Lots of spots claim to be "old" in their names, but in this case, it's no joke. The Old Ebbitt Grill is DC's oldest saloon, having welcomed many noteworthy guests, including a number of presidents. Despite all the history, the business didn't move to its current location until 1983, bringing with it many of the antiques and memorabilia with it. Inside, you'll find two dining rooms, three separate bars, and menus that highlight American classics, from jambalaya to Alaskan Halibut, as well as mahogany and velvet booths, outstanding American artwork, and delicious drinks, all just steps from The White House.
You might not expect to find upscale fare in a diner, but then again, Poole's Downtown Diner isn't your average greasy spoon. Originally opened in 1945 as a pie shop, Poole's is now helmed by James Beard Award nominee Ashley Christensen, serving up surprising, scrumptious food from a menu that's constantly changing thanks to a commitment to using fresh local ingredients. The food isn't the only standout, though — the drinks are also fantastic, as is the decor, which returns the place to its roots with a double horseshoe bar and red leather booths.
You wouldn't expect a place that's changed its name and mission — now Hawaii-inspired — to still boast one of the best burgers in town. Yet that's the case with Ma'ono Fried Chicken and Whiskey. Formerly known as Spring Hill Restaurnat & Bar, Ma'ono still offers great food, but this time it's with a focus on upscale fried poultry, with room on the menu for Musubi — a sandwich made with rice and spam, wrapped in nori — dishes incorporating Hawaiian salt, and the aforementioned burger, now christened the Ma'ono Burger, but still featuring applewood-smoked ground chuck, bacon, and cheese between butter-griddled sesame English muffins. We hear the whiskey selection isn't too bad, either. [via]
You'll be eating food, and possibly enjoying a beer or glass of wine when you show up at Gunshow. You'll see a menu, and you'll pay a bill. That said, there's not a lot about this new Glenwood Park eatery from former Top Chef Kevin Gillespie that resembles a traditional restaurant. The menu will change constantly based on what ingredients are the freshest — and available — and also lists the available drinks, cookbooks, and other goodies. There is no boundary between the kitchen and the dining room, which allows the chefs and sous chefs the ability to come talk to you directly, explain dishes when necessary, and even offer you off-the-cuff creations that may or may not be on the menu. Of course, all of this doesn't matter much if the food's not up to snuff, but with options ranging from pitch-perfect takes on classic dishes to more complex offerings, you're sure to find something you'll like — perhaps with help from the head chef himself.
With a name like that, you might expect pasta dishes to be the star of the menu — and while there's plenty of pasta on offer, it's the pizza at Pastaria that really impresses. Their wood-fired, Neapolitan-style pies come topped with fresh ingredients — often seasonal in nature — including house-made pepperoni, smoked pork, jalapeno, avocado, fennel, and salami. Joining the pastas and pizzas are a small number of meat-based entrees, as well as a selection of soups, salads, appetizers, and desserts — including great gelato and kick-ass cannoli.
The Queen City is known for its pasta, but it's not Italian — normally it comes topped with chili and shredded cheese. Nicola's, on the other hand, is one of the best Italian spots in the region, offering house-made pasta in dishes like buckwheat maltagliati with rabbit ragout, Tagliolini with shrimp and artichokes, and risotto with braised lamb. The menu also includes several more seafood selections, two tasting menu options, and some fantastic desserts. As you'd expect, the wine menu is both extensive and impressive, and tastes even better when enjoyed on the outdoor patio.
You don't have to love bacon to enjoy a meal at Victory 44 — but it certainly doesn't hurt. This north side eatery offers up accessible-yet-ambitious food, a constantly-changing list of which you'll find on chalkboards throughout the restaurant. You'll probably want to ask your server for more details, since there are no printed menus and the chalkboard list is famously threadbare — options like "salmon", "sunchokes", and "duck" don't give you much to go on. But when in doubt, you can always opt for the porky trifecta of Devils on Horseback (bacon-wrapped dates), the Perfect Burger, which is topped with bacon, and the simply amazing Bacon Fries.
Where better to spend your Cinco de Mayo than a place named after Mexico's national liquor*? Tequila's isn't a shots-and-Tecate kind of place, though — instead, it's one of the best Mexican restaurants around. Led by chef David Suro, this upscale eatery serves up authentic Mexican cuisine, with an emphasis on fresh seafood and plenty of chihuahua cheese. And as you'd expect, they also offer an excellent selection of tequilas, mezcal, and, of course, margaritas.
*We're not really sure if it's their national liquor — or if national liquors even exist — but if they did, Mexico's would so be tequila.
There seems to be somewhat of an argument over which is the better item at Victor Tango's: the food, or the drinks. This strikes us as a great problem to have. The food menu is dominated by tapas-like small plates — the Ahi Tuna Nachos are a particular standout — while the drink menu is filled with intelligent, modern interpretations of classic drinks, as well as a few originals, all prepared and served with care. Just don't be fooled by the name — no matter what you might think, this isn't a dance hall. [Scouted by Mark]
Opening a new restaurant is difficult anywhere. Opening a new pizzeria in a town known for the stuff is nearly insane. Yet that's the challenge Chef Tony Mantuano took on — and met — when he launched Bar Toma last year. With over 20 varieties of pizza baked in a wood-fired oven, this neighborhood-style spot doesn't mess around on the pie, and backs it up with a mozzarella bar, a range of cold and hot antipasto, over 60 wine selections, gelato, an espresso bar, and even a gluten-free menu — which, unfortunately, doesn't include pizza.
It might be in its second iteration — it started as the Craigie Street Bistrot — but Craigie on Main has gotten better, if anything. Helmed by James Beard Award-winner Tony Maws, this intimate restaurant still serves up French-inspired, refined rustic food using only the freshest local, seasonal, organic ingredients. A la carte, tasting, and chef's whim options are presented daily, along with a first-class wine list and excellent cocktails. And should you be in the mood for something more low-brow, you cna try your hand at securing one of the few burgers they serve every night — but keep in mind that even this simple-sounding sandwich includes a custom blend of beef, bone marrow, and suet.
There's a ton of BBQ joints in Texas, so it's saying a lot that The Salt Lick is among the best. Founded in 1967 — and since expanded to locations in Round Rock and the ATX airport — this institution still cooks its meat on the same open pit that was used when it opened, offering brisket, ribs, turkey, sausages, chicken, and sides, all as tasty as anything you'll find elsewhere. Oh, and this location is BYOB and cash-only — so be sure to plan your trip accordingly.