The pandemic fueled culinary innovation. From at-home cocktail kits to curbside pickup, our dining will never be the same. But our favorite upgrade is the emergence of ghost kitchens, restaurants-within-restaurants that serve only takeout or delivery. From upscale eateries grilling up burgers to a barbecue collaboration to a hotel chain serving up Jamaican fare, these are some of the best ghosts to materialize in NoVA this year.
Where: Bun’d Up
Westpost (formerly Pentagon Row) denizens Scott Chung of Bun’d Up and Kevin Tien of Hot Lola’s know a thing or 10 about fusion cooking. It’s no surprise that Chung’s Korean background and Tien’s formative years in Texas and Louisiana have inspired not just a collaboration, but something of a new cuisine. At Wild Tiger BBQ, the pair smoke meat using classic Southern techniques, but apply Asian flavors to the flesh and the sides. Friday through Sunday after 4 p.m., the smoked foods emerge, including everything from brisket and broccoli to smoked Cornish hen rice and Kansas City–style burnt ends with char siu sauce. 1201 S. Joyce St., Arlington
Where: Parc de Ville and Solace Outpost (both delivery-only)
“There are no wrong choices,” claims a message at the top of Gee Burger’s menu. But while choosing from the eight different varieties of patties and buns is a no-brainer, it wasn’t so easy to get the kitchens at a few Hilton Brothers restaurants to pull the focus from steak frites and duck confit to good old American burgers. Chef Brendan L’Etoile’s enviable burger, created for Parc de Ville in Fairfax, is reinvented in forms including jalapeño-and-kimchi-topped to spread with peanut butter and covered with bacon and fried shallots. They go as basic as two plain patties. But, as the owners said, there are no wrong choices.
Where: O’Malley’s Pub in Holiday Inn Dulles
For years, Stephon Washington cooked American bar fare at O’Malley’s Pub. But when his bosses at Holiday Inn Dulles asked him to launch a ghost kitchen cooking something close to him, there was no question what that would be. Washington’s great-grandfather was born in Jamaica, and cooking was one of his passions. When Washington entered culinary school, the nonagenarian taught him his recipes for peppery jerk chicken and Scotch bonnet–enhanced goat stew. Now they’re on the menu, ready for diners to pick up or get delivered to their homes, for a spicy taste of the tropics. 45425 Holiday Park Dr., Sterling,