You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Five Restaurants to Try This Weekend

Eater logo Eater 1 day ago Eater Staff
a plate of food with a fork: Hollander & Deköning mussels from Evening Star Cafe © Rose Collins/Courtesy of Evening Star Hollander & Deköning mussels from Evening Star Cafe

Recommendations for those looking to get out of their comfort zone

Need dining inspiration for this coming weekend? Don’t fret — Eater’s here to help.

Each week, the site’s editors select a new group of restaurants worth visiting throughout the weekend. These picks range from brand new restaurants to old, reliable favorites. Some pair well with fun weekend activities; others reflect recent happenings. Diners probably won’t get to every place in one weekend, but that’s what next weekend is for, right?

Friday, December 14

For extraordinarily plump mussels: Christmas lights popped from the front windows of the small shops along the main drag in Del Ray, setting up a scene on a cold night that felt pulled from a 1950s sitcom. So walking into Evening Star Cafe, I was thinking about a blue plate special, not huge blue mussels that barely fit in their shells. Neighborhood Restaurant Group sources the mollusks from Hollander & Deköning, a business run by a fifth-generation Dutch mussel farmer who relocated to Maine. It claims to be the only mussel farm in North America utilizing a Dutch style of cultivation that requires growing the mussels on a horizontal seabed instead of a vertical ropes. At the Evening Star, they’re simmered with apples, fennel, and white wine, yielding an intoxicating broth for customers to sop up with grilled bread. It was the highlight of a recent meal from chef Jonathan Till, who came aboard the Evening Star this fall. A committed forager, Till has a way with mushrooms. He dispatches the fungi on a creamy wild mushroom bruschetta and in an acorn fettuccine — made with house-milled acorn flour — that comes with maitake and oyster mushrooms. 2000 Mt. Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, Virginia — Gabe Hiatt

For tender goat curry: A Miami expat who lives in Columbia Heights recently tipped me off to Karibbean Kitchen, a Jamaican joint that opened this summer just around the corner from Thip Khao. The place was mostly empty during dinner time the other night, but it was encouraging to hear the jerk chicken spends time on a charcoal grill. The meal proved to be uneven. The rice and peas were undercooked. The chicken, although pleasantly smoky and covered in a sweet-and-spicy sauce, came out cold. The goat curry, however, was flawless. Small bones bobbed in a bowl of dark green sauce, surrendering tender strips of goat meat packed with spices that balanced out the fattier bites. 1400 Meridian Place NW — GH

For a scene-y and secluded drink: With a Tom Sietsema-approved restaurant christened by Run-DMC and a packed events calendar, downtown’s months-old Eaton DC has solidified itself as a place to be. Just this week Sen. Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) moderated its new literary series, followed by an afterparty with a DJ at its rooftop bar Wild Days. Its Allegory speakeasy tucked off the lobby is also a prime drinking destination, with strong and carefully-crafted cocktails from gregarious Gibson alums. They recently lost a team member, however: Eater learned one of its heavy aluminum frog-shaped water pitchers was swiped by a guest. 1201 K Street NW — Tierney Plumb

To get a seafood fix: The stone and fireplace-lined Dyllan’s Raw Bar Grill helped elevate the Georgetown dining scene upon its opening this summer with wasabi ‘martini’ shots. Seafood options for the holidays include mussels in Thai coconut lime broth and orange-habanero lobster and shrimp ceviche. The latter makes its way into a $250 surf sampler alongside rare tinned cockles and smoked fish. Eater learned Clint Eastwood and Co. had a private party there this week for the opening of The Mule. Next door, steal a peek inside Rosewood Hotel’s construction site for Wolfgang Puck’s fancy steakhouse Cut, which will add to the neighborhood’s restaurant renaissance next year. 1054 31st Street NW — TP

For other celebrity-endorsed meals: Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka were in town this week to promote their ties to Capital One’s dining rewards Savor card. The New York City power couple stayed at the Four Seasons and ate twice at Bourbon Steak, followed by a hosted dinner at A Rake’s Progress at the Line Hotel in Adams Morgan. They just missed Bourbon Steak chef Michael Mina, who visited his decade-old restaurant last weekend and prepared his famed ahi tuna tartare — a game-changing dish when he first put it on plates in 1991. At A Rake’s Progress, Spike Gjerde was spotted making hearth roasted chicken, roasted trout, and slow-cooked beef short rib along with cheddar scalloped potatoes. A Rake’s Progress, 1770 Euclid Street NW — TP

Friday, December 7

For a lazy late brunch: Toro Toro has sat at the scenic foot of Franklin Square for four years now, but Richard Sandoval’s Pan-Latin destination just switched up its weekend brunch format — trading a big buffet-style spread to a la carte ordering from waiters (which means customers can stay parked with constantly refilled blood orange mimosas). Best bets at the dim restaurant, complete with attractive an onyx bar, include huevos rancheros, sweet corn-stuffed empanadas, and bacon drizzled with chipotle agave honey and spiced sugar. The deal is pretty sweet: $39 for endless cocktails and food with a two-hour limit. It runs all the way until 5 p.m. So the meal is an ideal pregame for Abigail’s new Sunday night industry party nearby. 1300 I Street NW — Tierney Plumb

For birthday party beef: To mark its second year at MGM National Harbor, Voltaggio Brothers Steakhouse just rolled out a new prime rib special that’s carved tableside. The 45-day dry-aged cut comes with au jus and horseradish cream sauce and is topped with an aged beef fat popover. Keep the celebratory calories coming with an epic loaded potato topped with smoked sour cream, bacon bits, chives, white cheddar foam, lardons, crispy shallots, and brown butter. Be prepared for the multi-staff spectacle to draw all eyes to your table, which gets a “V”-shaped knife set to dig in to the dish. On a recent visit, Bryan Voltaggio himself was the star carver. Not feeling like a carnivore? Order house-made pastas at MGM’s new Italian-inspired Osteria Costa, which has a sister location at The Mirage in Vegas. 101 MGM National Avenue, Oxon Hill, Maryland — TP

