Tail Up Goat

Adams Morgan

This spot might just be the coolest opening of 2016 so far, thanks to the young, passionate team that put it together. Their pedigrees include Komi and Little Serow, so expectations were high... but consider them met. Some of the dishes are kind of wacky, but work, like cavatelli with a savory octopus ragu, maltagliati with fermented honey sausage & pea shoots, and charred chocolate rye bread served with a whole sardine. Pro tip: don’t neglect to order the lamb ribs, and use a meal at Tail Up Goat to expand your wine horizons -- this list is full of funky picks.

Courtesy of Scott Suchman

Columbia Room

Shaw

"Welcome to the Columbia Room, here’s a frankincense-scented towel to freshen up." This should give you a good first impression of the level of service and overall pomp offered at this resurrected cocktail authority. The new Columbia Room, which comes courtesy of bar stars Derek Brown, Angie Salame, and J.P. Fetherston, is much larger than the cubbyhole original in the rear of The Passenger (RIP). Opt for a reservations-only cocktail tasting menu, or an a la carte experience in the reading room or al fresco punch garden, both available to walk-ins. We’re not usually much for novelties with our cocktails, but check this out: the "I Never Promised You a Zen Garden" comes with a real Zen garden you can rake, made out of plum sugar. Yes.

Courtesy of Joy Asico

The Sovereign

Georgetown

This Belgian beer bar from the ChurchKey and Bluejacket crew has 50 rotating drafts and a bottle list with 300 choices inspired by a research & development trip beer director Greg Engert took to Belgium. That means you’ll be trying beer actual Belgians drink, instead of a list that’s stamped with pink elephants and spilled on by Chimay gulpers. Those who avoid beer will also be happy with genever cocktails and funky, natural wines, but the food really begs to be eaten with a brew. We’re especially enamored with the geuze- & genever-braised chicken with bacon and herbed spätzle, as well as the saffron mussels and the "bicky burger." Be sure to visit both floors: one for date night, the other for partying.

Laura Hayes/Thrillist

The BBQ Joint

14th Street

Rejoice: The BBQ Joint’s 14th Street location has a goddamn late-night Frito pie window, open at the exact right hours: Fridays and Saturdays from 12-3am. But that’s not to say The BBQ Joint is only worth visiting then. Chef/owner Andrew Evans is rightfully proud of his outstanding ribs, which he hopes remind people of the fictional Freddy’s BBQ Joint from House of Cards. Definitely share a rack, but don’t ignore the pulled pork, brisket, and standout sides like candied yams and cornbread. The bar lets you nab $10 cocktails, wines that’ll do the trick, and cans of Natty Boh.

Laura Hayes/Thrillist

Kyirisan

Shaw

The first DC restaurant from French-trained chef Tim Ma, Kyirisan taps into Ma's Chinese heritage, leading to a remarkable one-two culinary punch. The pickled quail served with prawns and hot pot sauce is a stunner, as is the Sichuan pepper cacio e pepe with black truffles, and the chef’s signature crème fraîche wings. The setting is also remarkably serene: the restaurant looks like the living room of your parents’ well-off, stylish friends who never had kids.

Laura Hayes/Thrillist

Archipelago

U Street

While U Street’s new Tiki bar lacks, you know, an actual sandy beach in the South Pacific, it makes up for it in attitude and garnishes like banana dolphins and miniature oil cans. Plus, your drink might come in a whole pineapple. Toss in a shrine to Tom Selleck, blowfish lamps, and vintage aloha tunes, and you know you’ve landed somewhere special, far away from the hustle and bustle of the Hill. Of the 13 Tiki drinks, we dig the piña colada, "Banana Daiquiri Take No. 653," and the "Oil Can Boyd," made with olive oil and Black Strap Rum. Pro tip: the owners say the second floor has become a bit of a make out den.

Laura Hayes/Thrillist

Hank's Pasta Bar

Alexandria

Chef/restaurateur Jamie Leeds has been satisfying our seafood cravings for more than a decade at Hank’s Oyster Bar, and now, she’s moving on to pasta. So. Much. Pasta. 18 different pasta dishes, to be exact, including mezzalune filled with spring greens, cheeses, and sage; pappardelle with braised lamb ragu; linguine with clams; and jumbo grilled head-on prawn risotto. We strongly recommend avoiding FOMO by ordering the family-style pasta samplers. The cocktails are amaro-based, which cuts the richness of pasta. We dig the drink "How to Dress Like an Italian in the Spring," with Finocchietto, a floral tonic, lemon, and juniper. Also visit for brunch... face it, you’ve always wanted an excuse to crush pasta in the morning.

