue place Gogi Yogi, expands on U Street NW the opening of a permanent, all-outdoor seafood spot at the corner of Vermont Street NW. Chesapeake Crab Shack & Bar will serve (you guessed it) Maryland blue crabs, fresh-squeezed crushes, and all-DMV brews in “casual dockside” setting, says Kramer. Also look for lobsters, snow crab legs, and peel-and-eat shrimp, plus sides like corn on the cob, cabbage slaw, and pasta salad. A large awning with fans and heaters will keep the seafood shack operational year round.
Where: 925 U Street NW
Boogy & Peel
What: Former Rose’s Luxury sous chef Rachael Jennings unleashes what she calls “bastardized Neapolitan” pizza in Dupont Circle. Her first solo spot sets up shop in part of the former Ping Pong Dim Sum space with chicken wings, soft-serve ice cream, and adult slushies. The other part of the space, which she shares with her brother, is becoming a gym. Indulgent pizza toppings draw inspiration from both local and global sandwich stars (think: G-Man Italian sub at Capitol Hill’s Mangialardos and a pickle-topped version of a Big Mac).
Where: 1 Dupont Circle, Suite 115
Stellina Mt. Vernon Triangle
What: Union Market district’s critically acclaimed Italian street food counter expands its Neo-Neapolitan pizza presence in D.C. with a nostalgic new outpost in Mt. Vernon Triangle. The 2,700-square-foot site is part of the Waffle Shop — a reincarnated version of the iconic D.C. greasy spoon that once stood nearby. Chef Matteo Venini and restaurateur Antonio Matarazzo will import fan favorites from their 3-year-old Northeast flagship, like its quirky cacio e pepe pizza, homemade pastas, Italian street snacks, and panini topped with fried octopus and burrata or porchetta. As a nod to its retro-era predecessor, look for diner dishes, a replica of The Waffle Shop’s red-lettered neon sign out front, and a laminated bar lined with 24 chrome stools (some of which were salvaged from the original diner). An adjacent dining room adds another 45 seats. Stellina recently expanded across state lines to Shirlington, and an additional Virginia locale will pop this fall in Tysons.
Where: 508 K Street NW
Takoda Navy Yard
What: Six years after opening in Shaw, Better Hospitality Group (BHG) will bring Navy Yard its own Takoda Restaurant & Beer Garden. The 7,000-square-foot space, nearly twice the size as the original, replicates the layout in Northwest with a second-floor space and third-story rooftop that BHG is billing as the biggest in the neighborhood. BHG executive chef Julio Estrada’s top-selling tots, bottomless brunch, burger, chicken wings, and sliders will all arrive at the new location. A 24-line draft system will dispense eight cocktails on draft and 16 all-American beers to go along with its domestic whiskey pours. BHG just opened a 10,000-square-foot edition of its Penn Quarter Boardwalk bar at the Wharf, which will be joined by a sprawling waterfront wine bar called Easy Company this summer.
Where: 1299 First Street SE
What: The team behind Beuchert’s Saloon and the new Newland expands its Capitol Hill reach with a permanent pad for Fight Club, its rowdy, irreverent sandwich pop-up (in the former Hank’s on the Hill space). Co-owners Andrew Markert, Bart Hutchins, and Mackenzie Conway, who temporarily ran Fight Club out of Beuchert’s Saloon during the pandemic, will drop new ideas like a shrimp toast po’ boy; a fried half chicken and caviar that arrives with cornbread, honey butter, and coleslaw; and big, boozy punches for sharing. Favorites returning to the ring include the “F.C. chicken doink” stuffed with crispy buttermilk-brined chicken thighs, maple cake, and Crystal hot sauce mayo and a vodka-filled Sad Boyz Tea. The 62-seat setup with a petite patio will be stuffed with street art, arcade games, and a DJ booth.
Where: 633 Pennsylvania Avenue SE