For a Chinatown crawl: Cirque du Soleil’s new ice show is all weekend at Capital One Arena, and the weeks-old watering hole next door is paying homage to the event with a bright blue cocktail. Dragon Bar — Circa’s new D.C. sports-themed venue downstairs — is serving Ice, Ice, Baby ($10) through Sunday with ginger, lime, blue Curaçao, Torres orange Curaçao, Belle Isle Grapefruit, and Peychauds bitters. For half the price, patrons can order beers and bites like “All Caps” barbecue nachos for $5 each all night. Still hungry after the show? Warm up with a bowl of New England clam chowder at Legal Sea Foods — a direct shot across the arena. 781 Seventh Street NW — TP

For carbs that give back: Pizzeria Paradiso and DC Brau are teaming up for the eighth year to cut down on food waste and support local charity Bread for the City. DC Brau’s spent grain from brewing makes its way into a special Pizzeria Paradiso crust, available at all five locales through Monday, December 24, for $2-$3 extra. The surcharge goes towards the nonprofit. The homegrown brands have a lot going on lately: Pizzeria Paradiso opened its latest location in Spring Valley this week. On Saturday, December 8, DC Brau will release a German unfiltered pilsner — dubbed Keller Pils — in 16-oz. baby blue tallboy cans and on draft across the city. 4850 Massachusetts Avenue NW — Tierney Plumb

Friday, November 30

For Japanese Salisbury steak: It had been a few years since I’d snagged a table at Daikaya’s second-floor Izakaya in Chinatown, but a visit to sample the updated fall menu this week confirmed that chef Katsuya Fukushima still has his fastball. An updated hambagu shows how Fukushima welcomes interlopers into his Japanese drinking cuisine. The dish treats the hamburger steak like filet mignon with a French-style Rossini approach, a technique that calls for cooking the beef in butter and topping it with foie gras. A black truffle “demi glace” serves as the basis for a Salisbury steak comparison. Those two influences are listed on the menu. Another, from the sight of a gravy-covered patty on top of an immaculate pedestal of white rice, is Hawaiian hamburger steak. 705 6th Street NW, Washington, D.C. — Gabe Hiatt

For smoky sandwiches: You don’t have to trek to Union Market — or Baltimore — to get Neopol Savory Smokery anymore. The outfit’s location on Grace Street in Georgetown opened in October, adding new wave of turf-based proteins to the seafood-heavy menu from the shop at the NoMa food hall. There’s smoked turkey, chicken breast, and pork loin now, but the pastrami sandwich immediately caught my attention. Thin slices sampled cold showed off a strong cure that wasn’t over-smoked or too peppery. Try it in a sandwich with melted Swiss, tomato, house slaw, and horseradish aioli. The pastrami holds it own, but the smoked salmon BLT my lunch companion ordered was the best thing we tried. 3210 Grace Street NW — GH

For a road-trip brunch: The fervor surrounding Baltimore favorite Woodberry Kitchen has cooled ever so slightly in recent years, which means one good thing for would-be brunch-goers: it isn’t all that hard to get a table there right now. A recent mid-afternoon meal there featured super-attentive service and some true delights, such as an incredibly rich duck paprikash with spaetzle. Woodberry continues to find new ways to promote its Maryland roots and local mission — “pit beef” carpaccio makes for a well-balanced, fun appetizer, and regional spirits dominate the cocktail list. The restaurant still has its twee moments — toasts are labeled “adorable” on the menu — but it isn’t quite as precious as Spike Gjerde’s D.C. restaurant, A Rake’s Progress. Woodberry is probably still a cheaper meal even if you count the gas money required to get to Baltimore. 2010 Clipper Park Road, Baltimore — Missy Frederick

For dinner with your vegetarian friend: This week I went to Eden Center mainstay Rice Paper for a ladies night (yes, we party hard). I was kind of surprised to discover the dishes I was gravitating towards were vegetarian: a crispy, delicate bánh xèo chay crepe and an addictive fried tofu dish spiked with lemongrass and a little heat. I’m glad our crowd forced me to graze beyond the meat-heavy items on the table like shaky beef and spring rolls — both still worthy orders, of course — and explore new corners of the expansive menu. It was one more reason why this is a great place to bring a group. 6775 Wilson Blvd, Falls Church, Virginia — MF

Friday, November 16

For a new way to eat your carrots: Ballston is about to welcome a sea of new dining options, but one cozy and wood-lined restaurant is still going strong after nearly a decade: Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s Rustico. One starring dish is its bright carrot hummus with lamb ragu, feta cheese, and grilled pita. It’s a popular order that’s stayed put for years. For a bigger dish, go with the comforting Tuscan chicken pizza with sundried tomatoes. Can’t make it to Arlington? Its sister Alexandria spot has the same menu. 4075 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, Virginia — Tierney Plumb

For girl-powered drinks: A record number of women are heading to Congress, and Sauf Haus D.C. is celebrating the historical moment this weekend with a karaoke party covering female artists and female-fronted bands. The always-packed biergarten perched above Dupont Circle is enlisting nonprofit Flashband and This Could Go Boom! records on Saturday, November 17, to get the party started at 7 p.m. Go if you want to belt out Lady Gaga with a boot-shaped drinking glass in hand, then imagine it’s summer on the weatherproof garden patio. 1216 18th Street NW — TP

For classic tapas: Jaleo has so many great versions of classic tapas — garlic shrimp, ham and cheese croquettes — not to mention its own iconic dishes (three words: bacon-wrapped dates), so it can be a hard sell to experiment with the rest of the menu. But one dish worth adding to the rotation is the patatas con cabrales. The fried potato dish, garnished with sharp cabrales cheese and tossed in a demi-glace sauce, is almost reminiscent of poutine. In Bethesda this week, the dish was on a section of the menu devoted to throwback dishes brought back for another round. For the uninitiated, it’s definitely worth a try. Multiple locations — Missy Frederick

