Playful new wine bar in Old Town pairs tartare with Lay’s crisps

A ricotta salad puffed up with parsnips, fennel and baby sweet potatoes screams.
Virginia’s darling

Chef Nicole Jones has just doubled down on Old Town with the opening of a new American restaurant next to her all-day dining Mae’s Market and Cafe. Virginia’s Darling debuted last week with a large cellar full of women-owned wines, baked breads, duck confit over chickpeas and sharing plates featuring local Peninsula farmers Northern Neck of Virginia and Lancaster, Pennsylvania (277 S. Washington Street, Alexandria, Virginia). A long marble bar surrounding an open kitchen is the perfect place to watch Jones bring the seasonal menu to life. There’s also a casual outdoor patio, intimate dining room, and space for live music and private events. Perfectly prepared snacks include charred dates drizzled with California olive oil; olives marinated in fennel pollen; and salted and vinegar pistachios fried in olive oil. Fun fact: Jones’ partner is Andy Brown (Andy’s Pizza), who helps out as a courier.

Disco Pizza is coming to Clarendon

The recently relaunched Clarendon Ballroom nightclub added a new in-house slice store over the weekend. Partygoers can head to a dedicated bar dubbed Disco Pizza to grab a slice throughout the night or take-out pies on the way out. The opening menu includes cheese, pepperoni, sausages and white varieties. Hours (until 2am) will span the entire line.

Drink over 400 beers next to the United States Capitol

Now in its 10th year, DC’s massive fall beer festival, Snallygaster, returns to Pennsylvania Avenue NW (between Third and Seventh Streets NW) on Saturday, October 8. Try unlimited tastes of 405 beers from 178 American and international breweries, plus cider, wine, and cocktails. Snallygaster comes from Neighborhood Restaurant Group, the beer-fueled hospitality company behind bars like Bluejacket Brewery, Shelter, Churchkey and the Sovereign. VIP passes are sold out, but $65 general admission tickets are still available (2 p.m. to 6 p.m.). Proceeds benefit the sustainable agriculture non-profit Arcadia.

Scenes from a packed Snallygaster, which will feature bands, DJs, a local Shop Made market and 20 food vendors this year.
Neighborhood Restaurant Group

Also this weekend is the 5th annual Oyster Wars (Sunday, Oct. 9, 3-6 p.m.) at the Other Half bar in Ivy City, featuring breweries, oyster farms, and big-name chefs like Kyle Bailey ( The Salt Line), Robert Rubba (Oyster Oyster), Matt Adler (Caruso’s Grocery) and more. Tickets start at $60.

More stars from Sietsema

Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema stopped handing out stars to restaurants during the pandemic, and now he’s eradicating the rating system for good. “Especially now, given all the challenges in the industry, restaurants deserve more than a symbol to sum them up. Words allow nuance. Stars, not so much,” he wrote. Eater reviewer Ryan Sutton dropped stars last year, noting that they lead to “countless baffling and unfair comparisons”.

Hill East Burger begins serving in the Southeast

The owners of barbecue equipment Sloppy Mama’s (Joe Neuman) and tex-mex stand-by Republic Cantina (Chris Svetlik) quietly opened Hill East Burger last week, but without alcohol for now. The planned smoked burger saloon slips into the former Wisdom gin bar near the Potomac Avenue subway station (1432 Pennsylvania Avenue SE). The star of the show – served between a local potato bun or over greens – is a blend of Sloppy Mama’s premier brisket filling and Roseda Farms grass-fed beef. There’s also Texas-style chili, buttermilk-brined fried chicken thigh sandwiches, half-smokers, and a veggie burger made with black-eyed peas.

Penn Quarter Dueling Piano Bar Sets Opening Date

Howl at the Moon, a national chain known for its high-energy shows, rum-heavy hurricanes and 86-ounce cocktail buckets, will debut in DC on Friday, Oct. 21 in the long-vacant space that housed Ping Pong Dim Sum (900 Seventh Street NW). Howl at the Moon currently has a dozen locations from Hollywood to the high seas (it partners with Norwegian Cruise Line).

About James K. Bonnette

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