Courtesy of Sam Vasfi

Bar à Vin

Georgetown

Finally, a date spot worthy of your spring flings. Located next to sister restaurant Chez Billy Sud, Bar à Vin is as charming as it gets. Impress your bae by brushing up on basic French so you can sound on point when you order off the bar’s Francophile wine list, overflowing with Burgundy and Champagne. Wait, stay with us: the prices won’t blow your wallet, because beverage director Andrew Wooldridge has scoured these regions for small producers, putting wine prices in a third-job-out-of-college price bracket. Check out the flights, which are built to demonstrate the terroir of various wines. The snacks are set to match: we’re talking serious charcuterie and fromage here.

Laura Hayes/Thrillist

Alta Strada

Mt. Vernon Square

What chef/restaurateur Michael Schlow loves about Italian food is that it can be bettered by removing ingredients instead of piling them on. That’s why you’ll find his pizzas and pastas simple and familiar, like tagliatelle bolognese or margherita pizza. The intimate trattoria is a new go-to spot for Italian comfort food... including a practically mandatory dessert, "mascarporeos," a DIY Oreo-esque concoction comprised of chocolate shortbread and mascarpone cream.

Laura Hayes/Thrillist

EatBar

Barracks Row

There’s a new watering hole on Barracks Row, courtesy of Nathan Anda, the force behind Red Apron and The Partisan. It's offering 100 bottles of wine, all priced under $100, including lambrusco, orange wine, and sherries. These are destined to be paired with the menu, which is cut up into cute sections like “snacky things,” “bready things,” and “beastly things.” Grab one of each by ordering the bread & herb fritters, the mortadella patty melt, and grilled octopus. This joint is nicely music-focused: the back of the menu shows the albums available in the free jukebox at the rear of the restaurant. Before bouncing, snap a selfie in front of the wall made of 7,200 cassette tapes.

Courtesy of Vithaya Photography

TAKODA

Shaw

TAKODA seemingly feels the need to shout its name in all caps, which shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that the scene here belongs to Forever 21-outfitted college seniors who fill the rooftop beer garden to capacity. You can’t blame them once you see the view from the top... or the whiskey list, which features 50 American selections. The bar food is super-fun, too: think bacon popcorn, PB&J barbecue wings, chicken & sweet potato waffles, and brisket sliders on pretzel buns... and save room for state fair-inspired deep-fried Oreos.

Courtesy of Paul Wagtouicz

Quarter+Glory

14th Street

The epic nightlife intersection of 14th Street and U Street has a new cocktail lair. This import from New York group Public House Collective offers sexy lighting and very stiff drinks, divided into new creations, dubbed "the originals," and classics, called "the survivors." Its signature drink, the Quarter+Glory, combines Brugal Añejo rum, Cutty Sark Prohibition Scotch, Gran Classico Bitter, Punt e Mes, tamarind vinegar, and salt. Also damn good: the barrel-aged mezcal Negroni.

Courtesy of Andy DelGiudice

Drift on 7th

Shaw

This new pescetarian paradise serves sustainable seafood in creative ways, like its signature "tots ‘n’ tentacles” dish, which combines calamari and hake tots with dipping sauces. Alternatively, score a Maine lobster roll, or a giant bowl of bouillabaisse. Plus, we hear the calories don’t count when you’re doing the environment a solid by eating an invasive species, so try out the the blue catfish. Sip the kinds of drinks you would order by the pool... just to boost the feeling that you’re on vacay, at least for an hour. And definitely score a classic root beer float for dessert.

Courtesy of The Commodore

The Commodore

Logan Circle

Remember Veranda? It’s now The Commodore, courtesy of the same team behind Rebellion. It has prime patio seating, and a solid menu from chef Travis Weiss, who’s serving up calorically questionable options like "county fair poutine," a potato funnel cake topped with duck confit, Virginia curds, and brandy gravy. Other highlights include a smoked lamb sandwich, three flavors of wings, and the signature burger. Get your liquid courage from cocktails like the Scotch-based Unpaid Intern, or the cachaça-based Diver Down, then try the dish combining duck confit, smoked lamb, pork belly, vegetables, and grilled bread... if you dare.

Laura Hayes/Thrillist

Pineapple & Pearls

Barracks Row

The last time Aaron Silverman opened a restaurant, this city practically exploded. This is even bigger. Pineapple & Pearls brings the same warm & fuzzies as Rose’s Luxury, and cuisine that pulls from all kinds of cultures, though in a fine dining setting. The downside: the price tag is $250... but it does include 14-16 dishes, beverage pairings from bar man Jeff Faile, tax, and tip. So if it’s at all in your budget, this is a great spot for a birthday outing. If you prefer dining at the bar, reserve one of the seats in front of Faile. You get the full tasting menu (now $150), but drinks are sold separately. Plus, unlike Rose’s Luxury, Pineapple & Pearls lets you make reservations. Cheers to that.

