LIGHTS ON: Week by week, floor by floor and mattress by mattress, the new Beacon Hotel (1615 Rhode Island Ave. NW) in Dupont Circle is getting closer to having all 200 of its rooms, including 60 studio suites, available for occupancy. The target date is mid-March, but the property already looks nothing like the dreary Governor's House it replaced, thanks to a makeover budget of about $20 million. "It's hard to be everything to everybody," says Hector Torres, vice president of sales and marketing for Capital Hotels & Suites, which owns the Beacon as well as St. Gregory Hotel & Suites in the city's West End. "We're concentrating on total comfort." Part of that philosophy is evident in Beacon Bar & Grill (202-872-1126), which opens with an airy corner lounge and continues in an underground dining room that looks part club, part yacht (note the portholes between the cozy booths).
Beacon's introductory menu is a hit parade of American favorites, with a twist or two to distinguish them from any childhood memories. Thus homey fried chicken gets partnered with sweet corn polenta, a meaty pork chop is accompanied by onion marmalade and the artichoke dip, an appetizer, comes with warm triangles of pita bread for scooping. You can even finish a meal with a slice of apple pie -- and you should; it's delicious. The recipes will be familiar to anyone who has eaten at Dish (924 25th St. NW; 202-338-8707), the Foggy Bottom restaurant where Beacon chef Ron Reda previously cooked.
While the hotel is wooing the business traveler, it wants to embrace its neighbors as well. Half-priced bottles of wine on Wednesday nights and half-priced hamburgers on Sunday nights -- not to mention $4 martinis every day of the week -- should help fill a few seats.
Lunch entrees $11-$25, dinner entrees $15-$28.