You have your favorite restaurants. So do we. Bite into our 2012 dining guide.
WORTH IT SPLURGES
The Jefferson Hotel’s elegant dining room and classic cuisine exude an aura of old Washington. The Plume wine list was awarded a “2010 Best of Award of Excellence” by Wine Spectator magazine and the restaurant has the city’s highest Zagat rating: Food 26, Service 29, Ambience 29. Their most creative dish? Grilled lamb chop and medallion with “ratatouille” timbale, baby eggplant, and licorice jus.
1200 16th St. NW, Washington, D.C.; 202-448- 2300; www.plumedc.com
Washington Post dining critic Tom Sietsema raved about Citronelle after only an amuse bouche, and everything else is just as spectacular. Chef Michel Richard considers Washington’s Citronelle to be his flagship restaurant even though his other outposts came first.
3000 M St. NW,Washington, D.C.; 202-625-2150; www.citronelledc.com
With Arlington-native Johnny Monis at the helm, Komi is both elegant and intimate. The creamy, squash pasta redefines culinary art and his cheeky half-smokes are just as enticing. The Dupont Circle rowhouse is as charming as Chef Monis, who sports a backwards baseball cap in his kitchen.
1509 17th St. NW #1, Washington, D.C.; 202-332- 9200; www.komirestaurant.com
GOOD STUFF EATERY
Like things done the old- fashioned way? Good Stuff Eatery pleases even the pickiest eaters with handmade burgers, hand- cut fries, and handspun ice cream. Add “Top Chef ” darling Spike Mendelsohn and you’ve got good stuff.
303 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, Washington, D.C.; 202-543- 8222; www.goodstuffeatery.com
FOGO DE CHAO
Yes it’s a chain, but the fixed-price, all-you-can- eat Brazilian slow-roasted meats carved tableside are never boring for kids and their parents, too.
1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW #1, Washington, D.C.; 202-347- 4668; www.fogodechao.com
CLYDE’S FRIENDSHIP HEIGHTS
This branch of a famed local chain is particularly kid- friendly. The dining room is filled with vintage model airplanes, luxury liner and racecar memorabilia as well as an antique model train that zips overhead.
5441 Wisconsin Ave., Chevy Chase, Md.; 301-951-9600; www.clydes.com
This ice cream and hot chocolate haven, famous for its appearance in the movie “Serendipity,” will make you feel just as lucky. If you’re feeling flush, splurge for the Golden Opulence Sundae ($1,000) to celebrate the chain’s 50th anniversary.3150 M St. NW, Washington D.C.; 202-333-5193; www.serendipity3dc.com
COMET PING PONG
A fun neighborhood pizza restaurant that has outdoor seating, punk rock shows, and of course, ping pong. Also great for casual first dates.
5037 Connecticut Ave. NW,Washington, D.C.; 202-364-0404; www.cometpingpong.com
The interior décor of this new kid on the block is meant to make you feel like you’re in Old Havana. While it hits closer to Epcot, the glazed ribs will make the kids happy while adults can count on the tasty (and beautiful) rum flight.
801 9th St. NW. Suite A.,Washington, D.C.; 202-408-1600; www.cubalibrerestaurant.com
The doughnuts and bloody mary mix are both made by hand in-house. Need we say more? Be sure to call in advance to make a reservation. This consistently delicious favorite fills up fast.
1739 N St. NW, Washington, D.C.; 202- 331-8528; www.tabardinn.com/restaurant
The make-your-own bloody mary menu here is a gem with fixings ranging from truffle salt and smoked bacon to steamed asparagus. On a sunny day, sitting outside takes the experience to a heavenly level. Their most creative dish? Logan Tavern filet.
1423 P St. NW,Washington, D.C.; 202-332-3710; www.logantavern.com
Men in fishnets serving eggs Benedict? The world-famous and endlessly entertaining drag brunch here refuses to disappoint. They do not take reservations, so come between 9-9:30 a.m. for a good spot in line. Their most creative dish? Homemade chicken apple sausage, braised cabbage, and mustard.
1811 Columbia Rd. NW,Washington, D.C.; 202-234-6218; www.perrysadamsmorgan.com
This hybrid honors Washington, D.C. native Marvin Gaye, even including a few Belgian items referencing his time in Ostend, as well as the District. We love the country fried chicken and waffles with collard greens and chicken gravy.
2007 14th St. NW,Washington, D.C.; 202-797-7171; www.marvindc.com
The short-rib breakfast hash combined with patio seating makes brunch an elegant affair. The succulent crab cake is not to be missed. Creative dish: Rack of lamb, green chili and mint, sweet pea purée.
