By Cristina Marcos and Morgan Spencer - 05/11/11 11:54 PM EDT
Art and Soul
415 New Jersey Ave. NW
Southern comfort food may seem like a world away from Capitol Hill, but it’s not. Just a few blocks away from the Senate side of the Capitol, chef Art Smith’s creative twists on Southern cooking taste even better than what’s on the table back home.
15 E St. NW
One of the favorite haunts of lawmakers, lobbyists and celebrities, Bistro Bis is the place for upscale French cuisine on Capitol Hill. Try the duck confit with garlic, thyme, tomato and ragoût of white beans, or the trout grenobloise with spinach, capers, prosciutto, pommes château, croutons and a lemon brown butter emulsion. Delightfully sinful desserts include the citrus crème brûlée and roasted pears on a hazelnut butter cookie with ricotta mousse and muscat wine sauce.
101 Constitution Ave. NW
No detail is too small at Charlie Palmer Steak. Dig into a tender, juicy filet mignon steak or let a piece of yellowfin tuna topped with avocado melt in your mouth. The leafy salads are just as delicious, glazed in delightful vinaigrettes sprinkled with assorted toppings to tempt your taste buds. On a budget? Share one of the rich, decadent desserts over foamy cappuccinos — you won’t be disappointed.
1401 K St. NW
Known as one of the best seafood restaurants around, D.C. Coast’s casual elegance makes this experience just as scenic as it is delicious. Dig into the tasty tuna tartare for an appetizer, or enjoy the fresh bread, served warm. Luscious crab and lobster dishes line the dinner menu, as well as pork chops and grilled rib-eye. Great service and a delightful ambiance make this a great happy-hour venue, with half-off appetizers starting at 3 p.m.
818 Connecticut Ave. NW
Chef Todd Gray’s sustainable and seasonal menu for the month of May includes thyme-marinated Caribbean cobia with ratatouille, pickled ramps and arugula pesto butter, as well as breast of Muscovy duck with house-cured confit, toasted quinoa, rhubarb puree and garlic spaetzle. For dessert, try the dark-chocolate custard with salted caramel ice cream, caramel powder and cocoa coulis, or warm lemon ricotta fritters with Meyer lemon ice cream, mascarpone gel and candied almonds.
1924 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
With an ethnically and locally sourced menu, Founding Farmers is the perfect spot for the eco-friendly. The Devil-ish Eggs small plate is a must-try, as well as the fried green tomatoes with goat cheese. Fresh, crisp lobster and shrimp rolls are a favorite, as are the many leafy salads offered. Known for brunch and their earthy-crunchy cocktails, experience the Organic Cucumber Delight, a “favorite farmer” drink.
Good Stuff Eatery
303 Pennsylvania Ave. SE
There’s no better place for a burger on Capitol Hill than at Good Stuff Eatery, owned by celebrity chef Spike Mendelsohn. Original burgers include “Spike’s Sunnyside” with applewood bacon and a fried egg, and the “Blazin’ Barn” with picked daikon, carrots, mint, cilantro, Thai basil, lettuce and spicy mayonnaise. And don’t forget to order the toasted marshmallow milkshake — you’ll be begging for s’more.
3241 M St. NW
It’s hard not to be “hooked” after one visit to this Georgetown seafood restaurant. The Hook fish tacos with blackened tilapia, shallots, cabbage, avocado and chipotle sauce are just one of the winners on the menu, as are the Delaware scallops with truffle pomme purée, asparagus, warm applewood-smoked bacon vinaigrette and crispy potato shards.
Ici Urban Bistro
806 15th St. NW
For a taste of France only two blocks from the White House, say “bonjour” to Ici Urban Bistro. Highlights include the savory duck leg and the paella risotto with mussels, clams, shrimp and chorizo. At the recommendation of pastry chef Vincent Bitauld, try the tarte tatin with vanilla-bean ice cream for dessert.
480 7th St. NW
Few tapas bars in Washington rival that of native Spaniard and head chef José Andrés. Come with a crowd for an excuse to try as many of the drool-worthy tapas as possible. Make sure to order the fried dates with bacon and the authentic Spanish tortilla (a potato and onion omelet). Also try Jaleo’s take on the bullring staple, patatas bravas — crispy fried potatoes with spicy tomato sauce and alioli. And of course, don’t miss out on the paella or the sangria.
1517 Connecticut Ave. NW
Located in the heart of Dupont Circle, Kramerbooks blends the atmosphere of an intimate bookstore café with a lively neighborhood restaurant. Whether you are looking for a good book, morning coffee, a weekend brunch, a full-course dinner or cocktails, Kramerbooks has its doors open all day, seven days a week, and offers sidewalk café seating.
1401 K St. NW
Lima has one of the best happy hours on K Street, with $4 beers, $5 cocktails and wines, and $7 mojitos. Other happy-hour specials include $5 beef empanadas, chicken croquettes and mussels. Lima is great for dinner, with Latin-inspired offerings like paella and Cuban chicken with lime-braised red onions, black beans and fried plantains.
107 D St. NE
Known simply as “the M,” Monocle has been one of lawmakers’ favorite restaurants since it opened in 1960. There’s a reason why members of Congress keep coming back — the filet mignon with red-wine sauce and the Monocle crab cakes are just two of its succulent offerings.
