Jan 25, 2024 - Food and Drink

NYC's glam Pastis is now open near Union Market

Pastis zinc bar lined with red stools and glowing lights

Salut, Pastis. Photo courtesy of Rey Lopez

How do you take an iconic New York City restaurant, revive it, and clone it? That's the challenge power-duo restaurateurs Keith McNally and Stephen Starr have embraced with Pastis, which opens today in D.C.'s Union Market District.

Why it matters: Pastis — one of the most hotly anticipated restaurants of the year — has a lot to live up to given its scene-y Meatpacking District roots (très similaires to Union Market) and its scene-y sibling Le Diplomate on 14th Street.

Catch up quick: McNally, who's also behind lil' celebrity haven Balthazar, opened the original Pastis in 1999. It closed over a decade later after a celebrity-fueled run. Starr acquired it for its grand revival in 2019.

What they're saying: "The original Pastis back in the '90s was always a sort of a grittier brother to Balthazar," Starr tells Axios. "I look at this as the grittier brother of Le Diplomate."

Zoom in: The 250-seat, warehouse-chic brasserie feels familiar: the zinc bar, red banquettes, spackled mirrors, and glowy lighting. But it's designed to be distinctly D.C.

  • While NYC and a new Miami location's menus are more devoutly French, there's a sampling of European dishes and drinks here. Also: outside "dining chalets" to keep things cozy in winter, plus a warm weather patio.
 A lobster cobb salad (left) and steak frites
A lobster cobb salad (left) and steak frites. Photo courtesy of Pastis

🍔 On your plate: Brasserie classics, sure — an au poivre burger, French onion soup — but also plates like potato pierogies, wiener schnitzel, and chicken Kiev. The latter is a nod to Starr's late NYC restaurant Verōnika, "where we perfected it."

  • Nostalgia is a theme here. You can feast on throwback French fare like steak haché and tender veal tongue with crispy potatoes. Or twirl a creamy pasta al limone.

Flashback: The decadent steak sandwich is from Pastis' opening days (think of it as Le Dip's burger for New Yorkers).

🥒 In your glass: Spritzes for the cool spritz kids, but we have our eye on "Le Petite Pickle," a riff on a dirty martini with vodka, pickle brine, and "pickled things."

The dining room of Pastis DC with red banquettes, tables and a tin ceiling
Photo courtesy of Rey Lopez

What's next: For McNally, a first-time spinoff of West Village classic Minetta Tavern that's opening near Union Market soon.

  • Starr tells Axios he's on track to debut his ambitious Italian restaurant and market in Georgetown with L.A. star chef Nancy Silverton this summer (eta: June). And in the fall, a "glamorous" remake of the old Occidental space in the Willard Hotel downtown.

What we're watching: Pastis DC is open for dinner, with lunch and brunch to start soon.


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