515 15th St. NW,Washington, D.C.; 202-661-2440; www.jgsteakhousewashingtondc.com
MOST CREATIVE MENU
Creative theme nights like the “Burgundy and the Beast” dinner incorporate strong, gamey flavors with smooth wines to make this spot special. The best-kept secret is the monthly bacon flight. Tim Carman may have put it best: “The pleasure is so deep and primal you’re not sure whether to thank the chef proper[ly] or just shriek like a monkey.” Creative dish: Merguez of Border Springs Farm lamb.
2020 P St. NW,Washington, D.C.; 202-466-4441; www.eoladc.com
With accoutrements like “soy air” and a dessert called only “textures of chocolate,” you know you’re bound for the new gastronomy when dining here. We give praise for showcasing the under- utilized (and ever grizzly- looking) blue hubbard squash on their fall menu.
228 North Market St., Frederick, Md.; 301-696-8658; www.voltrestaurant.com
The unorthodox dinner descriptions are set off with slashes here and the servers tote iPads. With items like heirloom corn/chanterelle/ espelette/vanilla to violet potato/king Richard leek/ truffle/almond milk, you never know exactly what you’re going to see when you order, and we like it that way.
922 N St. NW, Washington, D.C.; 202-408- 9724; www.rogue24.com
Well publicized for being the first restaurant in Washington headlined by Wolfgang Puck, The Source gets our vote for such playful presentations as tuna crudo in a sesame seed cone that makes the fish seem like ice cream. The Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington agrees, naming it the 2011 Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year.
575 Pennsylvania Ave. NW,Washington, D.C.; 202-637-6100; www.wolfgangpuck.com/restaurants/fine-dining/3941
A true gem for the Palisades neighborhood it serves, Black Salt has our vote for its stellar happy hour with 50-cent oysters and $5 Kir Royales. The restaurant’s second annual oyster tasting is coming up on Nov. 12, benefiting Children’s National Medical Center. Creative dish: Butterscotch pot de crème.
4883 MacArthur Blvd.,Washington, D.C.; 202-342-9101; www.blacksaltrestaurant.com
In 1998 the Italian government formally recognized Neapolitan pizza as a traditional food worthy of preservation and granted it D.O.C (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) status. The best place to get them in Washington is right here, straight from the wood-fire oven. The selection of salumi and the suppli al telefono are equally tasty.
3715 Macomb St. NW,Washington, D.C.; 202-885-5700; www.2amyspizza.com
A true neighborhood spot with a Belgian beer list to die for. The specialties here are the mussels, with preparations ranging from the classic marinière to “bleu” (Hook’s blue cheese, pork belly, shallots, spinach, white wine, lemon) and “curry” (butternut squash, yellow curry, coconut milk). Their most creative dish? Moules Bleu.
1238 H St. NE,Washington, D.C.; 202-399-2546; www.granvillemoores.com
BILLY MARTIN’S TAVERN
From sitting presidents to media icons, those who’ve visited Martin’s Tavern love its warm atmosphere and place in storied Georgetown lore. Go for the beer, people watching and Brunswick stew.
1254 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.; 202-333- 7370; www.martins-tavern.com
A recent visit by President Obama may have helped raise the profile of this fun- loving Capitol Hill diner, but fans have been flocking to this Art Deco eatery for “adult” milkshakes (try the “twisted coconut” ) and oversized classic diner fare (read: breakfast served all day) since it opened in 2010.
508 8th St. SE,Washington, D.C.; 202-544-8337; www.tedsbulletin.com
There may be an extensive wine collection, but the menu more than holds its own with eclectic charcuterie and cheese selections, and tasty entrees like vadouvan spiced wild Alaskan halibut. Warm, low- key and inviting – a reliable destination to take friends or someone special. Creative dish: Spicy meatballs with goat cheese agnolotti.
775 G St., NW,Washington, D.C.; 202- 737-7663; www.proofdc.com
Jeff Black’s Logan Circle seafood palace lives up to the hype, which means the hour-long wait for a table will likely continue. It’s worth it, though, for dishes like the mariscos de campechana, a delectable seafood ceviche served with corn tortillas, and an ever- changing oyster menu.
1612 14th St. NW,Washington, D.C.; 202-986-8778
Formerly The Jockey Club in the Fairfax Hotel, this Embassy Row fixture was recently revamped, reflecting a down-to-earth, easy dining style showcasing fresh ingredients from area farms.