1600 Rhode Island Ave. NW
Start off with the wild-mushroom baklava or the chestnut soup, but save room for pan-roasted rainbow trout or lobster macaroni and cheese. Nage also has an extensive cocktail, wine and spirits list. Or, embrace the old “life is short” adage and skip straight to the flourless chocolate cake with dark chocolate mousse, hazelnut gelato and a dash of Bailey’s Irish Cream.
Old Ebbitt Grill
675 15th St. NW
An all-American classic, Old Ebbitt Grill is a guaranteed great time. Reservations are recommended, because this place gets packed. The dark-wood interior is intimately lit with multiple rooms and a decent-sized bar. Filled with fresh crab meat and served with lemon aioli, the crab cakes can’t be beaten. Come in for happy hour Monday through Thursday to get 50 percent off fresh and tasty oysters.
P.O.V. Lounge at the W Hotel
515 15th St. NW
Point of View Lounge at the W provides one of the most incredible views of D.C. The rooftop bar and lounge are the perfect spot to head for happy hour or bring some out-of-towners. Every monument is in view, which gets more fantastic with every inventive drink. The specialty drinks are spectacular, and the bottomless bellinis brunch on Sunday is something you can’t miss.
“Queen-worthy dining”: AGAINN
1099 New York Ave. NW
Still can’t let go of the royal wedding? Dine like a future queen or king of England at AGAINN, a pub with all your favorite British Isles staples, albeit with a modern twist. The fish and chips with mushy peas and English egg sauce or the potted pork with confit pork shoulder and onion marmalade are guaranteed to fill the hole in anyone’s heart from not being invited to Will and Kate’s nuptials. To completely drown any remaining sorrows, dive headfirst into the sticky toffee pudding. AGAINN also has an extensive selection of single-malt, Scotch, whisky, beer and fine wine.
Rosemary’s Thyme Bistro
1801 18th St. NW
Spice it up at this Mediterranean eatery where spinach ravioli, trout wrapped in phyllo dough and lamb kabobs are just a few of the mouthwatering options available. Rosemary’s Thyme is packed on Saturday and Sunday mornings for brunch — try the custom-made flatbreads (pide) or classics including eggs benedict and spinach quiche.
and Wine Bar
223 Pennsylvania Ave. SE
Sonoma is a wine lover’s California paradise. The subtle brick and brown wood decor compliment the relaxed atmosphere of this Napa-style restaurant. Get a seat at the lengthy bar to enjoy your wine with a plate of assorted cheeses, or try the margherita pizza smothered in house-made mozzarella. Having trouble picking from the extensive wine menu? Any one of the experienced bartenders can offer tips and tastes for your palate.
800 Connecticut Ave. NW; 2009 R St. NW; 400 8th St. NW
Starbucks not cutting the caffeine fix anymore? Head over to Teaism for a made-to-order cup of tea. Choose from two-dozen varieties including black, green, oolong and tisane. Or, grab a table and stay awhile for lunch or dinner. Tempting offerings include chicken noodle salad and tea-soaked salmon.
Urbana at the Hotel Palomar
2121 P St. NW
Inspired by the cuisine of northern Italy and southern France, this Dupont Circle gem offers signature pastas like ricotta-filled tortelloni with sage, lemon, balsamic vinegar and parmigiano reggiano, as well as custom-made pizzas and grilled wonders such as seared wild bass with lentils and ginger-scented orange sauce. But half the experience lies in Urbana’s extensive selection of 35 wines, and every diner is sure to find a glass to suit his or her taste.
1100 P St. NW
This just-opened Greek and Italian restaurant is already becoming a Logan Circle hot spot. The moussaka and the butternut squash risotto are just a few of the ambrosial dishes fit for the gods. Veranda also has some great happy-hour specials, $4 sangria on Wednesdays and $5 martinis on Fridays.
1190 22nd St. NW
Chef Eric Ripert, the 3-star Michelin chef at New York’s Le Bernardin, taunts taste buds with his twist on French Bistro and American contemporary cuisine. The chic amber and currant-red finish of this venue creates the ideal location for intimate dining over signature cocktails.
515 Florida Ave. NW
One of Washingtonian’s “best bargain restaurants” in 2010, Thai X-ing takes diners across the Pacific with authentic Thai cuisine. House specialties include Asian pumpkin in red curry with pork or tofu, and pineapple red curry with tofu, shrimp or mussels. Also delicious is the Thai X-ing stir fry with chicken, beef, pork or tofu, sautéed with spring onion and cilantro in garlic sauce. Order ahead, as this chef takes his time but cooks to perfection.
1323 Connecticut Ave. NW
Sick of frozen yogurt? Head over to Yola for a self-serve yogurt parfait bar, with toppings like agave nectar, blackberries, pomegranate and granola or even dill and cucumber. Yola also offers a variety of smoothies such as peach pineapple and “PBJ” with bananas, blueberries, jam, peanut butter, almond milk and yogurt.
701 9th St. NW
This Greek/Mediterranean tapas restaurant thrives off its mezze plates consisting of different spreads, cheeses, meats and vegetables to be split and enjoyed among friends and family. Grab a seat at the bar to experience the rare selection of Greek, Lebanese, Turkish and Israeli wines.