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Concierge.com

Washington, D.C. Restaurants

Bibiana
1100 New York Avenue N.W.
Washington , D.C.
20005
Tel: 202 216 9550
www.bibianadc.com

Madeleine Albright, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg have all been spotted in Bibiana's buzzy dining room (another offering from do-no-wrong restaurateur Ashok Bajaj, who made his name on power-player hot spots like the Oval Room and Rasika). So, what's the draw? Chef Nicholas Stefanelli applies a light touch to pasta dishes such as citrus agnolotti (airy pillows perked up with tangy ricotta) and buttery Maryland lump crab on a rich tangle of squid ink spaghetti. The confident yet unobtrusive service is a welcome plus, too. Try to sit at the best table in the house, which peeks into the main dining room—subtly lit by fractured chrome pendants above glossy wood tables and chocolate leather chairs—from behind a silver beaded curtain.—Colleen Clark

Birch & Barley
1337 14th Street N.W.
Washington , D.C.
20005
Tel: 202 567 2576
www.birchandbarley.com

Birch & Barley offers one of the best-curated collections of artisanal beers in the States: 50 beers on tap, 500 in bottles, and 5 in casks. Oh, and there's great food, too. The dishes pair perfectly with the many brews; standouts include ahi poke tartare, the hearty brat burger, and bread pudding with a bacon caramel sauce. Four-ounce pours encourage a spirit of exploration, as do the servers, a merry band of bearded or bespectacled beer lovers led by Greg Engert, named a Food & Wine Sommelier of the Year in 2010. If you can't score a table, join the masses quaffing upstairs at ChurchKey, where you can steel your stomachs for a night of boozing with brew-friendly snacks like shrimp corn dogs and cheddar poutine.—Colleen Clark

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Blue Duck Tavern
Park Hyatt
24th and M streets N.W.
Washington , D.C.
20037
Tel: 202 419 6755
www.blueducktavern.com

Completely revamped by restaurant design guru Tony Chi in summer 2006 this restaurant at the Park Hyatt, once a prix fixe, white-linen affair, now sports a rustic open kitchen with a wood-burning oven and Shaker-style decor. Chef Brian McBride is still here, cooking a seasonal, locally sourced menu of regional American cuisine. He wood-fires steaks, wraps monkfish with prosciutto, and braises house-made bratwurst alongside beer and white-wine sauerkraut. For dessert, there's flambéed bourbon chocolate cake, spiced mandarin compote, and hand-cranked seasonal fruit ice cream.

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Central
1001 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W. #106
Washington , D.C.
20004
Tel: 202 626 0015
www.centralmichelrichard.com

Michel Richard made his name serving serious French at serious prices at the iconic Citronelle. But $190 prix fixe menus don't quite square with the Obama era. So while Citronelle still draws power brokers and old-money Georgetown, Richard now offers a counterpoint with Central, a bustling bistro where the food comes with a sense of humor, not to mention a more affordable price tag. A teetering tower of plates and a bubbly hostess welcome you at the entrance; in the dining room, glass walls dotted with wine bottles resemble Lichtensteins, and purple-and-white Warholian portraits of Richard peer out at the tables. The best seat in the house is in front of the open kitchen, where you can watch Richard protégé Cedric Maupillier create haute takes on American standards, such as a lobster burger slathered in scallop mousse and topped with potato tuiles for an unexpected crunch. Desserts offer a similar riot of textures: Richard's take on a Kit Kat bar—rich chocolate ganache layered on top of crispy hazelnut praline wafers—will put you off the vending machine version forever. The restaurant's downtown location makes it equally as popular for weekday lunches as for dinner. Though it occasionally has room for walk-ins, it's best to reserve a few days in advance.

Open Mondays through Thursdays 11:45 am to 2:30 pm and 5 to 10:30 pm, Fridays 11:45 am to 2:30 pm and 5 to 11 pm, Saturdays 5 to 11 pm, and Sundays 5 to 9:30 pm.

