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The dining room at A Rake’s Progress is bright


10 Most Exciting New Restaurants

By Nevin Martell with contributions from Jennifer Barger, Kelly Magyarics and Kristen Schott

A Rake's Progress and Sababa photos by Greg Powers | Elle photo by Joe King


It’s about thyme! From to-dine-for debuts to desserts that delight, here are 50 reasons why DC is the new capital of cuisine.

1. A Rake’s Progress
The stone-cold stunner inside AdMo’s hipster-chic Line hotel marks another level of ascent for James Beard Award winner Spike Gjerde, who gained acclaim for Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore. The chef continues to painstakingly adhere to an intensely regional-only sourcing philosophy. Pennsylvania trout, its silver skin lashed with grill marks, arrives with little potato dumplings, while aged Virginia hams are complemented with cheddar gougeres filled with Mornay sauce. POWER MOVE A small selection of barrel-aged spirits affords aficionados the singular opportunity to sample unique iterations of local standouts from the likes of One Eight and Catoctin Creek. 1770 Euclid St. NW, 202.588.0525

2. Ana
Named for its picturesque locale on the Anacostia River, the eatery inside District Winery is a food-loving oenophile’s dream come true. The cuisine from executive chef Ben Lambert accents the grapes; the vino program is led by head winemaker Conor McCormack, who has worked with sister spot Brooklyn Winery since its inception. The list uncorks the brand’s elegant labels (including the dry rosé) and library bottles. This summer, savor the Pacific halibut with charred asparagus and shiitakes (a toast to its flavorful lemongrass-turnip puree and green curry emulsion) with the unoaked chardonnay. POWER MOVE Ask for table 78. You’ll get 360-degree views of the river, restaurant and presidential portraits lining the walls. 385 Water St. SE, 202.484.9210

3. Bresca
When a restaurant’s name means “honeycomb” in Spanish, you know it serves the sweetest bites. That’s what you get here. It’s the first eatery from executive chef Ryan Ratino after working in some of DC’s finest kitchens (Masa 14) and earning praise (a Rising Culinary Star Award from the RAMMYS). It’s a passion project, from the rooftop garden to the cleverly outfitted space to the food—seasonal American with European roots. We’re buzzing over the squab and lobster. The butter-poached shellfish is rich with smoke from its quick visit on the grill before arriving at the table. Pair it with the Bee’s Knees libation for a whimsical twist. POWER MOVE Ratino will craft custom chef experiences for parties of eight or more; they can be as over-the-top as desired and will cater to your every whim. 1906 14th St. NW, 202.518.7926 

4. Brothers and Sisters
Housed in a former church, the Line hotel has a stately grace. At the center of the lobby’s soaring vaulted ceiling is a one-of-a-kind chandelier made from the crisscrossed pipes of the former tenant’s organ. Underneath its gleam, tables, couches and a pair of bars make up Erik Bruner-Yang’s all-day eatery. The menu is rife with unexpected moments, including full caviar service and uni-topped oysters perked up by cucumber mignonette. Further delights await at the chef’s standing-room-only sibling restaurant, Spoken English, which specializes in elevated Asian street food and sake. POWER MOVE Brothers and Sisters’ menu is all available via room service with no upcharge—yet another reason for a staycation here (Monument suite from $5,000 per night). 1770 Euclid St. NW,  202.588.0525

The cocktails at Elle are as pretty as the baked goods, like this classic pisco sour.

5. Chloe
Chef Haidar Karoum’s 3,200-square-foot, 105-seater debut solo venture lives on a busy corner in the Navy Yard. The eminently shareable menu—listed from lighter fare to large-format entrees—is a globe-hopping journey that plays to the culinarian’s many strengths. Expect forays into Asian, New American and European traditions—think grilled bread sporting fluffy Sardinian ricotta drizzled with raw honey, cured cobia crudo blessed with an assertive Vietnamese nuoc cham sauce and tender knuckles of gnocchi complemented by butter-rich trumpet mushroom sauce. POWER MOVE Request a seat at the kitchen counter, and you’ll be able to watch the RAMMY Award-winning chef in action. 1331 Fourth St. SE, 202.313.7007

