Burger Bar Johnny Rockets Returns to D.C., and It’s Hard Not to Notice

food, burger bar johnny rockets returns to d.c., and it’s hard not to notice

Johnny Rockets crash landed into Logan Circle this week.

October 2022

LOGAN CIRCLE—The foot of a neon-green Holiday Inn is home to the first Johnny Rockets D.C. has seen in years. The ’50s diner chain that closed its Georgetown storefront in 2020 just made a surprise city comeback right near Logan Circle’s nightlife strip. Lit up like a birthday cake along Rhode Island Avenue NW, the shiny new location sports black-and-white tiled floors, bright red booths, D.C.-themed posters, Motown music, and a retro bar serving draft beers and spiked milkshakes. Cooked-to-order burgers and fries share space on the menu with poultry sibling Hurricane Grill & Wings, marking parent company Fat Brands Inc.’s first co-branded U.S. location. D.C. also maintains a walk-up Johnny Rockets in the depths of Union Station. And there’s no shortage of fast-casual counters in FedEx Field thanks to Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder, who used to have a stake in the oldies chain. Open daily starting at 6:30 a.m. until 11 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday and midnight on weekends. 1501 Rhode Island Avenue NW

NAVY YARD—Long-running Maryland-based chain Silver Diner opens its first outpost in D.C. proper on Wednesday, October 5. The two-piece project next to Nationals Park features a second-story level called Bar Silver serving drinks and small plates and an outdoor terrace overlooking the baseball stadium. The lower level will look more familiar, serving Silver Diner’s hits from executive chef and Chopped winner Ype Von Hengst, a big kid’s menu, and vegan and gluten-free options. The 33-year-old brand announced the 8,000-square-foot setup back in 2021. 1250 Half Street SE

CAPITOL HILL—Cantonese dim sum spot Han Palace opens its third area location on Saturday, October 1. Along with an a la carte menu, two unlimited tasting menus are served at lunch and dinner: dim sum option ($38) with soup dumplings, scallion pancakes, steamed pork buns, noodle and rice dishes; and Peking duck spread ($48) with dishes like crispy beef and crispy eggplant. Tea are included in both. The original Han Palace opened in Arlington in 1973 in Arlington, and owner Chris Zhu now runs outposts in Tysons Corner and Woodley Park. Daily hours will be 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. 522 8th Street SE.

food, burger bar johnny rockets returns to d.c., and it’s hard not to notice

A look inside Han Palace’s new Barracks Row location.

September 2022

MANASSAS—Los Angeles-born chain Fatburger brings its famed cooked-to-order burgers to the D.C. market for the first time. Its Manassas outpost shares space with chicken wing sibling Buffalo’s Express, with a bar sending out cocktails like a Fat Mule, Two in the Mornin’ Daiquiri, and spiked milkshakes made with hand-scooped ice cream. The Buffalo’s Express menu features bone-in or boneless wings with a choice of homemade sauces. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. 8097 Sudley Road, Manassas, Virginia

BRENTWOOD—Mushroom-obsessed sandwich and salad shop MushDC opened at miXt Food Hall in the heart of Maryland’s Gateway Arts District. Mushrooms mimic meat to make sandwiches the Izzit Chik’n, Bahn Mi Izzit, Jerk BBQ, a Mush N’ Cheese. Mush DC, which started as a pop-up at Shaw’s Roy Boys, comes from American Son alum Tarik Frazier and and business partner Alex Hamilton. 3809 Rhode Island Avenue, Brentwood, Maryland

August 2022

food, burger bar johnny rockets returns to d.c., and it’s hard not to notice

Tight Five Pub opened in late August.

