6 New Restaurant Openings in DC You Need to Know

A new home for a pandemic-born takeout hit, handmade pasta to transport you to Naples, and a dedicated gin bar.

This summer, it feels like a new restaurant is opening every single week with lines down the block of Washingtonians dying to try it. With all of the options out there, it can be hard to keep track of the latest spots worth your time, money, and palate.

That’s where we come in. From a swanky spot with Parisian-style fare that will whisk you off to cities we can’t really visit right now to housemade pasta for comforting, family-style dinners, DC’s newest openings have something for everyone. And if you just need a stiff drink right about now, we’ve got that, too. So read on and get ready to make reservations at the six most exciting bars and restaurants to open in DC recently.

Capa Tosta
Porzia Ciotola making pasta by hand | Photo courtesy of Capa Tosta

Capa Tosta

Columbia Heights

Angelo Ciotola immigrated from Naples, Italy, and in April, he brought his love for family-style Italian cooking to Columbia Heights. When you’re here, you are indeed family. That’s mainly because his parents, Porzia Ciotola and Antonio Ciotola are the chefs and bakers. “Mamma” makes all the pastas by hand, and she even came out of retirement to help the rest of the Ciotola family in the kitchen.

The menu’s flavors hit on all the hallmarks of a red sauce joint—yes, there’s eggplant and chicken parm, as well as housemade pastas and refreshing cocktails, like The Fiore, a take on pisco sour with pomegranate, cardamom eggwhite, and lemon.

Available for Reservations
Crazy Aunt Helen’s
Photo by ABDUL RAHMAN MAJEEDI

Crazy Aunt Helen’s is the latest addition to Capitol Hill’s Barracks Row, and it brings a homey, eclectic vibe with Southern flair to the block. Chef Mykie Moll is a DC native who wants you to feel as if you’re eating at grandma’s house, so that means there’s tender love and care built into every dish.

The menu includes family-inspired dishes like Bega’s Brisket, a version of Moll’s grandmother’s traditional Jewish-style brisket with horseradish aioli, mashed potatoes, and carrot vichy. In addition to comfort food, the menu reflects seasonal ingredients, as well as vegan options, like a vegan-style crab cake with smoked asparagus, redskin potatoes, and hollandaise sauce. Crazy Aunt Helen’s serves lunch and dinner, and starting this month, the restaurant will host dinner-and-a-show performances on the second-floor stage.

How to book: Reservations via website

Daru
Photo courtesy of Daru

Daru

H Street

This hotly anticipated restaurant from Suresh Sundas and Dante Datta (both formerly with Rasika) is now open at the corner of Maryland Avenue and H Street, NE. Since opening earlier this month, the buzz has brought lines of people starting at the 5 pm seating and continuing all night long.

Daru is based on the history, culture, and flavors of India. The menu has classic dishes like chicken tikka masala, paneer pesto korma, and wild mushroom biryani. But there are also several nontraditional “Indian-ish” takes, like desi guacamole served with naan chips and a roasted sweet potato and cauliflower salad.

The bridge to India also extends to the bar, where spices and flavors transform cocktails, like the Hari Daiquiri which calls for rum, lime, mint, cilantro, and kefir—it’s a drink inspired by the taste of green chutney. Reservations are now available, which may help with that opening queue.

How to book: Reservations via website

Lucky Danger
Photo courtesy of Lucky Danger

Lucky Danger

Pentagon City

After a wildly successful launch amid the pandemic, chefs Tim Ma and Andrew Chiou expanded their DC-based takeout restaurant to Virginia in July, moving operations to Arlington’s Pentagon City neighborhood. Ma and Chiou have received numerous accolades over the past year for conceiving a takeout spot that pays its respects to Chinese-American cuisine, so it’s time to check it out if you haven’t already.

One of the most popular dishes is the cashew chicken, which calls for fried bites of chicken rather than the stir-fried version. Combined with roasted cashews and veggies, it’s a saucy dish perfect for soaking up with a side of rice. A salty companion is the salt-and-pepper-spiced pork ribs which are served with grilled onions and jalapeno peppers for added heat.

Ready-to-drink canned cocktails from this spot are a great way to cool down this summer. Try the Lucky Punch with floral aromas and gently bitter flavors, or the Golden Flower, an iced tea cocktail that packs a punch.

Available for Delivery/Takeout
La Bise
Photo courtesy of La Bise / Greg Powers

La Bise

Downtown

For a modern, bright, and colorful Parisian-style restaurant, head to La Bise, which opened in June at the former Oval Room location in Downtown DC. The updated space comes with an expanded outdoor patio, an inviting bar, and open-air kitchen.

Executive chef Tyler Stout features some of the freshest summer ingredients on a menu that leans heavy on classic French cuisine. A barberie duck breast is served with summer corn, local blueberries, and in a huckleberry jus. Meanwhile, his foie is being sourced from the Hudson Valley and is accompanied by fresh peaches and basil.

And while travel to Paris may still be tricky, the dining room is ready to whisk you away. Deep tufted banquettes and custom murals of the City of Love evoke the colors and patterns you might find in a modern brasserie.

Available for Reservations

The Wells

Eastern Market

Swanky is the only word that comes to mind when walking into this gin joint in Eastern Market on Capitol Hill that opened in June. The bar follows a mantra that “all good things come to those who drink gin,” and yes, the menu focuses on this singular and signature spirit. From refreshing drinks for summer like the Patio Spritz mixed with orange-thyme shrub, aperitif, gin, and cava to bold drinks like “The Professional” which combines gin with olive oil, bay-leaf infused vermouth, and orange bitters, there’s something for every gin drinker (and even those looking to be converted).

Of course, something so classy also calls for an upscale snack. Might we suggest the potato chips and caviar? It will set you back a pretty penny ($115) but you’ll also be feasting on some of the freshest and most sustainably raised caviar in the world flown in from Uruguay. The bar is open on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and there is a gin society membership for those looking to enjoy gin drinks at home and experience VIP status at the bar.

How to book: Reservations via website

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Tim Ebner is an award-winning food, drink, and travel writer. He lives on Capitol Hill and has a weakness for Old Bay Seasoning. Follow him on Twitter: @TimEbner