Five D.C. Restaurants I LOVED This Fall!
Things have gotten very busy around here and I haven’t had the chance to share some of the great places I’ve been this fall. I have so many more I want to share with you, but for now I’ll highlight my top five spots that you must try if you are in the D.C. area! Each restaurant is unique and perfect for date nights, drinks with friends, entertaining clients, and showing your parents around D.C.!
Since going to the Middle East last spring, I gained a new appreciation for the cuisine and culture. Maydan has been on my list for quite some time, and shortly after my return, I decided to check it out with my friend Samer. This place is tough to get a reservation, but we got completely lucky and snagged two bar seats at the far end of the restaurant.
This restaurant is a gorgeous place to dine and immediately sets a mood the second you walk through their statement wooden door. Upon entry, you are brought into a side kitchen area that is of a masterpiece. I’d never seen clay ovens or experienced the warming aromas coming from the blend of fresh bread, meats, and spices being prepared right in front of my eyes.
The menu was a little hard for me to read, but fortunately I had my Middle Eastern expert with me. I ordered the beiruti hummus spread made with fresh tomato, parsley, green pepper and scallion, and also the Labneh spread, which was my favorite! I could have just eaten an array of spreads with their delicious homemade peta bread. We also tried the saffron lamb kabobs and the tenderloin kabobs which were incredibly flavorful. The tenderloin was made with shawarma spice, a colorful blend of spices that originated from Turkey, and a hint of lime.
The whole experience was enjoyable, and I highly recommend Maydan for an adventurous date if you are new to D.C. But be sure to plan ahead and get a reservation!
I cannot stay away from French cuisine, so naturally I found myself at Convivial a few weeks ago with my number one dining partner. The menu is French inspired with many classic items, but also has a touch of modern and new-American items like the fried chicken, wedge salad, and cauliflower appetizer.
Convivial is a great location for a date night or work dinner. The menu is not intimidating, and I think anyone could find something they would enjoy. The atmosphere was upscale, but not stuffy and was filled with locals of all ages.
We started the evening off with a round of classic cocktails while we browsed the menu. Convivial has a large list of French wines to choose from that would pair nicely with the theme of the menu. Instead of opting for our usual appetizers of French onion soup and selection of cheeses, we actually got the wedge salad and cauliflower appetizer. Both dishes were enough to share, and they did not disappoint!
For dinner, I opted for the steak frites and Peter ordered the burger, both prepared medium. I have to admit that the food wasn’t quite as good as the same dishes from Le Diplomat, but our meals were still delicious. However, I do think that Convivial has more non-French options and interesting seasonal appetizers to enjoy than Le Diplomat. Overall, Convivial serves a modern take on traditional French food, and I plan on returning soon.
Maybe I’m out of the loop, but I didn’t know this awesome spot had recently opened right down the street from my apartment in the Shaw district. Without having any dinner plans, I was walking around with Peter (pictured above) to find something new when I was drawn to the bright pink neon lights and buzzing bar.
Gogi Yogi is a Korean BBQ joint that is stylish, upbeat, and gives me slight Tokyo Drift vibes (I’ve actually never seen that movie, but the dark decor, neon lights, and Asian influences made me think of it). This is the only table-top grill restaurant in the district. It’s a great place for large parties, birthday dinners, dates, and pretty much any occasion. The overall experience of Gogi Yogi is far more entertaining than a traditional restaurant, since it requires a bit of attention and participation in order to prepare the food.
We visited on a Friday night and the restaurant was crowded, but not unbearable. While we were waiting for a table, I ordered the yuja made me, made with los altos silver tequila, yuja marmalade, lemon and simple syrup. The drink was sweet but not too sugary and really refreshing. It only took a single cocktail before our table was ready to go!
When we got to the table, I ordered a bottle of the jinro chamisul original soju. Suju is apparently the world’s most popular rice liquor that I’ve never even heard of before that evening. Fun fact, South Koreans drink an average of 13.7 shots of liquor per week, more than anywhere else in the world! The best way to describe the flavor of the soju I ordered, is a dirty martini— which we all know I enjoy.