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CityZen
1330 Maryland Avenue S.W.
Washington , D.C.
20024
Tel: 202 787 6006
www.cityzenrestaurant.com

Chef Eric Ziebold previously worked at D.C.'s Vidalia (1990 M St. N.W.; 202-659-1990; www.vidaliadc.com), but it was the eight years under Thomas Keller at the French Laundry in California's Napa Valley that truly informed his cooking style. In an elegant dining room at the Mandarin Oriental with 20-foot ceilings and modern appointments, Ziebold serves an outstanding modern American menu based on pristine ingredients and inspired combinations. Foie gras risotto comes with a counterpoint of astringent roasted apple; pork sausage is accompanied by Perigord truffles, Italian pistachios, and a ragout of French green lentils; Chatham Bay cod is paired with celery root puree, little onions, and a whole-grain mustard sauce. For dessert, there's a chocolate-chip-cookie-dough soufflé with chocolate-milk ice cream.

Dinner only; closed Sundays and Mondays.

Estadio
1520 14th Street N.W.
Washington , D.C.
20005
Tel: 202 319 1404
www.estadio-dc.com

Tapas restaurant Estadio's handsome dining room—all rough-hewn timber and curving wrought iron—and serious culinary chops are reason enough to go. But this place also has a sense of humor that makes it the standard-bearer for a new generation of D.C. restaurants (see also: Proof, Birch & Barley). From your perch at the tapas bar, you can hear kitchen staff tossing saucy quips while skewering jamón-wrapped figs and then turn to see patrons passing around porrons, pitcher-size cocktails poured straight into the mouth via glass containers that resemble the love child of a carafe and a bong. At a long communal table, groups share spicy chorizo or blood sausage bocadillos (tiny sandwiches) and eggs stuffed with meltingly creamy potatoes, washed down by grown-up slushies of quince paste, paprika, lemon, sherry, and Scotch. Even the bathrooms take a cheeky approach (hint, look at the murals). Finally, D.C. has a restaurant worthy of its work-hard, play-hard masses.—Colleen Clark

Hank's Oyster Bar
1624 Q Street N.W.
Washington , D.C.
20009
Tel: 202 462 4265
www.hanksdc.com

Jamie Leeds made a name for herself at 15 ria (1515 Rhode Island Ave. N.W.; 202-742-0015; www.15ria.com), but she longed for her own place in her own neighborhood. In May 2005, she opened this seafood joint on Dupont Circle near her house and named it for her father, an avid fisherman. It's not perfect—the tables are close together, the noise level can get thunderous, and the kitchen is so small, there's no dessert, just a few chunks of chocolate with the check. Still, Hank's is a reliable, casual place to stop in for oysters and clams on the half shell, lobster rolls, popcorn shrimp and calamari, and crab cakes cooked on a griddle. Of course, that might just be your idea of perfect.

Dinner daily; lunch on weekends only.

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Marvin
2007 14th St N.W.
Washington , D.C.
20009
Tel: 202 797 7171
www.marvindc.com

The U Street corridor is the old stomping ground of music legends from Duke Ellington to Lena Horne, but perhaps its most famous native son is Marvin Gaye. This restaurant, partly owned by international DJs Thievery Corporation, is an homage to the Motown legend and his self-imposed exile in Belgium, where he recorded "Sexual Healing." The bistro does Gaye proud, with buttery-leather banquettes, dark wood, and candlelit tables. Upstairs in the lounge and on the outdoor deck, a diverse crowd of locals mingles over Belgian beer and a DJ-spun soundtrack of rare funk, soul, and jazz cuts. Downstairs in the dining room, Marvin serves up a surprisingly successful mix of Belgian and soul food fare—fried chicken and waffles; moules frîtes. For dessert, don't miss the pumpkin cheesecake, which plays smooth and sweet, like a Gaye slow jam.

Open Mondays through Thursdays 5:30 pm to 2 am, Fridays and Saturdays 5:30 pm to 3 am, and Sundays 11 am to 2 am.

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Michel Richard Citronelle
3000 M Street N.W.
Washington , D.C.
20007
Tel: 202 625 2150
www.citronelledc.com

You don't necessarily expect a Puckish sense of humor with such serious food, but because superchef Michel Richard originally trained as a pastry chef, appearances are important to him—and so is magic. His "Virtual Fettucini" turns out to be slivered cuttlefish accessorized with summer vegetables and trout caviar, and the rice in a flavorful paella is actually finely chopped squid. Underpinning the culinary sleights of hand are exceptional flavors in exquisite arrangements, such as poached salmon with crab risotto and rack of lamb in a white-bean jalapeño sauce. There's a chef's table in the kitchen, and a big picture window in the elegantly understated dining room gives guests a view of the wizardry. It's near-impossible to get out the door for less than $150 per person here; for a taste of Richard's magic at more reasonable prices, visit his newish bistro, Central.

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Minibar at Café Atlántico
405 8th Street N.W.
Washington , D.C.
20004
Tel: 202 393 0812
www.cafeatlantico.com/miniBar/miniBar.htm

A six-stool outpost on the second floor of the popular Café Atlántico is the smallest restaurant in Spanish chef José Andrés's burgeoning D.C. empire. Here, Andrés, who also oversees Oyamel, Jaleo (480 7th St., N.W.; 202-628-7949; www.jaleo.com) and Zaytinya (701 9th St., N.W.; 202-638-0800; www.zaytinya.com), serves a 30-course tasting menu of bite-size dishes that attracts serious foodies and, often, celebrity chefs. Andrés was a star pupil of Spanish alchemist Ferran Adriá of El Bulli, the restaurant that sparked an experimental revolution in Europe, and his résumé shows here. Try the deconstructed New England clam chowder and foie gras twirled in vanilla sugar cotton candy. Downstairs at Café Atlántico, meanwhile, the Latin dim sum served on Saturdays and Sundays is an enticing and different spin on weekend brunch.

Closed Sundays and Mondays.

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Oval Room
800 Connecticut Avenue
Washington , D.C.
20006
Tel: 202 463 8700
www.ovalroom.com

Expect a lot of name-dropping and famous political faces in this white-tablecloth power den close to the White House. It seems that everyone here has an agenda, but for chef Tony Conte—an alum of Jean-Georges Vongerichten's kitchen—it's turning unexpected food combinations into a remarkably good modern American cuisine. Conte chars cubes of pumpkin and chestnut and tosses them with ricotta gnocchi, caramelizes beef tenderloin that's been spiced with paprika and mint, or roasts baby beets that he combines with passion fruit gelée and finishes with a mignonette of horseradish and ice wine. Even the cheese plate is special, a selection of artisan cheeses accompanied by apricot mustard, chestnut honey, and 25-year-old balsamic vinegar.

Closed Sundays. No lunch on Saturdays.

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Oyamel
401 7th Street N.W.
Washington , D.C.
20004
Tel: 202 628 1005
www.oyamel.com

José Andrés is the power chef of D.C. From his classic tapas restaurant Jaleo to airy meze spot Zaytinya to Minibar, his six-stool tribute to molecular gastronomy, the Spaniard is serving up dead-serious food in the playful guise of small plates. At Oyamel, Andrés focuses on Mexico's answer to tapas, antojitos. The similarities between this and your basic Mexican joint end at the free chips and salsa—not to mention the grasshopper tacos. Here, the guacamole, prepared tableside, benefits from the tangy creaminess of goat cheese, while delicate mescal foam floats above a tangy salmon seviche. Be sure to save room for the braised short ribs, which come apart with the touch of a fork, all the better to soak up the savory mole surrounding them. The orange and red banquettes, metal butterfly mobiles, and colorful masks provide a festive backdrop for the cooking. The location in the Penn Quarter draws a mix of young, hip Washingtonians and middle-aged tourists alike, so be sure to make a reservation. The wait for walk-ins can be long, even on a weeknight.

Open Sundays and Mondays 11:30 am to 10 pm, Tuesdays through Thursdays 11:30 am to 11:30 pm, and Fridays and Saturdays 11:30 am to midnight.

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Proof
775 G Street N.W.
Washington , D.C.
20001
Tel: 202 737 7663
www.proofdc.com

This earthy wine bar and restaurant supplies a bit of informal cheer to its preening neighbors in the Penn Quarter neighborhood. The look is New World meets Old, with contemporary furniture, leather booths, hammered-copper mirrors, and exposed-brick walls. The wine program follows suit, with classic Bordeaux sitting alongside California cult favorites and reds from Down Under. Wine director Sebastian Zutant encourages exploration from behind a vintage Champagne trolley whose offerings range from budget Proseccos to splurge-worthy Krugs. You can also taste your way through 32 wines by the glass. If that's not enough, Zutant will be happy to open any bottle under $300 and pour you a couple glasses for about half its price on the wine list. In another person's hands, the sheer range of choices could be overwhelming, but Zutant's enthusiasm is infectious and his guidance masterful, whether you're a neophyte or a seasoned oenophile. The menu itself also encourages exploration. Though standard-size entrées are on offer, most diners graze on cheese, charcuterie, and seasonal small plates like pumpkin gnocchi; goat cheese agnolotti with bite-size meatballs; and a modern Peking duck with hazelnut and pomegranate accents. The focus on small plates makes for a social dining experience (and the Champagne doesn't hurt either); this is a place for a lively group night out rather than an intimate tête-à-tête.

Restaurant open Mondays through Wednesdays 11:30 am to 2 pm and 5:30 to 10 pm, Thursdays and Fridays 11:30 am to 2 pm and 5:30 to 11 pm, Saturdays 5:30 to 11 pm, and Sundays 5 to 9:30 pm. Bar open Mondays through Wednesdays 5:30 pm to 1 am, Thursdays through Saturdays 5:30 pm to 2 am, Sundays 5 pm to midnight.

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Rasika
633 D Street N.W.
Washington , D.C.
20004
Tel: 202 637 1222
www.rasikarestaurant.com

This lively Penn Quarter Indian restaurant makes a contemporary statement with its decor (tamarind hues, clean lines, blond wood) and menu (a lighter, healthier take on traditional dishes from across India). A tamarind-date dressing tops crisp spinach greens; there's mint chutney and yogurt sauce in which to dip barbecued mango shrimp; and clay oven–baked black cod hints of fresh dill, star anise, honey, and fennel seeds. Reservations are a must, unless you want to eat at the bar.

Closed Sundays. No lunch on Saturdays.

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The Source by Wolfgang Puck
575 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.
Washington, D.C.
20001
Tel: 202 637 6100
wolfgangpuck.com/restaurants/finedining/the%20source/dc/index.php

The D.C. outpost of the Puck empire is nominally affiliated with the Newseum (located inside the museum complex), but it's hard to imagine the fanny-packed masses stopping here for lunch. The only connection the upscale eatery has to its neighbor is its name, a clever double entendre referencing both the journalism term and the chef's focus on locally sourced ingredients. This is the place to see and be seen among those in Washington who value both style and substance. The space itself is splashy yet romantic, with tea candles, warm woods, modern leather upholstery, and a showstopper 2,000-bottle wine wall. The cuisine is described as "modern American with Asian influences." That's an accurate label for the ground-floor bar fare, but the main event upstairs definitely focuses squarely on Asia. "Tiny dumplings" are a jazzed-up version of the Chinatown classic, filled with tender pork belly and pan-fried with chile oil, while a delicate piece of arctic char comes gently seared and bathed in a mellow cardamom sauce, executive chef Scott Drewno's nod to the Subcontinent. As for main courses, perfectly grilled lamb chops are set in a cilantro-mint sauce and served alongside soft pieces of Japanese eggplant, and American Kobe beef short ribs are braised for an entire day in plum wine and whole-grain mustard before being spooned onto mashed lentils. For desserts, skip the run-of-the-mill "assorted cookies of good fortune," and opt for the bananas brûlée on puff pastry or passion fruit cheesecake.

Open Mondays through Thursdays 11:30 am to 2 pm and 5:30 to 10 pm, Fridays 11:30 am to 2 pm and 5:30 to 11 pm, and Saturdays 5:30 to 11 pm.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.