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Looking for Fine Dining Recs. in DC

We’re a couple of Phoenix Chowhounds, and are about to embark on our 4x/year trip to DC. Over the years, we’ve dined at Le Paradou (maybe 8x), Michel Richard’s Citronelle (maybe 3x), Vidalia’s (probably 3x), Kincaid’s, 1789, Briss [SP?], Galileo, and a few dozen other restaurants, including the Charlie Palmer lineup. We’re more into fine dining and are looking for someplace that might be new to us. Wife is leaning towards a return to Citronelle, even though she thinks that Le Paradou is probably the best, all of the way around.

I’ve looked at the posts over the last few months, to see if some spot really struck me, but most of the chatter seems to be about restaurants out of DC-proper. We’ll be staying near Embassy Row, so we’re looking for someplace within a reasonable cab ride of the hotel. A great wine list, and wine service, are a real plus. Maybe even a ++.

We are not looking for a “scene,” or a “see and be seen,” place. Fine dining and wine are the subject of my request. Price is not a problem, as we just finished a week in London, followed by repeats of Joël Robuchon’s L’Atelier. Those dinners were in the US$350-400/person range. While I do not wish to throw my $ away, I’ll pay whatever the fare is, for great food.

Should I just do Citronelle, and not try and find any new spots, or do you have some great recs.?



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  1. Try any of these restaurants:

    Jaleo, one of Jose Andres' restaurants www.jaleo.com

    2941 www.2941.com

    Taberna del Alabardero www.alabardero.com

    2 Replies
    1. re: shishkalady

      Thanks for the recs.. I have seen Jose Andres on some of the TV events, and programs, but had not picked up that he had places in DC. I will certainly search the links.



      1. re: shishkalady

        I have found that Jaleo is quite mediocre, hit or miss (more misses). However Zaytinya, which is Mediterranean tapas is excellent. It is also Jose Andres.


      2. Your request is for "fine dining with a great wine list." In all honesty, I don't think Jaleo or any of the Jose Andres restaurants fits that criteria. 2941 definitely does, but it is not in the city -- it's in Northern Virginia.

        A restaurant that you did not mention that I think would meet your criteria is Marcel's.

        Also, if you have not been to Obelisk, it is worth a visit. Excellent food and wine in a relaxed, laid-back atmosphere. Located on P Street, just off Dupont Circle.

        1. I agree that Jose Andres restaurants do not really fit your criteria, though you may enjoy a lunch there. My two favorite meals have been Marcel's and Restaurant Eve. While Eve is in Old Town Alexandria, and not D.C., the food and cocktails are phenomenal and definitely worth the short trip. IMO, both these restaurants were better than Le Paradou. You should also consider Komi, Palena, Blue Duck Tavern, and CityZen.

          1. Palena or Komi. While I am not sure they might be in the upper echelons of fine wine service (though their lists are good, just not ridiculously deep like at Citronelle), I think you'll find the food at both stunning. Of the moment, of the season, always changing sometimes even day to day. I like Marcel's too, sure, and a recent trip to Taberna del Albardero puts that on my suggested list too.

            I think CityZen and Restaurant Eve (the latter is in Old Town Alexandria, and thus not DC proper) are both overrated, but many others seem to think they are wonderful, so your mileage may vary. CityZen does have a very nice (and very overpriced) wine list though. Proof, though not at the upper echelons of fine dining in DC, is very good, and they have a very nice (and very overpriced) wine list.


            2 Replies
            1. re: Pool Boy

              Thank you all for your contributions to my dining plans. I'll digest [pun intended] the info and choose one, as we only have one night, that is not an event. I'll report back with our experiences.



              1. re: Bill Hunt

                Rank ordering the places you ought to consider for your one free night, my list would look like this:

                The Oval Room
                Taberna del Alabardero

                Missing from the list is Komi simply because I haven't been there. Not necessarily for cause.

                Unless you can snag reservations for Minibar within Cafe Atlantico, the experience at an Andres restaurant will leave you wondering what all the fuss is about. It's not that the food at Cafe Atlantic isn't perfectly satisfactory. It is. However, it is not the gastronomic experience you might be expecting given Andres' reputation.

            2. Briss sounds like an interesting name for restaurant :)

              5 Replies
              1. re: elegantelliot

                Briss? That's the new Kosher place, right? I've heard the menu is mostly "small bites." No idea about the wine list - probably mostly sweet wines - a few drops at a time.

                Seriously, not much to add to the list: Komi, Tasting Room at Eve, CityZen, Palena and the tasting room at BlackSalt will all satisfy.

                  1. re: Pappy

                    Something tells me that Briss was NOT the name of the restaurant. This was the "hot-topic" some years back, and featured two female chefs in a highly decorated venue. The press was abundant. The crowds were young and loud. The food was not worth mentioning, at all, even though the media loved it. Similar name to Briss?

                    Sorry for the misinformation, though some did add some rather odd humor to the reference. [Grin]

                    One thing that might sway me, on this trip, is the mention that La Paradou might be closing. Well, they have served us very well for some years. I may have to pay "last respects."

