On Tap scouts out the restaurants, bars, and clubs that are new to the scene or shaking things up.
3 Stars Brewing
Longtime friends Dave Coleman and Mike McGarvey have been brewing beer for friends and family since 2007. They started 3 Star to bring their concoctions out of their houses and to the District masses. “We believe that beer is a unifying experience, one that is to be shared,” says Coleman. Their brews, housed in a 15,000-square-foot building, include specialty malts and hop varietals. Beverages with fun monikers—including the Relentless, the Pandemic Porter, Winter Madness and Southern Belle—can be sampled at the duo’s home brew shop, housed inside the brewery. Visitors can also pick up beer-centric apparel emblazoned with the three-star symbol, a homage to the DC flag. Don’t skip the District, an American IPA that serves as 3 Stars’ signature sip.
3 Stars Brewing: 6400 Chillum Pl. NW, DC; 202-670-0333; www.3starsbrewing.com
A Bar is a sultry, stylish retreat in the heat of summer. The new Avenue Suites addition allows visitors to enjoy an outdoor terrace on cozy settees while sipping on fun and creative libations such as Midnight in Paris, Crouching Tiger, or the oh-so intriguing Clooney (the walls are adorned with a photo of the beloved, handsome man, so ladies enjoy!). If you’re hungry, enjoy some small plate-type dishes that put greens and seasonings to good use. This summer, don’t go to just any bar, go to A Bar!
A Bar: 2500 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, DC; 202-464-5610; www.abardc.com
Bandolero, an oasis for modern Mexican cuisine, is yet another resto from Top Chef star Mike Isabella. Don’t expect a caricature South of the Border spot, though. “Most Mexican restaurants are bright and colorful, but that’s not my style,” says Isabella. “I like my restaurants to be dark, loud and cool, so that’s why I chose a Day of the Dead theme for Bandolero. It’s like no other restaurant in DC, Mexican or otherwise.” The eatery’s exterior is black; the interior houses dark decorations like coyote and cow skulls, cemetery fencing, and arches that evoke the tops of tombstones. Showy flavors and bold drinks more than make up for the doom and gloom atmosphere, however. Tasty dips, taquitos, tacos and other small plates inspired by Mexico come out of chef de cuisine Tony Starr’s kitchen. Mixologist Sam Babcock washes things down with creative cocktails like the Jesus Malverde (a Mexican version of a Robin Hood) with Vida mescal, cucumber and lime juices, agave nectar and cilantro with hellfire bitters. Creamy coconut flan soaked with rum and coated in piloncillo dark sugar should end your meal at Isabella’s newest haunt.
Bandolero: 3241 M St. NW, DC; 202-625-4488; www.bandolerodc.com
French food is no longer in short supply in McLean. Filling the void left by Le Mistral and Michel’s closings, Bistro Vivant opens in the former McLean 1910 spot. Locanda’s Aykan Demiroglu and Assaggi Osteria’s onetime chef, Domenico Cornacchia, join together to give Gallic goodies to the NOVA masses. Provence dishes will reign in the summer—think fish—while cooler months will feature heartier Alsatian cuisine. In the kitchen is Christopher Carey, formerly of Leesburg’s Wine Kitchen. Up to 100 diners can enjoy menu items from steak frites to blanquette de veau to arctic char to a Niçoise salad or a burger topped with tapenade. Perfect Euro touches can be found from the bar, where customers can snack on hard-boiled eggs, to the outdoor patio where quintessential Parisian wicker chairs reside. Bienvenue, Bistro!
Bistro Vivant: 1394 Chain Bridge Rd. McLean, VA; 703-356-1700; www.bistrovivant.com
Del Frisco’s Grille
We can think of no better home for the all-American steak than in the heart of the U.S. capital. The noted steak chain has finally set up shop in the District, sandwiched between the Capitol building and the White House. The Grille will be making the most of the former Les Halles’ ample patio space, seating up to 100 hungry carnivores outdoors alone. Inside, a wall of wine representing an inventory of nearly 5,000 bottles will greet customers. Running the kitchen is Executive Chef Rob Klink, formerly of Oceanaire. Like its previous incarnations, DC’s Del Frisco’s will feature flatbreads, hearty salads, fresh seafood, sandwiches, prime steaks and the usual beer, wine and cocktails lists. Signature shots on tap will include the Honey Badger, a mix of Tuaca and pineapple. Rumor has it DC will have two Del Frisco’s soon—the steak spot is also said to be opening in the not-yet-constructed City Center downtown.
Del Frisco’s Grille: 1201 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, DC; 202-450-4686; www.delfriscosgrille.com
New York Avenue Beach Bar
In the city of the proverbial political flip-flop, it’s time to don your literal ones—we’re hitting the beach. Or, at least, New York Avenue’s salute to sun and sand in the form of this so-called “beach club.” The Passenger’s Tom Brown, along with buddies Karl Graham and Robert Bailey, has transformed a corner of the District into a 70-ton pit of sand off New York Avenue with daiquiris, hammocks, and beach chairs; beach sand from Ocean City is spread across 5,500 square feet. The super-casual atmosphere hasn’t kept top-tier talent away. Mixologists Jason Strich and The Passenger’s Julia Hurst can be seen pouring beer, rum punch and daiquiris at the bar, while Sundevich’s new food truck dishes out chipotle-mayo corn, peel-and-eat shrimp, and smaller versions of its baguette sandwiches. A DJ stand and a wave runner photo booth keep up the good vibrations post-meal. Summer in the city done right!
