Democracy Dies in Darkness

Going Out Guide

A preview of José Andrés’ latest concept tops the list of May’s best new restaurants

By Fritz Hahn

June 1, 2018 at 12:00 PM

Butterfly, a pop-up restaurant at José Andrés' ThinkFoodLab, offers a preview of the tacos and tortas that will be available at DC United's forthcoming Audi Field. (Photo by Rey Lopez/)

The new arrivals to Washington's restaurant scene in May were a rich and varied mix: José Andrés previews the tacos-and-tortas concept coming to DC United's Audi Field; a former embassy chef offers Scandinavian treats for breakfast and lunch; a Filipino takeout makes a splash in Rockville; and a Korean food truck turned gas station restaurant finds a permanent home in Takoma Park.

Openings

Butterfly Tacos and Tortas: The latest offering from José Andrés' ThinkFoodLab incubator is Butterfly, which serves a menu of tacos and tortas “inspired by Mexico City’s vibrant street food culture.” Butterfly, open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., serves as a preview for the eatery that Andrés is opening at DC United's Audi Field in July. 701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.

Kuya Ja's Lechon Belly: Filipino continues to be one of the hottest cuisines in the Washington area, as evidenced by the lines outside the fast-casual Kuya Ja's Lechon Belly in Rockville. Don't miss the savory slow-cooked pork belly, crunchy lumpia or chorizo burger. 5268-H Nicholson Lane, Rockville.

[First Bite: It’s all too easy to pig out at Kuya Ja’s Lechon Belly in Rockville]

Mikko's Cafe: Mikko Kosonen, the former chef at the Embassy of Finland, opened Mikko's Cafe in Dupont Circle on May 1, offering pastries, cinnamon rolls and cardamom buns in the mornings, followed by lunch and dinner menus with Danish-style open-face sandwiches, Finnish fish soup, pastas and salads. 1636 R St. NW.

Spice 6 Modern Indian: The growing fast-casual South Indian chain, which has locations in Hyattsville and Vienna, opened its first D.C. restaurant in Chinatown. The menu lets customers match lamb, paneer and chicken with curries and chutneys in rice bowls, naan wraps and salads. There's also an extensive dosa menu. 740 Sixth St. NW.

Orchid: Senart's Oyster and Grill Room has transformed into Orchid, a 1920s-inspired cocktail bar with a seafood-heavy menu, including oysters, shrimp cocktail, seared scallops and crab cakes. On Sundays, the Barracks Row restaurant's “Sundisco” party features “post-brunch” champagne and oyster specials and a DJ spinning disco until 7 p.m. 520 Eighth St. SE.

Opaline: A lively French bar and brasserie has replaced Ici Urban Bistro at the Sofitel. The menu includes a raw bar and a list of classic French dishes, such as steak tartare, escargot, French onion soup, steak tartare, steak frites and ratatouille. 806 15th St. NW.

[First Bite: At Opaline, a polished setting with very little flavor to savor]

Seoul Food: After serving Korean fare from a food truck and at a Wheaton Exxon station, Seoul Food owners J.P. and Anna Goree finally have their own bricks-and-mortar location in Takoma Park. Look for firecracker chicken quesadillas, kimchi-topped tacos and bulgogi-stuffed hoagies as well as more traditional bibimbap and kimchi tofu rice bowls. 7302 Carroll Ave., Takoma Park. 

Lupo Marino: Not long after opening Lupo Verde Osteria in the Palisades, Med Lahlou has expanded his burgeoning restaurant empire to the Wharf. The casual spot features a large oven for making Neapolitan pizzas, plus a comfort food menu of panini, pastas and fried seafood. 40 Pearl St. SW.

The People's Drug: Before CVS and Walgreen's ruled the land, People's Drug stores were a staple of Washington and its suburbs. This dark, boozy ode to the lunch counters at People's includes “craft sandwiches” made with skirt steak or Cuban braised pork shoulder on ciabatta, and a lineup of classic cocktails, such as the Last Word, the Fourth Regiment and the Improved Whiskey Cocktail. 103 N. Alfred St., Alexandria. 

Old House Cosmopolitan Grill: The owners of Alexandria's Bosnian restaurant Cosmopolitan Grill have expanded to Old Town with Old House Cosmopolitan Grill. The difference: The new location includes more German dishes, such as Wiener schnitzel and weisswurst — a nod to chef's Ivica Svalina's time cooking in Germany before coming to America. 1024 Cameron St., Alexandria.

Sign of the Whale: After an unfortunate rebranding as D.C. Tap House, college and kickball favorite Sign of the Whale reopened with its old name on May 10. The college night specials — $2.50 drafts and a DJ from 9 to 11 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday — are still in place. 1825 M St. NW.

The gorgeous bar at Quarter+Glory couldn't help it compete with neighbors in the 14th Street and U Street corridors. (Photo by Daniel Swartz/Quarter+Glory/)

Closings

Five to One: Bartender Trevor Frye's music-inspired U Street cocktail bar “closed for renovations” on April 30. On May 28, he told City Paper's Laura Hayes that it was not, in fact, reopening, and he hoped to relocate somewhere else in the city. Frye said in a statement: “While a very difficult decision for me, sometimes in this industry when you peel back certain layers, you need to make decisions based on business acumen and not the passion we put in to it day in and day out.”

Quarter+Glory: The 14th and U cocktail spot, run by the team behind New York City's Rum House and Ward III, shut its doors after less than 2½ years, citing rising rent and declining bar sales.

Rosario: John Andrade, the owner of local beer hot spots Meridian Pint, Brookland Pint and Smoke and Barrel, shuttered the Adams Morgan Italian restaurant Rosario and is replacing it with (what else?) a taqueria, according to an interview with Eater.

R Family Kitchen: Less than six months after trading taps for a more family-friendly menu, Bethesda's R Family Kitchen and Bar has closed. “Ultimately, all I can think of as I pay the bill is how much I'd rather be eating small plates than this misguided notion of value,” Tom Sietsema wrote in February.

Read more:

The best cheap eats: Virginia suburbs | Maryland suburbs | DC

5 gorgeous bars where the decor is as alluring as the drinks

Sit outside with a frozen drink at these 3 great bars


Fritz Hahn has covered bars, drinks and nightlife for The Washington Post's Weekend section since 2003, but he also writes about a variety of local entertainment topics.

Post Recommends
Outbrain

Going Out Guide

A preview of José Andrés’ latest concept tops the list of May’s best new restaurants

By Fritz Hahn

June 1, 2018 at 12:00 PM

Butterfly, a pop-up restaurant at José Andrés' ThinkFoodLab, offers a preview of the tacos and tortas that will be available at DC United's forthcoming Audi Field. (Photo by Rey Lopez/)

The new arrivals to Washington's restaurant scene in May were a rich and varied mix: José Andrés previews the tacos-and-tortas concept coming to DC United's Audi Field; a former embassy chef offers Scandinavian treats for breakfast and lunch; a Filipino takeout makes a splash in Rockville; and a Korean food truck turned gas station restaurant finds a permanent home in Takoma Park.

We're glad you're enjoying The Washington Post.

Get access to this story, and every story, on the web and in our apps with our Basic Digital subscription.

Already a subscriber?