DC's Hip Neighborhood Restaurants and Bars

Don't miss out on trying these restaurants and bars that are helping to revitalize some of Washington, DC's trendiest neighborhoods.

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Over the past decade, Washington, D.C., has grown in popularity as a destination for foodies and new eateries owned by world-renowned chefs such as Jose Andres and Wolfgang Puck. And some of D.C.’s hottest restaurants and bars are thriving — not downtown, but in the middle of what have become the city’s trendiest transitioning neighborhoods: Logan Circle, Shaw and the U Street Corridor. Here’s our list of some of the best restaurants and bars to sample if you’re visiting one of these hip ’hoods.

B Too

b-too, restaurant, dining room, washington, dc

b-too, restaurant, dining room, washington, dc

Photo by: Scott Suchman

Scott Suchman

Cuisine: Belgian

Neighborhood: Logan Circle

Get a taste of Belgium at B Too. This classy restaurant serves traditional and contemporary Belgium food, including braised rabbit and plums, a wild mushroom waffle, and Flemish beef stew with red cabbage, Belgian frites and mayonnaise. After opening Belga Café in Southeast D.C., chef Bart Vandaele — a contestant on Bravo’s 10th season of Top Chef — continues on his mission to get Belgian food on the map in the nation’s capital. Patrons can choose from a diverse selection of signature cocktails and wines, hand-picked from wineries in Spain and Burgundy, France. And it wouldn’t be an authentic Belgian experience without a list of beers, including Stella Artois, Leffe Blond and Hoegaarden, to pair with your food or enjoy during happy hour.

Baby Wale

baby wale, restaurant, interior, dining, washington, dc

baby wale, restaurant, interior, dining, washington, dc

Photo by: The Washington Post/Getty Images

The Washington Post/Getty Images

Cuisine: American

Neighborhood: Shaw

It’s easy to walk past this restaurant without noticing it, but Baby Wale stays busy by courting out-of-towners visiting the nearby convention center and locals stopping by for light fare and spirits after a long day at work. Although it serves primarily American food, Baby Wale mixes it up with a seasonal menu of run-of-the-mill and eccentric choices such as crispy, Filipino-style spring rolls; a New Jersey hot dog with fries; Sapporo-style ramen; a lobster salad sandwich; duck confit, cassoulet style; and meatball casserole made with lamb, antelope, beef, tomato sauce and mozzarella. If nothing else, stop by, grab a cocktail and unwind with friends while the sound of go-go music adds to the restaurant’s sophisticated but eclectic vibe.

Barcelona Wine Bar & Restaurant

barcelona wine bar, restaurant, patio, outdoors, washington, dc

barcelona wine bar, restaurant, patio, outdoors, washington, dc

Photo by: Barcelona Wine Bar

Barcelona Wine Bar

Cuisine: Spanish Tapas

Neighborhood: Logan Circle

Headed by executive chef John Critchley, Barcelona uses farm-to-table ingredients to make some of the most delicious small plates. Spiced beef empanadas, chorizo with sweet and sour figs, a watermelon radish salad, crispy calamari and spicy eggplant caponata are just a few must-try dishes. This restaurant is the perfect place for open-air dining when the weather permits. The restaurant’s floor-to-ceiling doors open to expose customers to the outdoor patio. Seated inside or outside, groups of two or more people can share large-portion dishes such as paella and mixed grill platters with an assortment of sausage, steak and seafood. Pair these dishes with a pitcher of sangria, or select a bottle of wine from Barcelona’s elaborate list.

Estadio

estadio, restaurant, interior, dining, washington, dc

estadio, restaurant, interior, dining, washington, dc

Photo by: Stacy Zarin Goldberg

Stacy Zarin Goldberg

Cuisine: Spanish Tapas

Neighborhood: Logan Circle

This was the first Spanish tapas restaurant to open along the 14th Street corridor. Estadio’s 19th-century décor — Spanish tile, marble, custom steel-and-wood stools, communal tables and bullfighting/flamenco murals — transports guests to a different time. But it’s not the décor that takes center stage at this eatery. Its main focus is on the chefs’ interpretation of classic dishes found in northern Spain. Try the house-made country pate; the skewered, jamon-wrapped fig; the crispy duck breast; and the wild mushroom croquetas with red peppers. And you can’t leave here without choosing a Spanish wine from a list of more than 250 labels. Estadio’s popularity hasn’t waned since its opening, so reservations are strongly recommended.

Ghibellina

ghibellina, restaurant, interior, dining room, washington, dc

ghibellina, restaurant, interior, dining room, washington, dc

Photo by: Amir Lowery

Amir Lowery

Cuisine: Italian

Neighborhood: Logan Circle

Stop by Ghibellina, and continue your Mediterranean food crawl in the Logan Circle neighborhood. Owners Ari Gejdenson and Ralph Lee, who are childhood friends and business partners, lived on Via Ghibellina in Florence, Italy, and this Italian gastropub pays homage to the town by serving up an array of authentic Tuscan dishes. The mezzi rigatoni al sugo d’agnello with lamb, tomato, mint and pecorino is delicious. In addition to the pasta, the pizza is made on-site with fresh ingredients. A variety of wine, beer and cocktails are offered here, but we recommend trying one of its signature drinks: Spezia, sangria Piazza Signoria or the campanile, made with Ezra Brooks bourbon, Becherovka, apple cider, ginger shrub and cinnamon.