ADAMS MORGAN—The former Smoke & Barrel space is now home to Tight Five Pub, a new sports bar from two former rugby players that serves pub grub, cold beers, cocktails, and nightly and game day specials. Epic deals out of the gate include $3 PBR cans at brunch and after 10 p.m. downstairs alongside $5 rails. Wings, slathered in homemade barbecue, Buffalo, garlic pepper, or a “spicy terminator” sauce, are half-off all day on Tuesdays. On Wednesdays, a $40 “Scrum” package features 12 wings, fries or tots, veggies and dips, fried pickles and nachos, alongside live music and discounts for rugby jersey-wearing customers. The bar sides with American football, too, with 16 HDTVs airing the NFL Sunday Ticket. The bar also roots for D.C. teams and the New York Mets, Giants, and Syracuse University. On-site entertainment includes darts, Monday trivia, and monthly spelling bee contests. 2471 18th Street NW

SILVER SPRING—Chef Jeffeary Miskiri, the owner of H Street’s long-running Po Boy Jim and the newish Creole on 14th, expands to downtown Silver Spring with the opening of Miss Toya’s Creole House. Menu highlights include Creole spice-blasted wings, shrimp and grits, whole roasted Cajun snapper, loaded gumbo, and oysters plenty of ways. The bar puts its spin on New Orleans favorites like a Hurricane, sazerac, and spiked Louisiana tea. Sibling spot Miss Toya’s Southern Cajun Kitchen is en route to Southeast’s Shops at Penn Branch shopping center. 923 Ellsworth Drive Silver Spring, Maryland

ASHBURN, VIRGINIA—Roving food truck Rebel Taco breaks into suburbia with a huge 5,000-square-foot location for Loudoun County. The menu features familiar taco favorites on corn and flour tortillas, options for vegetarians, and a color-soaked bar sending out all sorts of tequila drinks. Rebel Taco, which has a truck at Clarendon beer garden The Lot, unveiled its long-awaited K Street NW outpost earlier this month. 22850 Brambleton Plaza, Ashburn, Virginia

OXON HILL, MARYLAND—California chain Pekoe Tea Bar expanded to the East Coast on Friday, August 19, bringing MGM National Harbor milk and fruit teas, smoothies, and coffees in the casino’s atrium. Star-shaped mango bobs inside a Kawaii (green tea infused with red guava, mango and passion fruit), while an icy Fire Melon features Tajin and watermelon chunks. For a pre-gambling jolt, there’s super strong Vietnamese coffee topped with caramel custard. Hours are 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily. 101 MGM National Avenue, Oxon Hill, Maryland

food, burger bar johnny rockets returns to d.c., and it’s hard not to notice

California import Pekoe Tea Bar brings boba tea drinks to MGM National Harbor.

SOUTHEAST—Maryland-born Fuji Hibachi and Sushi opened Monday, August 8, at Ward 7’s Skyland Town Center. The 1,500-square-foot restaurant sends out sushi and Japanese dishes on a carryout-only basis to start (11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily). Fuji will add sit-down service this fall — making it the first full-service eatery at the shopping center. 2714 Good Hope Road SE

UPPER NORTHWEST—Boston’s fast-grown bakery Tatte opened at the splashy new City Ridge complex on Wednesday, August 24, with lattes and pastries starting at 7 a.m. daily. Tatte is the mixed-use development’s inaugural dining establishment to open, and King Street Oyster Bar, Taco Bamba, and others will soon follow. The city’s first Wegmans debuted across the street earlier this summer. 13 Ridge Square NW

MT. PLEASANT—D.C.’s wildly popular breakfast taco pop-up La Tejana swings open its first standalone store on Saturday, August 6. The 2020 fan favorite of Washington Post food columnist Tim Carman brings the upper Northwest neighborhood a true taste of the tiny taquerias its co-founder Ana-Maria Jaramillo frequented growing up in Texas. La Tejana honors Rio Grande Valley’s beloved border cuisine with five opening tacos — all served on homemade flour tortillas — like the “956” with eggs, bacon, potatoes, refried beans, queso, and cilantro ($4.50 each; three for $13; or six for $24). Open Wednesday to Sunday, 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., with drip and cold brew coffee too. 3211 Mt. Pleasant Street NW

MT. VERNON TRIANGLE—Roving food truck Rebel Taco unveiled its long-awaited K Street NW outpost on Friday, August 5. The 1,600-square-foot, graffiti-soaked space with a leaf-lined patio out front sports a Day of the Dead look with bright neon colors and skull logos. Corn and flour tortillas are topped with meaty fillings like barbacoa and chorizo, plus options for vegetarians and plans to hand patrons frozen margaritas through a bar window. Rebel Taco also maintains a truck at its Clarendon beer garden The Lot. 508 K Street NW

