Best Seat In The House: Washington D.C. Late Night Edition

Johanna Hellrigl knows where to go if you're after great cocktails, pizza or sushi.

May 29, 2019 ‚óŹ 2 min read

By Richie Nakano | Photo via Chaplin's

Born into a family of chefs, Johanna Hellrigl spent her childhood watching, playing and helping out in her family’s kitchens in both Italy and NYC. Her parents ran Palio’s, an upscale Italian joint in Midtown Manhattan. With a passion for feeding people gorgeous food written into her DNA, what Hellrigl learned during her formative years shaped her sense of what it means to be a Chef. Her creative path led her to launch pop-ups, spend years living and studying the cuisine of Southeast Asia, and eventually landed her in Washington DC as Executive Chef of Fat Baby Restaurant Group. We asked her where her go-to spots are in DC, when she’s got the rare night off, or needs to unwind from work late night.  

Where to get your pizza on:

“At night I like to go to this pizza place out in Brooklyn Northeast, called Menomale. They make the best Napoli style pizza. I’m Italian and they have me and my mom’s stamp of approval. They’re one of my best-kept secrets.”

What to order:

“They have a wood-fired oven, and I always ask for my pizza extra crispy. I always get it with mozzarella di bufala and basil. They also have this ridiculous dessert called a bomba, and it’s the same pizza dough but it’s filled with imported Nutella, lightly baked and dusted with powdered sugar. I never get anything else so I can save room for that dessert.”

What’s your late night hang spot?:

“My fiancée owns both Chaplin’s and Zeppelin. Chaplin’s is a Japanese ramen and cocktail bar, and Zeppelin is a sushi restaurant with a cocktail bar. They’re both industry hangouts. They’re open until 2 in the morning, and the mix of late night food and the amazing cocktail programs is the draw for me.”

What to drink:

“The cocktails are all so good and straightforward.  It can be hard to get a well-made cocktail at that hour, but both places do such a good job.”

What to order:

“I like to get late night dumplings or ramen after a long service. At Zeppelin, the sushi is made by Master Ogawa, who did all of the sushi programs for the Mandarin Hotels up and down the East Coast. He created this insane sushi and yakitori program. At Chaplin’s, there’s a popcorn machine by the front door to snack on while you’re waiting.”

Where to sit:

“I go and get a seat at the bar. It's the best place to go after a long shift. Most of the people that I know that are chefs or bartenders or beverage ambassadors, it’s their number one hangout. You can show up alone and you’ll always run into someone you know. They’re the easiest places to go to.”