A Cosmopolitan Cuisine: Dining Out in D.C.
David R. Goldfield, December 1998
Goldfield's Gold Spoon Selections
Washington, D.C., has become one of the nation's great eating cities. You can find all variety of food and prices; the numerous ethnic restaurants are often very high in quality and relatively modest in price. Then there are some magnificent places that would top the list in most American cities. Here are some of my favorites in both categories, the ethnic and the elegant. (All phone numbers in this section have a 202 area code.)
Kinkead's (American Regional). The best fish place in the city, the best desserts, and the best martini. What more do you want? 2000 Pennsylvania Ave., NW. 296-7700. $35 for dinner.
Cafe Atlantico (Nuevo Latino). A place to have fun and eat great Caribbean and South American food. I especially like the Brazilian dishes. Also the best margaritas in the city. 405 8th St., NW. 393-0812. $25.
Galileo (Italian). Washington's best Italian restaurant; none of this nouveau stuff; this is traditional Italian, albeit with flair. Great for special occasions. 1110 21st St., NW. 293-7191. $45.
Nora (New American). The city's most imaginative restaurant; Nora Pouillon uses only organic ingredients for her American cuisine with an Asian influence. This place gives health food a great name. 2132 Florida Ave., NW. 462-5143. $40. Also recommended, under the same ownership, is Asia Nora, 2213 M St., NW. 797-4860.
Bombay Club (Indian). This is the best Indian restaurant in town; it's a bit unusual in the sense that it specializes in seafood (and vegetarian dishes, of course). The seafood is excellently prepared. 815 Connecticut Ave., NW. 659-3727. $25. The Sunday brunch, which offers a variety of dishes, is a special bargain at $18.50.
Meskerem (Ethiopian). Although there are several fine Ethiopian restaurants in the city, this is my favorite. Dive in with your hands and enjoy a large feast of meats and vegetables from mild to spicy. 2434 18th St., NW. 462-4100. $15.
Lebanese Taverna (Middle Eastern). Another fun place with a variety of Middle Eastern dishes at moderate prices. The best Lebanese pizza in town. 2641 Connecticut Ave., NW. 265-8681. $15.
Taberna del Alabardero (Spanish). Great for tapas (I prefer this to the more popular tapas bar, Jaleo). Also, some fine traditional Castilian dishes. 1776 I St., NW (at 18th). 429-2200. $25.
Les Halles (French, sort of). If you want a great steak without astronomical prices try this French-tinged bistro. But don't expect imaginative French concoctions. The food here is straightforward, but very well prepared. 1201 Pennsylvania Ave., NW. 347-6848. $25.
Makoto (Japanese). Some say this is the finest Japanese restaurant in the United States. Whether you're a novice or an old hand, this is the place for sushi and probably the most interesting Japanese food you've ever tasted. 4822 MacArthur Blvd., NW. 298-6866. $35.
Citronelle (French, sort of). Apparently, Washington can't bring itself to offer a first-rate, straight-out French restaurant. Le Lion D'Or comes close, but its pretension is a bit much for me. Michael Richard's Citronelle is heavily Californian, and new chef Larbi Darouch should move this up the list. In the meantime, it's a first-rate place, and Georgetown is at your doorstep. 3000 M St., NW. 625-2150. $45.
Prime Rib (American). Probably Washington's best steak place, this is the restaurant for a power lunch, which, by power lunch standards, is remarkably reasonable. Eat a big lunch here and you can subsist on pretzels for dinner. 2020 K St., NW. 466-8811. $20 for lunch; $45 for dinner.
—David R. Goldfield teaches at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Other Favored Picks from the Local Arrangements Committee
Many of these choices can be found in Adams Morgan, which is near the main meeting hotels, or Bethesda, which can be reached easily from the hotels on Metro's Red Line. If these choices are not immediately available, there will be many other good options nearby.
Athenian Planka. Excellent food served in relaxed atmosphere. 7833 Woodmont, Bethesda. (301) 986-1337.
Haandi. Bethesda's best Indian food. 4904 Fairmont, Bethesda. (301) 718-0121.
