Arroz: Prolific chef and restaurateur Mike Isabella (Graffiato, Kapnos, etc.) makes a successful foray into Spain, Morocco and Portugal. The food from executive chef Michael Rafidi is “likely to keep tables in demand,” Sietsema says. Highlights include fried sweetbreads, duck bomba rice and rum baba. 901 Massachusetts Ave. NW.
Ruta del Vino: This Latin American spot in Petworth is refreshing for its dish sizes that hew to the more traditional appetizer-and-entree format. But its food is also something to celebrate, from the steamed clams and cactus paddle salad to the roast chicken and fried mahimahi. 800 Upshur St. NW.
Mirabelle: This French inspired dining room — serving, yes, a $26 ham sandwich — is already reaching great heights thanks to chef Frank Ruta and pastry chef Aggie Chin. Sietsema says the restaurant is “the best thing to happen downtown in seasons.” Try the boudin blanc, veal tongue and crepe cake. 900 16th St. NW.
Fish by José Andrés: The seafood spot from man-of-many cuisines José Andrés is another of the flagship restaurants at MGM National Harbor. “No matter where you cast your net, you’re likely to pull up a prize,” according to Sietsema. You won’t go wrong with the Maryland Fry Bar, oysters and lobster sandwich. 101 MGM National Ave., Oxon Hill.
Baba: Drinks are a big draw at this bar below Ambar in Clarendon. Food-wise, you’ll find a mix of Balkan-inspired small plates (ham croquettes, fried Gouda sticks), open-face sandwiches (steak tartare) and breakfast (tiramisu oatmeal) every day. 2901 Wilson Blvd., Arlington.
Tiger Fork: Take a journey to Hong Kong in this attractive Blagden Alley restaurant from the team behind Fainting Goat. There’s a strong bar program, not to mention appealing dishes that include crispy sour potatoes, beef chow foon and a dessert bubble waffle. 922 N St. NW.
Sfoglina: You wouldn’t expect anything less than refined food and service from Fabio and Maria Trabocchi (Fiola, Casa Luca, etc.). House-made pasta is the name of the game here, but such entrees as the branzino and desserts including the soft-serve ice cream are prime attractions, too. 4445 Connecticut Ave. NW.
Colada Shop: Proof that casual doesn’t have to mean lower expectations. At this colorful cafe inspired by Cuba, go for such fried snacks as the ham croquetas, vegetarian Cuban sandwich and affordable cocktails. 1405 T St. NW.
Honeysuckle: Hamilton Johnson opened his first restaurant in the old Vidalia space where he used to be chef de cuisine, and the results are pretty good, if somewhat rich. Consider ordering the skate wing, and save room for dessert. 1990 M St. NW.