New York Avenue Beach Bar: 645 New York Ave. NW, DC; 202-656-9229; www.nyavebeachbar.com
Tequila, tacos, and beer. Let’s make this terrific trio a fabulous foursome by throwing in a rooftop deck. Where is this summer paradise? Head for Barracks Row. Pacifico is brought to you by Xavier Cervera, ubiquitous Capitol Hill restaurant owner—Cervera is the man behind Molly Malone’s, Lola’s and the Chesapeake Room. Cantina’s customers have plenty of Tex-Mex treats available to them in the form of enchiladas, quesadillas, burritos, and fajitas; we have our eye on the crab and shrimp nachos and the Baja fish tacos. The guac is good, but be warned—it clocks in at a rather pricey $12. Before you make your way up to the roof deck, check out the uber-laid back downstairs décor in the form of surfboards, shark art and pastel-stenciled walls. And did we mention the glass-walled, walk-in tequila locker? Too cool.
Pacifico Cantina: 518 8th St. SE, DC; 202-507-8143; www.pacificodc.com
Spanish-style tapas are here to stay, in case you had any doubts. The latest entry in DC’s small bites scene is Pulpo, in the Cleveland Park spot that once housed Tackle Box. Floriana owner Dino Tapper’s Spanish tapas-heavy menu emphasizes octopus, the restaurant’s namesake. Diners can expect to see a little entrée experimentation in the form of molecular gastronomy; a pastaless ravioli dish consisting of carrot, beet and pea purees is soaked in an acid wash. Other bites include poached eggs with serrano ham, squid-ink paella with whole prawns, and “lollipops” of tuna and anchovies. Pulpo’s extensive wine list is worth a look, with vinos from Spain, Europe, and South America—plus, four different sangrias. Cocktails like the Pulpo Picante—mezcal, pear puree, and jalapeño syrup—are tasty enough to impress sip snobs. The food and drink may have flourish, but the décor is back-to-basics: concrete floors, distressed brick and exposed ceilings are as fancy as Pulpo’s interior gets.
Pulpo: 8407 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC; 202-450-6875; www.pulpodc.com
Forget the food—Rockville’s Quench is all about the cocktails. Owner Michael Holstein oversees beverage director Stephen Oshana (Elisir) and head bartender Matt Allred (Bourbon Steak) as they serve up their best booze. A few of their more intriguing creations include the Kentucky Irby, a blend of Old Tom gin, muddled rosemary, sugar lemon, and mint foam; the Metro-Textural, with Johnny Walker Black, Plymouth sloe gin, lemon juice, Orgeat, and egg white; the Magic Hour, comprised of orange-infused vodka, liqueur, orange bitters, simple syrup, and soda; and the Sex in the Suburbs, a chili-infused hibiscus vodka, cranberry, lime, and prosecco concoction. Kiddie cocktails—raspberry frappuccinos and bubblegum lemonade—are even on tap for the tykes. If you must have something in your stomach before imbibing, Quench pushes plenty of small plates including charcuterie. Their house-made pickles sure hit the spot.
Quench: 9712 Traville Gateway Dr. Rockville, MD; 301-424-8650; www.quenchnation.com
Grilled cheese and microbrews, together at last. From the folks behind Clarendon’s much-loved Galaxy Hut comes this beer-centric bar. Twenty-four mounted taps hold all-American locals like the Devils Backbone/Heavy Seas black pilsner, Lost Rhino’s My Imaginary Girlfriend and Port City’s Optimal Wit; Yuengling Light is Spacebar’s most mainstream sip. Prices are about $6 per pint, but thrifty customers can keep it cheap(er) with a bottle of Lionshead Lager for $3. Yes, the beers are worth boasting about, but do not visit Spacebar without ordering one of their 17 grilled cheese sandwiches. Some of the gooey options include ham and swiss with Dijon mustard on sourdough; grilled portabella mushrooms, onions and havarti on rye; bacon, roasted red peppers, feta and mozzarella on sourdough; or, choose your own ingredients. Look for Spacebar to cater to the lunch crowd soon and, later this summer, to boast live music.
Spacebar: 709 W. Broad St. Falls Church, VA; 703-992-0777;www.facebook.com/spacebar.va
Tel’Veh Café & Wine Bar
From the owners of Mediterranean-minded Agora comes Tel’Veh, an ode to vino. Over 300 labels from around the world—35 or so of which are available by the glass—are on the venue’s extensive wine list. Prices by the glass range from $7-$12; bottles go anywhere from $30-$325. Sommelier and general manager Thierry Lesparre ensure that the Vinotemp cruvinet system, a temperature-and humidity-controlled dispenser behind the bar, keeps opened wines fresh. No stale sips here. Chef Chassan Jarrouj, formerly of—surprise—Agora, dishes out prosciutto sandwiches with fresh mozzarella and fig jam and watermelon and feta salad, in addition to cheese and charcuterie plates, to complement the grapes. In the mood for something hot? You’re out of luck. Tel’Veh’s tiny kitchen contains no stove. Hopefully, you’ll be so sloshed you won’t even notice.
