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Best of Washington: Food & Nightlife

BY The Editors | January 6, 2017 | Feature Features

We are a town of beautiful ideas, of course, and all of the big ones—from the arts to design to food—take center stage throughout the next 12 pages. Bonus: Our readers choose their favorites in everything from fabulous retail to dining. Here's to a new year of discoveries.
We said, just before the new year, hello to Dirty Habit. Sharable plates grace the menu—including gochujang-laced tuna tartare.

Last year, restaurants opened faster than you could say, “Table for two, please.” In Penn Quarter, long-loved Poste was transformed into Dirty Habit, which boasts a modernist vibe and shareable plates. Executive Chef Kyoo Eom draws on his Korean heritage for dishes like twice-fried sweet ’n’ spicy wings, gochujang-amped tuna tartare and a stunning DIY lettuce wrap platter starring spicy pork, housemade kimchee and umami-rich bean paste. Meanwhile, Petworth welcomed Himitsu. It’s a concept from Carlie Steiner of Stir Bartending Co. and chef Kevin Tien, a vet of Pineapple & Pearls and Houston’s highly regarded Uchi. Tien uses Japanese cuisine as a foundation before adding disparate influences.

A prime example is karaage fried chicken brined in buttermilk, a nod to his Louisiana upbringing. Over in Van Ness, Fiola’s Fabio Trabocchi added to his empire with the debut of the Sfoglina. The sleek eatery emphasizes pastas in a myriad shapes—from ribbony mafaldine with pancetta and black truffle to tubular rigatoni topped with nduja and grilled calamari.

It looks like 2017 is going to be equally as busy for the local dining scene. Hype has been building for chef Matt Baker’s Gravitas in Ivy City, aiming to open this spring. The Occidental and City Perch alum will use produce from his extensive roof garden to power his ever-changing tasting menu featuring dishes like curry-spiced carrot ravioli with ginger emulsion and sweet-pea flan. The team from Rooster & Owl is looking to go from pop-up to permanent in the second half of the year somewhere in Shaw or around the U Street corridor. The restaurant will feature creative, veg-focused fare from chef Yuan Tang—formerly of Rogue 24 and 701—like shaved heirloom carrots with ginger yogurt and almonds. The countdown begins!

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