The Gibson

the gibson, interior, restaurant, room, washington, dc

the gibson, interior, restaurant, room, washington, dc

Photo by: The Gibson

The Gibson

Cuisine: No Food Service (Try Marvin next door.)

Neighborhood: U Street Corridor

Thirsty patrons have mistakenly bypassed the Gibson’s unmarked entrance. A throwback to the speakeasies of the 1920s, the dim, candlelit lounge has a bar that spans almost the entire length of the first floor. It’s a pretty popular spot for private parties, so seating at the tables and booths can fill up quickly during the weekend. I would suggest making reservations and sitting outside on the quaint patio in the back on a warm spring or summer night. More seating is provided upstairs, including comfy sofas for upscale patrons. The Gibson’s mixed concoctions can lift the spirits of the most finicky customer. How can you not be intrigued to taste cocktails with names such as Bananas in the Places They Shouldn’t Be, I Been Drankin, Sugar & Spice, Come Harder and the Frank Underwood, made with malort, apple brandy, kummel, Campari and lemon? You can’t! Resident mixologists often update the bar’s one-page menu with new, innovative cocktails.

Le Diplomate

le diplomate, interior, dining room, window, restaurant, washington, dc

le diplomate, interior, dining room, window, restaurant, washington, dc

Photo by: Le Diplomate

Le Diplomate

Cuisine: French

Neighborhood: Logan Circle

Whisk that special someone off to Le Diplomate for a romantic date. Enjoy brunch, a midday meal or dinner with French classics such as steak frites, onion soup gratinee, beef bourguignon, foie gras parfait and escargots. Anyone who visits this bustling restaurant will clearly recognize how it pays homage to French café culture. You may be lucky enough to snag a table outside, so you can watch people pass by while snacking on light fare. Sample a fresh-baked croissant with a cup of cappuccino, or opt for a made-in-house baguette with an assortment of regional French cheeses and a bottle of wine chosen from an extensive list. Bon appétit!

Masa 14

masa 14, restaurant, menu, food, appetizer, washington, dc

masa 14, restaurant, menu, food, appetizer, washington, dc

Photo by: Masa 14

Masa 14

Cuisine: Asian Fusion

Neighborhood: Logan Circle

With the success of their new restaurant, Toro Toro, chefs and restaurateurs Richard Sandoval (seen on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters) and Kaz Okochi have opened seven restaurants in the D.C. area, including Masa 14. This spacious, sophisticated restaurant and bar serves Latin-Asian small plates for its happy hour, bottomless brunch and dinner, and yes, it also serves guests late-night dishes. Menu items include a hijiki seaweed-jicama salad, Korean grilled hanger steak, hoisin- and chipotle-glazed salmon, and signature sushi rolls such as the scorpion roll, made with prawn tempura, avocado, sesame-chipotle mayo, eel sauce and tobiko. During the spring and summer, young professionals flock to the restaurant’s rooftop bar to sip on drinks from a long list of wines, beers, tequilas and signature cocktails. Daily specials and gluten-free options are also offered here.

Pearl Dive Oyster Palace

pearl dive oyster bar, restaurant, interior, dining, washington, dc

pearl dive oyster bar, restaurant, interior, dining, washington, dc

Photo by: The Washington Post/Getty Images

The Washington Post/Getty Images

Cuisine: Seafood

Neighborhood: Logan Circle

This restaurant is the place for oyster connoisseurs, offering guests a variety of East Coast and West Coast oysters, such as Old Black Salt oysters and Kumamoto oysters. Headed by chef Jeff Black, Pearl Dive Oyster Palace has a menu that also includes shrimp gumbo, crawfish etouffee, wood-grilled gulf redfish and coriander-panko-crusted fluke flounder. In addition to offering what it calls the widest variety of high-quality oysters in the city, this oyster bar touts its commitment to serving the freshest seafood. Other options are provided for non-seafood eaters. Stop by for the happy hour drink and food specials, including the half-price draft beers and two-for-one local oysters. You don’t want to miss eating at one of America’s best oyster bars, according to Food & Wine magazine.

Table

table restaurant, menu, fried food, washington, dc

table restaurant, menu, fried food, washington, dc

Photo by: Table Restaurant

Table Restaurant

Cuisine: Modern European/French

Neighborhood: Shaw

Table offers locally sourced American cuisine with a classic French twist in D.C.’s historic Shaw neighborhood. The sustainable, French-country décor provides patrons with a warm, welcoming place to sample beetroot soup, lamb belly cassoulet, Burgundy snails, Fukuoka Fish Market ceviche, and venison stew while watching the chefs prepare their meals. If you can afford it, try the five-course Grand Tasting menu with wine pairings, but be prepared to spend at least $120 per person. Table has been open for only two years, but it has garnered praise and recognition as one of Washingtonian magazine’s 100 “very best” restaurants in 2014 and one of Bon Appetit’s 50 best new restaurants in America in 2013.

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