Bisnow’s 12 Buzziest (Part 1)
Is it our imagination, or is a new restaurant opening in DC every 12 seconds? Here’s hoping this ranking by buzz can make it less of a blur, but look quickly because it can change each week.
1. Toro Toro
This “pan-Latin” steakhouse opened one week ago, the sixth DC offering from Richard Sandoval (whom we snapped at his Zengo outpost in Santa Monica). We’ve made it #1 this week not just because it’s the “newest new” thing in town, or because we tried it Saturday night and liked it, or because it introduced this weekend a supercool DJ bar and dance floor in the basement. No, it's also because, due to the deafening buzz, we've selected it as the place we're holding own big networking schmoozarama the evening of April 22, so this is perfect product placement. (Sign up now and see for yourself.)
Bob Kinkead may be redoing Ancora at the Watergate, but without skipping a beat, he’s also just opened an adjacent pizza trattoria, named for a special town in Italy. We snapped this yesterday, when it was closed, otherwise you’d see a hubbub; everyone wants to see Bob's next act. He was a DC celebrity chef long before the term was even invented.
3. Rose's Luxury
The fact that we snapped this Friday night at 11 PM, when technically they close yet they were still packed, shows the frenzy over this restaurant that started last fall is in no danger of flagging. Chef Aaron Silverman somehow manages to create an unpretentious atmosphere and hyper-innovative food (popcorn soup comes to mind), and as a result is now competing with Congress as the reason many visitors come to Capitol Hill.
4. Menu MBK
It’s appropriate that Frederik de Pue, whom we snapped Saturday night, seems to be bathing in stars: This is more than a new restaurant, but a sensory experience—four levels and four dimensions, corresponding to the market/bistrobar/and kitchen for which its name stands. Destination dining has never been so meaningful or multi-faceted, a new spectacle people will want to come see (in the old Café Atlantico and Azur space) as well as ingest.
5. The Partisan
A mini and horizontal echo of the MBK concept, around the corner from it on D Street, three-week old Partisan is the restaurant component, and Red Apron its supporting market. In this case, they're both a meat lover’s paradise with a long wine and beer list that might give even Bluejacket (see tomorrow's installment) a run for its money. We snapped them yesterday as Red Apron was welcoming a Sunday morning breakfast crowd.
6. Fiola Mare
Fabio and Maria Trabocchi have managed to conjure up the Italian sights and sounds of the original Fiola in their additional Georgetown location, courtesy of stunning water vistas—especially when boardwalk seating opens in warmer weather. “This corner of the waterfront is becoming so classy; we’re bringing the waterfront back to Washingtonians,” she says. High end, it focuses on fresh exotic catches; pesce proteins are selected from nearly 50 suppliers.
7. Barcelona Wine Bar
This picture of one of its cool and colorful spaces doesn’t do Barcelona justice. Neither does telling you it’s a tapas place. Here's what you need to know: If you can possibly find a parking space along 14th Street on a Friday or Saturday night, and you walk a few blocks and see the whole area bursting at the seams, the one place that will stand out as being even more crowded than all the others is this one. And if you are over 30, you will stand out the most.
Meat’s the thing here—as you can see from the spits in the open kitchen. Oh, and crowds. Of course, all you have to do is say Mike Isabella’s name and the fans come flocking. As they should—Greek has never been so unconventional and interesting. And so popular they’re creating a second location in Ballston.
Folks, come back for the stirring conclusion tomorrow of Bisnow's Buzziest.