Five New Tastes of the South in the DC Area
Whether or not you consider the DC area the South, there’s no denying Southern food is making its mark on the region. In the past two years, five standout restaurants have opened serving the comforts of the South, and more are on the way, including celebrity chef Edward Lee’s Succotash coming to National Harbor. Get to know them, starting with Tulepo Honey Cafe, which opened June 1.
Tulepo Honey Cafe
Arlington landed a taste of North Carolina when an outpost of Ashville’s Tulepo Honey Cafe made its DC area debut June 1. Chef Brian Sonoskus’ cuisine demonstrates the diversity of new South cuisine—like this fried avocado signature dish we snapped. Don’t worry, you can still get fried green tomatoes, Southern fried okra, buttermilk fried chicken and other soul food. Cocktails are also an emphasis: Tulepo Honey Cafe offers a build-your-own Old Fashioned option, plus a take on white sangria made herbaceous by thyme called “Ode to Eleanor Roosevelt.” The fresh-faced restaurant is also gaining attention because it serves DC’s favorite meal, brunch, from 10pm-midnight on Friday and Saturday nights.
Macon Bistro & Larder
Macon Bistro & Larder from Tony Brown brought Southern food with French flare to Chevy Chase in May 2014, but recently the restaurant made a big move. Tony appointed Daniel Singhofen, whom DC knows from Eola, as executive chef. Daniel’s standout dishes include Johnny cakes with deviled crab; country fried goat with duck fat dumplings; and smoked pecan pie. Don’t skip the classic Southern sides: biscuits, collard greens and black-eyed peas. Macon Bistro & Larder also recently debuted a Sunday supper series featuring a prix fixe three-course dinner served at the tables closest to the kitchen, offering face time with the chefs. This opportunity is available the first Sunday of every month.
A meal that starts with chicken skins (pictured) and ends with cornmeal-crusted blue catfish or shrimp & grits screams the South, even if R.J. Cooper’s Gypsy Soul isn’t outwardly branded to represent the region below the Mason-Dixon Line. The Mosaic District restaurant that opened in July 2014 is in some regards a callback to the time R.J. spent at longtime Southern authority, Vidalia. Also visit Gypsy Soul during brunch for chicken livers ‘n’ waffles, ricotta griddle cakes, and chicken & dumplings.
Capitol Hill got a Southern spot when Barrel opened in April 2014. Though its standout whiskey program is a focus, chef Garret Fleming is cranking out Southern classics. The Charleston, SC, native makes a mean fried chicken with sausage gravy and blood orange jam served with a buttery biscuit. We also dig his Carolina BBQ steam buns with creamy coleslaw, which we snapped. Visit Barrel on June 14 for the all-you-can-eat National Bourbon Day feast featuring a whole goat and whiskey pairings.
Southern bites only make whiskey more fun to sip. Enter Southern Efficiency, a small Shaw spot from Derek Brown emphasizing brown liquor in an environment that feels like Derby Day, every day. From simple snacks like pimento cheese served with saltines to heartier plates like house-smoked ribs with BBQ sauce, you won't leave hungry. Especially if you end with the restaurant's signature dessert: bourbon balls made from crumbled vanilla cookies. Drink-wise, we like the cocktails from bar manager JP Fetherston that fold in notes from Mockingbird Hill, the sherry bar next door. Take The Leeward Islands, for example, with Amontillado sherry, bourbon, salty pineapple, lemon and bitters.