To say that D.C.'s restaurant scene is booming is an understatement. In recent years, the city has become a culinary destination to rival the country's other great eating cities, and new places seem to open constantly. Last year's list of notable new restaurants includes Graffiato, Fiola, Rogue 24, Little Serow, District of Pi, Jack Rose, Hill Country, Lincoln, Elisir, Hamilton, ShopHouse, Bobby's Burger Palace, Shake Shack, Burger Tap & Shake (enough with burger places!).
There's no reason to believe 2012 will be any less hot, with the recession in, um, recession (hopefully), new restaurant ventures could even accelerate. Here's a list of some of the more interesting new places slated to open this year.
Range - Fall (Friendship Heights). Bryan Voltaggio, Top Chef alum and renowned chef and co-owner of the Frederick, Md., restaurant Volt will open his first DC establishment this year. Range has been described as a cross between a bistro and a steakhouse. It will be located in the upper level of the Chevy Chase Pavilion, the Friendship Heights shopping complex that is home to World Market and the Cheesecake Factory.
Bandolero - Early 2012 (Georgetown). Mike Isabella scored a slam-dunk with his super-popular and tasty Italian-inspired Penn Quarter restaurant, Graffiato. For his next trick, he's tackling Mexican cuisine in the M Street space formerly occupied by Hook. Will be interesting to see whether it resembles his former boss's own Mexican establishment, Oyamel.
Wagamama - Spring (Penn Quarter). Several years ago Wagamama promised to bring its tasty selection of Japanese noodles dishes to D.C. when it took over the spot vacated by Olsson's Books in Penn Quarter. A "coming in 2010" sign went up...and then 2010 came and went. Well in the 2011 the sign remained unchanged, the exciting teaser turning into a slap for the chain's fans (me included). Things turned around late in the year though, as a new "coming in early 2012" sign went up. Apparently, the project is back on. Rejoice!
Daikaya - (Penn Quarter). As if one new Japanese noodle bar in Penn Quarter, there is a second. Daikaya will serve ramen on its lower floor and a broader Japanese menu upstairs. Although reportedly opening in February, judging from the (lack of) construction progress in the vacant site next to Graffiato, I think it will be much later in the year.
Fuel Pizza - January (Penn Quarter and Downtown). North Carolina-based chain Fuel Pizza picked D.C. for its first locations north of its home state. The K Street location is set to open this week, with the Penn Quarter outpost at 6th & E to follow soon after.