Washington, D.C.’s 8 most exciting restaurant debuts of 2023

The regal blue and gold interiors at Philippe Chow on The Wharf give it an especially luxurious vibe. | Credit: Rey Lopez
Blue seats, gold accents, and glass light fixtures at Philippe Chow in Washington, DC

Washington, DC’s, dining scene is like a mesmerizing mosaic, and its newest crop of restaurants only amp up that signature diversity.

Choose from a MICHELIN-starred Indian hotspot in Penn Quarter, a sleek and sceney sushi shrine in Georgetown, and an award-winning Creole place in Anacostia. In a city that thrives on differences, these newcomers stand out for being especially unique.

Read on for a guide to the eight best DC restaurant debuts of 2023. 

Philippe Chow – DC (The Wharf)

A Peking duck platter surrounded by assorted Chinese sides at Philippe Chow in Washington, DC
The Peking duck at Philippe Chow – DC is just the right kind of decadent and can take an hour to prepare. | Credit: Nico Castro

The Washington Post’s Tom Sietsema singled out the Peking duck at this NYC import as a “splurge to remember” soon after it opened in June. Crispy, glossy, and just the right kind of decadent, Philippe Chow’s claim to fame isn’t just a signature dish—it’s an experience (it can take an hour to prep) that makes this swanky Chinese restaurant one of the hottest spots in town. A wraparound patio with IG-worthy Potomac River views adds to the destination vibes as you devour a family-style Chinese feast. Run, don’t walk—and bring someone you want to impress, because this newcomer is all about the wow factor.

Book now


Kitchen Savages (Anacostia)

Darrell Gaston’s vibrant love letter to his Anacostia community burst onto DC’s dining scene in April, serving remixed Southern comfort food like crab cake egg rolls, extra-crunchy mumbo wings, and banana pudding cheesecake. The soul-warming spot hasn’t gone unnoticed—Washington City Paper readers voted it the best new restaurant in the “Best of DC” awards this summer. Gaston is all about uplifting his surroundings, which is why he hires many employees from Ward 8 and offers a culinary training experience for at-risk youth. 

Book now


Any Day Now (Navy Yard)

Flaky griddled scallion pancakes stuffed with an egg and American cheese at Any Day Now in Washington, DC
The runaway hit at Any Day Now is Tim Ma’s take on the classic egg and cheese sandwich—made with scallion pancakes. | Credit: Any Day Now

If you think you know diner food, chef and restaurateur Tim Ma wants you to think again. Any Day Now debuted in June and specializes in global comfort fare, pairing Ma’s Asian American background with chef de cuisine Matt Sperber’s Puerto Rican heritage. The plantain tots with adobo shuttle you to San Juan, and the honey-walnut calamari is Sperber’s answer to a Chinese restaurant classic. The runaway hit here is Ma’s genius take on the classic egg and cheese, which swaps the traditional bagel or English muffin with a couple of scallion pancakes—the cafe griddles over 100 an hour on some days (!) and they still regularly sell out.

Book now


Kyojin Sushi (Georgetown)

This subterranean sushi spot from Arlington’s Yume Sushi team opened in July and quickly scored glowing reviews for its refined but experimental menu, which includes seared foie gras nigiri, gyozas stuffed with wagyu and lobster, and a large list of signature rolls. The 5,000-square-foot space is decorated with over-the-top Japanese murals and kimonos that stand in for seat cushions. It’s a total vibe on weekends (read: it gets packed, so reserve well in advance), complete with live DJs and late-night seatings. Stay tuned for a 10-seat omakase counter coming next year.

Book now


Rania DC (Penn Quarter)

Gold accents and mother-of-pearl inlay make up the palace-like interiors at Rania in Washington, DC
Rania means “queen” in Sanskrit, which explains its shimmery dining room. | Credit: Hawkeye Johnson

Hello, glow up. In May, the former Punjab Grill was reborn as Rania, a regal South Asian spot led by Indian Accent alum Chetan Shetty. Fittingly, its name means “queen” in Sanskrit and the royal vibes are strong, thanks to lots of mother-of-pearl inlay and a carved piece of pink sandstone that tops the bar. Not to mention a private dining room decked with thousands of hand-laid mirrors. From the monkfish in red-onion masala to the ghee-roasted lamb with paper-thin lentil pancakes and tangy buttermilk mousse, every inventive dish here feels worthy of the MICHELIN star Rania recently earned. 

Book now


Makers Union (The Wharf)

This Virginia-based pub unveiled its second location in October—and it isn’t your average watering hole. Makers draws District residents for killer local brews, a knockout seafood selection, and is already setting itself apart as a weekend favorite. Bottomless Makers Union has quickly anchored itself as a popular neighborhood gem on the Southwest Waterfront.brunch here is a treasure chest of hits like crab cake benedict and smoked lox with lemon-parsley cream cheese. 

Book now


Hiraya (H Street) 

Filipino chef Paolo Dungca’s latest project opened in September, inspired by the success of his 2022 weekend pop-up. He collabed with father-son duo Juan and Jeremy Canlas (Supreme Barbeque, Auntea Boba) for his permanent two-story location, which houses a casual all-day cafe and a fancier restaurant with cocktails by Minibar alum Al Thompson. Dungca serves thoughtful tributes to his heritage, giving modern twists to ingredients like adobo and buko (coconut) and shows off Filipino food’s lesser-known non-meaty side with dishes like ube crepe spring rolls with root vegetables and tofu skins. This next-gen food is exactly what makes Hiraya one of DC’s most exciting restaurant debuts of the year.

Ruta (Capitol Hill)

When a former Veselka chef opens the District’s first full-service Ukrainian restaurant, diners line up. Dima Martseniuk, aka the Ambassador of Borscht, traded NYC for Capitol Hill when he launched Ruta in May. It’s a toast to the old country, but there are plenty of imaginative detours. Varenyky are stuffed with both classic and unexpected fillings like potato, sauerkraut, and buffalo chicken, and cabbage is filled with beef and chicken—or mushrooms, one of the many meatless choices on the menu. Enjoy it all in an inviting, art-lined space, and you’ll see why Ruta’s won steady praise from The Washington Post, Washingtonian magazine, and others.

Tried them all? Check out other options here.

Christabel Lobo is a food and travel writer based between Washington, DC and south India. Find her on Instagram @whereschristabel and Twitter @wheresbel. 

Find your table for any occasion