On Tap scouts out the restaurants, bars and clubs that are new to the scene or shaking things up.
Art is awesome, but art and eats? Even better, especially when you add booze. This Dupont Circle spot is all about inspiring you to get creative, with as little pressure as possible. Not an artist? Not a problem. ArtJamz provides you with a paintbrush and an adult beverage, before leaving you to do your own arty thing, away from prying eyes. If you would appreciate a little instruction, the studio’s employees—many of whom are former or current art students—are more than happy to provide you with a few pointers. Prices are decent—a glass of Malbec sets you back $8—and catering options from Roti Mediterranean Grill or Flipping Pizza are available. “It says tons that ArtJamz launched and took hold in DC; not Brooklyn, LA, Portland, or San Fran,” says founder Michael Clements. “Can we put the ‘DC is not creative’ thing to rest now?”
ArtJamz: 1742 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC; 202-709-8078;
Chef Geoff Tracy is set to join his wife, CBS This Morning’s Norah O’Donnell, in New York City full time starting in January. Luckily, the District will never be left wanting for some of his signature meals thanks to the opening of his sixth restaurant—and the fourth Chef Geoff’s—in Rockville. Setting up shop in the short-lived Againn space, Tracy’s newest menu showcases his best dishes from his other restaurants, including shrimp and grits, pizza, burgers, and more. Customers can expect a mostly new drink menu, though. The 30 beers on tap are joined by alcoholic slushies, craft cocktails with a tiki theme, and homemade sodas with fresh fruit. Chef Santos Fuentes is a former—where else?—Chef Geoff toque. According to him, Tracy plans to open five more local restaurants by 2020. The chef himself may be moving, but his franchise isn’t going anywhere.
Chef Geoff’s: 12256 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD; 240-621-3090; www.www.chefgeoff.com
The team behind Tryst and The Diner are in charge of this already-busy Columbia Heights hotspot. Coupe is a bar/diner combo of owner Constantine Stavropoulos’ previous two places that’s a little more upscale—and open 24 hours. The 7,000 square foot space has something for everyone: the aforementioned bar and diner are joined by a coffee shop and a lounge, all of which cater to District crowds all day and all night. Eggs, waffles, and other diner mainstays are served at all hours, with other entrees and specials served at different times. Twists on classic dishes are a welcome addition to the comfort food-heavy menu. Pad Thai omelet, anyone? Homemade pastries are on offer, as well. Coupe’s bar program offers 40 wines under $40, plus 16 draft beers and eight rotating keg wines. You can sample your sips while admiring art from local artists that will rotate regularly. The Coupe is a real coup for the District, indeed.
The Coupe: 3415 11th St. NW, DC; 202-290-3342;
Gastropubs are everywhere these days. Drafting Table brings something different to the, well, table, however, with an architecture theme used cleverly and cozily throughout the space. The bar top and many of the dining tables are old architect desks; industrial stools are lined up at the bar. Blueprints hang from several ceilings, while old bus depot lights hang over a 14-top communal table. Not sure how they fit into the architecture theme, but we’re loving the soft glow they add to the venue. Comfort food and 16 draft lines go even further to give customers that warm-and-fuzzy feeling. Snickers pie and grilled stickies a la mode are worth hanging around post-dinner for.
Drafting Table: 1529 14th St. NW, DC; 202-621-7475; www.draftingtabledc.com
Fuego Cocina and Tequileria
The former Harry’s Tap Room and Market Tavern establishment has gone Mexican. Mexican joints are hip now, but very few make their own tortillas, something worth boasting about. Fuego does, and they’re delicious. Extra-spicy salsa and authentic-tasting tacos are among Fuego’s other highlights. The vaunted tequila selection is no letdown, either—the space has 100+ options, including a flight of the liquor for just $13. Harry’s and Market fans might not recognize the drastically-different space, though. Interior highlights include a 50-foot wraparound bar, a large fireplace, and an open kitchen. Colorful murals line the walls, too. We say “Si.” to Fuego.
Fuego Cocina and Tequileria: 2800 Clarendon Blvd. Arlington, VA; 571-970-2180; www.fuegova.com
Leek American Bistro
The one-time Thai Terrace is now home to owner and chef Nathan Spitali’s American eatery. Spitali, who previously owned the BBQ Bandidos food truck, is happy to have a brick-and-mortar shop to cook in. Comfort is also paramount at Leek: “Don’t want to dress up? We don’t mind,” says Spitali. “We don’t think eating well needs to be pretentious or hard work.” His focus is less on fashion and more on using locally-sourced goods and ingredients, from the reclaimed wood at the bar to the sip selection, which features plenty of Virginia wines and beers from local breweries. Each food item on the menu, several of which are gluten-free and vegetarian, will have a suggested beer and wine pairing for drink novices. Another new addition to the venue that former Thai Terrace frequenters will appreciate: restrooms.
Leek American Bistro: 801 N. Quincy St. Arlington, VA; 571-312-4036; www.leekbistro.com
Maddy’s Tap Room
The team behind Maddy’s Bar & Grill is responsible for this self-described “Texican” restaurant. But don’t visit expecting your standard burritos and tacos. Maddy’s dishes include the more original El Paso brisket with mesquite potato salad, crock pot chicken criolla, ancho-barbeque-pineapple pork ribs, and Cowboy ribeye smothered in tomatillo relish. An adjoining tap room paneled in German pine pushes 40 flavors, including local faves like Starr Hill Northern Lights and a not-so-near British-style IPA dubbed Union Jack.
