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Washington D.C.


District of Columbia (Washington D.C.)

Washington D.C'S Culinary Capital

Known for its power lunches and elegant State dinners, Washington, DC has established a strong presence in culinary circles. In recent years, a dizzying number of new eateries have opened up alongside perennial favorites. Downtown DC remains the site of much of this fervent restaurant development. Some of the restaurants that are new and coming soon are ventures from well-known Washington, DC chefs and restaurateurs. Among them is a new restaurant for Michel Richard, whose flagship restaurant, Michel Richard Citronelle, was recognized by Gourmet as one of the top 50 restaurants in the United States in 2006. Opened in January 2007, Michel Richard Central is centrally located on Pennsylvania Avenue between the nation's two most powerful buildings, the U.S. Capitol and the White House. On the menu, you'll find the chef's interpretations of classic American cuisine, prepared with a French twist. The restaurant itself is sleek and striking, yet the atmosphere and the price points suggest a more relaxed dining experience. ( centralmichelrichard.com, 1001 Pennsylvania Ave. NW).

Following Richard's lead, Robert Wiedmaier, chef and owner of Marcel's, will open a new casual fare restaurant, Beck's at 1101 K St. NW in 2007. The restaurant will appeal to downtown diners by offering Wiedmaier's trademark French and Flemish cuisine in a more casual setting.

Another celebrated local chef who pioneered the downtown restaurant scene is adding on to his collection in downtown's Penn Quarter neighborhood. José Andrés, known for crowd-pleasers like Jaleo, Cafe Atlántico and Zaytinya,opemed in February 2007 with a small-plates Mexican concept, Oyamel at the corner of 7th and D Streets (oyamel.com). Andrés' fans can also look forward to Bar José, a tapas bar serving a delectable array of Iberian products, coming to Penn Quarter in 2008.

Development hasn't been restricted to downtown. When the Park Hyatt Washington, D.C. unveiled the results of its $24 million renovation in June 2006, it also introduced diners to Blue Duck Tavern, a glorious new American restaurant with a state-of-the-art open kitchen and wood-burning oven. Chef Brian McBride's fine cuisine incorporates simple and traditional cooking methods and bold, sharply focus flavors. Look for entrees slow-roasted in wood embers and enhanced by braising, preserving and smoking techniques.

The city's booming restaurant scene has caught the eye of chefs from outside of the Washington, DC market. Popular New York eatery BLT Steak opened its doors in the nation's capital in late 2006 in the shadows of the White House (1625 I St. NW, 202-689-8999), combining the elements of a French bistro and an American steakhouse. A meat-and-potato lover's heaven, the menu features a variety of steaks, poultry and potatoes served up eight different ways, along with an assortment of fresh seafood, vegetables and delightful desserts. In spring 2007, chefs Fernando and Gino Masci will bring the traditional Italian flavors of New York's top Zagat-rated Italian restaurant Il Mulino (1110 Vermont Ave. NW) to the Thomas Circle neighborhood.

These newcomers join an impressive inventory of well-known eateries that attract diners from throughout the country, including some of the most talked-about openings in recent years like Rasika, the latest fine Indian fare from restaurateur Ashok Bajaj; Acadiana, serving Executive Chef and Co-owner Jeff Tunks' bold flavors of Lousiana; and CityZen, Chef Eric Ziebold's showplace at the Mandarin Oriental Washington. They also join classic, storied places like The Occidental, which marks its 100th anniversary in 2007 by showing off the results of a major renovation.

But you don't have to get dressed or seek up to have a capital culinary adventure. In the historic U Street neighborhood, Ben's Chili Bowl has served up half smokes and fries to eager Washingtonians since 1958. A few blocks away, Café Saint-Ex appeals to locals and visitors with its lively atmosphere day and night. Looking to satisfy your sweet tooth? Another must-eat in the U Street corridor is LoveCafé. Lawyer-turned-baker Warren Brown gave up the daily grind and opened a storefront bakery, Cake Love. Brown's enterprise won rave reviews from dessert-lovers around the world and inspired an eat-in café located across the street - and a program on the Food Network, Sugar Rush.

The multicultural composition of the city is reflected in its restaurants. African, Asian and South American eateries abound in Adams Morgan, among some of the city's most popular nightlife destinations. Nodding to the thriving immigrant communities, diners can sample tasty and affordable Ethiopian injira and spicy meat concoctions or succulent Vietnamese dishes.

It's also more affordable than ever to sample some of Washington, DC's top dining destinations. Each January and August, more than 170 of the region's most noted restaurants join together for DC Restaurant Week, bringing diners fixed price lunch and dinner menus, priced at $20.07 for lunch and $30.07 for dinner (to correspond to the current year). For details on Washington, DC's restaurants and for more information on DC Restaurant Week, visit www.restaurantweekdc.org.

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Source: Washington DC CTC
Last modified: 20070426
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