A shellfish plateau at Bar Spero. Photograph by Joseph Weaver
Fall restaurant opening season is in full swing. Here are 11 new hotspots to try now that have opened in the last month.
1. Chang Chang
1200 19th St., NW
Famed Chinese chef Peter Chang just launched his first-ever DC restaurant near Dupont Circle. The two-in-one-concept is split between a Szechuan takeout/delivery (now open) and an upscale, modern-Chinese dining room (open Thursday, October 20). There’s no cross-over between the two, so if you’re craving the classics (ma po tofu, sweet-and-sour ribs) hit up “Chang-Out.” Meanwhile, “Chang-In” will dish up whole duck dinners, weekday bento lunches, and a creative Chinese-American weekend brunch.
2. Bar Spero
250 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Michelin-starred chef Johnny Spero just opened this buzzy gastrobar near Penn Quarter as a compliment to his Georgetown tasting room (which sadly closed due to a fire). The concept is inspired by the high-energy spots Spero discovered while living in Spain, but the concept—which includes a raw bar and wood-fired kitchen—is more global. Think shellfish plateaus, smoke-kissed small plates like grilled oysters, and a few showstopper platters like a whole roasted lobster with tomalley sauce and kombu butter.
3. Grazie Nonna
1100 15th St., NW
This new Italian restaurant with old school, red sauce vibes just opened at Midtown Center—and reservations have booked up since. Restaurateur Casey Patten—owner of Wharf hoagie haven Grazie Grazie—teamed up with Bammy’s chef Gerald Addison for the 80-seat venture. (They also run American fry joint Little Chicken nearby.) Thin-crust, creative pies are just a slice of the menu, which includes heaping antipasti platters, classics like clams casino and eggplant parm, and pasta with grandma-approved Sunday gravy.
4. Hill East Burger
1432 Pennsylvania Ave., SE
Smoked burgers and tallow-washed cocktails are on order at this buzzy new Capitol Hill hangout—a new collab from Chris Svetlik of Tex-Mex spot Republic Cantina, Sloppy Mama’s owner Joe Neuman, and veteran barman Ben Alt. Go for smoked patties—a popular style in Texas but rarely seen here—made with local Roseda Farm grass-fed aged beef. We have our eye on the “Puebla” with smoky poblano relish, cheddar, mustard, and pickles—plus a side of “wedgey” fries and one of Alt’s smoke-kiss cocktails.
5534 Connecticut Ave., NW
Nina May owners Danilo Simic and chef Colin McClimans branched out from their popular Shaw spot with a wood-fired, coastal American restaurant in Chevy Chase DC. Diners can cozy up to a small bar in the 1930s-era row-building, share plates like roasted oysters with tequila-spiked chili butter or homemade saffron pasta with clams, or go in for a family-style “simple supper” with a parade of different plates ($50 to $60 per person).
6. Nama Ko
1926 14th St., NW
Restaurateur Michael Schlow transformed Tico on 14th Street into a Japanese-inspired destination for sushi, omakase, and share plates. Diners can mix-and-match nigiri, rolls, smalls like wagyu-truffle dumplings, and large-format platters such as a koji-aged pork chop with miso beurre blanc. For dessert, don’t miss chef Alex Levin’s soft-serve sundaes in flavors like miso-honey black truffle with toffee crunch and chocolate sauce.
7. Han Palace Capitol Hill
522 8th St., SE
All-you-can-eat dim sum arrives in Barracks Row with the opening of restaurateur Chris Zhu’s latest Cantonese venture. Two unlimited, daily tasting menus (with a two-hour limit) include a $38 per person option with dumplings, scallion pancakes, pork buns, noodles, and more. A second prix-fixe ($48 per person) includes all of the above, plus Hong Kong-style roast meats and more entree-style dishes. On weekends, $18 free-flowing mimosas match the food.
2000 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
The team behind Elle in Mt. Pleasant just opened a highly anticipated cafe and wine bar/restaurant in Foggy Bottoms’ Western Market food hall. The Italian-inspired venture, headed by chef Vincent Falcone, includes a counter-order cafe serving coffee drinks, boozy canned spritzes, homemade pastries, and breakfast and lunch sandwiches. A neighboring all-day restaurant and bar operates as a full-service restaurant with fresh pasta, seasonal share plates, and personal pizzas fashioned in Pizza Hut pans (go “pickle pizza” all the way).
502H St., NE
University of Virginia grads turned industry pros Mika and Ian Carlin are behind this wine bar and tasting room on the H Street, Northeast corridor. Chef Ben Browning (ex-Mintwood Place) serves unfussy tasting menus themed around Mid-Atlantic ingredients for omnivores and vegetarians alike (both $85). Wine pairings showcase Virginia while also including a few global selections. Diners can also dip their toes in a la carte menus at a 12-seat bar.
10. Seamore’s Sustainable Seafood
2815 Clarendon Boulevard, Arlington
You won’t find crab or rockfish on the menu at this locally minded seafood haunt in Clarendon (at least not right now). The coastal spot—part of a five-restaurant collective in New York—only serves fish and shellfish from populations that are stable or growing. Despite a serious sustainability mission, the place is low-key with a chalkboard menu of daily catches, beach-y eats like fish tacos and lobster rolls, and local drafts.
11. Silver Diner and Silver Social
1250 Half St. SE
The local Silver Diner chain has finally made its way into the District with a huge new location by Nationals Park. All the family friendly diner classics are on tap, though adults looking for something a little more upscale can head to 21+ “Silver Social” upstairs. There, adults can sip “fancy coladas” and nibble buffalo chicken tacos—all while catching bits of the baseball game from a heated terrace overlooking the stadium.