Dinner in DC
I will be in DC in a couple of weeks with 3 or 4 coworkers. I am a serious foodie, but my coworkers are not. That being said, they are entrusting me with the responsibility of choosing a really nice restaurant for dinner, and they are willing to be adventurous with dinner that evening. I know nothing of DC dining. Can anyone recommend a place that fits the following criteria:
Any type of cuisine except Indian food, and no steak houses
focus on locally sourced, fresh food
atmosphere that is really nice, but not high-brow or stuffy
price point no greater than around $45 for average entree (looking for a really nice meal, but not French Laundry nice)
(open to anything, but French or Northern Italian is preferred)
You could start here http://www.washingtonian.com/restaura...
At $45 for entree, you can easily do CityZen, Palena, Vidalia, Marcel and Corduroy - all top notch restaurants in DC. Palena has some Italian influence and Vidalia has some southern influence. Corduroy does a 3 course prix fixe for $55 or so. Marcel is Beligan/French. CityZen is probably the best all around.
I really strongly suggest that you don't go to either of these. By Buca I imagine you mean Buca di Bepo...a national Italian chain. If you want tapas you should go to Jaleo or Taberna del Alberdero.
More up your alley seems to be Corduroy, PS7, Palena, Equinox, or Cashion's Eat Place. All have excellent kitchens with locally sourced, seasonal cuisine. Nice atmosphere and within your price range. In my opinion, you can't go wrong with any of these places.
At $45 an entree, you can pretty much eat anywhere you want in DC. The suggestions ericandblueboy makes are all on target. Italian is not one of DC's great strengths. Citronelle is French and generally considered one of the top restaurants but I would actually favor all of the others mentioned--Citronelle is kind of cold and noisy, though the food can be fabulous. Tosca is an italian restaurant you can consider--we have always had good meals there, it is centrally located. I would also throw into the mix KInkead's, which is seafood.
For French I highly suggest Bistro Bis which would meet your price point and is very nice, always fresh.
For Italian what about Sonoma, Tosca, Dino, Siroc or Spezie? They are all very nice with good food. I think Tosca and Spezie are a little bit more formal maybe more conducive for a business dinner. Sonoma though uses sustainable fish and other products and features a lot of local or sustainable cheeses. I am not sure about the others, but always fresh and if youlook on their websites they might say what local products they use.
i would throw proof out there too as a suggestion....very impressive wine list and fabulous food. sonoma is also a good suggestion as are many of the aforementioned. i would definitely avoid la tasca like the plague...i've had numerous terrible dining experiences there. it's a good place for drinks, but the food and service are pretty bad in my opinion.