Spanish cuisine is hot right now. We recently returned from Spain, where we contemplated opulent cathedrals, medieval forts and amazing food markets while savoring exquisite meals. Back home again, we’ve rediscovered two excellent Spanish restaurants a few blocks from our home: Casa de las Comidas, 660 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, The Bodegon Spanish Tapas, 515 Eighth St. SE, in Barracks Row.
Created by Javier Candon (who also runs sister restaurant Ser in Arlington), Joselito has been around since 2017. The title honors Bardem’s late father, Jose Candon Pérez.
Owned by brothers Joe and Moi Idrissi, Bodegon, a Georgetown subsidiary of Bodega, opened last July.
Nearby, at 503 Eighth St. SE, Chat’s Liquors offers a nice selection of Spanish wines. Visit www.chatsdc.com.
On both sides of the Atlantic, Iberian restaurants generally offered gazpacho andalucia, olives, jamón iberica (thinly sliced Spanish ham), manchego cheese, grilled octopus, fried calamari, fried anchovies (our favorite!) – especially in the Mediterranean city of Seville – paella .
While many restaurants in Spain don’t open until 8 or 9 p.m. (Spanishers eat late!), many people patronize early on tapas (small plates), which may include the olives, anchovies, ham, and cheese mentioned above as well To bread topped with tomato cheese, spiced peppers, and cod fritters.
For more information about our nearby Spanish restaurants, you can visit www.joselitodc.com and www.bodegondc.com.
Long live the Mexicana!
On our way to a Nationals game recently, we enjoyed a delicious Mexican brunch at El Bebe, 99 M St. SE, right near the park. After admiring the colorful Mexican murals and other decorations, our group started with homemade guacamole served with chips (the kitchen was outside the popular Mexican corn restaurant); Carnitas (braised pork) quesadillas and hearty breakfast burritos. The latter was stuffed with scrambled eggs, chorizo, and potatoes, and drizzled with a tangy tomato sauce. Large platter of smoked black beans, cilantro and lime rice.
Other menu options include fajitas, chicken tinga (chicken stewed with pickled radishes and peas), assorted tacos and many types of tequila. Come summer: a frozen margarita.
Part of the Metropolitan Hospitality Group, el Bebe is adjacent to sister restaurant Circa. Lunch for two, including a glass of better than decent house red wine (you can also order “bottomless” mimosas for $25 per person), came to $48.95 before tipping. The service was excellent. For hours and more information, visit www.elbebdc.com.
Near Souk Al Sharq, another “New American” restaurant has arrived: Newland, 327 Seventh St. SE. You’ll find the expensive newcomer on the departing Montmartre website. Newland’s airy interior is outfitted in cool pastel shades with banquettes on one side.
Executive Chef Andrew Marquart, who also heads the kitchen at nearby Beuchert’s Saloon, has created a pair of menu options: His $80 set menu might include salt-roasted squash and lobster with golden rice, dry duck breast, and carrot cake. Wine pairing is an additional $44. For $120, diners get a “Chef’s Tasting Menu.” In this seven-course dish, Markert makes use of seasonal ingredients from the mid-Atlantic region. Wine pairs $66. Beverage Manager Mackenzie Conway prepares delightful cocktails. 22 percent bonus is added to customer tabs.
Incidentally, the restaurant’s name Newland refers to the Baltimore Road where Markert lived as a child. Newland is open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday; Weather permitting, there is outdoor seating. For reservations and more information, please visit www.newlanddc.com
Mason & Greens, a sustainable dry goods grocery company, plans to open at 406 Eighth St. SE, which is where Dunkin’ Donuts used to be. The Earth-Friendly Store will be 100% plastic-free. For updates visit www.masonandgreens.com. And Beuchert’s Saloon and Fight Club, 623 Pennsylvania Ave., is expanding. SE, to 633 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, which is where Hank’s Oyster Bar vacated.
Duking it Out
Duke’s Grocery, a British-style pub featuring huge sandwiches, burgers, mac and cheese and a huge bar, will open at 1201 Half St. SE, at Navy Yard. do not rush immediately; The fourth DC Duke will arrive this fall.
Located a block from Nationals Park, where Duke’s took to the barbecue at the FIS Championship Club in the ballpark, the futuristic Duke’s will offer weekday happy hour (noon to 7 p.m.) and “bottomless” brunch.
Barak’s famous Executive Chef Allen “Ink” burger is stacked with gouda, dill pickles, charred onions, chili sauce, arugula, and garlic aioli, all sandwiched into a brioche bun. Other menu options include tartines, latex, quinoa bowls, wagyu (and “impossible”) burgers, lamb and beef, pastrami casseroles, pan mi, and chicken thighs with naan. For more information, visit www.dukesgrocery.com.
java and ice cream
Restaurateur Aaron Silverman has expanded his Rose restaurant portfolio: Nothing Fancy, 715 Eighth St., opened. SE, next to Rose’s Luxury Hotel. The bustling newcomer serves up espresso and ice cream in flavors like butter popcorn and pineapple. Visit www.rosesluxury.com.
In the farmers’ row at the eastern market, we stumbled upon Yufka Bakery, which distributes hand-stretched filo pastries with various fillings including spinach, feta, bacon, and potatoes. The Yufka booth is open most Saturdays and Sundays. For more information email [email protected].
New kind of pizza
On the way home from CVS recently, I noticed Pizza Iole, 1123 Pennsylvania Ave. SE – also undergoing renovation – bears a new moniker: Peri-Peri Original. “We are the same restaurant but under new management,” explained Abiti Baisa, the Ethiopian-born co-owner.
The menu is the same as Iole’s pizza, with an emphasis on “gourmet” pizzas such as Margherita (tomato sauce, mozzarella, and basil); Greek vegetables, white pizza (garlic, cheeses, no tomatoes); Buffalo Pizza; Chicken Pesto and more. You can also create your own pie of different sizes; Gluten-free crust is available. In addition to salads, calzones, wings and soft drinks. Peri-Peri is open daily, with pick-up and drop-offs. For more information, visit www.pizzaiole.com.
Our Bid La Grenier Company, 502 H St. NE, who left after 11 years in the business. We will miss the garlic giveaway, homemade paté, French onion soup and chocolate mousse…. We’ve also noticed a Cava Mezze loss from Barracks Row, 527 Eighth St. SE, which folded late last year after decades of serving chicken souvlaki, lamb, and “crazy” feta dips.