With so many restaurant options in the Washington area, it's good to gather intel: Here are eight spots, recently vetted by Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema, that are worth a try.
Ready your Instagram before stepping into this Brookland wine bar from restaurateur Sebastian Zutant and his wife, designer Lauren Winter. The setting is dreamy, thanks in no small part to chandeliers adorned with ostrich plumes. The wine list is French-focused, with about 75 labels. The menu skews French but plays around with classics; the onion soup, for example, tastes beefy while remaining decidedly meat-free. Pommes frites for the table are a must. 3000 12th St. NE.
From Fabio Trabocchi comes a Spanish seafood-themed restaurant at the Wharf, on the Southwest Waterfront. “If you only get one dish,” writes Sietsema, “make it paella and ask for the pan with seafood.” It arrives with lobster, calamari, mussels and prawns, arranged on short-grained bomba rice featuring crispy parts that you're likely to fight for. 791 Wharf St. SW.
Everything is cooked over an open fire at the second restaurant from Rose Previte and the Compass Rose team. Expect a brief but mix-and-matchable menu with food from Georgia, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey. It's all served in a space that makes you “feel like Dorothy stepping from sepia Kansas into sparkling Oz,” writes Sietsema in his two-and-a-half-star review. 1346 Florida Ave. NW (in the alley).
The food served in this 30-seat nook near Eastern Market “redefines what it means to be a fast-casual restaurant,” Sietsema writes. A tip: Try to save a seat at one of the four reservation-only kitchen counter stools, where for $50 you'll get a taste of nearly every dish on the menu, plus a few extras. 423 Eighth St. SE.
La Limena Grill
In this second location of La Limena in Rockville — more than twice the size of the original — restaurateur Emma Perez keeps the menu centered on Peruvian specialties. Try the leche de tigre, featuring tilapia, lime juice, onions and chiles, or the comforting pastel de choclo con carne, a savory pie of corn layered over steak tips. 1093 Rockville Pike, Rockville.
If you're looking for impressive food-and-wine pairings, with views to match, begin and end your search at Ana, the 56-seat restaurant at District Winery, nestled along the Anacostia River. There's something for all appetites on a menu that could please omnivores and vegetarians alike. Wines by the glass include a bright unoaked chardonnay and a lightly peppery cabernet franc. 385 Water St. SE.
The Indian street-food restaurant, led by chef Vikram Sunderam (of Rasika and Rasika West End), doubled its space in this Foggy Bottom spinoff of the original Cleveland Park location. Sietsema recommends the kheema pao, a toasted roll with minced lamb and pureed Thai chiles, or the meatless uttapam, a steamed rice cake spread with minced, roasted butternut squash and a dollop of cilantro-coconut chutney. 2000 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
At Washington's first Georgian restaurant (the republic, not the state), favorites include the kebabs and crisp breads called kubdari. There are also, of course, khinkali (soup dumplings) and a variety of khachapuri (including the well-known boat-shaped one filled with cheese and egg), plus a list devoted entirely to wine from the Western Asian county. 1205 11th St. NW.