Friday, November 9

For Southeast Asian breakfast sandwiches: Pedestrians on 14th Street may have noticed that a growing number of people lately are sitting by the windows at Doi Moi with egg yolks running down their wrists. Birds Eye, the breakfast and lunch business inside Doi Moi, has undergone several tweaks since chef Johanna Hellrigl took over for Sasha Felikson in the spring. A revamped version of the daytime menu (8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends) came out in August. The star player is a banh mi ($9) filled with five spice and fish caramel glazed bacon, sunny side up eggs, and pickled vegetables on toasted bread from Lyon Bakery. 1800 14th Street NW — Gabe Hiatt

For classic steakhouse appetizers: The annual Capital Food Fight was at the Anthem this week, bringing a crush of chefs hoping to impress one another with samples of inventive dishes handed out at stalls. One of the most memorable bites of the night was a steak tartare from the Voltaggio Brothers Steakhouse that was mixed with potato chips and capped with an aerated caramelized onion foam — a dead ringer for onion dip. That’s not on the menu at the restaurant at MGM National Harbor, but the success of the dish could be an endorsement for both the tuna tartare and the oyster Rockefeller with aerated bechamel, smoked shoyu, and bacon. 101 MGM National Avenue, Oxon Hill, Maryland — GH

For a beer and bite: Across the Pond is a solid, yet still under-the-radar sports bar in the heart of Dupont Circle. Forget everything you know about crummy Irish pub fare and dip its battered pork sausage app into spicy mustard ASAP. On weekends, brunch fans can pair football with a two-hour mimosa deal for $14.99. It’s also a featured stop on Saturday’s 7th Annual D.C. Beerathon, an epic beer crawl boasting 26 unique pours at 13 bars. 1732 Connecticut Ave NW — Tierney Plumb

For a food-filled holiday market: The annual two-day Emporiyum marketplace is back this year at Union Market with a smorgasbord of edible treats, trinkets, and shrub sets offered by 90 vendors hailing from coast to coast. Local players are also in on the action, like D.C. food truck Swizzler. Come hungry; they plan on serving whole portions of their heaping burgers. 1309 5th Street NE — TP

Friday, November 2

For a cozy carnivorous bite: The eponymous Capital Burger at Mount Vernon Triangle’s dressed-down sister to downtown steakhouse Capital Grille is a warm way to welcome in winter, topped “French onion style” with caramelized onions, Wisconsin Grand cru gruyère, and shallot aioli. Don’t be shy with the tangy complimentary pickles plopped on every table, made on-site daily. There’s also happy hour seven days a week (3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.) with $7 hot honey margaritas and wine. 1005 7th Street NW — Tierney Plumb

For an atypical brunch: New fall brunch offerings tucked inside Blagden Alley’s Tiger Fork include a funky fusion of Hong Kong-meets-Western classics. Cantonese ingredients and techniques make their way into the Hong Kong egg sandwich with truffle sauce and ham, with offbeat pastries like matcha croissants and pineapple buns from Sunday Morning Bakehouse. Not feeling like breakfast? Go with dim sum selections like the tasty BBQ pork bun or rice noodle roll with shrimp, pork and sweet soy. Map out your meal plan here, with brunch served 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. One go-to cocktail whipped up behind its octagon-shaped bar is the “Bad Girl Mimi,” a tropical twist of prosecco, passion fruit liquor, guava, and pineapple. Saunter over to Calico next door and keep the party going with a “Sassy Kitty” — a gin-filled juice box for adults. 922 N Street NW — TP

For surprising sides: At a recent meal at St. Anselm, the least-impressive plate was a perfectly-medium rare hanger steak topped with garlic butter. That’s not a dig. It’s just that the bites, salads, and sides are that strong. In designing the menu, chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley has shown she knows just how firmly to squeeze — or grate — a citrus fruit. Grilled squash tattooed with char marks takes on a lighter dimension in a salad mixed with grapefruit puree, hearty beets, hazelnuts and thin slices of a spicy red pepper. Crispy beef fat potatoes with parmesan sound as if they’d land with a thud, but a sprinkling of lemon zest makes the side a proper foil for rich, buttery beef. 1250 5th Street NE — Gabe Hiatt

Friday, October 26

For a modern American feast: Three-month-old Prather’s on the Alley has hit its stride in the heart of Mount Vernon Triangle. Highlights from chefs Akhtar Nawab and Dan Izzo include pork ribs — a fall-off-the bone app alongside yogurt, Indian spices, sweet onions, and lychee — and pillowy potato gnocchi packed with three types of mushrooms. The airy and industrial design by Natalie Park (Gravitas) features exposed ceilings, potted hanging plants, and a splashy turquoise tiled bar. The music soundtrack is also on point, as it should be: The space formerly housed iconic creative studio Gold Leaf, once graced by rapper Wale and indie band U.S. Royalty before the neighborhood exploded with development. Toast to its history with the Alley Cat, a carefully crafted riff on a Negroni featuring mezcal and cacao. 455 I Street NW — Tierney Plumb

For a beer-fueled beginning to Halloween: This weekend marks the unofficial start of Halloween, and expansion-minded Dacha Beer Garden kicks off the celebration on Friday, October 26 by transforming its Shaw beer garden into a spooky “Dacha Fear Garden.” Guests are encouraged to sport costumes every day through Halloween on Wednesday, October 31, with prizes dished out daily to the best ones. Its logo — a mural of Elizabeth Taylor — was temporarily tweaked to serve as outfit inspiration (she’s donning a mask worn by Hannibal Lecter from Silence of the Lambs). For more Halloween ideas, go here. 1600 7th Street NW — TP

For a crash course on whiskey: W Hotel’s subterranean bar The Root Cellar just debuted a series of whiskey flights that cover a gamut of prices, distilleries, and ages. Director of restaurant operations Adrian Mishek, who’s well-versed in the spirit, guides guests through selections like American Rye 101 (Old Overholt and Manhattan Hudson Rye) and Quarter Century Club (Balvenie 25 year and Macallan 25 year). Pappy van Winkle fans can go with the Pappy’s Best (Pappy 20 year and Pappy 23 year). 515 15th Street NW — TP

