Entries tagged with “restaurant openings”.

On Valentine’s Day, Katsuya Fukushima and his team opened Daikaya’s ramen bar to lines around the block. With the success of H Street’s Toki Underground and the pedigree of Katsuya and owner Daisuke Utugawa (think Sushi-Ko), Daikaya has been one of the most anticipated restaurants to open here in a while. We couldn’t wait – the very next night, we were there.do

As luck would have it, we scored two seats at the bar that surrounds the open kitchen. Looking across the gigantic pots of steaming broth, we had a view of the chefs in action. There were five of them crammed into the tiny space (Chef Fukushima later explained that they were training two new chefs at the time and there are usually only three). With small, precise movements and tight choreography, they rapidly turned out bowl after bowl of four different kinds of noodle soup.

Check out the varieties and a little bit more about Daikaya after the jump. (more…)


<<EDIT 11:30 AM, 12/1/11: An alert tipster just let us know that Memphis has decided to delay its opening until Monday.  Staff are handing out coupons for a free appetizer with the purchase of two entrees during the month of December and explaining that the restaurant just got its liquor license today.>>

Back to back barbecue openings, and it’s not even my birthday!  Consider it a practice run for Meat Week 2012.

If you smell smoke in Crystal City tomorrow, don’t be alarmed.  Memphis Barbecue opens its doors at lunchtime, and they’re going to be bringing the low-and-slow taste of that great southern barbecue city to the former site of Mackey’s Public House on 23rd Street.  We stopped in for a look around the dining room and a peek inside the kitchen.

The name that Chris George and his father, Dr. William George, gave to their restaurant is at once generic and super-specific.  On the one hand, it channels one of the five major styles of American barbecue (and one of the two major competition circuits), connecting itself to the history and the tradition that comes with it.  At the same time, that connection tells you everything you need to know about the meal you’re about to experience, conjuring up memories of smoky pork laced with spicy dry rubs and tangy-sweet sauces.

As it turns out, Crystal City’s take on Memphis does all that and quite a bit more, with a menu that only begins at hickory-smoked barbecue.

More of what’s in store after the jump. (more…)


In September of 2009, we reached out to a couple of guys named Heath and Brett whose locally-made barbecue sauce had earned them a chance to appear on ABC’s Shark Tank.  Since then, we’ve worked with the Pork Barrel BBQ team to participate in two DC Meat Weeks, each time offering attendees a taste of what they could expect at the “soon-to-open” restaurant in Del Ray.  And they’ve been more than a little busy themselves, winning the Perdue National Chicken Championship and taking the title of Grand Champion at the Safeway National Capital Barbecue Battle in June.

But the wait ends tonight.

Pork Barrel BBQ officially opens its doors at 5 PM, and when we took a look around this weekend the restaurant gave every indication of being worth the wait.  As Heath Hall put it, “This is barbecue.  We wanted to make sure everything was just right.  You can’t rush good barbecue, no matter how much you might want to.”  With five smoked meats and more than half a dozen sides on offer, that meant a lot of testing and retesting of recipes while the restaurant space was finished to everyone’s satisfaction.

All the dirty details on the smoker, the sides and the space after the jump. (more…)


Workday lunch.  Sandwiches and salads.  Ho-hum, right?

For our friends near Farragut Square, there’s a new option that’s likely to make you rethink that assessment.  And for everyone else…they’re Metro accessible!

Welcome BONMi, a quick-service shop offering up sandwiches, salads, and summer rolls with flavors inspired by those of traditional Vietnamese banh mi.  A trip to Vietnam convinced Lynne Jacoby and her partners that the satisfying street food could be the next big thing, and then they took it one step further.  They kept the flavors the same but upgraded their offerings to incorporate modern prep techniques and presentations to appeal to health-conscious diners.

We had a chance to take a look around BONMi late last week as they were putting the finishing touches on the interior, and then we were back there at lunchtime today to taste one of the first sandwiches to come off their cafeteria-style prep line.  What we saw (and tasted) has us hungry for more.  And if it does the same to you, we’ve got TEN FREE LUNCHES to give away to Capital Spice readers.

Join us after the jump a look at the interior and the food as well as details on how you can win one of the ten free lunches. (more…)


If there was one common complaint about Hank’s Oyster Bar, Chef Jamie Leeds’ “urban beach food” venue, it was that there just wasn’t enough room.  Regulars and first-timers alike would often find the small space, located in a Q Street townhouse near Dupont Circle, filled to capacity (capacity being 65 or so) from happy hour to closing time.  Six years later, Hank’s is all growed up.

Yesterday evening marked the opening of Hank’s new Lounge, next door to (and incorporating) the original space.  With this welcome expansion, Hank’s has effectively doubled its indoor seating capacity.  An outdoor patio allows for another 40 diners, which means they’ll be doing a whole lot of additional shucking at the raw bar.

Fortunately, they’ve expanded that, too.  The bar that used to serve Hank’s has been stripped of its beer taps and will now serve as the raw bar.  The best part?  They’ve kept the bar seating there, giving a lucky few a ringside seat to watch the shuckers work their magic.

