The following review appears in The Washington Post’s 2016 Fall Dining Guide.
Nopa Kitchen + Bar
Surprise! The best falafel in town are the nubby chickpea fritters — green with basil, mint and fava beans — served with a whip of tahini yogurt at this American restaurant named for its location north of Pennsylvania Avenue. If you’re in the market for a brunch that’s both civilized and affordable, Nopa, owned by the courtly Ashok Bajaj, is the place to park. (Ask for the Carolina rice bowl fueled with pickled chili and green chorizo and topped with a perfect poached egg.) Honestly, I wasn’t a fan of the townhouse restaurant when it launched. But since assuming the helm two years ago, executive chef Matt Kuhn keeps luring me back with dishes that feature familiar ingredients in preparations that don’t taste like everyone else’s. Tender steamed mussels, flanked with Belgium-worthy fries, bathe in an herbaceous cream broth that channels Korea. Crisp sea bass sits on lemony rice that folds in whatever vegetables are prime. Moist ginger cake gets a nice foil in lemon curd. The icing on top: Solicitous service and a design that shows off white brick walls, red banquettes and floor-to-ceiling windows.
2 1/2 stars
Nopa Kitchen + Bar: 800 F St. NW. 202-347-4667. nopadc.com.
Prices: Mains $14-$34.
Sound check: 70 decibels / Conversation is easy.