For a new downtown hit: American Son​ delivers diners an all-day option for inventive American dishes from D.C. chef Tim Ma. The scene-y newcomer, an ode to Ma’s experiences growing up as a second-generation American in Arkansas, sits on the lobby level of the months-old Eaton DC hotel. Best bets include the beef cheek with charred peach, a charred romaine salad, and potato croquette — a savory spin on a funnel cake. Cocktails also have a playful twist, with a booze-soaked Rice Krispies Treat floating in one. 1201 K Street NW — TP

Friday, October 19

For a taste of Thailand: Dupont’s 1-year-old Thai Chef Street Food replicates dishes found along bustling streets of Bangkok and imports classics to Connecticut Avenue. Must-try orders at the colorful D.C. destination include Crying Tiger Steak with spicy dipping sauce (rice powder, hot pepper, red onion) and the fiery Poh Tak Seafood bowl, packed with shrimp, scallop, squid, and mussels stir fried with homemade paste and fresh chili peppers. The food comes from mother-daughter duo, who run another location in College Park, that immigrated from Bangkok. Then head to lively next-door Mediterranean neighbor Barrafina for strong late-night cocktails and heavy wine pours to cut down on pricey Friday night Ubers. 1712 Connecticut Avenue NW — Tierney Plumb

For a brand new brunch: D.C. has endless options when it comes to brunch, and the latest eatery to tack on the popular weekend meal is Georgetown’s months-old America Eats Tavern. Go for the Hangtown Fry (scrambled organic eggs, fried oysters, caramelized onion, bacon, oyster ketchup) or dessert waffles with macerated strawberries, and bourbon vanilla ice cream. While you’re there, cheers with mimosas to the fact its restaurateur-turned-humanitarian José Andrés just fed another devastated hurricane community in Florida through his nonprofit World Central Kitchen. 3139 M Street NW — TP

For a Spanish-style Thanksgiving feast: Ser, located near the newly revitalized Ballston corridor, just unveiled a seasonal menu with impressive family-style platters. Groups can order roasted suckling goat or pig alongside Navarra potatoes and jus. Some cuts are so tender, they’re sliced using a plate’s edge — a traditional table side technique in Spain. Take a second to look up at its brand new ceiling; the restaurant shuttered a few weeks this summer after a pipe burst in the building — right as owners Christiana and Javier Candon (Joselito Casa de Comidas) were traveling on vacation to Spain. Now they’re planning a less-stressed family trip to Candon’s native country this Christmas. 1110 N Glebe Road, Arlington, Virginia — TP

For new-to-town Peruvian: Pisco y Nazca has had a few months to work out any kinks since the Peruvian “Gastrobar” from Miami opened in Dupont Circle. Nearly half the menu was sampled at a recent exorbitant lunch, and missteps were minimal. Despite a lingering toughness that might’ve been corrected with a less aggressive sear, grilled beef heart anticuchos were a crowd-pleaser. Plancha pulpo, or octopus cooked on a flat top, had a pleasant char and a forgiving texture. Both the pisco sours and the ceviches resonated with the right balance of acidic tang. For dessert, order the pionono a la mode — a rolled sponge cake stuffed with wheels of dulce de leche and Nutella, crusted with caramelized sugar, and topped with Kahlúa ice cream. It’s worth the splurge. 1823 L Street NW, Washington, D.C. — Gabe Hiatt

For old-school Italian in Maryland: D.C. residents who lament the lack of a classic Italian-American red-sauce joint haven’t been to Pasta Plus in Laurel, Maryland. That’s understandable, because it’s a trek, but the payoff is a meal from Abruzzo, Italy, natives who know exactly how fresh, bright, and sweet a marinara sauce should taste. The line quickly fills up a narrow hallway and spills out of the front door, but it moves quickly. Fried calamari comes with that tomato sauce, and while the squid is lightly battered and salted well enough, eating the marinara straight with a spoon is equally enjoyable. Gamberi Fra Diavolo (spicy shrimp pasta) had a fresh, fortified shellfish flavor that suggested shrimp stock was swimming in the white wine sauce. There’s a pizza oven, and some couples elect to eat a slice of pie as an appetizer before packing the rest to take home. A mountainous calzone comes out looking fit for two people — or maybe just one if you’re Bill Addison. 209 Gorman Avenue, Laurel, Maryland — GH

Friday, September 7

For a meaty affair: Old Town’s Brabo Brasserie debuted a new steak frites program this summer that’s still going strong, featuring four varieties of dry-aged butcher cuts from Creekstone Farms. Its gregarious chef Sebastien Rondier whips up seasonal sauces designed for dunking fries, including dijon made with whole grain mustard, a spicy harissa aioli, and whipped mayonnaise. 1600 King St, Alexandria, Va. — Tierney Plumb

For yoga and with a side of tapas: Barcelona Wine Bar, proving it’s not just all about boozing up its 14th Street NW clientele, is hosting a yoga class on Saturday, September 8 followed by juice offerings and a light breakfast buffet. Tickets are $20. Can’t make it? There’s also a second session scheduled for Saturday, September 22. 1622 14th Street NW — TP

For an Asian-themed fete: Celebrity chef Edward Lee just transformed the upstairs bar and lounge at his Southern-style Succotash Penn Quarter into Mr. Lee’s, a bar inspired by lively night markets in Asia and his Korean heritage. The colorful pop-up integrates produce plucked from the Penn Quarter farmer’s market. Asian plates ($9 to $24) include hand-cut noodles with beef-black bean sauce and dumplings stuffed with duck confit or sweet potato and edamame. The waiters know how to curate a good time — and will likely keep the sake pours coming. 915 F Street NW — TP

Friday, August 31

For a French feast inside Union Market: Those daring enough to brave weekend crowds at Union Market should head to La Petite Lou Lou, which just solidified a permanent spot inside the sprawling Northeast food hall. The Purcellville, Va.-based Parisian crêperie and cafe features chef Stefano Frigerio’s French menu packed with airy croissants, quiches, and sweet and savory crêpes ($4 to $18). The whimsical 150-square-foot installation encourages day drinking, thanks to addicting apricot spritzes and frozen passion fruit mimosas. 1309 Fifth Street NE (next to DC Empanadas) — Tierney Plumb

