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Good Wine list in D.C. restaurants?

My boyfriend and I will be in D.C. in mid-March and need some restaurant suggestions. We live in the Napa Valley and really enjoy places with great food and great wine lists. The food does not have to be organic or anything like that. Preparation and uniqueness is more important. As far as wine lists go, we would like a place with a strong wine by the glass list: A good combination of reds and whites. We are not interested in Asian or Mexican food. So far we've booked one night at Mio.

We'll be staying at the Grand Hyatt on H street NW but can easily walk a few miles, take public transportation or cabs. We are willing to spend upto $200/person.

Thanks for you help. I look forward to answering your questions on your next trip to the Bay Area.

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  1. You should check out Proof and Equinox.

    1. What about the Cork Wine Bar?


      1720 14th Street, N.W.
      Washington, D.C. 20009

      Phone: 202.265.CORK (202.265.2675)

      4 Replies
      1. re: Smiles2008

        I recommend Proof too. And the Blue Duck Tavern also has both a great menu and pretty good selection of wine.

        1. re: Smiles2008

          We are definitely going there. I saw it in the NY Times a few weeks ago. Is it more of a local crowd? We're going with a large converntion and I would like to stay out of the "regular" places that tourists visit.

          1. re: Smiles2008

            I 2nd Cork. I had an amazing wine by the glass this summer. It was so refreshing after a day of nonstop heat. I wish I wrote down the name.

            Plus the food is good. Only problem is they don't take reservations and it gets super crowded. Go early! If you want "local flavor" this is a good place to start. You can have drinks and small plates at Cork, or just drinks and then head down to U St for dinner. Not touristy at all.

            1. re: Elyssa

              Be *very* careful about when you arrive at Cork. We had a pretty dismal experience there on Tuesday, unfortunately my birthday dinner. We called a half-hour ahead to get on the wait list (they don't take reservations after 6:30 and advise you to call ahead), and when we arrived we were told we were second in line for a two-top and it should be 20 minutes. Forty-five minutes later (and after trying to get the bartender's attention for 10 minutes and finally having to wave my hand in the air to get service), we were finally seated at a four-top after seeing another four-top empty for at least five minutes and at least 3 parties of two seated before us (the entire bar emptied out before we were seated). This was disappointing, and the food did not make up for it in my opinion. We had a very tasty mushroom Duxelle (mushroom spread on grilled bread), okay kale (perfectly cooked but I didn't think the cheese it was matched with worked well), a perfectly seared chicken breast with a surprisingly small amount of sauce, and a duck confit that was good but served on a warm coleslaw (blech). Our server was very good, and the food did come out expeditiously, I'll give them that. But for us, the seating nightmare was not worth it and we will not be returning or recommending it to friends.

          2. We like the wine list at Corduroy and the food is teriffic. At a differenct price point, look at PS7s. For a great selection of Italian wines check out Dino. Sonoma is good for catching a relaxing glass on the Hill.

            On a side note we are headed out to Sonoma County next week.

            3 Replies
            1. re: MrsWheatie

              MrsWheatie is spot on about Dino. Highly recommend it.

              1. re: Gigi007

                Dino really has a killer list. I wish I was back in DC, enjoying some of the amazing values on their list!

              2. re: MrsWheatie

                Sonoma County is HUGE. Whereabouts will you be going?

              3. We traveled to DC last spring, and loved Restaurant Eve in Alexandria.

                1 Reply
                1. re: DLAOKC

                  Mendocino Grille and Wine Bar is another excellent option as it has an extensive selection of California and Northwest wines, good flights and yummy cheese plates along with a regular menu that changes seasonally.


                2. Granville Moore's has the MOST amazing mussles & frites that I have ever had, if you are interested in that kind of thing. it is an edgy, cool gastropub in Capitol Hill area. Founding Farmers is also really good for comfort food- it is a relatively new place near Georgetown.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: chicken kabob

                    Does Granville Moore's have a good wine list or are they serving mostly beer, like some of the other mussels and frites places (Brasserie Beck for instance)?

                  2. Vinoteca in the U street neighborhood has some interesting pours. Serviceable cheese board. Fun neighborhood. Wine list at Dino is great, indeed. Well priced, especially on certain nights where there are specials. Sonoma on the Hill is good (by the glass) but the servers pack a ton of attitude. Corduroy has a great list for a more upscale and well-dressed experience.

                    Since you're from CA you might want to try some Virginia wines, while you're here.

                    You might be interested in the sweet wine served at Ethiopian places (I've had it at Etete) and since Ethiopian is a DC specialty you can try the cuisine with the wine.

                    1. If you're up for true Spanish food (real Spain, not Mex/Latin Am) I recommend La Taberna del Alabardero near Farragut West metro. Truly one of the best authentic Spanish restaurants in the US with excellent service and a huge winelist that spans the world (and has a very nice selection of Spanish vinos, of course). It's in about the price range you list and a unique experience for most of the folks I've taken.