6. Del Mar de Fabio Trabocchi
This is a culinary love letter to Maria Trabocchi, wife of famed chef Fabio—it pays homage to her soul, her heritage and the traditions of the island of Mallorca. And DC adores it. The food is rich with flavor, from the raw bar to the variety of paellas (squid ink, anyone?) to the handcarved 5J jamon iberico (it’s $26 per ounce) to the octopus for which we scraped our plates. The drinks are vibrant from first glance to last taste. And the scene sizzles, particularly if you snag a seat
at the bar. POWER MOVE Ask for Raventos’ single-vineyard 2007 Mas del Serral. Only 95 bottles made it into the United States: Wine Director Casper Rice sourced it after Maria returned from a trip to Spain and raved about a cava that “blew her mind.” 791 Wharf St. SW, 202.525.1402

7. Elle
An all-star team makes up this Mount Pleasant charmer. Owner Nick Pimentel is behind Bad Saint; pastry chef Lizzy Evelyn is beloved for her bakery, Paisley Fig; and gourmand Brad Deboy is an alum of Blue Duck Tavern. Set in the historic Heller’s Bakery space, the restaurant sports exposed brick and subway-tile flooring offset by polished reclaimed woods and golden fixtures. Deboy has a fascination with fermentation, so roasted asparagus gets a lift from pickled ramps, and country loaf toast is topped with grilled kimchee. POWER MOVE Desserts include honey goat cheese cake and flourless chocolate torte, and with three days’ notice, sweet tooths can score a custom cake featuring both. 3221 Mount Pleasant St. NW, 202.652.0040 

At Sababa, the charred eggplant is paired with herbed labneh, pomegranates and pistachios, and is a small plate not to be missed.

8. Fancy Radish
DC’s first haute vegan concept arrives courtesy of husband-and-wife chef-owners Richard Landau and Kate Jacoby of Philadelphia’s award-winning Vedge. Situated in the newly minted Apollo building in the Atlas District, the eatery boasts a stylish 12-seat marble-topped bar, intimate two-tops and a handful of seats at a counter in front of the open kitchen. Even carnivores will be satiated by the umami-rich creations on hand, such as fiery dan dan noodles, stuffed avocado on a swipe of Romesco sauce and rutabaga fondue with a pillowy pretzel. POWER MOVE Ask for the off-menu salad chock-full of at-the-moment produce from the farms with which the spot works. 600 H St. NE, 202.675.8341

9. Maydan
Hidden away in a back corner of the 130-year-old Manhattan Laundry building in Cardozo, the latest venture from the Compass Rose team is only accessible through an arching green doorway at the end of an alleyway. Inside, co-executive chefs Chris Morgan and Gerald Addison oversee an open, oak-powered stone hearth. The menu is a tribute to owner Rose Previte’s Lebanese heritage, as well as Caucasian, North African and Middle Eastern cuisines, so come prepared to savor turmeric-brined spatchcock chicken and roasted lamb shoulder rubbed with Syrian seven spice. POWER MOVE Though the restaurant is booked weeks out, the team saves spaces for early walk-ins daily. 1346 Florida Ave. NW, 202.370.3696

10. Sababa
The modern Israeli restaurant’s name means “cool” in Hebrew—and it lives up to it handily. The latest venture from serial restaurateur Ashok Bajaj—of Rasika, Bibiana and the Oval Room—is presided over by executive chef Ryan Moore, a veteran of Minibar and Bistro Provence. Meals should begin with salatim, a collection of five dips and spreads, including thicker-than-Greek-yogurt labneh enriched with garlic and sweet, earthy beetroot relish. Kebabs are well-seasoned, grill-fired and pleasantly charred. And there’s a catch of the day roasted in grape leaf. POWER MOVE Complement dinner with a quartet of signature cocktails enriched with Middle Eastern spices, such as sumac, cardamom and rose hips. 3311 Connecticut Ave. NW, 202.244.6750