For Latin American hot dog: Shaw’s all-day cafe The Royal just reopened after a quick break, complete with new art and an expanded kitchen. A best seller is the colorful Bird Dog, featuring house chicken and poblano sausage, red chimichurri, sweet chili aioli, avocado, and grilled cabbage. And on Labor Day, the dog is discounted to $8 during its 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. happy hour. Wash it down with a $3 Miller High Life or $7 daiquiri. 501 Florida Avenue NW — TP

For a revitalized restaurant: Downtown’s glitzy Mirabelle returned this month with a new chef manning the menu. Keith Bombaugh whips up inventive dishes like a tagliatelle made on-site, showered in summer truffle, parmesan cream, and hazelnut. And the impeccably presented poached Maine lobster with baby corn and a shoot salad comes alongside a crumbly bacon-hazelnut “sand” — reminding diners of Bombaugh’s background at Grant Achatz’s imaginative Alinea in Chicago. Ask general manager and wine director Jennifer Knowles for a glass of Chateau Guirard to wrap up the meal. While it’s a splurge ($25), the 13-year-old white dessert wine is a relatively rare find. 900 16th Street NW — TP

For a timely D.C. drink: The Hay-Adams’ subterranean Off The Record bar consistently remains a good call for a night cap right across from the White House. Meet a new neighbor while planting a draft beer atop one of many satirical political coasters, like a new caricature of Sarah Huckabee Sanders flanked by blue Twitter logos. Feel free to pop one — or a few — in your pocket (the accommodating bartenders don’t mind). 800 16th Street NW — TP

Friday, August 17

For a cup of Joe from Jeff: Prolific restaurateur Jeff Black (Pearl Dive, BlackSalt) debuted Black Coffee with his wife, Barbara, in the Palisades this spring. The all-day java gem has been perking up its sleepy Northwest neighborhood ever since, offering items like a fried egg breakfast sandwich with an airy brioche bun alongside house-cut fries. Spot the soft accents throughout the welcoming space, like a pink espresso machine and magenta-toned walls leading to the bathroom. A new daily happy hour on its turquoise patio (4 p.m. to 6 p.m.) includes seasonal bruschetta and calamari. 4885 MacArthur Boulevard NW Tierney Plumb

For a scenic sip: All-Purpose Navy Yard quietly debuted its rooftop bar last month, and as of this week, the casual addition overlooking the Anacostia is firing on all cylinders. The 50-seat respite, flanked by a red-and-white canopy, high top seating, wicker chairs, and growing ivy, offers a condensed menu featuring Italian hits from the months-old restaurant below. Go with the fried mozzarella, tomato-braised meatballs, and one of its signature pies that made Washington Post restaurant critic Tom Sietsema an instant All-Purpose fan years ago. Wash down the carbs with the ubiquitous drink of the season: an Aperol spritz. 79 Potomac Avenue SE — TP

For a summer body bite: Plant-based eatery Fruitive in CityCenter is constantly filled with health-conscious workers, tourists, and locals any day of the week. Its avocado toast remains its destination dish, but another go-to lunch option is its Southwest wrap, stuffed with hummus, romaine, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, wild rice, black bean corn salsa, and vegan ranch. Look for its next D.C. location arriving downtown in early fall. 1094 Palmer Alley NW — TP

Friday, August 3

For macaroni and tiki time: Capitol Hill’s Barrel is a dual venture these days, with its downstairs space transformed into the tropical-themed Politiki bar for the summer. It just joined D.C.’s month-long annual Tiki Trail, serving strong elixirs out of specially-made ceramic mugs that resemble presidents of past and present. Before heading down there to imbibe, fuel up on Barrel’s gooey macaroni and cheese and famed fried chicken. 613 Pennsylvania Avenue SE — Tierney Plumb

For a deconstructed In-N-Out Burger: The Ritz-Carlton’s Westend Bistro just released a new happy hour menu (Tuesday to Friday, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.), and for a high-end hotel restaurant, the bar bites are a steal. Go with the duck wings dripping in a honey glaze ($8 for six), Maryland blue crab hushpuppies ($8), and addicting truffle popcorn ($4). The priciest order is the $12 “Animal Style” cheesy fries with chunks of meat — inspired by countless In-N-Out burgers chef de cuisine Alvin Dela Cruz devoured while working in California at The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay. He stays trim as an instructor at Crossfit in Old Town, but customers can burn burger calories at the Equinox upstairs or Squash on Fire across the street. 1190 22nd Street NW — TP

For award-winning paella: Glover Park’s Slate Wine Bar draws a steady stream of regulars for its 200 types of wine, but the six-year-old neighborhood restaurant is also known for its paellas. Hands-on chef and owner Danny Lledó is competing in the international paella finals next month in Spain, so he’s constantly in the kitchen these days trying to perfect his recipes. On a recent visit, he suggested pairing paella with Merry Edwards pinot noir from Sonoma Country, where he splits his time (his wife works in San Francisco’s tech world). D.C.’s unseasonal amount of rain has had an interesting effect on business: He says he can’t remember another summer he sold this much red wine. 2404 Wisconsin Avenue NW — TP

For a buzzy brunch: The Line hotel’s Brothers and Sisters is on everyone’s lips — including Bon Appétit’s — and for good reason. The stylish interior makes diners feel like a million bucks, and though prices aren’t low, they aren’t insane either. The avocado salad is a must; it sounds boring but it’s so freaking good. Save room for the restaurant’s cakes — made by apparent genius Pichet Ong — because they’re worth the splurge. The London (a crepe cake with Earl Gray cream) is by far my personal favorite. The restaurant also just introduced afternoon tea. Guh. 1770 Euclid Street NW — Alison Baitz

To rosé this way: Bethesda stalwart Black’s Bar & Kitchen just made summer even better with the installation of a brand new outdoor rosé bar. Yeah, there’s food — flatbread with strawberries and mascarpone, brie with vegetable crudite — but that’s not the real draw. Ten rosés will be on offer, as will rosé popsicles. The bar opens Friday, August 3 and runs through September. 7750 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda, Md. — AB

