Delish Dining Around the DMV: The List’s Weekly Food Roundup

Buzz

 

Brrr… it’s cold out there! But that won't stop us from heading out to the buzz-y, busy restaurants that make our hearts sing. Fill your bellies with these new dishes and feed the beast with new menus and winter fare at area restaurants that you do not want to miss:

NEW & NOTEWORTHY: 

Levantine Flavors in Bethesda: ala restaurant debuts its second location in Bethesda, MD.  Located in the former Positano restaurant space, the menu will be similar to ala in Dupont, where the cuisine melds the flavors of Turkey, Syria, Israel, Lebanon, and beyond (known as the Levant region), an area of the world that has both a long history and a colorful past. The kitchens of both locations are led by Corporate Chef Zachary Baker, a Maryland native, who has worked at Jose Andre’s Think Food Group, Del Mar, and most recently as Chef de Cuisine at Xiquet. Menu highlights will include mutabal (roasted vegetable and tahini spread) and hot mezze like biber dolma (stuffed bell pepper). The traditional Turkish favorite Adana kebab will be prepared with minced rib eye.  Bottomless brunch will be offered every weekend. 4948 Fairmont Avenue, Bethesda, MD; ala-dc.com

Nuevo on The Hill: Pascual has been in the works since before the pandemic, and is a dream for both The Popal Family and couple executive chef Matt Conroy and pastry chef (and Mexico City native) Isabel Coss, who met while working in NYC’s best Mexican restaurants. All the dishes from the savory menu touch or rest above the wood grill, giving dishes a smoky flavor profile. You can expect an emphasis on whole roasted vegetables complimented by sauces like moles and pipianes, guacamole with eight different accompaniment options like pickles and roasted seeds, and a large selection of proteins “al fuego” including a lamb neck barbacoa and skate zarandeado. The menu also centers around local and Mexican heirloom corn in varying masa forms in dishes like tlayudas and an upscale taco al pastor cooked on the fire. For desserts, highlights include a Mexican chocolate cake and membrillo. As a whole, Pascual prioritizes sustainable, seasonal ingredients — the team even spent the last two years working with local farmers to grow Mexican ingredients such as hoja santa and various chiles to use in their dishes. 732 Maryland Avenue; pascualdc.com

Lovely Lunching (Lunch Alert): ilili DC is now open for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. Enjoy a quick power lunch with handheld options like the duck shawarma and lamb burger, or enjoy a leisurely meal with friends over mezze and shareable plates like the new Lebanese paella. 100 District Square SW; ililirestaurants.com

Menu Reimagined: L’Avant Garde: Georgetown's elegant French restaurant, L'Avant-Garde, has partnered with chef Sébastien Giannini. Born and raised in Toulon. France, Giannini's first culinary experiences were shopping at the seaside fresh food markets with his grandmother. His culinary career started at Michelin starred restaurants on the French Riviera and Courchevel, and his career took him on an international journey until his arrival to DC in 2017. He served as Executive Chef at the St Regis, Watergate, and Four Seasons hotels here, as well culinary director for a private family and foundation. Menu highlights include the royal seafood tower, tuna tartare, duck confit, diver sea scallops, and la fraise - strawberry served four different ways, an ode to summers in Provence. Strawberry sorbet, strawberry jelly, guimauve, and chocolate ganache, baked meringue topped with gold leaf. lavantgardedc.com  

Cluck Cluck: A backyard bar that just so happens to serve tasty tenders and fried chicken sandwiches, Little Chicken at The Wharf has 60 indoor and outdoor seats plus TVs. Chef Chris Morgan (Joon, Yasmine), Chef Gerald Addison (Grazie Nonna, Grazie Mille) and Casey Patten (Grazie Nonna, Grazie Mille, Grazie Grazie) have fine tuned tenders, saucy sandwiches, wings, substantial salads, stand out sides and soft serve creations that scream “Summertime” every day. Menu highlights include hand breaded to order tenders, available regular or spicy in three, six, nine, or a fifteen piece “bucket o’ tendies" with six sauces, wings with your choice of dry rub, bbq, or buffalo with house ranch or blue cheese, saucy sandwiches, and the Pinkies Out, a fried or grilled piece of chicken with house crispy garlic sauce, Duke’s mayo, cilantro, and pickles. Don’t miss their summery cocktails and specialty soft-serve cones available year-round. Open 11:00 a.m. daily. 11 Pearl Street SW; justlittlechicken.com