More on the new layout, including some nautically inspired new rooms and a look at some new food items (can you say “never-before-seen oyster variety?”) after the jump. (more…)


Toward the end of his stint at Vidalia, Chef RJ Cooper had jumped into the world of the multi-course “experience” tasting menu with both feet.  His “24″ menu got some great coverage from Tim Carman when he was still at the Washington City Paper, and when news came that his first solo concept would be Rogue 24, a restaurant built around the tasting menu, the buzz started building almost immediately.

We’re just a day away from opening now, and those who’ve had a chance to experience dishes firsthand – either in soft opening service over the weekend or at Cooper’s pop-up test run in New York City – have been raving.  We may not have been so lucky as to try the food yet, but we did get to stop by last Friday as Cooper was putting his team through their paces on a couple of dishes.  We got to see the open kitchen in the center of the room alive with activity, and we can only imagine how much more energy there will be when all the seats are filled, too.

Of course we took some pictures, and we also took the time to chat up sommelier Matthew Carroll about the challenges of creating appropriate pairings for a 24-course tasting menu while we were there.

Photos, conversation and “olive paper” after the jump. (more…)


For most of us, July 4th is a day to sit back and relax as we celebrate our nation’s independence.  For Jose Andres, not so much.  The outgoing head of the ThinkFoodGroup has a busy Monday lined up, what with the opening of his new America Eats Tavern and his work with the National Archives’ “What’s Cooking Uncle Sam?” exhibit. We even got an inside tip on what he’ll be doing that morning (which we’ll share after the jump).

America Eats, conceived as a complement to the exhibit, is a pop-up restaurant that has possessed the body of Cafe Atlantico on 8th Street, NW in Penn Quarter.  The restaurant features seating on three levels and a significant facelift that focuses on iconic American images and artwork.  And although the menu is not yet complete, Andres has promised a bill of fare that will serve as a history lesson on a plate, featuring historically significant American recipes along with background information on where, when and why.

We had a chance to drop by the restaurant yesterday and take a look around.  They’ll be working around the clock between now and lunchtime Monday to make sure it’s all ready to go, but what we saw was already well on its way to completion, and there are some decorations that will make you stop and smile no matter where you enter the story of America’s dietary history.

Details and photos – including an impromptu chat with Archivist of the United States David Ferriero – after the jump. (more…)


Think back to that first episode of Top Chef Las Vegas in August of 2009.  What was your first impression of “Mike I?”

Photo Credit: Greg Powers

Chances are, the Zaytinya chef registered as loud, brash and maybe even a bit obnoxious.

Now picture him in the final episode of Top Chef All-Stars this spring.  The Graffiato chef/owner was composed and thoughtful, but still easy-going and clearly enjoying himself.  Within a year and a half he had evolved from a subject of criticism to one of pride among supporters of the DC dining scene.

When the first patrons taste his food at Graffiato’s opening tonight, that evolution will be on full display.  The concept is his.  The menu is his.  The kitchen is his.  It’s been a team effort to get here, for sure, but this is his show.

Buzz surrounding Graffiato’s opening has reached a fever pitch over the past few weeks (we fueled the fire a month ago when we saw Chef Isabella and he teased “Could be two weeks!”).  This is absolutely one of the most anticipated restaurants of the year, and details about the pizza oven, the local partners and the prosecco on tap have only made us more eager to actually taste the food.

We had a chance to stop by for a First Look as the Graffiato team was working through some of the finishing touches in advance of tonight’s opening.  Photos and some more details on what to expect after the jump. (more…)


You have to hand it to Todd and Ellen Gray when it comes to naming restaurants.  Equinox, their downtown dining destination, has been offering balanced, seasonally-inspired menus for more than a decade now.  But they’ve taken ‘meaning’ to a whole new level with Todd Gray’s Watershed, their new restaurant which opened this weekend on First Street, NE.

Watershed announces itself as a celebration of the “Coastal Cuisine of the Eastern Seaboard,” with special emphasis on ingredients and recipes found in the Chesapeake watershed region.  Walking up to the restaurant (entered through the lobby of the new Hilton Garden Inn), it’s easy to find a second interpretation of the name.  This IS a watershed moment for the area developers branded as NoMA (North of Massachusetts Avenue), as it brings sit-down dining and a chef’s touch to a neighborhood previously served only by fast-casual chains and coffee shops.

We had the chance to take a look at Watershed a few days before its official opening on Friday night, and we stopped in again yesterday to see how things are going.  We found a raw bar with an impressive if choosy selection, a dining room with a warm and inviting palette, and a killer patio.  Oh…and the food we tried last night was a great reminder of Chef Gray’s respect for the quality of his ingredients, too.

So what can you expect to find when you have your Watershed moment?  Check it out after the jump. (more…)


An expanding chain of burger restaurants might be enough for some guys (I can think of five), but Mark Bucher is getting ready to go beyond BGR in Cleveland Park.  Medium Rare, his new prix-fixe steak bistro, opens for dinner at 5 on Monday, and we had a chance to take a look as they were putting on the finishing touches and training staff on the finer points of cafe latte.  We even saw some of Washington’s best-known chefs stopping by to wish the newcomer well.

But most exciting of all was the advance look at the menus (“fresh from the printer today”) that confirmed what other sites have been reporting for some time now: a full dinner of bread, salad, steak and fries for a mere $19.50. At that price saving room for dessert seems like a really good idea, and Medium Rare is happy to oblige with one of five sweet options.

We’ve got some interior shots and a copy of the menu – not that you need to take any time with it before you visit – after the jump.