Beef short rib with jalapeño Cheddar grits, crispy sweet potatoes and cilantro lime crema at the Smith. (Dixie D. Vereen/For The Washington Post)

There's an uncertainty that comes with trying a restaurant for the first time, especially if the place is new. No need to fret about these spots, though — they've all been recently visited by Post staffers, who have given them the seal of approval.

The Smith

There's something for everyone at this (loud) dining room near Verizon Center. Check out the crab cake tots, meatless bibimbap and s'mores in a jar. 901 F St. NW.


Beverage director and co-owner Carlie Steiner oversees the small dining room at Himitsu. (Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)

Himitsu

The tiny “young establishment is a case study in contemporary dining,” Post food critic Tom Sietsema says, with “food that tastes like a celebration but is priced for workday consumption.” Highlights include Peking duck, deep-fried Brussels sprouts and tuna tartare. 828 Upshur St. NW.


Guacamole with grilled avocado at La Puerta Verde. (Dixie D. Vereen for The Washington Post)

La Puerta Verde

Sietsema calls this Mexican restaurant “yet another score from Mindful Restaurant Group in burgeoning Ivy City,” joining siblings Ari's Diner, Denson Liquor Bar and Dock FC. Strong contenders on the menu include guacamole, fried cod tacos and the chile relleno. 2001 Fenwick St. NE.


The Smokehouse fish board at the Tavern at Ivy City Smokehouse. (Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)

Tavern at Ivy City Smokehouse

Fish is the name of the game at this Ivy City hangout, where strong dishes include the crab cakes, grilled shrimp and fish and chips. Non-seafood eaters will enjoy the chicken wings, spare ribs and fried chicken sandwich. ​1356 Okie St. NE.


The beet Reuben at On Rye. (Dayna Smith for The Washington Post)

On Rye

The modern sandwich shop inspired by Jewish delis offers especially enticing Reubens made with smoked beets or portobello mushrooms and spiced broccoli rabe. Also try the egg cream. 740 Sixth St. NW.


Ravioli de chucho with skate and plantains at Alma Cocina Latina. (Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)

Alma Cocina Latina

Another reason to make the trip to Baltimore: Explore Venezuelan fare beyond arepas — though there are good ones here, too. “The food here is so compelling, I couldn't wait to return after my initial trip and came back the next night,” Sietsema says. 2400 Boston St., Baltimore.


Dining on the patio at Iron Gate. (Dixie D. Vereen for The Washington Post)

Iron Gate

The romantic Dupont Circle restaurant recently revamped its concept to allow more flexibility in the menus diners can choose. The new, six-course, Italian-leaning tasting menu is a winner. 1734 N St. NW.


Spinach omelet with hash potatoes at Ari's Diner. (Dixie D. Vereen for The Washington Post)

Ari's Diner

Who doesn't love breakfast all-day? You can't go wrong with the tender house-baked biscuits, served with sausage gravy and scrambled eggs. Burgers, crab cakes and avocado toast are worth your attention, too. 2003 Fenwick St. NE.


Mom's Lagman, a stir-fry of beef and peppers over noodles at Dolan Uyghur. (Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)

Dolan Uyghur

Dumplings, kebabs and hand-pulled noodles are on offer at this Uyghur restaurant. The cuisine hails from northwest China, but in spirit it's closer to Middle Eastern. Don't miss the goshnan, a pizza-like dish with a pan-fried pastry crust stuffed with ground beef, red peppers and sweet onions. 3518 Connecticut Ave. NW.


A seasonal vegetable salad at Joselito. (Dixie D. Vereen for The Washington Post)

Joselito

This Spanish restaurant embraces the novel concept of letting diners choose from three different sizes for most dishes. Good bets include fried anchovies, pork tenderloin and torrijas, a kind of bread pudding. 660 Pennsylvania Ave. SE.


The New Yorker breakfast sandwich with pastrami, fried egg, Comte and hot pepper jelly at Smoked and Stacked. (Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)

Smoked and Stacked

Chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley, formerly of Ripple and Roofers Union, makes some seriously excellent sandwiches. Some of the best feature her house-made pastrami, including the Messy, a kind of Reuben riff, and the New Yorker, a breakfast creation with a fried egg and Comte cheese. 1239 Ninth St. NW.

Read more:

A guide to eating and drinking in Petworth

Why touch screens are changing how we order at restaurants

Mezcalero Cocina Mexicana: You can’t go wrong with the tacos here