What’s Your Mood?: DC’s youngest restaurateur, Taj Sohal, and her team have announced the opening of Mood Swings Food Hall. Designed to put an end to the age-old dilemma of deciding what to eat, Mood Swings Food Hall promises to satisfy the city's diverse culinary cravings by offering a brand new menu with a different type of cuisine, cocktail list, and events schedule, every month. The concept revolves around the rotation of different monthly menus, each featuring a distinct cuisine, that the public can vote on. From Asian delicacies to European classics, and everything in between, patrons can indulge in a casual culinary journey that satisfies their ever-changing cravings. Each monthly cuisine will also be accompanied by a paired cocktail list too. During the week, Mood Swings Food Hall will also serve as a hotspot for those working remotely by offering coffee, tea, baked goods, and wifi to all patrons looking for a change of scenery while working, or some place to sip on a cocktail and grab lunch. 1625 1st Street NW; moodswingsfoodhall.com

You Had Us at Banana Beignets (Brunch Alert): St. James, the modern Caribbean restaurant on 14th Street, has just unveiled a new weekend “mid-day” menu featuring a lineup of dishes perfect for both lunch and brunch, highlighting the restaurant’s signature Caribbean flavors and dishes. The menu offers breakfast staples like Chicken and Waffles ($18) served with the Caribbean-inspired twist of ‘plantain’ waffles, fried chicken, and topped with pineapple syrup, and Coconut French Toast ($9) made with brioche and topped with coconut cream custard, coconut flakes, and bananas - not to mention the banana beignets! 2017 14th Street NW; stjames-dc.com 

Sticky Goodness: Sticky Fingers’ latest retail outlet and flagship commercial kitchen “soft opened” late last month in the Takoma neighborhood of DC, across from the Takoma Metro Station, and has been mobbed ever since. The vegan bakery, begun by Doron Petersen,  took over the space formerly occupied by Soupergirl, and will carry Soupergirl soups in its grab-and-go section. The new production facility for Sticky Fingers Sweets & Eats in Takoma, DC, and all items baked in the Takoma kitchen are certified kosher pareve by Star-K. In addition to a state-of-the-art production facility to meet the growing demand for its mail order and wholesale bakery items and mixes, the Takoma retail bakery offers its top sellers including chocolate chip and Cowvin Cookies, brownies, and seasonal and classic cupcakes, as well as custom cakes. The retail space also has a vegan grab-and-go section, and brews coffee from Alexandria-based Swing's Coffee. The bakery meets most dietary needs, including vegan, dairy free, and kosher pareve. It is a peanut- and shellfish-free facility, and has gluten-free options. Open to the public 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, and 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. weekends. 314 Carroll Street NW; stickyfingersbakery.com

NOT NEW, BUT NOTEWORTHY: 

By the Slice : AP Pizza has pizza options by the slice like the buona, All Purpose’s beloved pizza with Bianco di Napoli tomatoes, mozzarella, pepperoni, grana, Calabrian chili honey, and basil; Sedgewick with whipped ricotta, mozzarella, taleggio, zingy truffle honey; and Fungi with parm fonduta, fontina, mozzarella, wild mushrooms, cipollini onions, rosemary, and black truffle sauce. allpurposedc.com 

A Bit of Rome in Bethesda : Aventino , named after one of the seven major hills in Rome, showcases vibrant and traditional Roman cuisine with nods to the Roman-Jewish ghetto and Mid-Atlantic seasonal ingredients, alongside classic cocktails, including a selection of spritzes and negronis, as well as a spanning, Italian-leaning wine list. The 130-seat, inviting, bi-level space is anchored by a large, emerald, and marble-clad bar and features large glass windows that fill the space with natural light. The menu begins with apertivo, a selection of snacks including carciofi ‘alla Romana’, pizza rossa, and suppli ‘al telefono. Follow with antipasti such as gnocco fritto or crispy veal sweetbreads. 4747 Bethesda Avenue; aventinocucina.com  

Round Ramen (Lunch Alert): Lunch time just got better! Crane's now has a ramen lunch offering. Try everything from red miso ramen to seafood ramen and snack on bento box offerings like grilled shrimp and marinated tofu. 930 H Street NW; cranes-dc.com 

Cellar Finds: The Dabney Cellar is now open on Sunday and Monday from 5:00 to 11:00 p.m. featuring 24 seats. Enjoy regional oysters, cheeses, country hams and dishes including scallop crudo and bacon cheddar & buttermilk biscuits. Beverage highlights include 20 wines by the glass, bottles from The Dabney’s wine list, and specialty cocktails. Walk-ins only.  DabneyCellar.com 