BALLSTON—Hawkers Street Asian Fare brings a variety dim sum, tiki drinks, and curries to Ballston on Thursday, August 4. The anticipated location, two years in the making, takes up a 4,380-square-foot corner of the Ballston Exchange complex. Founded in 2011 in Orlando, the fast-growing chain made its D.C. area debut at Bethesda Row in 2020. Its first location in Virginia is a little smaller than its Maryland counterpart. Hawkers, which pays homage to “hawker” street food stalls found across bustling night markets in Asia, is known for its Malaysian flat breads and other recipes from co-founder Allen Lo’s family. 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, Va.

July 2022

ADAMS MORGAN—The 18th Street NW nightlife strip welcomed a cheerful destination for pastries wrapped in homemade dough at the end of July. Mola Empanada’s Panamanian-Caribbean menu stars savory selections like braised chicken curry with red bell peppers; chickpea curry with coconut milk; or a picadillo beef variety with a hint of cinnamon. Born as a pop-up, Mola’s debut storefront also offers a pan-fried section of plantains (patacones) and yucca fries, plus Panamanian breads coming soon. 2438 18th Street NW

NAVY YARD—Chicken + Whiskey, the popular South American rotisserie shop and whiskey bar on 14th Street NW since 2017, adds a bigger, follow-up location right next to Nationals Park on Saturday, July 30. Star Latin chef and partner Enrique Limardo (Seven Reasons, Immigrant Food, Imperfecto) designs a menu full of slow-roasted chickens brined for 12 hours and Venezuelan arepas to go along with a lengthy list of domestic and international whiskey pours. Unlike the narrow layout of the original — a chicken joint in the front, with a speakeasy tucked behind a refrigerator door in the back — Chicken + Whiskey puts its two components side-by-side in Navy Yard with roll-up garage doors spanning the length of the facade. 70 N Street SE

DOWNTOWN—Immigrant Food+, the nearly year-old destination for artsy global plates and dim sum in the literary-themed Planet Word museum, unveiled a new Negroni patio on Tuesday, July 26. The beloved summertime cocktail, comprised of equal parts gin, Campari and sweet vermouth, takes center stage across its peaceful patio out back. In Immigrant Food+ fashion, the Negroni gets a few global twists with spirits from France, Italy, and India. There’s six types to choose from ($15 each), and patrons can taste three as part of a $21 flight. The patio is open Tuesdays to Saturdays. 925 13th Street NW

REAGAN NATIONAL—Fuel up before a flight at Elevation Burger’s brand new locale at Terminal E inside the airport. Founded in 2002, the health-conscious patty pioneer known for its grass-fed burgers and olive oil-cooked fries also sends out ice cream shakes, cage-free chicken sandwiches, onion rings battered in gluten-free breading, and meat-free proteins.

food, burger bar johnny rockets returns to d.c., and it’s hard not to notice

Elevation Burger touched down at Reagan Washington National Airport on Tuesday, July 26.

ALEXANDRIA—Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, the iconic New Haven-style pizza parlor out of Connecticut, opens its second D.C. area location on Monday, July 18 at the Alexandria Commons Shopping Center. Founded nearly 100 years ago, the cult chain maintains a devoted New England following for its chewy, coal-fired pies with a thin, oblong crust and charred finish. The first area outpost opened at Bethesda’s Westfield Montgomery Mall this spring. 3231 Duke Street, Alexandria, Va.

DEL RAY—Elo’s Italian, the rustic Italian pop-up that took residency in Live Oak during the pandemic, has permanently replaced the Southern restaurant. Named for executive chef and owner Justus Frank’s daughter, family-friendly Elo’s serves pastas, flatbreads, charcuterie, cocktails, and wine. 1603 Commonwealth Avenue, Alexandria, Va.

