Washington, DC can boast about being home to many amazing restaurants at all price points. Visiting often, I am happily eating my way across the city and have already found a few establishments that I have or will be returning to soon. While a few have Michelin Stars, that wasn’t a consideration for my favorites. All of these gems have succeeded in terms of food, service, and ambience. Reservations are a must for any of these restaurants.
We had a truly amazing dining experience at Plume from start to finish. The food, atmosphere, and service were simply impeccable and so civilized, but with no airs of pretension. Our waiter was attentive, not intrusive, fun, and spot-on with recommendations. Offering a prix fixe menu, it certainly had enough options to please everyone, including this vegetarian.
We came to dine at Plume as it is located at The Jefferson, where we were staying and which also just happens to one one of our favorite DC hotels. Yes, it is expensive and Michelin Star rated, but worth the splurge for a special occasion or treating a nephew to a rare dining experience. You truly do get what you pay for at Plume.
Blue Duck Tavern
We have been to Blue Duck Tavern for both dinner and brunch. While both were great, I have to say I enjoyed brunch more. It was just fun and laid back. Our nephew, who lives in DC, has always said this was one of his favorite restaurants. Located in the Park Hyatt Hotel in Georgetown, it is a cool space – sleek, urbane, yet comfortable, with an open kitchen. The food at this one-star Michelin rated restaurant is creative American cuisine using the freshest, seasonal ingredients. Their approach is to serve simple, rustic food with an artisan touch. They succeed.
Tabard Inn is home to the oldest running hotel in DC since 1922, which being a history buff intrigued me, but also concerned me a bit, too. However, when my millennial nephew gave it a thumbs’ up, I knew I had chosen well. Located in a row of brownstones, you feel like you are stepping into a different time and the feeling continues once you go inside. When you walk in, you are greeted with wood floors, historic decorations, and rooms that look like you should be clinking steins filled with grog.
When we visited, the place was packed with locals and we loved every minute. There was something for everyone on the menu and being in an inn, serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you don’t want a full dinner, you can sit in the lounge with its plush couches and fireplace, have a hot cider, and listen to jazz. In warm weather, there’s also a patio in the back.
Ana and District Winery
Ana just opened in the fall of 2017 in Navy Yard, a hip area full of buzz in Washington DC. It is also home to DC’s first winery, District Winery. Thanks to a huge glass wall, you can even see the winemaking facilities. The industrial, yet upscale space also has floor to ceiling windows so you get amazing views of the Antacostia River. Of course, the wines, along with a host of other American regions, are served in Ana and in the tasting area. There’s also an outdoor patio with fire pits. The menu has global inspiration which showcases fresh, seasonal ingredients.
Many people know of Le Diplomate because it’s a DC classic. It is also known as a place to be seen in DC, which means reservations can be hard to come by. The restaurant pays homage to a French cafe, reflected in both the setting and menu. Le Diplomate serves traditional bistro food. Some favorites include moules frites, onion soup gratinee, and steak tartare. But we would be remiss not to mention the crunchy, fresh made baguettes. Just imagine dipping this bread into the mussels’ broth. Delicious and so very French! It is a fun, bustling place with sidewalk tables, a zinc bar, and leather banquettes. You can literally transport yourself to Paris.
I chose Kinship because it was highly recommended by friends and the menu totally intrigued me. It is divided into special sections rather than the traditional appetizers, salads, and entrees. There’s Craft which celebrates a cooking technique; History which revisits classic dishes; Ingredients which celebrates a specific product; Indulgence which highlights specialty items; and For the Table which features a roast chicken, broiled black bass, or beef tri tip. The Parker House Rolls may be worth the visit alone. You can then pick and choose among the many offerings.
Kinship is located in a historic building dating back to 1907. The three-part space includes a book-lined lounge with a fireplace, a lively bar, and a chic dining room. A second restaurant, Métier, is located downstairs and offers a seven-course tasting menu. Both restaurants commit themselves to offer creative and contemporary American cuisine. The hope of Kinship is that it fosters camaraderie with the people you are sharing your dining table with. Love it!
Bresca is a place to go to share dishes of farm-to-table delights. The frequently changing, seasonal menu is French-influenced and served in a bistro-like setting. In fact, the restaurant calls itself a modern bistronomy—casual fine dining where experimentation becomes the everyday. A relatively new restaurant, it already has a Michelin Star,
The young 27 year-old chef has created a menu divided into snacks, medium plates, and large plates, which is why sharing dishes is encouraged. The space is also very cool in colors of bold blue with a live moss wall filled in with quirky decorations. I also love that 75% of the restaurant’s herbs are grown on their roof. Just be sure not to miss the desserts like a hive of meringue with ripples of passion fruit and basil oil.
Floriana is a neighborhood gem that you probably wouldn’t find unless you live in or are visiting Dupont Circle, which we were. I stumbled upon the brownstone building walking the area. Actually, the huge Christmas tree in front drew my attention and I had to find out more. I always like a little quirky and that’s what we got. It’s a small, dark, but totally inviting space with wonderful food, waiters, and ambience. To find the place packed on a weeknight with what seemed to be locals is always a good sign. It was!
Any of these restaurants should be sure to please, but just in case you can’t get reservations, here are a few more names to try…Bourbon Steak, Tosca, Chloe, The Dabney, or Zaytina. Or maybe these favorites from Travel Awaits writer, Anna Freyer.
Here are also some fabulous finds to tempt you in DC.