Maddy’s Tap Room: 1100 13th St. NW, DC; 202-408-5500; www.maddystaproom.com
This new kid on the block has received overwhelmingly positive reviews from most diners and critics, all of whom have proclaimed their love for Menomale’s Neapolitan-style pizza and high-brow beer selection. Antique Italian artifacts and a wood-burning oven shipped straight from Naples give the spot some serious cred, as does the certified on-staff pizzaiolo. Platters of cheese and salami complement pies such as the Bianca, made with cream and prosciutto, and the Terra, made with artichokes and mushrooms. Their 20 draft lines rotate constantly, great for beer fiends looking to try something new. The low soundtrack of opera music adds a nice note to your night of thin-crusted deliciousness.
Menomale: 2711 12th St. NE, DC; 202-248-3946; www.menomale.us
Pleasant Pops Farmhouse Market & Café
Popsicle-flavors favorite Pleasant Pops opened its first ever storefront location in Adams Morgan, chock-full of dry goods, coffee, and a sandwich menu. We suggest trying the peanut butter and Nutella sandwich with plum preserves. Pleasant, which got its start at the Mount Pleasant Farmers’ Market, continues their love of all things local by carrying area brands such as Gordy’s Pickles and Trickling Springs Creamery. Ceremony coffee and desserts from local bakery Whisked are on hand, too. “After growing our business with the help of so many others, we wanted to pay it forward, so we showcase a lot of other small DC companies on our shelves,” says co-owner Roger Horowitz. Of course, popsicles are on site. A few of the flavors for sale include cucumber chile, watermelon black pepper, honey apricot and peach ginger.
Pleasant Pops Farmhouse Market & Café: 1781 Florida Ave. NW, DC; 202-558-5224;
This Denver-based chain’s name is quite literal: burger patties here are smashed on a butter griddle with a smashing tool before being seasoned and served. The chain adds a regional recipe in every new spot that they open—DC’s signature menu item is the Capital Burger, a grilled onion, aged Swiss cheese, baby arugula and apple wood smoked bacon-topped culinary creation. “I had a lot of fun putting together the Capital Burger,” says Smashburger founder Tom Ryan. “It’s a part of our culture to find the local flavors and trends that are part of the personality of a city.” Smash serves more than just burgers, though. Fried and grilled chicken sandwiches, veggie burgers, hot dogs, and rosemary and garlic-seasoned fries are among the other edible options. Smash on, we say.
Smashburger: 10160 Fairfax Blvd. Fairfax, VA; 703-291-1264; www.smashburger.com
The District’s newest market is a rebirth of sorts—the commercial space is modeled after The Centre, once the largest market in DC, which first opened in 1871. The new version of the culinary emporium is 47,000 square feet—you better start exploring. Over 100 businesses now operate out of the self-named “urban village.” Among them are Buffalo & Bergen, mixologist Gina Chersevani’s soda shop venture, Almaala Farms, a fresh produce stand, Oh! Pickles, a one-stop spot for pickle lovers, and Harvey’s Meat Market, a family run business for over 80 years. Pop-up artisans, who set up shop temporarily at the market, rotate frequently. Past and present pop-ups include Puree, an artisan juice bar, Pearl, a tea shop, and Endless Summer Harvest, a grower of gourmet lettuces and salad greens. “The goal of Union Market is to give the community access to good food,” says Director of Culinary Strategy Richie Bradenburg. “We want DC to be viewed as a food city!”
Union Market: 1309 5th St. NE, DC; www.unionmarketdc.com
The Café’s Chef Bart Vandaele is just one of a few District-area toques set to appear on the upcoming season of Bravo’s Top Chef. Before the show airs on November 7, Vandaele will help Belga celebrate its 8th anniversary. Customers can join in on the celebration and check out the venue’s revamped Gebakjekeuken (or patisserie) for delicious new desserts.
Belga Café: 514 8th St. SE, DC; 202-544-0100; www.belgacafe.com
The relatively new British pub’s opening chef, Jeffrey Jew, has departed to film Top Chef. Taking his place in the kitchen is Jorge Pimentel, former owner of the Sabor’a Street Latin-inspired food truck. Pimentel also served stints at Masa 14 and Commonwealth Gastropub. The revamped menu still reflects the many styles of food available in London’s Brixton neighborhood, but debuts new dishes such as lobster pie and red Thai coconut curry. High tea and Sunday roasts have also debuted.
The Brixton: 901 U St. NW, DC; 202-560-5045; www.brixtondc.com
In honor of the 18th Street spot’s newly redesigned bar, the upscale grill is launching a new happy hour menu and a locally-inspired beer lineup. The expansion of the drinks menu includes 10 new taps, a $4 handle, martinis, and wine specials. Maryland-made Flying Dog Old Scratch Amber is one of the new draft selections—sample it while washing down new bar menu items like the crab cake BLT or the parmesan truffle frites.
Daily Grill: 1200 18th St. NW, DC; 202-822-5282; www.dailygrill.com
Arlington’s sushi spot has closed.
Marrakesh Palace is no longer.
Dupont Circle’s Moroccan eatery is no longer.