UPPER NORTHWEST—D.C.’s first-ever Wegmans opened on Wednesday, July 13, with in-store dining options (Burger Bar and Pizza Shop); a raw bar with poke bowls and sushi; a bakery with homemade pastries and doughnuts; and Buzz coffee shop, plus 500 types of spirits, vermouths, and sakes. 41 Ridge Square NW

BETHESDA—Pizza TBD, Ensemble Digital Kitchen’s newest delivery and takeout brand, debuted in early July with a unique Roman-meets-Detroit style that relies on a 40-hour ferment. Opening offerings include a “Truffle Shuffle” and “Pep Boi” pie. The Steve Salis-run ghost kitchen also sends out eats from his Bib Gourmand-designated Honeymoon Chicken and Federalist Pig. 4856 Cordell Avenue, Bethesda, Md.

food, burger bar johnny rockets returns to d.c., and it’s hard not to notice

Pizza TBD combines airy and pan pizza styles.

SILVER SPRING—DMV food truck Trippy Tacos unveiled its first restaurant in Silver Spring starring tacos on homemade corn tortillas. There’s also quesadillas, nachos, tortas, and burritos, plus new breakfast offerings, loaded nacho fries, and a pupusa pizza. 12134 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, Md.

DOWNTOWN—CitySwing’s first permanent golf studio opened on Thursday, July 7, with simulator rentals and lessons. Starting in early August, the bar and lounge will go live with a full food and beverage program. 901 New York Avenue NW

SILVER SPRING—Last fall the iconic home to Mrs. K’s Tollhouse flipped into an all-day venture called Zinnia, making use of its tavern and garden spaces. A stylish cafe joined the mix on Wednesday, July 6, with Counter Culture coffee drinks and full breakfast and lunch menus. 9201 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, Md.

food, burger bar johnny rockets returns to d.c., and it’s hard not to notice

Pastries served out of Zinnia’s new cafe portion.

DISTRICT HEIGHTS—Chef Damien Brown has new neon-lit, pop art-filled place to stock his whimsical sweets. Uncaged Desserts opened in early July with bourbon peach cobbler and Samosas cookie puddings, lemon bar cakes, and cheesecake slices stuffed with oatmeal cream and cherry. Swing by from noon to 7 p.m. 6031 Marlboro Pike, District Heights, Md.

June 2022

ALEXANDRIA—Jollibee, the worldwide fast-food chain from the Philippines with a hyper-loyal fanbase, brings buckets of fried chicken and other favorites to Alexandria. Some 2,500 guests showed up to the opening in late June at the Plaza at Landmark shopping center. Its first D.C. area location debuted a year ago in Wheaton, Md. 4809 Beauregard Street, Alexandria, Va.

food, burger bar johnny rockets returns to d.c., and it’s hard not to notice

Jollibee’s buckets of fried “chickenjoy” with brown gravy, sweet cheesy spaghetti loaded with hot dogs and ham, and peach mango handpies.

WEST END—Bandoola Bowl, the Southeast Asian salad shop that debuted in Georgetown 2019, is the newest vendor inside Western Market food hall. Flavors from Burma, Vietnam, and Thailand make their way into customized salads or warm bowls. Pick a spicy rice noodle or brown rice base can be topped with an array of proteins, spices, fruits, vegetables, and garnishes. Upcoming events on-site include a pet adoption event on Wednesday, July 20, and live music on Thursday, July 28. 2000 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

ADAMS MORGAN—Jerk at Nite, the popular food truck founded by Howard University alumni, adds a new nightlife-driven location to enjoy its modern Jamaican menu and cocktails. 2406 18th Street NW

CHINATOWN—The space that formerly housed Honeygrow flipped into fast-casual Chinese food spot Wasai, serving dumplings, stir-fried noodles, wonton soup, pulled pork buns from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. 716 7th Street NW

SPRING VALLEY—Aussie-styled coffee roaster Bluestone Lane debuted its third D.C. cafe in Spring Valley in mid-June with its familiar flat whites, avo smash toasts, and new fried chicken sandwiches. Order pick-up, dine-in, or delivery via its app from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. 4874 Massachusetts Avenue NW

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