While you were hibernating this Winter, some big things happened. Some of the best of Baltimore invaded DC, the city became even more meaty, and whiskey continued its utter and rightful drink domination. If you haven’t added these nine fresh spots to your repertoire, then the time is now! Well, soon -- right after you finish reading.
The 9 best DC Winter restaurant openings
Heavy Seas Alehouse (click here for info and address)
This pirate-themed alehouse had the potential to get a little too Epcot, but it has just the right amount of nautical-ness. Beers from Baltimore brewer Heavy Seas are the focus, but don’t miss the Musket Ball cocktail with bourbon, rye, house-made Gold Ale syrup, lemon, and black walnut bitters. Finish a meal of Old Bay caramel corn and crab cakes with a Peg Leg Float. There’s nothing like vanilla ice cream bobbing like a buoy in a pint of Imperial Stout.
Roofers Union (click here for info and address)
From defunct and debaucherous to coolly industrial, Roofers Union has no resemblance to its former tenant, The Reef. Marvel at the makeover from your seat under the coverall wall or from the recently opened roof deck. Chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley, despite her XX chromosomes, knows how to throw a sausage party. Links are the stars of her menu -- like the Andouille corndog or beer brat. You’ll be drinking craft beer or a cocktail named after your bartender’s favorite song.
Red Apron Butcher (click here for info and address)
"Where can I get a @#$%& breakfast sandwich in this city!?" Calm down, disembodied voice -- all you need is the long-awaited Downtown location of one of DC’s favorite meat markets. Red Apron said "suck it nooks and crannies" by one-upping English muffins with Italian tigelles that brilliantly hold eggs, chorizo, and the like. Come lunchtime, the nap-inducing Sunday Supper sandwich is a must: juicy pot roast, horseradish mashed potatoes, and beet slaw squeezed into a shiny, egg-washed roll.
The Partisan (click here for info and address)
An inch away from Red Apron Butchery is another meatscapade from the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, as you may recall. Start dinner by making check marks on a meat menu divided by flavor profile. After the charcuterie course, up your protein ambition and tackle the entire pig’s head on a platter. The Partisan menu shows promise from start to finish, thanks to the beer encyclopedia that is Greg Engert and the pastry expertise of Tiffany MacIsaac. Except for the Malört, because that’s just gross.
Rí Rá Georgetown & Whiskey Room (click here for info and address)
Most of Rí Rá Georgetown is salvaged straight from Ireland, including the majority of servers and one of the most impressive Irish whiskey lists in the country. The expansive downstairs pub is bold and boisterous, while the upstairs Whiskey Room is sultry and welcoming to both novices and know-it-alls. Seek advice from their badass Scotch Sommelier (yea, that's a thing) or challenge a bud to a whiskey duel in a room lined with neon portraits of US presidents with an ounce of Irish in them.
Carolina Kitchen (click here for info and address)
Rhode Island Row NE
This sprawling comfort food spot has a gold-hued, knickknack-filled interior that feels a little Vegas. Fortunately, the food is way homier. We have Chef/owner Lance London’s grandmother to thank for items like grilled baby back ribs and golden fried snapper. If it comes from the sea, there’s a good chance Carolina Kitchen can fry it up for you Southern-style.
Den of Thieves (click here for info and address)
Say goodbye to Hanoi House and hello to a DJ-driven bar that does classic cocktails on the cheap -- just when you thought an $8 Negroni was a NW DC impossibility. In addition to $8 drinks, there are snacks like Korean fried chicken and hot dogs topped with Asian slaw. Keep an eye out for owner Eric Hilton -- he sometimes mans the DJ booth himself.
Dram & Grain (click here for info and address)
If you want to nab a coveted seat in this underground whiskey den, you’ll have to text the bartenders on a burner phone. The number? That’s a secret. Those in possession of the number can choose from 15 signature drinks including a cold-smoked cocktail and an elixir that morphs from a Sazerac into a Vieux Carre by way of a melting ice cube made of Benedictine, vermouth, and bitters. For now, they’re only open Saturday nights. Here are 12 reasons to visit.
