On Tap scouts out the restaurants, bars and clubs that are new to the scene or shaking things up.
A-Town Bar & Grill
This Ballston bar takes the place of Mike Cordero’s onetime resto Caribbean Breeze. Still owned by Cordero, the new spot aims to win customers of A-town—that’s Arlington for you District kids—over with a revamped approach to dining that focuses more on its core customers. “There’s a great group of long-term Arlington residents here who are great people and who still stay laid-back amidst a very busy, business savvy town,” says manager Scott Parker. “A-Town Bar & Grill will look to highlight that feeling…giving the busy people of Arlington and the area a place to unwind and relax with great food and great people.” An expanded outdoor patio and plenty of flat screen TVs amp up the casual vibe. Diners can order from a varied “little bit of everything” menu that includes, among other items, sushi, sandwiches, flatbread pizzas and steaks. An expanded beer list complements the bites.
A-Town Bar & Grill: 4100 Fairfax Dr. Arlington, VA; www.a-townballston.com
Fruit Bat’s out, Atlas Arcade is in. The now-closed classy sip spot has reopened once more as a bar, but this time with a gaming flair. Fans of ‘80s-style arcades are likely to love Atlas Arcade’s old-school décor, taking the form of Ms. Pac-Man, Galaga, Atari and Donkey Kong games. Owner Eric Holzherr also ripped out the Fruit Bat kitchen to make room for a pool table. Don’t get too used to the joint’s name, however. Enjoy two taps and about a dozen bottled or canned beers, including the ever-present DC Brau and a handful of Abita varietals. Expect the Church and State-adjacent bar to focus more on beers than cocktails. Also, note that Holzherr hopes to bring “something Twister-related” to his newest space. Drunken Twister? We can dig it.
Atlas Arcade: 1236 H St. NE, DC; 202-399-2323; www.facebook.com/atlasarcade
If you can’t make the trek to London for the Summer Olympics, head to DC’s newest Brit bar, the Brixton, instead. This ode to Anglos is perfect for watching—or just discussing—the Games. Stacked three stories high, there are bars on all three levels and a bar menu available on the first two floors, plus an extended dinner menu available in the dining room. Watching the swimming finals with a drink in hand is infinitely better than watching without. The outdoor drinking oasis that is the rooftop bar offers up eight taps of British beers, like the Belhaven Twisted Thistle IPA, in either full or 20-ounce pints; half-pints are available for those looking for a smaller sample. English-style street food dominates the menus and a Ploughman’s Lunch of charcuterie and cheese is a welcome touch of tradition. Along with food and drink, comfort is supplied in spades: the second-story lodge is decked out with fireplaces and plenty of leather seating; antler chandeliers add a little character to the setting. Brixton does brunch Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Look for late-night menus, coming soon.
The Brixton: 901 U St. NW, DC; 202-560-5045; www.brixtondc.com
El Chucho Cocina Superior
Columbia Heights has no shortage of great Mexican restaurants, but that hasn’t stopped El Chucho from moving in. And really, can you ever have too many great Mexican restaurants? The 11th Street spot’s air of authenticity comes courtesy of Chef Diana Davila-Boldin, whose family is from San Luis Potosi, Mexico, and who studied under Susana Trilling in Oaxaca. The District has already been buzzing over Davila-Boldin’s extremely tasty pasilla chiles stuffed with pork belly. The “Superior” in Chucho’s name says it all. The drinks are worth discussing too, with six beer taps (Bear Republic IPA, Negra Modelo, and more), a $5 margarita with Triple Sec on tap, and a line-up of six other house margs, such as the Todos Naturales with organic tequila and agave, and the cilantro-spiked Whipped Avocado; house cocktails come with creative names like the ginger beer-dubbed “El Diablo” and the Talisker/Barenjager “Señor Clusterf*ck.” The joint errs on the casual side, a point proven by their jicama salad, served in plastic baggies like their street food inspiration. No need to rush while dining at Chucho—they’re open until 2 a.m. weekdays and 3 a.m. weekends. Sí, we approve.
