Dining Notes

Whaley’s, an exciting seafood restaurant, is opening soon at the Yards. Check out the giant squid and whale mural. Photo: Forest City/The Yards

We’re ready for spring, and lots is happening. In the Atlas District, Nando’s PERi-PERi, the African-Portuguese restaurant group known for spicy, flame-grilled chicken, has hatched its latest chick. For this new endeavor Nando’s has transformed two storefronts at Fourth and H streets NE into a soaring, two-story space. A former staircase is embedded in one wall. The interior is festooned with original art works reflecting the group’s African heritage, including a 25-foot-tall chandelier made with 400 pieces of rebar (reinforcing steel or mesh), inspired by South African beadwork.

Customers place their orders at the counter, and servers whisk food to the colorfully striped tables. (There’s also carryout.) Peter ordered a quarter chicken breast and sides: Portuguese-style rice and spicy peas. I went for the chicken “burger” topped with cheese and a pineapple slice. The non-poultry items include ribeye steak sandwiches, veggie burgers, and salads. For firepower choose plain, medium, hot, or extra hot. Among South African wines is a pleasant Mulderbosch sauvignon blanc; you can also sip beer or interesting sodas. Service is friendly and helpful. We were warned of a 20-minute wait the day Nando’s was slammed, partly due to the Metro shutdown. Open daily for lunch and dinner, Nando’s PERi-PERi is at 411 H St. NE; call 202-821-4155.

New on the Avenue

A pleasant, inexpensive lunch spot has arrived on the avenue: Let’s Mix Bibija, 209 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, formerly Cafe Recess. Operated by David and Danny Ho, the Asian newcomer invites customers to concoct their own tasty meals. Here’s how it works. For bibambap start with a base: brown or white rice, or noodles, then add chicken, beef, pork (spicy or plain), or shrimp and top it off with a zesty sauce. Peter built his own banh mi on delicious crusty bread. You can also do this with pho (Vietnamese soup). Let’s Mix also carries ready-made ramen dishes and sides plus teas and soft drinks. Open Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Call 202-544-3049.

Pricey Pearls

Chef Aaron Silverman’s Pineapple & Pearls is set to open on April 7 at 715 Eighth St. SE, next to parent restaurant Rose’s Luxury. Price – gulp – is $250 per person, which includes a multicourse dinner, drinks, taxes, and gratuity. When patrons – who may choose the eight-seat chef’s counter or the 22-seat dining room – make reservations they pay half up front and the remainder the day they dine. If they cancel 72 hours in advance, they are refunded their initial payment. (At least they don’t have to wait in line for hours.) Meanwhile the casual Pineapple & Pearls Cafe serves coffee, tea, pastries, and sandwiches. Hours are Tuesday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Closed Sunday and Monday.

On the Waterfront

Coming to the Southwest Wharf waterfront in 2017: Fabio Trabocchi is unveiling Del Mar, a two-level Spanish seafood restaurant ... Mike Isabella and Top Chef finalist Jennifer Carrol are collaborating for Requin, bringing Mediterranean of France to the Wharf’s District Pier … Jamie Leeds is opening her fourth Hank’s Oyster Bar along Seventh and Wharf streets ... mixologist Todd Thrasher will create exotic cocktails at his Potomac Distilling Company, a rum distillery and two-story tavern.

Cousins Travis and Ryan Croxton’s Rappahannock Oyster Bar (their original is in Union Market) will occupy the restored circa 1912 oyster-shucking shed at the Municipal Fish Market … nearby Irish-born Mark Kirwan is creating an authentic Irish Pub complete with live Celtic music … Taylor Gourmet, known for Philly-style hoagies, will settle in the Wharf’s District Square … Dolcezza Gelato, which operates a shop near Union Market, will open a waterfront cafe, adding beer and wine to its menu of cool sweets and savories.

No worries: Cantina Marina, a waterfront mainstay, is not going anywhere, having reopened last month after a major facelift.

Here ‘n There

Saison Waffle Bar, dispensing “genuine” Belgian waffles (with various toppings) and beer, has arrived at Union Market, 1309 Fifth St. NE … Sapore Olive Oil & Vinegar, 660 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, turned four last month. The upscale shop opened on St. Patrick’s Day 2012 … The Pretzel Bakery has reopened at its new space, 340 15th St. SE (formerly Curbside Cafe), a few blocks from its original digs … Bagels & Baguettes, 236 Massachusetts Ave. NE, which served senators, Hill staffers, and neighbors since 1996, has closed. Its building was sold, and proprietor Helen Bekele is reportedly seeking a new space.

Cherry Blossom Fare

Washington’s cherry blossoms have arrived (along with throngs of tourists). Through April 17, local restaurants are celebrating with seasonal food and drink. Masseria, 1340 Fourth St. NE (near Union Market), is pouring a Sakura-Bella (“sakura” is Japanese for cherry blossoms) made with sauvignon blanc infused with sour griotte cherries and rose petals, vodka, and yuzu juice ... Ted’s Bulletin, 508 Eighth St. SE (and other locations), will bake cherry-limeade tarts, probably in the front window. Station 4, 1101 Fourth St. SW, is dishing up duck confit with brie, preserved cherries, and alfalfa sprouts. The fleurette cocktail is concocted with Tanquerey gin, green chartreuse, elderflower liquor, Alsace cherry brandy, and lemon juice and garnished with dried cherries ($12). For more information and reservations call 202-488-0987 or visit www.station4dc.com.

Fish On

Things are getting fishy at The Yards. This spring Forest City Washington, master developer of The Yards, and local restaurateurs Nick and David Wiseman (known for DGS Delicatessen near Dupont Circle) are unveiling Whaley’s. You’ll find the newbie in the historic Lumber Shed at The Yards, 301 Water St. SE, between Osteria Morini and Agua 301.

Marine delicacies – all sustainably caught and harvested – will appear in small plates and family-style platters for sharing. Additional options are New England clam chowder, scallop crudo with charred grape vinaigrette and shaved radishes, iceberg stack with buttermilk dressing and shaved bottarga (tuna roe), and grilled swordfish with fingerlings and black garlic vinaigrette.

Whaley’s design, created by Edit Lab at Street Sense, features a floor-to-ceiling, 35-foot-tall glass facade exposing the original roof trusswork, recalling the Lumber Shed’s heritage as a former industrial part of the Washington Navy Yard, as well as a 20-stool counter bar and 40-seat dining room. Outdoor patio seating faces the riverfront and surrounding Yards Park. Whaley’s will initially be open for dinner only, later expanding to brunch and lunch. The moniker Whaley’s honors Revolutionary War hero Zedechiah Whaley, commander of the tiny Maryland Navy. For more information go to www.WhaleysDC.com.

Nearby, Philz Coffee from San Francisco is opening its latest DC-area outlet … In late 2017 look for District Winery, a working winery and restaurant in a two-level retail building at the northern edge of Yards Park near the Lumber Shed.

Customers place their orders at the busy counter at Nando's Peri-Peri, a recent addition to H street NE.

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