2100 Massachusetts Ave. NW,Washington, D.C.; 202-293-2100; www.2100prime.com
This welcome newcomer to the raw bar scene also features other great items including “Recession Proof ” specials like the Colorado rack of lamb. Perhaps most endearingly, every night at 10 p.m. (9 p.m. on Sundays) they ring the Dinner Farm Bell signaling to staff and late-night guests that the family meal is ready. Get the meatloaf, chicken fried steak and other homey favorites while they last.
2200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.;202-587- 8277; www.districtcommonsdc.com
Enjoy pit barbecue and over 1,400 bottles of hand-selected scotches, bourbons and spirits here. We love the outdoor deck and wood fire grill.
2007 18th St. NW,Washington, D.C.; 202-588-7388; www.jackrosediningsaloon.com
The K Street location of this Dupont favorite opened to great fanfare, including a photo of the swanky dining room splashed across the cover of Architecture DC magazine. Radiohead- lovers and Seoul-searchers alike come for Idioteque on loop and the killer dolsot bibim bap and soon doobu.
453 K St. NW,Washington, D.C.; 202-289-6899; www.mandudc.com
The sign for this restaurant was taken down over a year ago, but the reservations list is just as full as ever. Follow your nose to find bold, spicy antipasti and rich zucchini ravioli that will leave you satisfied every time.
2029 P St. NW,Washington, D.C.; 202-872-1180
From the cotton candy eel to the olive oil bon bon this District treasure is always a pleasant surprise and calls to mind José Andrés’ formal training at the now-closed (and much- mourned) El Bulli in Spain. The courses are consistently mind-blowing in concept, presentation, complexity and overall flavor.
405 8th St. NW, Washington, D.C.; 202-393- 0812; www.cafeatlantico.com
One of the few places that remains truly great, even during restaurant week. Ambiance is chicly Parisian with modern touches and colors. The short ribs are our pick.
923 16th St. NW, Washington, D.C.; 202- 509-8000; www.adour-washingtondc.com
This restaurant’s little vestibule transports you to Japan, slippers and all. Indulge in the soft shell crab and you will not be disappointed.
4822 MacArthur Blvd. NW,Washington, D.C.; 202-298-6866
INN AT LITTLE WASHINGTON
The Inn was sourcing fresh local ingredients (even growing their own) long before it was popular for chefs to do so, and it shows in Patrick O’Connell’s thoughtful, ever-impeccable cooking. The menu descriptions are works of art in themselves: “seared sea scallops nestled among soft pillows of pumpkin ravioli amidst a reckless scattering of mushrooms.”
309 Middle St.,Washington, Va.;540-675-3800; www.theinnatlittlewashington.com
The fish is flown in from Japan daily, ensuring that it is top of the line, super fresh and appropriately expensive. Try the Sushi Kaiseki menu for a delicious cross-section of delicacies.
1503 17th St. NW,Washington, D.C.; 202- 462-8999; www.sushitaro.com
Classically elegant and American in the best way possible. For a romantic interlude, request the ultra romantic Pub Room near the front of the restaurant. The service is exceptional.
1226 36th St. NW, Washington, D.C.; 202-965- 1789; www.1789restaurant.com
The palak chat here even impresses local Indians, and the rest of the cuisine – served family-style – is equally good. Reservations are tough to get, so call a couple of weeks in advance for your special occasion. The romantic setting and spicy dishes are sure to set the tone for a memorable evening. Their most creative dish? The Carrot Halwa.
633 D St. NW,Washington, D.C.; 202-637-1222; www.rasikarestaurant.com
Regulars appreciate the unfussy neighborhood style of Frank Ruta’s bistro and return often for the comforting food. Try the burger in the more casual café or treat someone special to a simple, yet elegant seasonal tasting menu.
3529 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.; 202-537- 9250; www.palenarestaurant.com
With an extensive and ever- appealing selection of dishes, Marcel’s lets you customize your own tasting menu with a series of different courses – a foodie’s dream. The boudin blanc and foie gras are true specialties and should not be missed.
2401 Pennsylvania Ave. NW,Washington, D.C.; 202-296-1166; www.marcelsdc.com
Members of Congress and visiting celebvocates make their way to this modern French restaurant inside the Hotel George to talk policy over serious food. Duck confit, beef Bourguignon and trout Normande feature. Creative dish: Foie gras parfait.
15 E St. NW,Washington, D.C.; 202-661-2700; www.bistrobis.com
Pin-striped movers and shakers flock here for the outstanding lobster pot pie and renowned steaks. Don’t miss whistle-wetters by bartender Duane Sylvestre, who pours a mean Apple Jack cocktail.