Friday, July 27

For a banh mi in Old Town: Be prepared to write your name down on Caphe Banh Mi’s list to wait for a table, because this tiny place off King Street is a big draw for neighbors craving pho and pork belly banh mi. The filling sandwich is nestled into a perfectly-sized wire basket and overflowing with fresh cilantro. Even though it’s seriously humid out, that didn’t stop diners from ordering noodle soup here either. 407 Cameron St, Alexandria, Va. Adele Chapin

For a pasta party: Two-year-old Hank’s Pasta Bar is an ideal spot to curb carb cravings in Alexandria. The seasonal “Jamie’s Favorite” spaghetti primavera, named after Hank’s owner Jamie Leeds, packs in the highlights of the summer (zucchini, squash, asparagus, cremini mushrooms, olives, corn, cherry tomatoes, basil, marinara, and parmesan). The best seat in the house is a super soft leather couch, designed to let guests sink as they drink. Ask to sample wines sourced from Northern Italy, as there may be some left over from a Piedmont-themed wine dinner on Thursday night. 600 Montgomery Street, Alexandria, Va. — Tierney Plumb

For some crabby eats: The popular Maryland blue crab spaghettini is back at DBGB City Center, and crab also makes its way into a stuffed whole branzino for two. Its NYC-based celebrity chef Daniel Boulud has been all over town this week, fresh off of watching his country’s World Cup win at his family’s home in Lyon. He proceeded to cook a media dinner at RdV Vineyards in Delaplane, Va. before heading to Capitol Hill to taste test the menu his daughter and her wedding party will soon eat at Charlie Palmer Steak. (Make it there? Try chef Mike Ellis’ crab-stuffed squash blossoms.) 931 H Street NW — TP

Friday, July 20

For one night in Spain: As the Columbia Room staff waits in New Orleans to hear if they’ve snagged the “Best American Bar Team” award at the 2018 Spirited Awards, chef Johnny Spero is taking over on Saturday, July 21 with a Spanish menu inspired by beloved neighborhood bars he frequented while living and working in San Sebastian. Wash down bites like shishito peppers and uni tortillas with Anxo ciders, sherry wines, and a “Johnny G&T” with BWC Shot Tower Gin, San Pellegrino tonic, and allspice bitters. 124 Blagden Alley NW — Tierney Plumb

To load up before a picnic: Chevy Chase’s quaint Brookville Supermarket is an ideal — and cheap — stop to grab lawn-friendly fare, with a back deli that makes an assortment of to-go options and sandwiches on the spot. On a recent trip, creamy slaw, colorful pasta salad, and chicken breast rang in under $7. Forget to grab cold beer? It’s conveniently located right next to the checkout line. 7027 Brookville Road, Chevy Chase, Md. — TP

For a smoking meal: Toki Underground is experimenting with a smoker this summer to come up with new dishes like smoked salmon steam buns. Its owner has also been playing around with smoke to recreate a butter cod dish he had in Denmark this year. Toki’s also smoking togarashi, a Japanese chili powder mix, to make Japanese chorizo. The newly expanded summer menu is also packed with lots of vegan options. Try the shiitake and cashew dan dan noodles or bright avocado and beet soup with chilled ramen, pickles, summer vegetables, and grilled tofu. 1234 H Street NE — TP

July 13, 2018

For a French-themed weekend: Bastille Day falls on Saturday, July 14 — the day before its country takes on Croatia for a potential World Cup win — and Ladurée Georgetown is whipping up a special French flag-decorated pastry to mark both historic events. The hazelnut biscuit with strawberries and vanilla mousseline cream, covered with red velvet, is $8 at the pastry counter and $11 for diners. 3060 M Street NW — Tierney Plumb

For hot dogs away from MLB-related craziness: D.C. is overflowing with MLB All-Star attendees, so one out-of-town option for baseball grub is dining at Towson, Md. newcomer College Town Dogs. The tiny late-night hangout slings hot dogs slathered in a spicy meat sauce — a recipe from the Greek diner chef Nick Ascione worked at as a teen (hot dogs also hail from his native Rochester, N.Y.). His five-year-old goldendoodle, Sammy, is the dog-themed eatery’s logo and mascot — and the inspiration behind popular “garbage bowls” loaded with mac and cheese and fries. Still need a baseball fix? The Orioles are playing on their home turf this weekend. 7 E. Chesapeake Avenue, Towson, Md. — TP

For a cool summer bite: Longtime downtown Italian eatery Bibiana switched things up this year by modernizing the restaurant and hiring executive chef Loris Navone from Miami, who naturally knows how to cool off hot customers. His new chilled summer menu, available through the end of the month, includes picks ($11 to $36) like watermelon gazpacho with tuna crudo, burrata and caper dust and tagliolini with compressed caviar, vodka, and crème fraîche sauce. 1100 New York Avenue NW — TP

July 6, 2018

For queso: The $7.95 Poblano’s queso dip looks (and smells) so intoxicating that once Eater ordered it at Taqueria Poblano in Del Ray, every table in the vicinity also ordered it. The smooth melted cheese blend is studded with chorizo and then broiled before diners dive in with tortillas and chips. Find it at Taqueria Poblano’s Arlington location too. 2400-B Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria, Va. and 2503A N Harrison St., Arlington, Va. — Adele Chapin

For a mini staycation: The Hyatt House on the Wharf houses a cute and compact lobby-level drinking destination dubbed H Bar. Take the drink to go and walk outside to its wraparound patio to soak up sun (and soak up the alcohol with H Bar’s antibiotic-free chicken or Korean tacos). Craving higher views of the boat-filled Southwest waterfront? Across the way, the Canopy by Hilton’s rooftop Whiskey Charlie bar is a prime spot to perch and people watch during the Wharf’s first official summer. 725 Wharf Street SW — Tierney Plumb

