Friday Question of the Day – What are the best new restaurants people have tried? (reader request)

fqotd

Following the mad props from Bon Appetit:

“All I can tell you is that there’s an energy and excitement surrounding all the new places that is palpable. D.C. is bubbling with momentum. You go in to one place, and you hear about another exciting spot just down the street.

What all these restaurants have in common is fearlessness. There are no consensus polls being taken on what diners might want or need. Instead, these are chefs and restaurateurs who are simply taking their passions and diverse backgrounds and turning those into the restaurants of their dreams.”

With that in mind a reader requests: “the best new restaurants people have tried. I’m honestly a little overwhelmed with the choices and I don’t really use Yelp anymore. Where is it really worth the line/the price/the hype?”

70 Comment

  • I like Asian cuisine. Recent visits to Chao Ku and Da Hong Pao were good. But these are no line, no hype type places. I prefer it that way!

  • Convivial is amazing! Either the brunch or the dinner! Everyone I bring there loves it and the price point is definitely reasonable for the amount of food and excellent quality. I wrote a pretty extensive Yelp review. Initially, I though Tail Up Goat was a close second but I went again on Monday night and the menu had changed (very good but not as good). I went to Hazel the night it opened and had two mediocre appetizers. Convivial is by far the best new one!

    • I liked it (especially the cake with sparklers! ) but happy hour looked like a much better deal amd some of the food was more interesting to me than the regular dinner menu.

    • Tail up goat is not good. we were beyond disappointed. food was just fine. the cheese thing was straight up nasty. just because someone taught you to make cheese doesn’t mean you should. and it was just a heaping glob… everything else was just whatever. i love a prepared meat spread but there is nothing remarkable about their version. I cannot understand why people find it so impressive.

    • I did enjoy Convivial. Among the fancier new spots, it ranks well. I’m primarily a vegetarian, and to my surprise my dishes won raves from my non-veggie friends, too. Food was absolutely beautifully presented, and the portions and pricing didn’t make me balk. Service was fine. Worth a visit!

    • Ashy Oldlady

      I must’ve been to Convivial on two off days, then. Weird menu items (for brunch) and just not very good.

    • I really love Convivial, I’ve been there half a dozen times, and two things that impress me–the consistency of the food–it’s always been on point and delicious, and also the fact that the owner and chef comes out several times during the evening and roams the dining room asking about diners experiences. That’s unique and has meant a lot to me in terms of distinguishing it from all the other fab newbies.

  • I loved Hazel! The food and service were phenomenal. And the wine list was very interesting…in a good way!

    • I liked Hazel but my wallet was pissed! I went with two other people and we split the ‘Duck Duck’ which was delicious. The menu says a minimum of two people should share it but in my opinion a MAX of two people should share it. $100 later we were all hungry afterwards.

      With that said you should give it a try but not the best restaurant I’ve been to recently. That goes to Tico. COT DAMN those fish tacos!

    • I LOVED Hazel!I had amazing food but the staff really went above and beyond and truly made it super great!

  • The Dabney, the Riggsby, and not so new (but new to us), Thally.

    • Thally is a little gem. I wish the menu changed more often or offered a few more items, but I respect the choice to keep a pretty tight menu.

    • Loved Dabney – it’s my favorite newcomer in the city (with the caveat that I have yet to visit Kinship or Pineapple and Pearls). I hated the Riggsby when I dined there around Valentine’s day. While the atmosphere is cool, the food was laughably underwhelming.

    • Thally was very mediocre – decent apps but very bland entrees.

  • Went to All Purpose on 9th….it was pretty good. Not really sure why they’re closed during the day though…it’s a casual pizza place…..
    .
    This would be more fun for hating on all the absurd new places though. First person to mention Espita on here….ugh. $22 tacos + paying for salsa = nope.

    • I thought All Purpose was ok. I plan to return. Pizza and appetizers were tasty and a cut above average. Buttercream next store was a bit of a disappointment. Just didn’t wow me. Espita was noisy, and somewhat pricey for what you get. I adored the salsa and chips (especially the salsa with ground peanuts). I would go back for chips and salsa and drinks and maybe skip a meal?

    • I agree! I did not enjoy Espita-overpriced. I thought the black beans that Tom Seitsema raved about was watery and the only flavor was salt.

      The caeser salad at All Purpose was fantastic and I would go back just for that.

    • The meatballs at All Purpose are great!

  • Bad Saint. I wanted to hate the pretense of the whole wait in line thing and no name on door thing, but it’s the only meal of the last 6 months that I fantasize about.

  • Also and I’m honestly cringing saying this because the whole vibe was so cheesy, but the food and service at RPM were amazing!!! Hoping to go back when the scene is a little less bridge and tunnel, but woah even the Brussels Sprouts salad was to die for!