El Chucho Cocina Superior: 3313 11th St. NW, DC; 202-290-3313
Dangerously Delicious Pies
Danger, indeed. Calorie-counters, consider yourselves warned: DDP is opening its second DC location. Rocker Rodney Henry first opened the sweet-and-savory pie place in Baltimore’s Canton neighborhood before bringing it to the District’s H Street corridor; now, diners can nosh on the now-famous pies in DC’s NW neighborhood. “Basically, its going to be a NW post for folks who cant make the trek down to H Street regularly,” says owner Sandra McKeever. “It’s a mini-version of the H Street shop.” Our top pick is the crazy popular Baltimore Bomb—the decadent pastry is loaded with melted down Berger Cookies (a local MD specialty) swirled into a sweet vanilla chess filling. We wouldn’t say no to a classic cherry or apple pie either. Not to be outdone, the savory options are equally amazing. Among them are the Steak Chili pie, a spicy concoction of steak, onions, tomatoes, and kidney beans; the Pork BBQ pie, a pastry stuffed with onions, red and green bell peppers, and homemade barbeque sauce smothered over hand-pulled pork; and the Hot Rod Potato pie, a cheesy onion-and-roasted-potatoes-filled dish. Dining a deux? Get any two slices of savory pie, plus any two slices of sweet pie, with two drinks for just $20. Sweet deal.
Dangerously Delicious Pies: 1339 H St. NE, DC; 202-398-7437 901 7th St. NW, DC; www.dangerouspiesdc.com
Aside from the obvious—a family seated around the dining room table, eating dinner together—the name of Bryan Voltaggio’s newest spot also refers to the gathering of a restaurant staff to break bread before the dinner rush begins. The Top Chef star’s 86-seat venue is housed in an unlikely location—a former car dealership. The extra-large parking lot is your biggest clue to the building’s former life. Inside the updated interior, most of the restaurant’s seats are centered around a main counter, where Chef Adam Howard serves upscale takes on homey diner dishes. Howard’s Alabama roots are evident in his Southern-fried creations; think pimento cheese, fried green tomatoes, fried chicken cooked in pickle brine, and pork chop with peach relish. Vegetarians, have no fear—veggie’s from Voltaggio’s other resto (Volt)’s garden crop up in meat-free menu items such as rye cavatelli tossed with broccoli rabe, pecorino and arugula. We saved the best for last: a section of the menu called B.F.D., or Breakfast For Dinner, offers up dishes such as buckwheat pancakes with pulled pork and duck egg poutine. We’ll take the smell of BFD over that new car smell any day of the week.
Family Meal: 880 N. East St. Frederick, MD; 301-378-2895; www.voltfamilymeal.com
New Orleans Po’ Boy Shop
Last year’s Mardi Gras-style restaurant takeover isn’t complete just yet—meet New Orleans Po’ Boy Shop, a late contender in the Big Easy-themed restaurant madness. The Dupont Circle venue features classic po’ boy sandwiches (over a dozen), in addition to a rotating roster of red beans and rice, jambalaya, and more Louisiana staples—think Gulf shrimp, crispy fried calamari, house smoked ham, and fried cornmeal crusted oysters. The housemade pork belly BLT is a must for all visitors. Save room for breakfast too—the beignets in mango sauce are one of the few things that make us look forward to early mornings. Co-owners Cam McNair and Justin Snyder are starting small; the tiny shop will have just 15 seats. The fewer people to steal your beignets, the better!
New Orleans Po’ Boy Shop: 1205 19th St. NW, DC; 202-621-8118; www.dcpoboyshop.com
Penn Quarter’s one-time comedy club, the Riot Act Comedy Theater, has transformed itself into Penn Social. The newly-named bar and restaurant will use the 300-capacity room currently used for stand-up comedy as a game room. The two-level E Street spot is still all about fun—Social is partnering with United Social Sports, an adult recreational sports league, to offer a line-up including shuffleboard, pool tables, skee-ball machines, darts, bocce, and corn hole. For those that prefer to watch games to playing them, six 10-foot projection screens and one 20-foot HD screen will broadcast sporting events year-round. On the main stage, weekend performers, in addition to karaoke singers, will entertain customers getting their game on. Comedy hasn’t been completely kicked to the curb—look for comedy open mic nights on the schedule, coming soon. When not partaking in games or shows, barflies can enjoy the 30-some draftt lines at the downstairs bar. A sidewalk patio is in the works for warm weather visitors.