Laura Hayes/Thrillist

Ivy City Smokehouse

Ivy City

This fish boss has already been bringing fish to the people at wholesale prices, but now it's adding a tavern, so you can sample platters of "Indian candy," smoked whitefish spread, and smoked trout, as well as local oysters and other goodies. Find the tavern directly upstairs from the market, and don’t miss the expansive patio, where weekend afternoons of sipping beer and crushing seafood can easily blend right into the night.

Laura Hayes/Thrillist

Espita Mezcaleria

Shaw

Espita Mezcaleria wants to pop your mezcal cherry. Sure, you’ve had "the other agave spirit" swirled into a cocktail before, but this new Shaw bar is eager to pour you a flight of three mezcals served neat, so you can appreciate each one’s nuances. And you will. Back your exploration with an ensemble of tacos, ceviches, moles, sopes, and melty pots of fundido. Not convinced? Here are 12 reasons you need to visit immediately, including the sick street art and tortillas made in-house.

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1. Tail Up Goat 1827 Adams Mill Rd NW, Washington, DC 20009 (Adams Morgan)

This Michelin-starred Adams Morgan restaurant from Komi and Little Serow alums offers a funky Caribbean-meets-Mediterranean menu that'll encourage you to expand your culinary horizons. Admittedly, some of Tail Up Goat's dishes are wacky (goat lasagna with kale and anchovies), but they work. A portion of the menu is dedicated to creative bread preparations, like seaweed sourdough and bialys with trout roe, but the pasta and entrées are the real showstoppers. Try the cavatelli with spicy pork belly ragu and the tender lamb ribs... then savor the taste, you might never come across flavors this unique again.

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2. Columbia Room 124 Blagden Alley NW, Washington, 20001 (Shaw)

"Welcome to Columbia Room, here’s a frankincense-scented towel to freshen up," is how you're greeted at this classy cocktail bar. Columbia Room, which comes courtesy of bar stars Derek Brown, Angie Salame, and J.P. Fetherston, has novelty cocktails such as the "I Never Promised You a Zen Garden," served with an actual Zen garden (made out of plum sugar) that you can rake. Opt for a reservations-only cocktail tasting menu, an à la carte experience in the reading room or al fresco in the garden, both available to walk-ins.

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3. The Sovereign 1206 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, 20007 (Georgetown)

This gorgeous, wood-laden Belgian beer bar from the ChurchKey and Bluejacket crew boasts 50 rotating drafts and a bottle list with 300 choices inspired by Beer Director Greg Engert's research and development trip to Belgium. In other words, you’ll be trying beers actual Belgians like to drink. Those who avoid beer will be happy with Genever-focused cocktails and funky, natural wines, but the food -- from meat & cheese plates to Dutch mussels to flame cakes -- really begs to be eaten with a brew.

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4. The BBQ Joint 2005 14th St NW, Washington, 20009

The BBQ Joint’s 14th Street location has a late-night Frito pie window, open at the exact right hours: Fridays and Saturdays from 12-3am. But that’s not to say The BBQ Joint is only worth visiting then. Chef/owner Andrew Evans boasts outstanding ribs, which he hopes remind people of the fictional Freddy’s BBQ Joint from House of Cards. Definitely share a rack, but don’t ignore the pulled pork, brisket, and standout sides like candied yams and cornbread. At the bar, you'll find $10 cocktails, great wines, and cans of Natty Boh.

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5. Kyirisan 1924 8th St NW, Washington, 20001 (Shaw)

From husband-and-wife duo Tim and Joey Ma, Kyrisan showcases Chef Tim Ma's signature style of blending Asian flavors with classic French technique. The restaurant's name is a combination of the Chinese words that represent the Ma's three children, and the spot offers an appropriate familial vibe. The innovative menu pushes boundaries with dishes like savory black truffle congee with natto, egg yolk, and duck confit; and crowd-favorite créme fraîche wings.

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6. Archipelago 1201 U St NW, Washington, 20009

Washington D.C.'s first dedicated tiki bar is located on U Street, bringing a tropical attitude, strong drinks and garnishes like banana dolphins and miniature oil cans. Toss in a shrine to Tom Selleck, blowfish lamps, and vintage aloha tunes, and you know you’ve landed somewhere special. Archipelago also serves a tasty selection of tropical-tinged food, from ham and cheese sliders to a jerk chickens sandwich.

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7. Hank's Pasta Bar 600 Montgomery St, Alexandria, VA

Chef/restaurateur Jamie Leeds has been satisfying our seafood cravings for more than a decade at Hank’s Oyster Bar, as well as Pasta. At Hank's Pasta Bar, the menu offers over a dozen pasta dishes, including mezzalune filled with spring greens, cheeses, and sage; pappardelle with braised lamb ragu; linguine with clams; and jumbo grilled head-on prawn risotto. We strongly recommend ordering the family-style pasta samplers.

