Ginza on Eighth
Are we in Tokyo? Fans of Japanese culture and cuisine (including us) were delighted to discover Ginza BBQ Lounge and Karaoke Bar, 526 Eighth St. SE. The parent restaurant is Han Palace, a few doors away. During the day, Ginza serves several varieties of bubble tea and pastries, including crepe cakes and cake rolls. Come evenings, diners chow down on edamame, gyoza (dumplings), grilled meats, seafoods and noodle dishes. They also partake from the full bar. Nocturnal action–including dinner–happens on the second floor. Served on paper plates, food is not the focus; most folks usually come for drinks, music, dancing and karaoke. From a display panel, guests can choose their music—language, artist, group. A 20 percent service charge is added for food and drink tabs. For Ginza hours and more information visit www.ginzabbq.com
More Grazie Grazie
Chef Casey Patten’s three-year-old sub shop Grazie Grazie, 85 District Square SW (District Wharf), has unveiled an offspring downtown. In the new location at 1875 K St. NW, fans find the same overstuffed subs, sandwiches, cheesesteaks, and salads. New on the menu is pizza, offered whole or by the slice.
Pies—crowned with pecorino Romano cheese and fresh basil–come with red or white sauce. Red options include the “Classico” (aged and fresh mozzarella and provolone) and “Bocelli,” dotted with pepperoni cups from Ohio’s Ezzo Sausage Company. A white pie piles on mozzarella, Fontina cheese, herbed mushrooms and onion. Open for takeout, dine-in, and delivery daily. For more information, visit www.graziegrazie.com.
Winter Restaurant Week
It’s that time again: Winter Restaurant Week, sponsored by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW). From January 16-22, participating restaurants will offer multi-course brunch and lunch menus for $25 per person; multi-course dinner menus are $40 or $55 per person for on-premises dining. Diners will also enjoy extended brunch offerings Monday, January 16, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Many participants will also provide To-Go dinner meals and cocktail pairings for $70 or $100 for two people, and $140 or $200 for four. For more information, reservations and an up-to-date restaurant list, visit www.rwdmv.com
In the Atlas District, Hiraya, a Filipino restaurant, is headed for 1248-1250 H St. NE. Don’t rush over there right away; Hiraya is not opening until spring. Chef Paolo Dunga is joining Juan and Jeremy Canlas, the father-son duo behind local chain Supreme Barbeque and Auntea Boba.
Hiraya’s H Street enterprise will offer separate menus and atmospheres on each floor. The first level will serve Filipino pastries, breakfast sandwiches, lattes brewed with ube (purple yam) and teas from Auntea Boba. You’ll also find silog — a Filipino morning staple made with sinangag (garlic fried rice), itlog (egg), and longganisa sausage. Upstairs will serve a la carte small plates to start, eventually adding prix-fixe options. For updates visit www.hirayadc.com.
On Barracks Row, Ambar, 523 Eighth St. SE, is branching out. Any day now, look for a Shaw outpost at 1547 Seventh St. NW. The future second-story rakia cocktail bar will come with an all-weather retractable roof. The offspring will be the popular Balkan restaurant’s third location; besides the Barracks Row location, there’s another in Clarendon (Arlington). For updates and more information, visit www.ambarrestaurant.com/shaw.
Silver Diner, the dazzling diner in Capitol Riverfront, has spawned a grown-up, sophisticated sibling. Silver Social has made its splashy debut upstairs from the art deco-appointed diner. The handsome terrace lounge dispenses “contemporary American sharing plates and craft cocktails” to customers 21 and older. The dressy newcomer also features a heated, 1,700 square foot outdoor terrace overlooking Nationals Park.
Award-winning chef and co-founder Ype Von Hengst has created a menu sourced from local farms and purveyors. In addition to tasty bar bites, the dinner menu includes Buffalo chicken tacos, scallops Romesco, tuna tartare, octopus, lump crab cakes, tenderloin medallions, chicken parmesan, and Faroe Islands salmon.
At a recent brunch, our table of four considered mimosas (orange or grapefruit) but settled on tangy bloody marys poured into Old Bay rimmed glasses and garnished with celery and olives. Speaking of potent potables, mixologist Richard Torres concocts pre-prohibition style cocktails from locally distilled spirits and freshly squeezed juices.
Back to our brunch: Four sourdough wedges of avocado toast were topped with crumbled queso fresco, radish circles and crowned with silky smoked salmon. Bright red pomegranate seeds added a festive touch. Smoked salmon also appears on a Benedict (English muffins with rich Hollandaise sauce). Cuban eggs Benedict was replete with crispy ham. Enlivened with feta and leeks, a spinach and roasted tomato omelet was generous and flavorful. Most entrees arrived with greens.
Unfortunately, we did not save room for dessert. Next time maybe cinnamon sugar-sprinkled churros or flourless chocolate cake. To access Silver Social, enter the Silver Diner (don’t miss the vintage Washington Senators Griffith Stadium mural) and then head upstairs. Reservations are highly recommended. Silver Social is open daily for dinner plus Saturday and Sunday brunch service. www.silversocialdc.com.
Smoky Happy Hour
We were delighted to learn that Smoke & Mirrors, perched atop the AC Hotel at 867 New Jersey Ave. SE, is offering half-price small plates during happy hour. Among options are local oysters, pork belly sliders, duck confit tacos and sesame seared tuna. Snazzy cocktails include espresso martinis and Violettes (infused gin and rosemary-ginger syrup). Wine by the glass is just $8, beer and seltzers $5. The Smoke & Mirrors’ all-weather patio enables guests to enjoy the sweeping vista of the nearby U.S. Capitol. Or they can sip their drinks inside at the cozy bar. For reservations or more information visit www.smokeandmirrorsrooftop.com.