For TGIF time: Columbia Heights’ resident beer garden Midlands features a live music act every Friday at 9 p.m. (last week’s band was rocking out some awesome renditions of Eagles, Tom Petty, and Counting Crows songs). And with a roster of beers from all over the globe, it’s also a top pick for watching the World Cup — as is NoMa’s Wunder Garten. (Speaking of, yours truly is chatting about D.C.’s beer garden boom on WTOP on Saturday, July 7.) 3333 Georgia Avenue NW — TP

June 29, 2018

For frozen treats with a side of history: It’s much too old to make any sort of heatmap. And there’s nothing innovative about adding candy/cookies/fruit to ice cream. Still, locals line up every night at 50-plus-year-old Kline’s Freeze with their kids/extended family/friends for lots and lots of soft serve, yes. But also for a taste of how things used to be. Kids wander around with dripping cones; young couples split thick, cookie dough-spiked shakes; and grandparents joke about earning the right to eat whatever they want as they dig into fudge-covered sundaes. Good times. 8200 Centreville Road, Manassas, Va. — Warren Rojas

For an Indian feast: Logan Circle’s color-soaked newcomer Pappe has been packed since opening earlier this month, and Eater recently found out why. Dishes are consistently good across the board, with some — like the vindaloo — featuring more fire than others (luckily water-holding waiters are always on standby). And pretty much any order pairs well with the addicting basmati rice. One of the best parts of the dining experience is the details; the smoked black lentils, for instance, are served in an ornate copper cup. Star anise is, well, a star in many dishes — from the braised lamb curry to flavorful cocktails to creme brûlée. 1317 14th Street NW — Tierney Plumb

For a satisfying snack while being athletic: Like most hotel restaurants, Pinea serves all the high-end fare (gourmet burgers, something tartare, monster steaks) tourists/lobbyists don’t think twice about dropping big bucks on. But nobody’s interested in novelty dishes while playing bocce on the patio. Enter the easy to digest “afternoon” menu, which features handheld delights such as beef carpaccio brightened by balsamic vinegar and piquant radishes, and crab cake sandwiches sporting caper-spiked mayo. 515 15th Street NW — WR

For a ridiculous amount of pancakes: There’s no better time than the Fourth of July to celebrate America’s art of over-eating and drinking. Pennsylvania 6 is serving endless red, white, and blue pancakes for brunch this weekend, topped with strawberries, whipped cream, and blueberries for $9.50. Pair the comical pancake portion with its bottomless mimosa bar, which is half off. (For more brunch inspiration, check out our newly updated heatmap). 1350 Eye Street NW — TP

June 22, 2018

For a pick-me-up after play time: Worn out from executing gory fatalities on Mortal Kombat 3 or scoring turkeys in mini-bowling at NoMa’s new Eleanor? The game-filled bar’s got just the thing. The drinks team has come up with two refreshing swizzles, including one crushed ice-filled creation combining local rum, wildly fragrant falernum, and spicy bitters. Hungry? A deli-style sandwich layered with creamy chicken liver mousse, savory fried mortadella, and tangy Russian dressing hits the spot. 100 Florida Avenue NE — Warren Rojas

For an aquatic adventure: Wharf newcomer Lupo Marino is a refreshing addition to the Southwest waterfront, with a rustic and European look that transports diners across the globe. Go with the bright spaghetti verde (the owner’s favorite) with wild pork carbonara, cured egg yolk, and still-in-season pickled ramps. The pillowy gnocchi is also a good call. This week, the restaurant got a surprise celebrity guest: Modern Family’s Ty Burrell. 40 Pearl Street SW — Tierney Plumb

For prime rooftop drinking: The soaring views atop W hotel’s rooftop bar POV never get old. And now there are new summer drinks ($17 each) to try. The Cali Shandy combines Absolut Elyx, spiced watermelon shrub, and Corona in a twist on micheladas, while the Royal Derby marries bourbon and Earl Grey-mint foam. Need a snack? The bar swaps in crunchy chicharrones for crackers in its charcuterie plates. 515 15th Street NW — TP

For a blast from the past — and a taste of the future: The years-long renovation of cherished dive bar Quarry House Tavern is nothing short of amazing. The subterranean watering hole as been faithfully restored since the fire, welcoming back regulars with dim lighting, fabulously kitschy decor, and rock-punk records in the vintage jukebox. Baskets of fried tater tots still hit just about every table; spice things up with a side of the fiery Korean barbecue dipping sauce. And there’s plenty of specialty burgers to choose from — including the option to swap in a plant-based Impossible Burger that mimics meat better than other vegetarian substitutes. 8401 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, Md. — WR

For a change of pace on the noodle front: Akira Ramen, which opened last year in Rockville, Maryland, just added a lineup of udon and soba offerings. Consulting chef Shuichi Kotani is behind the new menu and spent a week training staff in the art of making mori (plain cold soba) and gluten-free towari. Debut dishes like seasonal vegetable tempura, and fried pork are served along side cold noodles with dipping sauces. Another go-to order is the uni and salmon roe with grated radish, also served with udon. Up next: adding green tea noodles into the mix. 1800 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Md. — TP

June 15, 2018

For not-your-average bar snacks in Georgetown: New beer hall Church doesn’t just pour giant brews. The kitchen now serves Mexican-style street corn ($4) chef Justin Clements tells Eater his Latin American line cooks have signed off on. And the lightly fried sweet potato tots served with roasted garlic dip and harissa ketchup ($8) are a nice departure from traditionally super-greasy varieties. Need a drink? The Interlude Saison from Maine’s Allagash Brewery Company is refreshingly sweet. 1070 Wisconsin Avenue NW Tierney Plumb

For a celebrity sighting and dining: Georgetown mainstay Cafe Milano has proven that old school spots can keep reinventing themselves. This month, the Italian eatery has welcomed everyone from the Stanley Cup-winning Washington Capitals to actress Suzanne Somers. A recent bowl of creamy fusilli, packed with fava beans and artichokes, was a filling lunch order without overdoing it. Take a seat at the airy bar and take in the sights for one last time; management tells Eater the restaurant is going to get a big month-long makeover in late July — its first since 2000. 3251 Prospect Street NW Tierney Plumb

