The holiday season in Washington, D.C. is fully upon us and, with it, the desire to embrace the annual December bender of holiday parties, receptions and galas. With an election year dawning, too, Washington is busier than ever trying to impress with a slew of chef-driven and celebrity-focused restaurants that we can’t wait to try. Here are a few that are on the top of our list:
Momofuku CCDC and Milk Bar
So far, long lines have been the hallmark of northern Virginia native David Chang’s City Center DC entrance. Momofuku CCDC opened several weeks ago with little fanfare, but has already drawn rave reviews for its fried chicken and chef Christina Tosi’s Milk Bar bakery, although some whisper that the spot has a little while to go before it’s considered as tasty as the New York original. Rumor has it that first lady Michelle Obama dined here with friends right after it opened. Our best advice? Arrive early and plan for a wait — or try the just-launched lunch. Limited reservations are available, but they’re nearly impossible to score before year’s end.
We’ll admit, Wolfgang Puck’s The Source isn’t technically a brand-new spot. But after an August closure, the Scott Drewno-helmed, Asian-inspired restaurant is back in business as a power dining favorite with a splashy renovation, a new menu (don’t worry, you can still get the signature tuna cone appetizer) and even a special hot pot table upstairs available by reservation only. Don’t miss the Monday happy hour, affectionately called Dumpling Day, where you can get five dumplings for $5. For a true splurge, try the chef’s table, a counter at the end of a bar where just two people at a time can enjoy 16 courses for $95 per person.
When you think of Chinese food, the words “fine dining,” “tasting menu” and “Rosslyn” don’t normally come to mind, but that’s exactly what you’ll find at the new Secret Chopsticks in Turnberry Tower in the uber-luxe neighborhood. The 120-seat restaurant offers a nine-course tasting menu melding French technique and Chinese flavors to produce dishes like filet mignon in oyster sauce and mushroom consommé with tofu ribbons. Special menus are devoted entirely to tofu and vegetarian dishes as well, making this an easy fit for specialty dieters. Coming early next year: a shorter lunch tasting menu, dim sum brunch and specialty tea service.
We’ve been buzzing all year about former McCrady’s chef du cuisine Jeremiah Langhorne’s new restaurant opening in Blagden Alley. The restaurant, with its Mid-Atlantic focused cuisine, finally made its debut in October. The space has a 19th-century-inspired cooking area and wood-burning hearth. As for the daily-changing menu, you don’t want to miss the family-style platters with shareable sides, including standouts like foie gras and chicken liver pâté served with crispy waffles and paw paw puree, or the “whole fried porgy” for two with charred onion, peppers and winter greens.
Equal parts bistro and supper club, the much-hyped Pennsylvania 6 (which already has locations in Philadelphia and New York) opened in late November to much fanfare. The nearly 300-seat restaurant near McPherson Square promises seafood and dry-aged steaks across daily lunch and dinner services to appeal to the city’s lobbyist crowd on nearby K Street. The design, from D.C.-based Swatchroom (Hank’s Oyster Bar, Lincoln, Sax), makes the oversized space feel intimate thanks to creatively organized areas for eating, dining and private events.
Named after Washington’s first “lady kingpin,” Odessa, the city’s first caviar fusion restaurant, is slated for a January opening. The creative mix of craft cocktails and seafood-focused fare promises to elevate dining in the McPherson Square area. Helmed by James “JR” Robinson of Hell’s Kitchen fame (and formerly of President Obama favorite Blue Duck Tavern), the American fusion spot will feature an intimate eight-person chef’s table and caviar tasting “lounge within a lounge.”