If you have the chance to order a main dish at Goji Yogi, keep in mind that the menu is meant to share. For two people, I ordered dry age New York strip. It came with an array of complementary banchan, or little side dishes for tasting. They served us a scallion salad with romaine lettuce, sesame bean sprouts, tangy gochuchang sauce, sesame salt and pepper dip, shoyu potatoes, spicy cucumber salad, sautéed beets, daikon salad, kimchi, and sticky rice.
It might have been overkill, but we also ordered a bibimbap made with rice, veggie toppings, a runny egg, and chicken. I’d definitely go back and hope to bring some friends next time!
For my birthday, I booked a large reservation at Officina during Restaurant Week, and it was perfect. I usually stay close to my apartment, but I wanted to branch outside of my neighborhood and explore the Wharf.
The restaurant is in a three-story space that is posh and elegant enough for a work dinner, birthday party, or dinner with parents. I’m very picky about Italian food, so I rarely try the Italian options that D.C. has to offer.
We started the dinner off with a round of Aperol Spitz’s to mark the celebration of my birthday. The table decided to participate in the Restaurant Week special, so we’d have different choices from the 3-course tasting menu. I was impressed with their choices and the variety of appetizers, main courses, and desserts.
Since we all chose a different combination off the tasting menu, I was able to sample several dishes- some better than others. For a starter, we ordered a couple different salads, focaccia, and fried calamari. I ordered the simple arugula salad which was really fresh and prepared with parmigiano, lemon, extra and virgin olive oil. The calamari was my favorite thing that evening. It wasn’t the healthiest option in the menu, but it’s a must! The chef uses a breading that similar to fried chicken and then flash fries the octopus to perfection.
Next, I ordered the cacio e pepe, one of my all-time favorite simple pasta dishes. Officina is known for its homemade pasta so I was eager to taste. Unfortunately, I wasn’t thrilled with their Cacio e Pepe because it was overly salty with too much pecorino cheese, and the sauce was too heavy for my liking.
I also tasted the tagliatelle alla bolognese which is veal, pork and beef ragu, with parmigiano. That was my favorite option for the main course. The veal was so tender and flavorful. It was a real treat because this dish is not something I could prepare for myself.
We barely had room for dessert, but we tasted the sorbetti al limone which was a lemon sorbet and the torta gianduia, a delightful chocolate mousse. Both desserts were really tasty and a great way to polish of the meal. I hope to return to Officina soon! I still have so many restaurants on the list for the wharf so I’m not sure when the next time I’ll make it.
This Mexican restaurant opened a short distance from my apartment, and I had to check it out! I love an occasional order of chips and guac with a taco, and I was tired of always going to Tico and El Centro for my fix.
Bar Lorea is a lot like one of the Mexican restaurants I frequent in Atlanta, called Bar Taco. The menu at Bar Lorea is very similar, but the decor in Bar Taco is much cuter. Bar Lorea is more modern with a variety of regular and high-top seating, decorated minimally with some vintage industrial chairs, nothing super fancy, but attractive overall.
Bar Lorea offers a daily happy hour menu with cocktails like the ready set fire, a spicy mezcal drink and a bunch of uniquely flavored margaritas. For dinner, they recommend their queso fundido, a hot cheese skillet wish chorizo and guacamole. This is a huge serving and enough to share between four people.
Next, I ordered a couple different tacos. I tried the beef barbacoa (tender beef with guajillo and chipotle sauce), carnitas (pork), and the mushroom taco to try something different. My favorite was the classic carnitas taco. Bar Lorea offers larger dishes as well, called ‘colder’ or meals prepared in pots. These dishes are known for their over-the-top flavor and large portions served with rice and beans.
This restaurant is good for a casual bite to eat with friends after work or a place to grab dinner before going out to party. I wouldn’t go out of my way to try this place out, but if you are in the neighborhood, they have good food at a more reasonable price than the other Mexican options nearby.