For underwater vibes in suburbia: Fair Oaks Mall’s sushi-centric Kona Grill is an ideal break from typical shopping center fare. There’s a mesmerizing 800-gallon aquarium, lots of TVs to catch the World Cup, and a breezy bar that spills outside. The “angry” edamame order ($6) is super hot, slathered in a spicy sauce. Still, it’s hard not to devour the whole bowl. 11724 Fair Oaks Mall, Fairfax, Va. TP

For award-winning cocktails and more: Shaw’s Espita Mezcaleria — which just took home the Rammy for best cocktail program of the year — is tasty as ever. The vegetarian-friendly mole verde — made with spiced broccoli, chintextle trumpet mushroom, romanesco, and eggplant — was just added to the menu, as was a colorful and beautifully presented ceviche featuring hamachi, pickled cherry, cacao, and pomegranate. Agave-fueled cocktails are super strong and packed with unlikely ingredients that somehow work together. Try the Tehuana Girl, made with mezcal, honey, wheat beer, lemon, yellow chartreuse, and elderflower. 1250 9th Street NW TP

June 8, 2018

For a full-on pork carnival: The latest Filipino restaurant to break into the local dining scene may be the most accessible option yet. New arrival Kuya Ja’s doesn’t have a PR team or a fancy location — its quick-service eatery has just a handful of tables — but it does have slow cooked pork with audibly crunchy skin and insanely buttery meat. The featured belly is sold in half-pound portions at a time, and sales are currently capped at two pounds per person. ”At least until we get a bigger kitchen,” staff says of the safeguards they’ve put in place so early risers don’t cart off all the lechon first thing in the morning. 5268-H Nicholson Lane, Rockville, Md. — Warren Rojas

For a quick bite next to the Stanley Cup’s new home: Fast-casual Honeygrow in Chinatown just brought back the brand’s Chesapeake crab stir-fry. The seafood treat is served in newly released Chinese takeout-style boxes sporting a hip design from a female Philly-based street artist. Pro tip: leftovers taste just as great cold. 716 Seventh Street NWTierney Plumb

For a Mexican meal that just won’t stop: Restaurateur Ivan Iricanin got locals comfortable with trying different Serbian dishes at Ambar by making it as easy as possible to sample things regret-free via all-you-can-eat deals. He’s doing the same at airy Buena Vida — just that know he sends out endless plates of meatballs sprinkled with cotija cheese, creamy guacamole, gourmet tacos, and more. A bottomless brunch option, which debuted June 2, keeps fruity drinks coming including mimosas, sangrias, and bloody marys. Soak it all up with a pork-poblano chile hash that sports nice pineapple kick or enchiladas filled with sweet corn and crab meat. 8407 Ramsey Avenue, Silver Spring, Md. WR

a table topped with plates of food on a plate © Warren Rojas/Eater DC
Buena Vida’s all-you-can-eat brunch includes bacon-laced quesadillas, oddly sweet fried chicken, heary taco hash, and more.

For a happy hour (sorta): D.C.’s debut Nobu opened last fall, but its weekday happy hour is fairly new. Prices are a little comical — “discounted” bites are still around $10 — but $6 bottles of imported Sapporo are sort of a steal. The best part about the two-hour deal (5 p.m. to 7 p.m.) is the people watching at the sleek wooden bar: the clientele is a hodgepodge of tourists, well-dressed West End lawyers winding down, and hot dates. 2525 M Street NWTP

June 1, 2018

For a Gallic take on a favorite snack: Many local diners are diehard Neapolitan pizza fans. Others swear by New York-style pies. How about some love for French pizza? Not the baguette-like stuff found in the frozen food section at the grocery store. But the savory bacon-onion tart at Central remains a thing of beauty. From the cracker thin crust to the squiggles of fresh cream, every bite is a delight. 1001 Pennsylvania Avenue NW — Warren Rojas

For a TGIF picnic: Every Friday this summer, the centrally-located Mayflower is rolling out a to-go picnic spread complete with a blanket. The picnic is tied to the nearby (free) Friday Golden Cinema series in Farragut Park. Picnic picks (four for $24 or six for $32) include a tapenade trio, a charcuterie and cheese plate, or a tried-and-true assortment of movie theater candy such as Sour Patch Kids or Swedish Fish. The June 1 feature is The Post, with a special pre-movie talk by former Washington Post executive editor Leonard Downie, who consulted on the award-winning film. 1127 Connecticut Ave NWTierney Plumb

For day drinking for professionals: Barracks Row’s resident rooftop gin bar the Betsy might have D.C.’s most impressive gin collection in town, with 40 different brands and 40 gin and tonic combos. A solid choice is the Plymouth Navy Strength Gin, a 114 proof gin paired with apple, lemon twist, a blueberry ice cube, and Q Grapefruit tonic. Or go with the “I’m Still Ginny From the Block” with Glendalough gin. On Saturday, June 9, the gin bar is taking over sibling restaurant Belga Cafe; look for gin giveaways and a signature gin and tonic. 514 8th Street SE TP

For a family-style feast: D.C.’s newest the Smith is buzzing with business, granting U Street NW a needed large-scale gathering place to eat and drink. Head to the glossy-tiled bar for a frozen French 75, then sit at one its airy street-facing tables to absorb all the action going by. For the main event, splurge on the lobster paella or split a spicy pepperoni pizza. The tangy ceviche is also a good call. FYI: Nightly weekend specials include scallops on Friday, short ribs on Saturday, and chicken Parmesan on Sunday. 1314 U Street NWTP

For street food with a bit of polish: Burgeoning chain Bartaco recently set up shop in Mosaic District; next up: moving into Ballston’s forthcoming Quarter Market food hall. The casual taqueria serves small but flavorful selections including cauliflower sparked by zesty romesco sauce, grilled pork belly brushed with tangy chile sauce, and fried cod nestled in chipotle slaw. Wash it all down with a refreshing, grapefruit-laced paloma. 2920 District Avenue, Fairfax, Va. — WR


More from Eater

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon