The nation’s capital is gaining a well-deserved reputation as a culinary hot spot with one of the most diverse and international foodie scenes. High-end, power dining is at its best and neighborhood ethnic restaurants can satisfy those with an urge for something a little bit different. Regardless of where you find yourself, all of these restaurants are worth the trip.
West End—Blue Duck Tavern
For the ultimate splurge, head over to Blue Duck Tavern where outstanding service and incredible cuisine meet in a glam atmosphere. A nice way to start the meal is with the kale and cucumber salad that comes with fresh figs, fennel and a rose vinaigrette or the perfectly cooked jumbo crab-cakes. Entrees are carefully crafted and include a wood-oven prime NY strip, a roasted duck breast with stone fruit and charred snap peas and roasted stripe bass with fava beans, and radish Romesco. Any meal can be enhanced with the hand-cut fries, the stone ground grits or the forager mushrooms. Make sure that you save room for the apple pie (made for two). An extensive wine list and very knowledgeable sommelier will help you with the perfect pairing.
If you are looking a fantastic meal that is somehow both classically French and totally modern, head over to La Bise, just blocks from The White House. This high-end restaurant offers outstanding food in a bright, comfy atmosphere where the service and the menu are both exceptional. Favorite starters include a local tomato salad with homemade ricotta, butter-poached Maine lobster or Hudson Valley fois gras with fresh peaches. Our group raved about the duck breast served with summer corn and blackberry jus, the halibut with Romano beans and gulf shrimp and the ever-popular steak frite with roasted garlic butter and local greens. Nobody does dessert as well as the French and La Bise features classics such as a delectable coffee soufflé with crème Anglaise and a Paris brest with candied almonds.
Dupont Circle—The Pembroke
The Pembroke is one of the most cheerful restaurants in one of D.C.’s most popular neighborhoods. Recently reopened, this is the place to indulge in a delicious brunch, either inside or outside on the spacious terrace. Why not start with a vodka, pomegranate and honey cocktail called “In the name of love,” or indulge in the build-your-own bellini option? If you want a healthy choice, try the superfood salad which is filled with quinoa, beetroot, edamame, broccolini and feta. Heartier fare includes steak & eggs, which comes with both a salad and fries. Although for some, it is not really brunch unless someone at the table order a stack of pancakes, served here with berries and whipped mascarpone.
Capitol Hill—Ambar Restaurant
Looking for something completely different? Then you must stop by Ambar and get introduced some amazing Balkan cuisine. The best way to experience this delicious food is to indulge in the unlimited brunch or dinner options. That’s right—you can order anything you want off the menu. Favorite starters include ajvar (roasted pepper and eggplant relish), beef prosciutto, veal soup, Balkan salad and cheese pie. For heartier choices, it’s hard to beat the lamb lasagna, fried chicken with apple slaw, beef kebabs, or the salmon with eggplant jam and baby arugula. Grilled beans and asparagus with a fried quail egg are also available. An unlimited drink add-on includes wine from Moldova and some very tasty cocktails. An outdoor terrace is perfect for those who want to eat outside, and sidewalk tables provide some terrific people watching.
A deliciously casual place to indulge in Indian street food, Pindass has all your favorites. Snacks or “chaats” are a great place to start. Try a shrimp bezule, a Punjabi samosa or cauliflower pakora. Indian style wraps are stuffed with roast lamb masala, paneer and bell peppers and chicken tikka masala. Buns are filled with vegetable stew, pork vindaloo or a green chile omelet. Other options include a “roadside” fried chicken sandwich, spinach or lamb curry and multiple kebabs. An assortment of naans is obligatory and toffee pudding with cardamom ice cream is a nice way to end the meal.
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