2800 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.; 202-944- 2026; www.bourbonsteakdc.com
The atmosphere may be romantic, but Tosca also offers satisfying Italian fare for the business lunch crowd. If you’re looking to indulge after a tough day at the office, try the pre-theater fixed-price menu.
1112 F St. NW,Washington, D.C.; 202- 367-1990; www.toscadc.com
Chef Ris Lacoste consistently delivers solid meals to an upscale crowd looking for something special but not too fussy in the West End. No matter what else you order, indulge in some gnudi and save room for dessert. Most creative dish? Scallop margarita.
2275 L St. NW,Washington, D.C.; 202- 730-2500; www.risdc.com
The veggie combos are out of this world, but carnivores will rejoice in the excellent cuts of meat in stews and curries. Try a glass of honeywine with the homemade injera. Creative dish: Veggie combo with doro wot.
1942 9th St. NW,Washington D.C.; 202-232-7600; www.eteterestaurant.com
The pajeon and soon doobu are worth the drive to Annandale. Prices are so affordable that dinner for two runs only about $40, including a few drinks.
4121 Chatelain Rd.Ste. 100, Annandale,Va.; 703-333-3436
A handful of Vietnamese spots in the District serve fine pho and bahn mi, but this family-run outlet, located on the ground floor of a Columbia Heights rowhouse on a nondescript stretch of concrete, is something special. The bright, clean and cheery environment makes you forget it’s pretty cramped. The pho tai is unforgettable.
3513 14th St. NW,Washington, D.C.; 202-629-2839
OOHS AND AAHS
The fried catfish dinner is a great catch, especially when it’s paired with tangy greens and creamy mac’n’cheese. Yams used in the pie fillings are tasty and keep regulars coming back for more.
1005 U St. NW,Washington D.C.; 202-667-7142; www.oohhsnaahhs.com
VIRGINIA AND MARYLAND
OLD ANGLER’S INN
The patio and gorgeous views make it a go-to spot for Sunday brunch and a pleasant way to unwind after a hike on the nearby trails. The addition of former 2941 sous chef Nick Palermo in the kitchen has us looking forward to an improved menu.
10801 MacArthur Blvd., Potomac, Md.; 301-299- 9097; www.oldanglersinn.com
Don’t expect any fusion or twists on classic French dishes here, just solid cooking in a romantic countryside setting that keeps locals coming back year after year.
7101 Brookville Rd., Chevy Chase, Md.; 301-986-5255; www.lafermerestaurant.com
L’AUBERGE CHEZ FRANCOIS
Though dining here can feel like a throwback, there’s a certain charm to owner Francois Haeringer’s tribute to his Alsatian roots. Expect classic French fare in a charming French country atmosphere. Their most creative dish? Rack of Lamb.
332 Springvale Rd., Great Falls, Va.; 703-759-3800; www.laubergechezfrancois.com
TRUMMERS ON MAIN
American Food and Wine magazine’s 2010 top rising chef, Clayton Miller, delivers “new” American food with a global touch in a sunny, beautifully renovated historic building. Creative dish: Foie gras with coriander crumble and carrot purée.
7134 Main St., Clifton,Va.;703-266-1623; www.trummersonmain.com
Don’t let the odd office park locale deter you. Inside this rather difficult-to- find but visually stunning restaurant Boulud-alum Bertrand Chemel turns out truly luxe meals. Creative dish: Grilled Grouper.
2941 Fairview Park Dr., Falls Church,Va.;703-270-1500; www.2941.com
This quaint bistro features dishes that reflect executive chef Christophe Poteaux’s California and French pedigree (French Culinary Institute, Daniel and Bouchon). The wine list – noted as one of Wine Spectator’s bests – isn’t bad either. Their most creative dish? Calamari Beignets.
1201 North Royal St. #A, Alexandria, Va.; 703-519-3776; www.bastillerestaurant.com
THE GRILLE AT MORRISON HOUSE
The intimate piano bar occasionally encourages audience participation, but if you’re in the mood for truly great hits, head to the dining room where you can choose from four tasting menus of classic American fare. Creative dish: Braised Kurobuta pork cheeks, brown sugar bacon, charred friseée, roasted cipollini onions.
116 South Alfred St., Alexandria, Va.; 703-838-8000; www.thegrillealexandria.com
Cathal Armstrong and his wife Meshelle’s venture have become a romantic dining destination, made even more so thanks to a recent visit by the Obamas. While the bistro provides an exceptional dining experience featuring top-notch ingredients from Armstrong’s garden and area farms, the tasting room gives him room to flex his considerable culinary muscles. Their most creative dish? Rouget with garden beans.