Bidwell (click here for info and address)
If you want to see an actual waiter at Union Market, make a reservation at Bidwell -- the market’s only fullservice restaurant. They take sustainability seriously by utilizing the rooftop garden and sourcing local whenever possible. Ask your plaid-appointed server to source a patty melt straight to your table with vintage cheddar and Thousand Island dressing on rye. It’s an option for both brunch and dinner, and fortunately so is their lobster taco.
1. Roofers Union2446 18th St NW, Washington
2. Heavy Seas Alehouse Arlington1501 Wilson Blvd, Arlington
3. Red Apron Butcher709 D St NW, Washington
4. The Partisan709 D St NW, Washington
5. Rí Rá Georgetown / Whiskey Room3125 M St NW, Washington
6. Carolina Kitchen2350 Washington Pl NE, Washington
7. Den of Thieves2005 14th St NW, Washington
8. Dram & Grain2007 18th St NW, Washington
9. Bidwell1309 5th St NE, Washington
Complete with a "coverall wall" (it's exactly what it sounds like), Roofers Union is a cool, industrial-looking rooftop perch in Adams Morgan. Craft beers and cocktails complement a menu full of hearty sausages, burgers, and snacks. In addition to enjoying a drink on the roof deck, keep your eye on Roofers Union for inventive events, beer release parties, and standout specials.
Heavy Seas in Rosslyn is a pirate-themed pub with 15 drafts, two casks, experimental cocktails, and American comfort pub fare that leans towards tasty seafood, expertly prepared using fresh and seasonal ingredients. The rustic-industrial, warehouse-like space is decked out with plank-lined walls, dark wood furniture, and buoyed string lights. It’s great for groups, especially themed parties.
Start with a quality butcher that's got all the meats and provisions you could ask for, add a delicious menu of specialty breakfast and lunch sandwiches, mix in some coffee from Ceremony, and you've got yourself Red Apron Butcher. Speaking of their breakfast sandwiches, all of them are served on tigelle -- a tasty Italian flatbread reminiscent of an English muffin -- and come in varieties that you'd be hard-pressed to find elsewhere in DC, like the Southern Comfort with tasso ham, egg, and spicy pimento cheese.
With 30+ charcuterie options, medium plates like sausages and corned beef belly, and feasts like a whole roasted pig's head, The Partisan will cater to your meat cravings, no matter your appetite.
Ri Ra Georgetown has hearty Irish pub fare, 16 taps and up to 100 bottles of fine craft beers, and a whole floor dedicated to a special brown liquor oasis -- The Whiskey Room has 200+ whiskeys, simple but high-quality cocktails, and a ton of knowledge behind the bar to guide you on your boozy travels.
Carolina Kitchen has a down-home menu of comfort foods like grilled baby back ribs and golden fried snapper, with just the right amount of knickknackery on the walls to make you feel like you're at grandma's.
$8 cocktails in NW DC and cool snacks like Korean fried chicken and Asian slaw-topped hot dogs make the DJ-driven Den of Thieves a unique -- and worthwhile -- stop on your nights out. Bonus points for their awesome owner Eric Hilton, who you may find on the ones and twos every now and again.
Dram & Grain is a badass underground whiskey den run by Trevor Frye and Nick Lowe of Jack Rose Dining Saloon (which just so happens to be what is on top of said whiskey den). If you can get the secret phone number (via secret business card), you can text these guys on their burner (so cool!) and get yourself into one of three seatings on Saturdays only. Expect creative cocktails (red-hot pokers, smoke-filled concoctions), whiskey on tap, and only one vodka drink (called the Training Wheels -- just don't order it, ok?).
The one full-service restaurant in Union Market, Bidwell features Chef John Mooney's Southern goodness, including a patty melt complete with vintage cheddar and Thousand Island dessing on rye. Also worth noting: they have a lobster taco.