Fairfax City Restaurant Week: Fairfax City welcomes diners to experience cuisine from all over the world within the city’s six square miles from Monday, February 26 through Sunday, March 3, 2024, as Fairfax City Restaurant Week returns for its 7th annual program. Showcasing Fairfax City’s largely locally-owned restaurants and diverse culinary scene, the event has something for everyone. Participating restaurants will offer prix fixe menu experiences at set prices of $25 for brunch/lunch and $40 for dinners. Additionally, specialty restaurants offer a Two for $10 Deal, providing food lovers the opportunity to further explore the rich variety and eclectic flavors of Fairfax food and drink purveyors. fairfaxcityrestaurantweek.com

Bodacious Brunch (Brunch Alert):  The Grove is offering weekend brunch every Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Delight in our $16 Pancakes with a choice of Blueberry, Chocolate Chips, or Plain, served with eggs, bacon, potatoes, or French Toast, complete with Whipped Cream and Syrup. Explore offerings like the Salmon Omelette for $21 or the Crab Benedict for $22. 7747 Tuckerman Lane; thegrovemd.com  

Reaching New Heights: The Heights is an elevated culinary experience that includes one full-service restaurant (Urbano), a full-service bar (The Heights Bar), a speakeasy (The Turncoat), and eight local chef driven concepts. From Cuban-inspired delights at Saoco to a creative twist on Thai cuisine at Sky Lantern, and the Mediterranean-inspired Yasmine by Michelin Star Chef Chris Morgan, there's something for every palate. But The Heights Food Hall isn't just about food; it's a platform for local talent and aspiring food enthusiasts to shine, with two stalls dedicated to up-and-coming concepts. 5406 Wisconsin Avenue; theheightsfoodhall.com

Making It in Cathedral Commons: Family-run and minority-owned hospitality company, Thompson Restaurants, has announced the opening of Makers Union at Cathedral Commons. The menu at Makers Union Cathedral is an elevated blend of tradition and flare. Executive Chef Dan Logan curated a menu featuring handmade pastas, savory dinner entrees and a lunch menu both for those on-the-go and others looking for leisure. A few standouts include a black n’ white clam linguini, grilled branzino, and Southern surf n’ turf which includes blackened filet, butter poached Maine lobster, and corn succotash. This location will also highlight a chef-driven brick oven menu featuring a variety of oven-fired oysters, baked brie, flatbreads, and French onion soup. On the weekend, brunch takes center stage, boasting a family-style menu. 3701 Newark Street NW; makersunionpub.com

Get One, Give One (CSA Charity Alert): Moon Valley Farm, a local, organic vegetable farm, has launched a new 2024 subscription donation program in response to startling recent headlines. 1 in 3 Marylanders are facing food insecurity. The farm's mission is to help more of our communities get access to high-quality, healthy produce year-round, no matter their economic situation and help many families living in local  food deserts with little or no access to locally grown organic food. Moon Valley Farm also partners with the Gleaning Project, a non-profit working toward a more equitable food system in South-Central PA, and has donated on its own over $24,000 of produce in 2023 alone. The farm offers its Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) members the opportunity to donate their box when they’re out of town instead of skipping it, and year-to-date over 118 boxes have been donated by their members in 2023 to the Frederick Food Security Network. moonvalleyfarm.net

Sunday Brunch? Oui! (Brunch Alert): Opaline is now offering brunch every Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Chef Kevin Lalli has curated a menu of his own take on brunch classics made with fresh ingredients. Some menu highlights include crab cake Benedict with sauce choron and home fries, petit Belgian waffles with banana, walnut, and Nutella mousse, and blackened shrimp & grits with cheddar cheese and cajun chimichurri. You also have the option to add bottomless mimosas for $25 per person. 806 15th Street NW; opalinedc.com

Oh-Ma-Kase : Wren has re-launched one of their highly exclusive Omakase dining experience. You will be seated in a limited six seat semi-private bar area and be immersed in learning about Japanese cuisine through a prepared 18-20 course culinary journey led by Executive Sous Chef Hobin Kim for $175 per person. Additionally, guests will also have the chance to enjoy beverage pairings such as sake, wine and Wren’s signature cocktails for $75 per person. 1825 Capital One Drive; wrentysons.com