Tel’Veh Café & Wine Bar: 401 Massachusetts Ave. NW, DC; 202-241-9696
Urban Eats Arts and Music Café
Capitol Hill’s Ellington’s on Eighth has moved. The DC spot has relocated to Maryland and become Urban Eats, or Urban Restaurant (Coffee) Bar And Neighborhood Employment And Training Services. Like Ellington’s, Urban Eats collaborates with the Arts and Drama Therapy Institute and Project Empowerment to provide on-the-job training to low-income individuals. When you visit Urban Eats, you are providing someone with an opportunity to develop culinary arts and customer service job skills. Musicians and poets show up at the Café, housed in The Artspace USA’s Mount Rainier Artist Lofts, frequently to help promote the spot’s goals. In addition to do-gooding, the venue serves up all-American faves such as burgers, hot dogs, and pizza. Hours are Wednesday-Friday, 4 to 10 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Urban is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Urban Eats Arts and Music Café: 3311 Rhode Island Ave. Mt. Rainier, MD; 202-209-8023; facebook.com/urbaneatsmd
World of Beer
Florida-based beer chain World of Beer is making moves in Virginia. The franchise opens the region’s first location this month. The so-called “craft beer sports bar” is stocked with more than 500 bottles and 50 rotating taps. No low-class brews here: WoB serves everything from widely recognized sips to more obscure names from Germany, Belgium, Israel, Japan, and Australia, among other places. Sports pub food rules the day, with brats, sausages, jalapeno poppers, and meat and cheese platters available for pairing with their beverages. Special sporting events equal early openings and live music acts are expected to play four or five nights a week. No shortage of entertainment? We’ll toast to that.
World of Beer: 901 N. Glebe Rd., Arlington, VA; www.arlingtonva.wobusa.com
Phillip’s Seafood Crab Deck
It’s summer and it’s hot, which means it’s time to enjoy the patios and decks DC offers, including Phillips Seafood’s Crab Deck! Recently renovated, the Crab Deck re-opened in mid-June. Head to Southwest and enjoy Crab Deck Platters and choose from a selection of frozen drinks, creative cocktails, and buckets of beer out in the open air!
Phillips Seafood: 900 Water St. SW, DC; 202-488-8515; www.phillipsseafood.com
Summertime means brunch at The Pig! Quickly becoming a DC staple of meat centric eats, meat lovers will now be able to get their Pig on earlier in the day. Chef de Cuisine Garret Fleming will be serving traditional brunch dishes with a contemporary spin including Smoked Ham Benedict, Gnocchi & Eggs Bacon Lardon, or Huevos Tomatillos.
The Pig: 1320 14th St. NW, DC; 202-290-2821 www.thepigdc.com
The Petworth establishment is giving up-and-coming chefs the chance to show off their skills. In September, owner Kera Carpenter will be giving local cooks the chance to hone their skills by running her kitchen. Customers will get the opportunity to vote for their fave culinary newcomer.
Domku: 821 Upshur St. NW, DC; 202-722-7475; www.domkucafe.com
H Street ramen spot Toki Underground and DC-based clothing brand DURKL are teaming up to bring the city a feast for its eyes and mouth: a food-and-fashion market. The collaborators envision the two-story space as a more modern take on Eastern Market. No word yet on when it will debut.
Maketto: 1351 H St. NE, DC
Teddy and the Bully Bar
Lincoln’s owner, Alan Popovsky, plans to bring another presidential-themed dining establishment to the District. This time, Theodore Roosevelt will be the star of the show. Popovsky’s newly formed Presidential Restaurant Group means diners can expect to see plenty more restos devoted to commanders-in-chief. May we suggest Obamarama?
Teddy & the Bully Bar: 1200 19th St. NW, DC
Townhouse Kitchen & Bar
The urban resto/wine bar is coming to Chinatown, in hopes of snaring the Verizon Center’s crowds. The small plates-focused space will seat up to 301 hungry diners, with a sidewalk café with 46 seats
Townhouse Kitchen & Bar: 700 6th St. NW, DC
Riot Act will be closing for an overhaul and will re-open as Penn Social on July 9. Expect even more live entertainment including music and karaoke, bar games, as well as a projection screen for watching DC sports.
Riot Act: 801 E St. NW, DC; 202-697-4900; www.riotactcomedy.com
The cocktail haven has closed.
Ireland’s 4 Fields
The Cleveland Park place has shut its doors.
Litestars Healthy Bistro
The health-conscious eatery is no longer.
The steak-centric restaurant has closed.
Restaurant 3 Bar & Grill
Clarendon’s bacon-happy grill is no longer.
Penn Quarter’s Zola has closed.
The K Street spot has shut its doors.