110 South Pitt St., Alexandria,Va.;703-706- 0450; www.restauranteve.com
Nora Pouillon’s ode to organic foods remains one of Washington’s best since it opened in 1979. Simply prepared dishes with little seasoning are the norm, allowing fresh organic ingredients to shine. Creative dish: Red and gold beet salad.
2132 Florida Ave. NW,Washington, D.C.; 202-462-5143; www.noras.com
POSTE MODERNE BRASSERIE AND BAR
Easily the best beef Bourguignon in the District with equally fabulous cocktails. Word to the wise: Booth seating can be uncomfortable with patrons on the other side pressing into you. Ask for a table instead. Their most creative dish? Alaskan ivory king salmon.
555 8th St. NW,Washington, D.C.; 202-783-6060; www.postebrasserie.com
Eric Ripert’s Foggy Bottom outpost is in capable hands under chef de cuisine Joe Palma. Try Palma’s “ocean- to-table” Fisherman’s Dinner Series beginning Nov. 16, which includes a discussion with Westend’s seafood vendors from the Chesapeake Bay and New England areas on sustainable fishing. The blue crab soup is sheer heaven.
1190 22nd St. NW, Washington, D.C.; 202-974- 4900; www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/WashingtonDC/Dining/Westend/Default.htm
Hilton’s Tysons Corner restaurant boasts environmentally sustainable elements throughout the warm and inviting space, offering comfort food to match. Try any one of the assortment of flatbreads, crisped in the onsite wood-burning oven.
7920 Jones Branch Dr., McLean, Va.; 703-761-5131; www.harthrestaurant.com
HANK’S OYSTER BAR
With a recently expanded space and new indoor lounge area, we’re looking forward to being able to stop by more often for oysters and Jamie Leed’s famous lobster rolls.
1624 Q St. NW, Washington D.C.; 202-462- 4265; www.hanksdc.com
OLD EBBITT GRILL
With its dark wood interior and proximity to the White House, this throwback to old Washington could easily be dismissed as a tourist magnet. Insiders know that it consistently boasts one of the city’s best raw bars, especially when prices are slashed after 11 p.m.
675 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C.; 202-347- 4800; www.ebbitt.com
This drinking theater is great for late-night oyster happy hour and the hipster DJs who play dubstep late into the night. Regulars swear by the lobster rolls and salmon reuben.
2005 14th St. NW, Washington, D.C.
Expect a gorgeous raw bar with mild, creamy oysters and tangy mignonette. The shrimp and crab claws are consistently fresh and very good. Their most creative dish? Tuna Tartare.
1625 I St. NW.Washington, D.C.; 202-689-8999; www.e2hospitality.com/blt-steak-washington-dc/
The glass-enclosed private table at Blue Duck is perhaps the most modern and unique way to enjoy an organically sourced menu. It provides privacy, while the open top allows diners to enjoy the restaurant’s sophisticated vibe. Creative dish: House smoked sturgeon rilette, caviar jelly.
1201 24th St. NW, Washington, D.C.; 202-419- 6755; www.blueducktavern.com
The private dining rooms are quiet and intimate with great service that allows diners to take their time perusing an extensive wine list. Don’t miss the shrimp and grits. Their most creative dish? Shrimp and grits.
1990 M St. NW, Washington, D.C.; 202-659- 1990; www.vidaliadc.com
Eric Ziebold continues to bring his “A” game at this consistently high-performing dining destination. Any occasion becomes special here, whether it’s an anniversary or a Tuesday night dinner.
1330 Maryland Ave. SW,Washington, D.C.; 202-787-6006; www.mandarinoriental.com/washington/dining/cityzen/
The private room for up to 40 is the perfect setting in which to enjoy the luxurious truffled pasta and duck confit. The quiet atmosphere allows for easy conversation.
800 Connecticut Ave. NW #110, Washington, D.C.; 202-463- 8700; www.ovalroom.com
One of several that fall under José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup umbrella, Zaytinya’s selection of mezze bears the Spanish über chef’s unmistakable touch.
701 9th St. NW,Washington D.C.; 202- 638-0800; www.zatinya.com
This relatively new kid on the block is rarely empty and for good reason. The usual suspects (boquerones, patatas bravas) make an appearance alongside more creative interpretations.
1520 14th St. NW,Washington, D.C.; 202- 319-1404; www.estadio-dc.com
Mike Isabella has brought his small plates to Washington, and we like it. Try the delectable pork fried almonds or the White House pizza with three cheeses, prosciutto and a little black truffle honey.
707 6th St. NW, Washington, D.C.; 202-289- 3600; www.graffiatodc.com