The Hot List: Washington, DC’s Top Restaurants

Food critic John Mariani leads you to the best cuisine in this capital city.

Nov 7, 2012
  • Oysters at Acadiana Restaurant, Washington, DC
  • Bourbon Steak’s Private Dining Room, Four Seasons Hotel Washington DC
  • Food detail at 1789 Restaurant, Washington DC
  • Wine Shelf at Taverna del Alabardero, Washington DC
  • Rasika flavorful Indian cuisine, Washington DC
  • Al Dente’s open kitchen style dining room, Washington DC
1/6
Acadiana, 1 202/408-8848, 901 New York Avenue, NW
Why go: This is some of the best Cajun and Creole cooking outside Louisiana, served with warmth and swagger in a handsome split-level dining room.
You must try: The fish here is exemplary, so go for the blackened redfish or snapper amandine served with roasted potatoes, green beans, grapes, lemons and almond emulsion.
And this: The bar stocks an excellent selection of bourbons for flights.
Photography courtesy Acadiana
2/6
Bourbon Steak, 1 202/944-2026, Four Seasons Hotel Washington, DC, 2800 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Georgetown
Why go: If you want to rub elbows with Washington’s power elite—and quite a few celebrities—this is the place. Everyone from Madeleine Albright and former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev to Brad Pitt and Michael Douglas go for great steaks and chops.
You must try: The 28-ounce porterhouse and the lobster pot pie
And this: With 25 wines by the glass, the lounge is always packed by 6:00 pm.
Photography courtesy Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
3/6
1789 Restaurant, 1 202/965-1789, 1226 36th Street, NW, Georgetown
Why go: If you want a sense of Georgetown hospitality and a menu that represents a long history of classic and modern U.S. fare, 1789 Restaurant is a grand example. Beautiful antiques accent six dining rooms, while intimate nooks add romance.
You must try: The ingredients are all sourced locally and seasonally, but there will always be a fine seafood dish like diver scallops with corn velouté soup and house-smoked bacon.
And this: Each month, the restaurant holds a one-day cooking class followed by lunch with wine.
Photography courtesy 1789 Restaurant
4/6
Taberna del Alabardero, 1 202/429-2200, 1776 I Street NW
Why go: The sumptuous cuisine and impeccable service have kept this America’s finest classic Spanish restaurant since 1989.
You must try: The seafood paella (for at least two people)
And this: The list of Spanish wines and sherries is extraordinary.
Photography courtesy Taberna del Alabardero
5/6
Rasika, 1 202/637-1222, 633 D Street, NW
Why go: Chef Vikram Sunderam produces colourful, dazzling and deeply flavourful Indian cuisine.
You must try: The seekh kebab, or minced lamb prepared with garam masala and mint chutney, is a house specialty.
And this: There’s a zesty small plates menu at the bar, where the signature cocktails go very well with this type of food.
Photography Michael J. Colella
6/6
Al Dente, 1 202/244-2223, 3201 New Mexico Avenue NW
Why go: The return to DC of one of America’s finest Italian chefs—Roberto Donna—has brought easy-to-adore Italian trattoria food to the Embassy Row–American University area.
You must try: Donna’s fresh Italian mozzarella, perfect pizzas and lasagnette
And this: You can sit at the counter in front of the open kitchen and enjoy Italian salumi and cheeses while sipping a glass of Prosecco.
Photography courtesy Al Dente

Washington is the U.S. capital, but it is also an international city that draws the best food and wines from all over the world. Here neighbourhood ethnic restaurants are kept as rigorously consistent as power lunch spots, and authentic cuisines from America’s far-flung cultural centres enjoy widespread appeal.


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