Supplying diners with a mixture of Greek, Turkish and Lebanese cuisine, Zaytinya offers an innovative, fine dining menu served up in a modern setting. Chef Jose Andres features small plates of authentic dishes and creative cocktails along with Mediterranean wines. The wine list is the only in America to feature wines solely from the west Mediterranean. Items not to be missed are the peynirli pide with tomato, cinnamon and halloumi cheese on a flatbread and the Ottoman pilaf. Roasted eggplant is seasoned well and their meats such as the kibbeh nayeh (beef tartare) are perfectly cooked. You probably won’t blame yourself for feasting on the fluffy pita and hummus, either.
701 9th St NW Washington, DC 20001 202-638-0800
Proof is in the pudding, or at least the sticky toffee pudding at Proof Restaurant. Serving New American cuisine with killer wine list, Proof displays beautiful presentations of charcuterie, ahi tuna and foie gras, just to name a few. The entree list includes fish dishes like the Icelandic cod with corn puree, a roasted organic chicken breast with lemon ricotta stuffing, basil emulsion and vegetables and a slew of creative vegetable appetizers to share. You should absolutely finish off your meal with that hunk of bread pudding with almond streusel. Top it off with one of their 40 different wine glass selections and more than 1,000 different bottles.
775 G St NW Washington, DC 20001 202-737-7663
minibar by José Andrés
If you’re looking for an unforgettable evening, minibar by José Andrés delivers with both atmosphere and cuisine. The restaurant is a study in avant-garde cooking and modern, quirky interiors. Throughout the restaurant, you’ll see LEGO figures for receipt holders and a chalkboard for a back wall with doodles and sayings. Questions and pictures are welcome here as the servers and chef really want you to enjoy the experience of your meal. The sometimes unusual, questionable dishes are always tasty and thrilling to the senses. There is no set menu as experimentation occurs daily, but you can expect aesthetically creative dishes with creative purees and mixtures of seafood. There will be interesting takes on burgers and maybe even Vietnamese meats.
855 E St NW Washington, DC 20004 202-393-0812
Indian at its finest can be quantified by one word: Rasika. The bistro is sleek and trendy with a menu showcasing tawa (griddle), sigri (open BBQ), tandoori and different regional dishes. It offers small plates and even a wine cellar with international bottles that pair well with Indian food. Favorites include the palak chaat with dried, crispy spinach, yogurt, tamarind and date. There are plenty of vegetarian and naan options as well, and the roti and raita plates are also spot on.
633 D St NW Washington, DC 20004 202-637-1222
The intimate setting of Boundary Road with its brick walls and dim lighting makes you feel like you’re stepping into a modern, but vintage speakeasy. The menu changes based on season and availability. They source locally whenever possible from sustainable vendors. Boundary Road serves traditional American cuisine with some Mediterranean and French influences. Patrons will find main courses like ‘duck break on the plancha’ with charred radicchio and hibiscus-apple cider gastrique to the Toulousian bison short ribs with blue polenta. Boundary Road also serves brunch on weekends from 11am to 3pm. It features a slew of breakfast staples, like quiche and lemon pancakes. During brunch you can get bottomless mimosas or bottomless punch. Their list of classic cocktails and craft beers will warm any alcohol aficionado’s heart.
414 H St NE Washington, DC 20002 202-450-3265
Coco Sala deviates from traditional meals with its infusion of chocolate in many of their dishes. The restaurant showcases its creative talent for pairing chocolate with certain flavors. Try seafood dishes like the creole crabcakes with mango salsa, chipotle chocolate tomato glaze and avocado cilantro emulsion. The obvious star of the show is dessert though. Go for the loved ‘onyx,’ which features dark chocolate mousse, vanilla creme brulee, salted caramel and crispy chocolate. You also can’t go wrong with the churros, but you really can’t go wrong with anything. It makes a great date night for two and is also a decadent brunch spot.
929 F St NW Washington, DC 20004 202-347-4265
A go-to spot in Washington that blends creative American cuisine with French inspiration is Cedar. Staples include their duck fat fries, risotto balls, braised pork belly BLT with smoked tomato compote and basil aioli, and their beet salad and pork tenderloin with goat cheese grits and cherries. The soups, salads and seafood dishes are also raved about. A bonus is they have a vegan menu and a three-course prix-fixe menu. Signature cocktails are a highlight with dinner, with the Aviation’s maraschino liquor, gin and crème de violette taking you tastebuds to new heights.
922 E St NW Washington, DC 20004 202-637-0012
Korean restaurant Mandu serves up authentic dishes that will leave even frequent travelers to the country pleasantly satisfied. The bulgogi beef and the bibim bop are spot on with fresh ingredients. The menu is split up into several options with entrees from the grill, rice and noodles such as chap-chae and stir-fried clear potato noodles with veggies and beef. There are also soups and jean (assorted mini-pancakes of beef patties with other ingredients). They also serve sojutinis (Korean liquor cocktails) that are cheap during happy hour. Happy hour is served everyday from 4pm to 7pm with cheap mandus, drafts and rails.
453 K St NW Washington, DC 20001 202-289-6899
El Rinconcito Cafe
Serving up El Salvadorian and Tex Mex cuisine, El Rinconcito is a hole-in-the-wall restaurant with fresh food and cheap prices. Their authentic dishes span from burritos and chimichangas to their pupusas. The latter is a El Salvadorian dish of handmade corn tortillas stuffed with cheese, pork and Salvadorean refried beans with green cabbage marines with apple cider vinegar and red onion. Also check out their other El Salvadorean dishes, like the picador with Salvadorean sausage on handmade corn tortillas.
1129 11th St NW Washington, DC 20001 202-789-4110
Acadiana, the Louisiana fish house, is the only upscale, contemporary dining you’ll find in the area. The menu presents the finest of seafood and premium meats. Chef Tunks and Tesky employ many cooking techniques, from ethnic southern Louisiana style to rich, layered flavors of roux, bisques and remoulades. Go for the charbroiled oysters. Then, check out the rest of their Southern raw bar with iced Gulf Coast oysters on the half shell or the dice-boiled shrimp. If you’re looking for a more exotic item, try the turtle soup with traditional garnishes and sherry splash.
901 New York Ave NW Washington, DC 20001 202-408-8848