    • I’m going this weekend, can you explain what you mean by cheesy vibe?

      • Hmmm…dont want to offend the POPulace (hard to do) but Ill just say you kinda feel like you are in vegas. Both the decor/vibe of the resto, and the super short dresses and hooker heels. At least when I went that was the scene. DC is just super low key (in my experience) so it was a different jam. That being said, service was great and all the food we had was exceptional.

        • I wouldn’t say it’s “cheesy,” but the vibe is definitely different than most places in DC, but not in a bad way. It’s fun to have places where you can wear a tight dress and heels and not get weird looks. It’s like going to a restaurant in Miami or Vegas. It’s just something different. If someone wants to wear their regular Loft dress they usually wear out to dinner, they’ll be fine. This is still DC after all.

          I have been to RPM twice now: once for my bday where I had a large party and once last weekend for dinner with two other people. Both times our service was amazing, which was even more impressive since I had a party of 13 people there a week after they opened and the night could not have gone better. Everything I’ve eaten there has also been great, the pasta dishes especially. Also, definitely get the meatballs as an appetizer. Everyone I’ve taken there has really enjoyed it and I definitely plan to go back when I want a night out that deviates from the normal DC vibe.

    • You’re kidding right? I was excited to go to RPM, but left there very disappointed. I love Brussel Sprouts, but that salad was awful. The sprouts were shredded, and it was in a creamy mixture that made it taste like coleslaw. Service was fine. I don’t even remember the rest of my meal, and I was just there 3 weeks ago. That tells you how memorable the place was for me. Oh well, to each there own. 🙂

      • interesting. i guess at the end of the day taste is very subjective! I thought the salad was delicious and it was super light when i had it, not creamy at all! the pastas were awesome, and i had returned from italy a week before! to each his own. cheers!

    • I have to agree with you on the food at RPM. It was so, so good. The tortolloni may be one of the best pasta dished I’ve ever eaten – ever. Agreed – the service was a bit much. A little overpowering and different, but they were at least on top of all of our needs. I already made another reservation. DC is hurting for Italian food and while this is definitely upscale Italian food, I’ll take it.

      • Fiola, Casa Luca, Alta Strada, Osteria Morini are all solid to superlative Italian places.

      • agree. DC is lacking on good Italian (i haven’t yet been to Fiola Mare/Fiola but those are way above RPM’s price point) — despite the clubby bullshit atmosphere, the food here is the best Italian i have had in DC.

  • Kyirisan was a real surprise!

  • Convivial was the best meal I’ve had at a new place hands down. Every dish was memorable including the burger (seriously). Tail Up Goat was good but not great IMO. The drinks were eh and nothing was spectacular beyond the lamb ribs and dishes involving toast. The service was on point with both spots. Pineapples and Pearls in next on my list.

  • Our favorite new place is the Dabney. However, we haven’t tried many of the new restaurants. We have an unexpected free night tomorrow, and so are going somewhere new and fun on a walk-in basis . The current choice is Tail Up Goat, but also considering Bad Saint and Kyirisan, and other options that may be posted. I’ll be eagerly monitoring this thread (and recommendations welcome!).

    • Bad saint is great if you time it well. Depending on when you like to eat, I would get there around 5pm and hope to get in the 2nd seating. of course, that depends on your desire/ability to either go home between then and food time and/or going to a nearby bar. I would get too drunk in the meantime if i went to a bar, so i just go home for a couple of hours.

  • Got to echo everyone’s thoughts on Convivial. Prices were fair all things considered. Takes reservations. Not super precious or loud. Crowd skews older for DC. Went on birthday, got the awesome celebration cake and fried chicken coq a vin which lived up to hype. I thought Tail Up Goat was great too.

  • In the past week: Tchoup – A solid poboy, a little pricey for what it was, but still cheaper then flying to New Orleans. The pimento cheese was also on point! We will be back.

    In the past 6 months: Bad Saint, been twice and had memorable food at both occasions.

    Question: How hard is it to get a walk-in at Dabney? I missed the 2 week window by a few hours and looking to go on a Wednesday before a 9pm concert, so don’t mind showing up at 5:30pm to put my name down to wait an hour or two.

    • Agreed Tchoup is good but pricey. Wait staff is nice, and had to put up with someone harassing them and the guests while I was eating outside there; even though it wasnt their fault, they brought those of us on the patio us a round of drinks. Interestingly, it’s the same chefs as Alfies.

  • No question, Bad Saint. Best food (though you need to like funkiness), service, and vibe by far. And not as expensive as many places. Just put your name in and go wait at a nearby bar for a couple hours – it is worth it.

