WASHINGTON -- D.C. will soon have a new downtown dining destination when Ashok Bajaj's brasserie NoPa Kitchen + Bar opens May 6.
NoPa, which stands for "North of Pennsylvania Avenue," joins Bajaj standbys Rasika and Bibiana in Penn Quarter, rounding out the trio with the most casual eatery yet from the man also behind The Bombay Club, The Oval Room and Ardeo + Bardeo.
Look inside NoPa before it officially opens its doors:
Located in the former Zola space next to the International Spy Museum, NoPa's traditional brasserie decor, from soft leather armchairs to bright red banquettes, was 100 percent custom-made for the restaurant. General manager Jennifer Lucy describes the look, by James Beard Award-nominated designer Martin Vahtra, as "industrial chic."
Construction crews uncovered the building's original brick walls from the early 20th century; now painted white, the walls are covered with American and European art and, continuing the trend of taxidermy in D.C. restaurants, a small stuffed menagerie purchased from eBay.
At the bar, VIPs can purchase "cocktail lockers" to store pre-mixed bottles of their favorite cocktails to order or send to friends.
NoPa looks French but executive chef Greg McCarty's menu is mainly American, including a raw bar, charcuterie plates, a range of salads and the NoPa Burger, which comes topped with Irish white cheddar and applewood smoked bacon. McCarty plans to take advantage of the nearby Penn Quarter farmers' market to find produce in season.
NoPa opens May 6 for lunch and dinner; expect brunch service to begin in June.