Penn Social: 801 E St. NW, DC; 202-697-4900; www.pennsocialdc.com
Mutiny! Pirates have reclaimed this Silver Spring restaurant as their own after a makeover-gone-wrong courtesy of Spike TV’s Bar Rescue show failed to take. In less than 36 hours, the program transformed Piratz into Corporate Grill & Bar in an attempt to target a perceived hole in the area’s dining offerings. Owners and customers alike felt like the once themed venue had lost its decidedly quirky soul. Not long after going up, the office-y decorations—notepads placed on every table, faceless executive cutouts adorning the walls—were taken down in favor of more Jolly Roger-friendly décor. Gone are the sleek high-top tables and stools; wooden chairs and tables crafted by co-owner Juciano Rebelo are in their place. Skeletons and stuffed parrots are what customers see upon entering the Tavern these days. The space itself was reconfigured and now boasts three bars, including a new draft bar and a tiki bar serving frozens, crushes and a selection of canned beers. The menus are worth a look at too, with a list of creatively-dubbed dishes such as the Treasure Island Booty, Da Real Deal Shrimp, Jack Tar’s Nightmare, Gangway!, and Hang Me Caesar splashed across the pages. “We not only survived Bar Rescue’s wrath, but came back stronger!” says Juciano’s wife, and co-owner, Tracy Rebelo. If the “walk the plank” shtick isn’t enough fun for you, Piratz has plenty of entertainment options in the form of Wench Wednesdays (Ladies Night), Mojito Nights, Reggae Nights, and Get Your Game on Brunch, held on the last Saturday of every month with an all-you-can-eat-buffet and bottomless mimosas. Aye, aye Captain—we’re there.
Piratz Tavern: 8402 Georgia Ave. Silver Spring, MD; 301-588-9001; www.piratztavern.com
Prime is making changes, their biggest being a new executive chef in the form of Chris Ferrier. Only in charge for a few weeks, Ferrier is already adding some of his own creations to The Fairfax at Embassy Row. Pan-fried halibut crusted with paper-thin slices of potato, and crab salad with watermelon topped with a pickled ginger and sesame-seed dressing are just a couple of the new chef’s menu additions.
2100 Prime: 2100 Massachusetts Ave. NW, DC; 202-835-2100; www.2100prime.com
Fuego Cocina and Tequileria
Passion Food Hospitality is moving into the old Market Tavern location. Clarendon can expect the Mexican-minded kitchen to be headed up by Mexico native Alfredo Solis of District Commons. Fuego will open this fall.
Fuego Cocina and Tequileria: 2800 Clarendon Blvd. Arlington, VA
O’Sullivan’s owners have signed a new lease that will allow them to expand into two adjacent storefronts, Fragrance World and Sam’s Corner, going from 1,800 square feet to 3,350 square feet.
O’Sullivan’s: 3207 Washington Blvd. Arlington, VA; 703-812-0939; www.osullivansirishpub.com
Despite being reported as closed by the Post, Mount Pleasant’s pizza place is sticking around. The venue is being sold and is only temporarily closed while the deal is finalized and the liquor license transferred. Expect the name and pizza recipe to stay the same, but much of the menu will be revamped with more family-style pastas and salads as well as new entrees and daily specials. Radius hopes to reopen in September.
Radius: 3155 Mt. Pleasant St. NW, DC; 202-234-0808; www.radiusdc.com
The popular pizzeria is shuttering for about a month. Don’t stress—they’ll be bigger and better when they return. After knocking out a wall and adding about 20 feet of space, about 19 more customers will be able to sit in the Capitol Hill space. Look for fans to keep diners cool, plus a bigger patio, when Seventh returns.
Seventh Hill: 327 7th St. SE, DC; 202-544-1911; www.montmartredc.com/seventhhill
The Cajun Experience
The 18th Street New Orleans eatery is no longer.
The high-profile Penn Quarter project has shut down.
Italian eatery Potenza has closed.