                    Since we're in DC about 4x/year, there will be other trips, and most will include more free dining time.

                    Whatever the choice, I do thank everyone for the input. I have put the recs. in the bin, for the next trip, and will report on the dining.

                    Thanks to everyone,


                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                      I think you original meant Bistro Bis on Capital Hill. Same owner as Vidalia's.

                      I've been predicting La Para's demise for years, yet he continues to hang on.

                      To answer your question, you would be very well served at Marcels, or Palena (be sure to reserve the back room). But if you haven't yet been to CityZen, that should absolutely be your first choice.

                      1. re: Pappy

                        Ah, my "bad." That was close, but "no cigar." Now, I understand the jokes, even if they were slightly at my expense.

                        Thanks for the clarification.

                        We're still hammering out the details, as we will be in SF, then heading to DC, then coming back to PHX for an event. Still looks like only one "free" night, and we'll look into the availabilities. If La Paradou is closing, we must do a "wake," as they have been a favorite of ours for some years. Still, we do this very often, so all the recs. will not go to waste, I assure you.


              2. I wanted to second the recommendations for Marcel's and Komi. Although 2941 in my opinion may have the best or close to the best wine list in the area, it is not a close cab from the city and I haven't tried the food of the new chef so I cannot comment on the new menu. Marcel's has a very nice list and is certainly fine dining not to be missed if you liked Citronelle and Le Paradou. I think it was better than Le Paradou, but I had awesome food at Citronelle which I think was better.

                1. I love fine dining myself and always rush to any new restaurant that opens up in DC. Le Paradou is my favorite DC restaurant (although I do hear some rumors that it may be closing). With that said, I think the last recommendation of Komi is the best one. It is amazing, and also a fun meal. You are constantly eating fun bites of amazing food. The wine list is odd, mostly mediteranean, but it is definitely workable.

                  The other suggestion...Marcel's. They just changed their menu to a tasting menu so it changes the experience a little.

                  One other recommendation is Proof. The food is good, not great, but the wine list literally can not be beat in the city.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: bks807

                    I rather like Marcel's version of a Tasting Menu. It's a hybrid version half-way between an a la carte menu and a tasting menu since there are about four choices per course.

                    1. re: Indy 67

                      I agree I love it, they really do a good job of varying the items offered, Fiance and I have a hard time on many tasting menus as our tastes are exactly opposite in some respects (shellfish, escargot, "stinky" cheese and pistachios are things he avoids and I love), but both loved Marcel's and got to have what we preferred for each course. And since you can get three courses if you are a light eater, you can keep it closer to a regular meal if you like, I prefer to do 5, only because it is all I can eat before I feel like I need rolled out. But I am a big fan of the place, I just had a good experience. Now if only they had 2941's wine list, not that it is bad, and it is mostly French which is understandable, but the cellar at 2941 really is amazing, the wine book is huge and they have some neat finds you don't see on typical wine lists.

                    2. re: bks807

                      On Komi, I agree completely. Just ate there Thursday, and it was transcendent and fun. Good dollar value too, for my money, at least. The three hours we spent there just flew by, and the food was some of the most remarkable of my life. I highly recommend doing the degustazione menu with the five glass pairings, if you really want to see what Komi is all about. I agree the wine list is mostly Mediterranean, but that works very well for this place, considering the mostly Greek influences in the cuisine. Of the four nights I spent in DC, this was the first, and the best dining experience.

                    3. You should try something new! There are a lot of wonderful restaurants in DC that you might and enjoy. First I would recommend Palena, which it doesn't seem you have dined at. I would recommend getting a reservation in the back of the room for the full service and a more high end experience. That being said, the front cafe is also enjoyable with the best burger in town (and an opportunity to order from the full menu) but they don't take reservations.

                      Another place to consider is Equinox. Chef Grey offers up delicious, well-thought out seasonal dishes benefiting from lots of local sourcing. I have always enjoyed their wine selections but I'm also far from an expert in wine. They have a wonderful tasting menu as well.

                      And since you like Citronelle perhaps you would want to try out Michel Richard's new restaurant Central. Don't go in expecting the same atmosphere or experience as Citronelle...its much more hip, less expensive, etc. But the food is still exciting and delicious! It's one of the hottest restaurants in DC right know and I think someone with your food experience will find it a lot of fun. You will find a lot of posts on here about it but a few of my favorite items are the faux gras and rillettes and the short ribs. The lobster burger is decadent and rich but worth a try at least once.

                      As many people have mentioned, if you are willing to travel outside of the District, Restaurant Eve is 100% worth the trip.

                      Other places you might want to look into: PS7, Proof, Blue Duck Tavern, and Hook.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Elyssa

                        Thanks for the recs. If we do not use any this trip, well, we have several more, before '08 ends.

                        Sound great! and, thanks for the tip on Palena's back room. We're less into "cafes" for these trips.