New restaurants that popped up while you were gone

Media Credit: Lisa Blitstein | Contributing Photo Editor

Santa Rosa Taqueria, a brightly colored taco joint behind the Capitol building, opened in late June.

While you were out of the District this summer, these established chefs known around the world for their culinary talents were laying new restaurants in the area.

Eat your way through the District’s newest spots at these eateries that have opened in the last two months.

If you’ve maxed out trips to Jaleo and Oyamel or regularly frequent Beefsteak, you’re in luck. When you return, check out the new José Andrés staple in the District, ThinkFoodLab. Food labs are a hot new trend in the culinary world where chefs test out new restaurant ideas every few months. The test kitchen was rolled out in early July and will continue to host rotating fast casual restaurant concepts by Andrés that serve as trial runs before a larger opening.

The space currently houses Pepe, a sandwich-serving food truck Andrés launched in 2012. The simple hot and cold sandwich shop spices up your average sub with artisan ingredients, like pan de cristal bread and manchego cheese, which can be served alongside various gazpachos ($3 to $5) or finished off with leche merengada ($3), a Spanish specialty milkshake. Nothing is too pricey, which makes it the perfect place to taste test.

701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Open Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sushi Gakyu
Sushi chef Yoshihisa Ota opened Sushi Gakyu adjacent to the White House in late June. Ota boasts two other restaurants in the DMV and a coveted spot in the Ginza neighborhood of Tokyo, famous for its plethora of upscale sushi restaurants.

The restaurant offers a regular menu consisting of sushi plates ranging from $15 to $42, two-piece nigiri starting at $4, four-piece sashimi starting at $10 and six-piece maki rolls starting at $4.50. With any reservation, you can get a luxury sushi experience. Order from the chef tasting menu, complete with sake pairings, and the executive chef himself will craft intricate sushi in front of you, with some rolls costing up to $200.

1420 New York Ave. NW. Open Monday through Saturday. 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Blue Bottle Coffee
The California-born speciality roaster known for its upscale cup of coffee opened up in Georgetown in early July. What sets Blue Bottle Coffee apart from other shops is its attention to detail. The shop identifies when each batch of beans hits its peak flavor window based on the number of days after roasting and uses those to brew their pricey beverages.

About 25 minutes from campus, the cafe is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. everyday and offers espresso drinks and a seasonal menu with items like creamy roasted pumpkin soup with pepita labneh ($7) and savory bacon and thyme scones ($3.50). If you like what you sip, you can buy the reasonably priced beans in store to brew at home. The light and bright interior with brick and wood walls and modern aesthetic offers a perfect spot for studying or hanging out with friends on the weekend.

With cafes in New York, California and Tokyo, the Georgetown cafe is the first one to come to the District — but two more are heading to Union Market and District Wharf later this year.

1046 Potomac St. NW. Open every day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Santa Rosa Taqueria
In the former home of his posh Parisian bistro Bearnaise, Spike Mendelsohn gutted the velvet seats and added bold colors, Mexican prints and tacky printed plastic tablecloths for his newest restaurant – Santa Rosa Taqueria, which opened in late June.

Mendelsohn is known for his fast casual concepts like We, the Pizza and Good Stuff Eatery. His newest venture, located just behind the Capitol Building, is no exception. The tacos steal the spotlight. They’re filled to the brim and topped with a generous amount of sauce – $3.50 each or three for $10. The restaurant also offers burrito bowls, quesadillas, nachos and margaritas on tap. The far trek to this taqueria is definitely worth while.

315 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. Open Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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