Peacock Restaurant. Relaxed dining. Excellent vegetarian. Near Politics and Prose Bookstore. 5031 Connecticut Ave., NW. (202) 364-4444.
White Tiger. Capital Hill. Buffet option. 301 Massachusetts Ave., NE. (202) 546-5900.
Ivy's Place. Small and unpretentious, but definitely worth the trip for lunch up Connecticut Avenue directly opposite the Cleveland Park Metro stop. 3520 Connecticut Ave., NW. (202) 363-7802.
Coppi's. People will argue where you can find the best pizza in Washington; the answer is New York. But in the meantime, this is a fine alternative. 1414 U St., NW. (202) 319-7773.
Imatti. Elegant and refined in the heart of Adams-Morgan. 2436 18th St., NW. (202) 483-9198.
Perry's. Funky and original. Offers Sunday brunch. 1811 Columbia Rd., NW (202) 234-6218.
Sushi-Ko. One of Washington's oldest and best Sushi bars. 2309 Wisconsin Ave., NW. (202) 333-4187.
El Tamarindo. Modest decor, great food at very reasonable prices. Always busy. 1785 Florida Ave., NW. (202) 328-3660.
Lauriol Plaza. Mexican and Salvadorian food served with style at reasonable prices. One of the most popular spots in Adams Morgan. 1801 18th St., NW. (202) 387-0035.
Ben's Chili Bowl. In the heart of the black Broadway, a Washington landmark for 40 years. 1213 U St., NW. (202) 667-0909.
Islander Carribean Restaurant. 1201 U St., NW. (202) 234-4955.
Utopia Bar and Grill. Across from the Reeves Government Center, a preferred spot for lunch and dinner by D.C. employees. 1418 U St., NW. (202) 483-7669.
Straights of Malaya. An Adams Morgan sleeper. Excellent food at moderate prices. 1836 18th St., NW. (202) 483-1483.
Levente. New and very popular, so arrive early or be prepared to seek one of the many good alternatives nearby. 7262 Woodmont, Bethesda. (301) 657-2441.
Pan Asian Noodles & Grill. Good food, moderate prices, in heart of the Dupont Circle district. 2020 P St., NW. (202) 872-8889.
Raku. Part of the hot new Bethesda scene. 7240 Woodmont, Bethesda. (301) 718-8680.
Zuki Moon Noodles. Probably the best of the city's growing numbers of Japanese-style noodle shops where the fare is simple, nutritious, and inexpensive. 824 New Hampshire Ave., NW. (202) 333-3312.
B. Smith's. Elegant dining at Union Station. Weekend jazz. (202) 289-6188.
Georgia Brown's. Lowcountry with style. An in place for local folks. 1500 K St., NW. (202) 393-4499.
Heart & Soul Cafe. Soul food at its best. 424 8th St., SE. (202) 547-1892.
Morrison-Clark. Nestled in the heart of a restored Victorian Inn, this restaraunt's food is as elegant as the decor. 1015 L St., NW, at Massachusetts Ave. (202) 289-8580.
Vidalia. A southern place with the usual menu suspects, including fried grits cakes. 1990 M St., NW. (202) 659-1990.
Jaleo. Excellent tapas, lively bar scene in the heart of the arts district and near the MCI Center. 480 7th St., NW. (202) 628-7949.
Cottonwood Cafe. Sophisticated food, decent prices. 4844 Cordell Ave., Bethesda. (301) 656-4844.
Sala Thai. Quick service, excellent food. 2016 P St., NW. (202) 872-1144.
Tara Thai. As good as Thai food gets. Great variety of appetizers as well as some unusual choices among main entrees. Nearly always crowded, so arrive early if possible. 4828 Bethesda Ave., Bethesda. (301) 657-0488.
Queen Bee. Described by one journal as the best food for value in the D.C. metropolitan area. If the line's too long, there are plenty of good alternatives nearby. 3181 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, Virginia (Clarenden Metro on the Orange Line). (703) 527-3444.
For a more complete set of selections, visit the Washington Post web site at http://www.washingtonpost.com.