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8. Bar à Vin 1035 31st St., NW, Washington, 20007 (Georgetown)

Located next to sister restaurant Chez Billy Sud, Bar à Vin is as charming as it gets. Order off the bar’s Francophile wine list, overflowing with Burgundy and Champagne, at prices that won't break the bank. Beverage director Andrew Wooldridge has scoured these regions for small producers, putting wine prices in a third-job-out-of-college price bracket. The snacks are set to match: we’re talking serious charcuterie and Fromage here.

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9. Alta Strada 1055 5th St NW, Washington, DC 20001 (Mount Vernon Sq)

Chef Michael Schlow (Casolare, Conosci) cooks Italian food on the premise that less is more. That's why you'll find simple and unfussy dishes like tagliatelle bolognese, thin-crust pizza margherita, and crunchy meatballs in tomato basil sauce at Alta Strada, whose DC location is one of a few across the East Coast. The intimate trattoria is a cozy spot for familiar Italian food, complete with desserts like Mascarporeos, an Oreo-like concoction of chocolate shortbread and mascarpone cream.

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10. EatBar 415 8th Street SE, Washington D.C., 20003

This Barracks Row watering hole is a hip gathering spot with a free-play jukebox and plenty of great drinks. There's a "100 under $100" wine list and an equally awesome beer selection, all pairing well with unique gourmet bar snacks. While you're there, be sure to snap a selfie in front of the wall made from 7,200 cassette tapes.

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11. Takoda 715 Florida Ave NW, Washington, 20001

At TAKODA you'll find great rooftop views, a whiskey list which features 50 American selections, and great bar food options like bacon popcorn, PB&J barbecue wings, chicken & sweet potato waffles, and brisket sliders on pretzel buns... and save room for state fair-inspired deep-fried Oreos. The atmosphere is simple, clean, and inviting, making TAKODA one of Shaw's newest hot spots.

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12. Quarter + Glory 2017 14th St NW, Washington, 20009

Quarter + Glory offers sexy lighting and very stiff drinks, divided into new creations, dubbed "the originals," and classics, called "the survivors." Its signature drink, the Quarter+Glory, combines Brugal Añejo rum, Cutty Sark Prohibition Scotch, Gran Classico Bitter, Punt e Mes, tamarind vinegar, and salt. This new addition to the nightlife scene on 14th Street and U Street is blowing people away with their creative cocktails and grunge-y underground vibe.

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13. Drift on 7th 1819 7th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

Drift on 7th serves sustainable seafood in creative ways, like its signature "tots ‘n’ tentacles” dish, which combines calamari and hake tots with dipping sauces. Alternatively, score a Maine lobster roll, or a giant bowl of bouillabaisse. Their drinks are almost as great as their menu, featuring cocktails that you would order poolside and a classic root beer float for dessert.

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14. The Commodore Public House & Kitchen 1100 P St NW, Washington, 20005

The Commodore has prime patio seating, and a solid menu from chef Travis Weiss, who’s serving up calorically questionable options like "county fair poutine," a potato funnel cake topped with duck confit, Virginia curds, and brandy gravy. You can pair one of these delicious entrees with one of their craft cocktails, like the Scotch-based Unpaid Intern, or the cachaça-based Diver Down, then try the dish combining duck confit, smoked lamb, pork belly, vegetables, and grilled bread... if you dare.

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15. Pineapple and Pearls 715 8th St SE, Washington, 20003 (Capitol Hill)

From Aaron Silverman of Rose’s Luxury, Pineapple and Pearls is a luxurious dining experience that nods to hospitality and elegance. The Capitol Hill restaurant opened in 2016 and was awarded two Michelin stars soon after, a recognition that should come as no surprise given Silverman's opening mission to reinvent fine dining. The 13-course tasting menu doesn't stick to one theme, instead, it features an array of avant garde courses that bounce between light and heavy. Dinner here comes with a heavy price tag, but there is a casual coffee bar in the front that serves sandwiches, pastries, and coffee during the day.

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16. Ivy City Smokehouse 1356 Okie St NE, Washington, 20002

This fish boss has already been bringing fish to the people at wholesale prices, but now there is a tavern on top of it, so you can sample platters of "Indian candy," smoked whitefish spread, and smoked trout, as well as local oysters and other goodies. Find the tavern directly upstairs from the market, and don’t miss the expansive patio, where weekend afternoons of sipping beer and crushing seafood can easily blend right into the night.

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17. Espita Mezcaleria 1250 9th St NW, Washington, 20001 (Shaw)

Decked out with street art on nearly every wall, Espita Mezcaleria is a serving up Southern Mexican fare and more than 85 mezcals with a hint of hipster flare in Shaw. Alongside excellent cocktails, the menu features everything from tacos and ceviches to seven different kinds of mole (go for the beef short rib option). There are a few shareable plates, too, like seared octopus with salsa, smoked barley, fried pabalo, and roasted cauliflower.