Young and Hungry

Free Vodka Shots at Ovechkin-Approved Mari Vanna

Mari Vanna isn't even officially open yet, but it's already received the Alex Ovechkin stamp of approval. Last night, the Capitals star tweeted a photo of himself giving the No. 1 sign in front of the Russian restaurant with the message "Gr8 place for Russian food in DC!!!"

Mari Vanna has been holding a series of private gatherings for friends and family leading up to its public opening on Jan. 17. And although you won't get to try the borscht or blinis until then, the bar is now open for drinks only. An extra incentive for stopping by before the official opening: Each guest gets a free vodka shot.

The restaurant, which also has locations in New York, London, and Moscow, is named after a fairy-tale grandmother who welcome hungry travelers into her home. A press release for the eatery describes the ambiance as "tea party-meets-grandma's house."  The design is meant to be reminiscent of an old-time babushka parlor—"just like entering a scene set in pre-war Russia from a Leo Tolstoy novel." (See more photos below.)

On the menu, you'll find hot appetizers like pirozhok and Russian dumplings and cold appetizers like pickled vegetables, salt-cured pork, and of course, caviar. Entrees include beef stroganoff, chicken kotletki (ground chicken cutlets), and Rockfish fishcakes served with mashed potatoes and cornichons.

There will also be more than 70 varieties of infused vodkas as well as cocktails like the Klubnichka, a strawberry spritzer, and the Pomidorchik, a take on the Bloody Mary with a spicy mustard kick.

Mari Vanna, 1141 Connecticut Ave. NW; (202) 783-7777;

Photos courtesy Travis Vaughn

  • Ivan

    If "bikinis" is a typo for "blinchiki" or "blini," I beg you to let it stand.

  • Jessica Sidman

    @Ivan haha oops! It's fixed now! Sorry, no bikinis. Just blinis

  • lily

    can't wait for the opening!! have been craving a real Russian restaurant since studying there at uni... happy they're sticking with tradition with the free vodka shot! just like a few of my favorite St. Petersburg restaurants :)

  • Elena

    @IVAN haha, it is funny, they alchohol license application for the place specifically indicates: "No nude performances"

  • Ashley Cullip

    What a nicely themed restaurant with the "antique" decor! I'm sure it's doing well, I hope!