Washington’s dining scene is now better than ever, with both newcomers and beloved stalwarts making long-awaited (re)appearances. Whether you’d like to sip on glasses of frozé atop Navy Yard’s largest rooftop or feast on seafood boils from a laid-back bicoastal outpost, here’s where to dine out in D.C. right now.
Hello Betty (Bethesda)
Hello Betty, a coastal Californian import by Denver-based Sage Restaurant Concepts, opened in April in North Bethesda’s Canopy by Hilton. The 3,000-square-foot space showcases the best of the Golden State, with skateboards and colorful murals adorning the airy interiors. An inventive seafood-centric menu features everything from shrimp tacos and fire-roasted oysters to mid-Atlantic favorites such as Maryland-style seafood boils and crab cakes, served with apple-celery root slaw and whole grain aioli. For cocktails, head to the 40-foot boat bar for a refreshing summer shandy or strawberry basil margarita.
Takoda (Navy Yard)
Opened in early June just across the street from Nationals Park, Takoda’s second D.C. location is home to Navy Yard’s largest year-round rooftop. In addition to longtime favorites from the original Shaw location, such as Old Bay tater tots and boneless chicken wings, the menu also includes a selection of salads, build-your-own burgers, and a happy hour that runs all week long. The expansive, 7,000-square-foot space features a botanical rooftop mural and a tiled island bar—aesthetic nods to the original location. You’ll also find several cocktails on tap plus 16 different pitchers of beer, as well as refreshing glasses of frozé and tropical rum-based shooters.
Dovetail (Logan Circle)
This swanky indoor-outdoor restaurant, which opened in May inside the Viceroy Logan Circle, marks the debut of yet another hot new hotel restaurant. James Gee, a Jaleo and China Chilcano alum and former executive chef of the Italian American favorite, I’m Eddie Cano, helms the kitchen here. Gee displays his varied culinary expertise in the flavorful and seasonal menu, brimming with cleverly titled plates such as the You Can’t Tuna Piano, a fennel-crusted tuna crudo with puréed beets, black garlic molasses, and goat cheese, and the Chicka Chickaah—buttermilk fried chicken thighs, served with garlic dill pickles, pepper slaw, and Old Bay fries.
Il Piatto (Downtown)
Classic Italian cuisine reigns supreme in this late June opening by acclaimed local restaurateur Hakan Ilhan. Taking over the former Mirabelle space, Il Piatto features freshly made pasta such as fettuccine bolognese and seafood linguine, as well as mains like the chicken Milanese. The menu also showcases Neapolitan chef Lina Nicolai’s southern Italian heritage through dishes such as white fish baked with zucchini, clams, mussels, and white wine. A roomy sidewalk patio can seat up to 60 guests. Craft cocktails like a martini, spruced up with house-made limoncello, are not to be missed.
Vermilion – Alexandria (Alexandria)
A new chef and an overhauled exterior are what’s in store for diners at Vermilion, a long-standing fixture in Alexandria’s charming Old Town district, which re-opened in mid-July. Order an old fashioned at the cozy, first-floor bar—there are over 75 whiskies to choose from—before heading upstairs to the second-floor dining room, where a wall of expertly curated wines and views of historic King Street await. Helmed by chef Ben Pflaumer (an alum of the MICHELIN-starred Masseria), the restaurant showcases mid-Atlantic flavors and produce, best reflected in plates such as the potato ravioli with Chesapeake Bay oysters and lemon balm.
After a long COVID-19 hiatus, this vibrant Lao bar in Shaw finally resumed indoor dining this April. Bar director Al Thompson draws diners with his selection of colorful cocktails, using unique Southeast Asian-inspired ingredients such as calamansi and brown butter condensed milk. The concise food menu by chef Seng Luangrath contains only six dishes—including a limited selection of food critic Tom Sietsema’s favorite whole chicken leg, steamed in banana leaf and served with a prickly ash berry sauce.
Christabel Lobo is a food and travel writer based between Washington, D.C. and south India. Find her on Instagram @whereschristabel and Twitter @wheresbel.
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