                      1. Many of the places to go have already been mentioned. Dino has the largest, best priced, list of Italian wines in the city.

                        Citronelle has an excellent list, a Beard award winner of a sommelier in Mark Slater, and Beard award chef in Michael Richard. One of the better places in DC.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: dinwiddie

                          Citronelle is on the list of maybes'. As I stated in a reply to Gigi007 there is going to be a very large doctor/pharmaceutical convention, and we want to steer clear of the restaurants everyone else will be going to.

                          1. re: rocio415

                            Just saw your earlier reply to me now. I have no idea about where the convention you spoke of is going to take place. There are conventions going on in DC all the time, and most of the places mentioned here (especially in the Penn Quarter and Georgetown area) are frequented by locals and tourists alike. To be on the safe side, you should make a reservation if you're going to a place like Citronelle or the Blue Duck Tavern. Hope this helps.

                            1. re: rocio415

                              You might check out CityZen too-- comparable to Citronelle in being a top DC restaurant with a great sommelier.

                          2. Thanks for your help. It looks like I have a lot of homework to do.

                            Does anyone have an opinion of Mio. A friend recommended it because he thinks my bf is a food and wine snob(which he is not) but when I went to the website, the food looked kind of boring.

                            1. If you're looking for great food paired with awesome wines then these are what I would suggest....

                              Proof....Haidar K. has it going on there. His menu is friendly and the wine list is diverse but awesome.

                              Central.....Cedric puts out a fantastic menu that is only enhanced by the fantastic wine list.

                              Cork.....Chef Ron has a menu that is sometimes very interesting, but good, but the wine list is FANTASTIC..

                              Restaurant EVE is also a good spot, food is very tasty and the wine is good. Eric Ziebold was the Chef de Cusine at French Laundry, so you know he is on point with his wines and food.

                              And I do agree with Dino......It will not look like what you expect, the food is good. Just Good, but the wine list is at the top of many peoples favorites!

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: themeatguy

                                FYI, Cathal Armstrong is the chef at Restaurant Eve. Eric Ziebold is the chef at CityZen.

                                1. re: aburkavage

                                  There I go again...Flipping things when typing to quick.....thanks aburkavage

                              2. definitely proof. it is very close to your hotel, the food is amazing, and the wine list is about 67 pages long.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: littlew1ng

                                  I am very excited about their wine list. They have 7 different bottles of our neighbors' wine on their list. Not even our local restaurants have that many.

                                2. My husband and I are huge wine people and agree that Proof is the best wine bar in the city, hands down, and the food is incredible.
                                  I also agree that Blue Duck Tavern, CityZen, and Mendocino are excellent choices too.
                                  Vinoteca is a good suggestion for a more casual night.
                                  The food at Corduroy is fabulous but I don't remember being blown away by its wine list; although it's been a little while.
                                  I have to agree with Hamster...Cork is overrated and I would never recommend it to anyone or return. Do yourself a favor and don't bother!

                                  1. Another vote for Proof and Cork!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: BaltoPhilFood

                                      If you are coming here from Napa Valley and really want to experience what D. C. does best with a limit of $200 per person why are you limiting yourself to certain restaurants? Go to the best we have-all of them have good wine lists; some better than others. Above, Dinwiddie mentioned Citronelle. You should go. Mark Slater is one of the best sommeliers anywhere and an absolute ambassador for food and wine. Coincidentally, Michel Richard, a year ago was voted the best chef in America by Beard as was Slater for wine service. Yes, for wine service. In America. It IS on par with Gary Danko. Go to Komi, if you can get in. Go to CityZen (Eric Ziebold was formerly the Chef de Cuisine at the French Laundry), to Vidalia (outstanding and fairly priced wine list), cross the river to the tasting room at Eve. The back room at Palena. Corduroy, too. Don't worry about who else might be there. There will be more than enough locals for balance. There will also be some who have built a trip around their dinners in D. C. and these are their priorities.

                                      And, try to get in to MiniBar at Cafe Atlantico. It IS a more difficult reservation than the French Laundry. It is also worth the effort. One month to the day; they fill up five minutes after they open the phone lines at ten. There are six seats. Cafe Atlantico is also very good and, remarkably, rarely mentioned on here.

                                      Don't overlook Kinkead's or Black Salt either for seafood.

                                      If "preparation and uniqueness" are your priorities for food and you are looking for excellence on par with San Francisco's best you should give serious consideration to the above. Washington doesn't have as many restaurants at the highest level as San Francisco but the best ARE as good.

                                    2. There is the new wine bar/restaurant(s) from Robert Wiedmaier in the new kimpton hotel Lorien Hotel and Spa in Alexandria, Virginia. I recently saw it written up in Conde Nast and Food and Wine. Seems like it has potential.

                                      Opens up Feb 12.