11 Spots To Watch In 2011

DC diners, get your forks ready. 2011 is shaping up to be a great year
for the city's dining scene. Washington's very best homegrown talents are striking out with fresh new concepts. Here are 11 restaurants poised to make an
impact in the coming year. (And yes, top 10 lists now go to 11.)

1. District Commons, and Burger, Tap & Shake

2200 Pennsylvania Ave.

Jeff Tunks and Passion Food Hospitality are planning their sixth and
seventh restaurants on one spot. District Commons will feature Tunks' menu of
American classics, a raw bar and an open hearth oven turning out
flatbreads and savory tarts. The more casual Burger, Tap & Shake, with
counter service and cafe seating, will serve fresh ground beef patties
on housemade buns with hand-cut fries and adult milkshakes. Both
restaurants will offer about 20 small-batch beers from American brewers.

ETA: summer 2011

2. Elisir

427 11th St. NW

Chef Enzo Fargione, who gained a great reputation with his elegant Italian cooking at Teatro Goldoni, plans
to open this upscale modern Italian restaurant featuring nightly tasting
menus and a more casual bistro lunch. The space will hold 90 seats in
the dining room, 20-25 in the bar and another 20 in a private room.

ETA: summer 2011

3. Fiola
601 Pennsylvania Ave. NW (entrance on Indiana Ave.)

After several years and lots of praise in New York, acclaimed chef Fabio Trabocchi
returns to DC – and the exact site of his first U.S. cooking job – to
open Fiola, a slightly more casual take on his native Le Marches’
cuisine than he was doing at Maestro. Fiola fills the former Le Paradou space.
ETA: spring 2011

4. Graffiato

707 6th St. NW

"During my whole career, I never
wanted to cook Italian food because I grew up with it," says chef Mike
Isabella. "As I
get older, it started bringing me back to my roots." The Top Chef
All-Star's Chinatown restaurant Graffiato will be the expression of
those roots, serving wood-fired pizzas, pastas,
charcuterie and small plates over two floors. To fill glasses, Isabella
says the
majority of the wines will come from the United States. Read more about Isabella's plans here.

ETA: spring 2011

5. Jack Rose

2007 18th St. NW

Bill Thomas of Bourbon is
joining forces with Michael Hartzer who has cooked at Citronelle, Ray’s
the Classics
and IndeBleu. The upscale cocktail bar and restaurant will
open fairly soon. Thomas, like at Bourbon, plans to stock some 1,000
whiskies and they are planning a chef’s tasting room in the basement.

ETA: February 2011

6. Pearl Dive Oyster Palace

1612 14th St. NW

Jeff and Barbara Black of Black Restaurant Group are opening a casual seafood joint dubbed
Pearl Dive Oyster Palace. The chef says he’s planning a Southern
inspired menu, heavy on the seafood. Upstairs will be a bar called
Black Jack with a bocce court and its own menu.

ETA: summer 2011

7. Rogue 24
Blagden Alley at 1234 9th St. NW

Beard award winning chef RJ Cooper’s ambitious new concept will be
housed in a rough industrial space in the hip and artsy Blagden Alley . He plans to serve a 24-course menu
ETA: spring 2011

8. Society Fair
277 S. Washington St., Alexandria

Cathal Armstrong’s European style market will house a butcher, bakery,
wine bar, market and restaurant, all in a 7,000-square-foot space. John
Wabeck has joined on to run the wine program. A “studio” kitchen will
serve a nightly three-course prix-fixe — diners will be seated at a
counter where they can watch and interact with the chefs. The studio
action will also be on a live feed on TVs in the market.
ETA: summer 2011

9. Virtue Feed and Grain

106 South Union St., Alexandria

and Cathal Armstrong and mixologist Todd Thrasher are planning a casual
restaurant inside a historic feed building on Old Town's waterfront.
The new spot will offer an American gastropub menu and a selection of
specialty, on-tap craft beers. A walk-up window will sell
fried chicken and other dishes to go. This one's a whopper with 316
seats inside and 60 more on a deck outside.

ETA: spring 2011

10. Watershed
1st and M streets NE

Todd Gray of Equinox is taking on a new concept in the Hilton Garden Inn. Watershed will focus on East Coast seafood.
ETA: spring 2011

11. Unnamed taqueria from Kaz Okochi and Richard Sandoval

1819 14th St. NW

Kaz Okochi and Richard Sandoval are planning to open a Mexican taqueria
just a few doors down from their first collaboration, the
Latin-Asian Masa 14. The main floor will offer carry-out tacos with some
eat-in seating and an open kitchen.

ETA: spring 2011

For more on what's opening and coming soon, check out RESTAURANT WATCH.