  • I don’t go to a lot of restaurants, sadly, especially when they are new. I did have Timber Pizza though and it was pretty good.

  • Andie302

    I really enjoyed our meal recently at All Purpose, although it was a touch pricey for pies on the smaller side. I had an excellent meal at Convivial a few months back and would go again in a heartbeat. I love the softball sized breakfast pastry thingy at Buttercream – so good (and that’s saying a lot for someone that lovessss sweets and managed to get out of there with only two of these and nothing sweet). I went to the Dabney and while we had a good meal, I’m not in a huge hurry to get back. The service was sort of choppy and I don’t recall a single dish as a standout. I really want to try Kyirisan, I’ve heard great things! The only strike-out for me was Chao Ku. I am DYING for a good Chinese takeout place (any suggestions for anywhere between the White House and Shaw?), but what I had was just gross, and another friend had a similar experience.

    • Sort of between the White House and Shaw is Great Wall – get the Szchuan food, it is very solid.

      • Oh yeah, if you like it hot, definitely order off the ma-la menu at Great Wall! They also have decent Americanized Chinese food.

  • Ottoman Taverna was a very pleasant surprise. I went twice, and the first time he food was better than the second, but both times it was excellent. Service is great too.

    • Also, Shouk was great.

      • Agree. No incredible lines, hype, or price. Not inexpensive, but quality. Highly recommend black bean/sweet potato/harissa rice and lentil bowl. Delicious and huge! Definitely the best among the new vegan spots.

    • Ottoman Taverna is overpriced, but I enjoyed two meals there, and the service and setting were pleasant.

    • I liked it too but it was SO LOUD – I don’t know if it’s how the bar was designed or what, but we were sitting as far away from it as possible in the dining room and could still barely hear each other.

  • For those of us in the near hinterlands, Kapnos Kouzina is a great addition to the mediocre food scene in Bethesda. I think it’s the best of Isabella’s restaurants, with consistently high-quality food (from spreads to the gyros to the ridiculous fried chicken) over multiple visits.

    • Agree with this. Their taramasalota is one of my favorite dishes anywhere. I still like the original on 14th better, but at least so far, the Bethesda version doesn’t suffer from the typical letdown of good places that cross Western Avenue. I do miss the spit-roasted pork, though.

  • I love Timber Pizza Company. The best pizza place in DC thus far with a great selection of craft brews! Oh, and their Corn Empanada apps are amazing!!

    • +1 I normally wouldn’t get excited about a pizza place, but the pizza here was the best I’ve ever had! I tried the Munday: a white pizza with olive oil, provolone, mozzarella, squash blossoms, sugar snap peas, honey ricotta, garlic chips, and spicy honey). My fiance and I also sat in the front window seat that is a porch swing.

    • samanda_bynes

      a+ was gonna promote Timber. good stuff all around.

    • I also love Timber Pizza! Inventive flavors, really good crust, nice staff, sweet indoor porch swing…this place is one of my favorites and it wont break the bank.

  • Clueless

    Zannchi. Their bibimbap = A+

    • Really?! Is it the true stone bowl bibimbap?
      Of course they opened after I moved away from that area. Oh well.

      • Clueless

        Yep, stone bowls and everything. Although restaurants in Annandale/Centreville rule supreme for Korean cuisine, I think Zannchi in DC closely matches the quality. My entire office ordered from this place recently and we have some finicky eaters… but everyone ended up really enjoying it.

      • Mandu (at least the K Street one) has dolsot bimbimbap in a real stone bowl. Recommend sitting at the bar, the bartenders are awesome.

  • I really loved Ottoman Taverna! Very impressed.

  • For high end Pineapple & Pearl is absolutely amazing and worth it!!! .

    I also thought both Convival and Tail Up Goat were great.

  • Masseria by Union Market – amazing meal and a beautiful space

    • yesss! My friends and I randomly stumbled upon it walking from Ivy City to NoMa metro. We only had cocktails there but what a gem. Definitely plan to go back and have dinner.

  • Anxo is great for the cider, and I love what they’ve done with the interior, but I was underwhelmed by the food. Just… ordinary. Especially for the price.
    Bad Saint was pretty great for food, but I did not like the atmosphere (eating at a 10-inch deep bar facing a wall is awkward as hell) or the standing in line BS. I won’t be going back. There’s good food elsewhere where I don’t have to perch on a stool and get a cramp in my neck for trying to talk to my dining companion.
    Is Barcelona new? Bridge and tunnel vibe aside, the food was fantastic.

  • I can’t believe I’ve only even heard of a couple of these. I guess Bon Apetit is right when they say our food scene is “bubbling with momentum”!

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