D.C. Dinner Picks for December
Winter has always been my favorite time of year for a few reasons. First, people dine out more often because the cold leads us to entertain indoors. You can’t host a BBQ or grill out without freezing. Second, people celebrate holidays leading up to the new year, many of which revolve around food. Third, it is sweater season, meaning you can hide your winter fluff under a nice cashmere sweater. December is the month people go all about before making new year’s resolutions. Therefore, I have been eating out two times more often than usual, and I’ve recently discovered five spots in D.C. to recommend for your next dinner!
Zeppelin is a gorgeous, modernly designed sushi restaurant ideal for a date night or a large celebration—especially if you have a group that loves karaoke! The restaurant was busy the Thursday evening I visited and required a reservation in order to be seated immediately. The vibe is dark, swanky, and filled with attractively dressed young professionals. I’ve only eaten at a handful of sushi restaurants since moving to D.C. because I’ve struggled to find quality sushi at a price that fit my budget. Zeppelin provides fresh seafood at a reasonable price in comparison to other sushi restaurants in the District.
For a cocktail, I ordered a spicy mezcal pick-me-up that was almost too easy to drink. Next, I split the small Chef Selection Yakitori, a variation of meat kababs with the table. We tasted the Momo Chicken, Buta Bara pork belly, Ebi Hotate shrimp and scallop, and the Gyu Kushi steak. When it comes to sushi, I truly love it all-- spicy, savory, crunchy, and cream cheesy. After reviewing Zeppelin’s extensive sushi menu, I ordered the Classic Spicy Tuna Roll and the Crunchy Scallop Roll based on the waiter’s suggestion. He was not wrong; the crunchy scallop roll was to die for. I can’t wait to come back to Zeppelin’s to sing karaoke before my time in D.C. comes to an end.
Retrobottega (Adams Morgan)
Adams Morgan is such a unique part of D.C. with diverse dining options at every corner. Retrobottega is a quirky northern Italian restaurant that serves my type of comfort food- carbs! I visited last Tuesday evening with Peter to grab a bite to eat around 8 p.m. It was fairly busy, but we didn’t need a reservation. We were seated right away in their basement, which is a little dark and echoey. The vibe is slightly casual due to the loud music playing throughout the restaurant.
The waiter started us off with warm, homemade focaccia bread with olive oil and vinegar. Next, I ordered two appetizers from their seasonal menu to start us off- the fried artichokes and fried risotto balls (I can’t remember the actual name). I loved both, but if you have to choose one, go for the artichokes! For my main course, I ordered the Bistecca di Manzo, the grass-fed New York strip steak with rosemary potatoes and grilled asparagus. The steak was a little tough, but that is usually the texture with a New York strip. Peter ordered the Spaghetti alle Vongole, a clam pasta with tomatoes and parsley. The pasta was in a white sauce and much lighter than I expected. All in all, we enjoyed our experience and would suggest Retrobottega for dinner.
H Street Country Club (H Street Corridor)
Dinner, drinks or bottomless brunch, H Street Country Club is one place I recommend to friends looking for a laid-back time to socialize and dine in a comfortable setting. H Street Country Club is known for its rooftop, but I’ve only visited in the winter and stayed close to the bar to catch a viewing of my favorite sports teams on the weekend. Not only is the food tasty, the restaurant is packed with entertainment! They have the only 9-hole indoor mini golf course in D.C., basketball, skeet ball, shuffleboard, giant Jenga, and other fun games to play with friends. The menu is approachable and offers a variety of bar food favorites. They have tacos, sandwiches, nachos, wings, burgers, and even noteworthy salads.
I’ve tried many items on their menu but have to call attention to their wedge salad. The wedge salad was massive and generously topped with bacon and blue cheese crumbles. I have to admit that I didn’t love the chicken sandwich because it was extremely dry. On the other hand, the brisket sandwich was very tender and tasty, something I would suggest to brisket-loving friends. As far as the drink menu goes, they can make you any cocktail or fancy margarita, but my favorite thing about the H Street bar menu if the fact it has White Claw on tap. I will be visiting H Street County Club again to check out their rooftop in the spring!
High Street Café (Georgetown)
My girlfriend Emily suggested we try a brasserie in Georgetown called High Street Café for our girls night out. Georgetown is gorgeous but it’s not within walking distance, so I rarely ever go to this neighborhood. As such, I am unfamiliar with most of the restaurants. I am so glad Emily suggested High Street Café because I would have never sought it out on my own.
The restaurant’s decor is nothing special or over the top, but the quality of food made up for the lack of interior design. We ordered the Crispy Brussel sprouts, Crispy Goat Cheese Noisettes, Tuna Tartar, Pan Roasted Calamari, Lamb Meatballs, and finally the Wedge Salad. I couldn’t quite understand what type of food the café focuses on because there is a Hispanic, Italian and American flare. High Street Café has wood stone pizzas, an angus ribeye, and even a braised goat. Is there anything they can’t do?
I’d really like to go back and try something from their main menu rather than sampling their appetizers. After only single visit, I feel as if I didn’t have the opportunity to taste everything that High Street Café has to offer.
The Riggsby (Dupont Circle)
I stumbled upon The Riggsby while walking home one evening. There is a leg lamp in the window that caught my eye. As a huge Christmas Story fan, I couldn’t help but check out the bar that displays such a nostalgic piece. The bar is on the first floor of the Kimpton Carlyle Hotel and reminds me of a restaurant out of the TV show Mad Men. Don’t let the tacky leg lamp fool you, the design of the restaurant is art deco mixed with a European flare.
For a starter, I suggest the Grilled Kale Salad or the Classic Caesar salad. I also recommend the Homemade Potato Chips with Green Onion Dip. It has been decades since I have eaten the classic Ruffles onion dip from the jar for a reason, but this homemade version is notable. The Riggsby serves a wide variety of entrees focused on protein. I enjoy the Seared Scallops, Pan Roasted Salmon, New York Strip Au Poivre, The Riggsby’s Original Roast Chicken, and an Australian Lamb Chop. The meals are not cheap, but the quality of the food, the service, and the overall experience are worth it.
Happy bulking season!