The Ultimate Guide to DC Nightlife
Beloved dives, gargantuan clubs, and swanky gin dens.
Think of this food hall as your nonstop ticket to Tokyo. Chef and restaurateur Makoto Okuwa drafts a love letter to Japan with an enormous 20,000-square-foot food hall. Phase one of this Japanese culinary collection consists of three full-service options. Dear Sushi is an omakase experience that celebrates both traditional and envelope-pushing takes on sushi. Beloved BBQ models a high-end yakiniku (Japanese steakhouse) with smokeless grills on each table for cooking wagyu beef. And Hiya Izakaya is a high-energy bar with whisky highballs and other inspired cocktails plus sake, beer, and wine, which can be paired with skewers and bites prepared over a robata grill.
Crabs are in season, and Estuary, the marquee restaurant inside The Conrad Hotel, has revamped its menu to channel Chesapeake Bay cuisine for both spring and summer. This is also the perfect place to book an upscale casual brunch. Top dishes include the Blue Crab Benedicts, Shrimp and Cheesy Grits, and Chicken and Waffles. Chef Ria Montes came on as chef de cuisine last year and brings playful new touches to the main menu like a Seafood Carbonara and Seared Rockfish with Green Curry.
Taking inspiration from the historic Alhambra palace in Spain—this seasonally inspired menu mixes southern Spanish cuisine with Middle Eastern fare. Chef Zivkovic, along with executive chef Brian Bladfält Landry, present bold flavors across a variety of the region’s cultures. With distinct menus offered across brunch, lunch, and dinner, the dining concept focuses on four sections of small plated dishes—sea, land, garden and table—all meant to be enjoyed family style. Signature items include the 100-Layer Patatas Bravas with Garlic Aioli, Tuna Tartare with Pistachio, Quail Egg and Gem Lettuce, and a Smoked Eggplant Mousse over Grilled Dates.
Chef Peter Chang and his daughter Lydia Chang debuted an upscale, contemporary Chinese restaurant in the Dupont Circle, and it’s attracting critical praise for a menu that is experimental and ever-changing. A fixture item is the Duck Four Ways, featuring a bird that is marinated, blanched, air-dried, and tea-smoked. Each duck takes two-days to prepare, so only a limited number are available daily (and they usually sell out). In addition to dinner service, there’s a lunch special on weekdays that includes a bento box-style meal with rotating sides paired with a choice of entree. On weekends, the restaurant offers brunch with a spread that marries dim sum favorites with brunch cocktails.
How to book: Via Tock
At this Levant-inspired restaurant, enjoy one of many hearth-cooked dishes like Black Bass Grilled Over Coals with smoked squid or Smoked Bobo’s Chicken with sunchoke haydari. For a more intimate affair, opt for the Sofra experience—a semi-improvisational tasting menu from chef Michael Rafidi that you’ll enjoy seated directly in the kitchen for an intimate view of all the action. If you can’t commit to a full dinner, check out the sister bakery and cafe, Yellow, which doles out flaky pastries, pita sandwiches, and Turkish Coffee Caramel Brownies all day in Georgetown.
Located between Union Station and Chinatown in the new Capitol Crossing development, Bar Spero is the eponymous concept from the Michelin-starred chef behind Reverie, Johnny Spero. Don’t be fooled by its billing as a bar, the restaurant serves a seafood-centric menu inspired by destinations near and far—from the Mid-Atlantic to Basque Country. Menu highlights include imported Spanish Turbot and very hammy Bar Spero Bikini—a dish with serrano ham, housemade morcilla, idiazabal and manchego cheese. There’s also a cold section of the menu plus a raw bar. Meanwhile, guests can also choose from a tightly curated wine list, regional beers on tap, craft cocktails, and a wide selection of vermouths.