You’ve come to the right place if you’re looking to be in the know about D.C.’s latest restaurant openings — this fall brings a Parisian bistro, Louisiana-inspired quarters, French fine dining, a waterfront seafood grill, and a lively Peruvian spot to the city. Here are the top five must-book restaurants in D.C. this fall.
Le Sel (Dupont Circle)
A French bistro is the latest addition to the Kimpton Banneker Hotel, opened in June. Le Sel’s name — “salt” in French — makes its way onto the menu through dishes such as classic onion soup with smoked salt and steak tartare with sea salt lavosh. Staying true to its American locality, produce is sourced from farms in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, then prepared with French techniques. The patio and dining room are connected by French windows in that je-ne-sais-quoi way that’s effortlessly chic.
El Secreto de Rosita (U Street)
Edgy Peruvian spot El Secreto de Rosita, from restaurateur Mauricio Fraga-Rosenfeld of Latin Concepts group, found its home this May where his hookah bar Chi-Cha Lounge used to stand on the bustling U Street NW. Chef Cristian Granada, formerly of Xiquet by Danny Lledó, has been whipping up Criollo cuisine, with Japanese and Chinese influences in dishes such as teriyaki de pollo (chicken tempura with red pepper) and chi jau kay de carne (stir-fried ribeye with soy orange reduction), both served with rice. Ceviche holds its own category on the menu with five options; pair any with a pisco cocktail, and you’re good to go. The trendy vintage interior with nude paintings hanging on the walls acts as the backdrop to live Latin music and DJs come nighttime, in classic U Street fashion. Stop by the adjacent cafe morning through midday for fresh empanadas, pastries, and coffee.
The unmistakable charm of New Orleans is encapsulated in this early May opening in Downtown, serving up style and stellar food from James Beard Awards finalist Kristen Essig, who brings more than 20 years of experience in Louisiana with her. Ritzy caviar crudité sits alongside Louisiana comfort fare such as seafood gumbo and pommes soufflé with sauce béarnaise. The raw bar displays a selection of smoked catfish dip, shrimp cocktail, and oysters for days, while the boucherie presents charcuterie and muffaletta sandwich boards. The grand dining room is a showstopper — the interior is a nod toward the NOLA aesthetic with colorful prints, gold embellishments, and marble accents. Top it off with a cocktail with a story behind it, like the historic St Charles Punch (cognac, port, lemon) dating back to 1862.
La Bise (Downtown)
A French makeover took place this past year at powerhouse dining favorite Oval Room, which once hosted the likes of the Clintons and George H.W. Bush, transforming it into modern French restaurant La Bise. Named after the French double cheek kiss greeting, it’s designed to be a place for people to reconnect after the pandemic separation. New executive chef Tyler Stout, previously of Troquet on South in Boston, helms the kitchen with refined dishes such as the duck breast with corn, blueberry, confit leg pressé cannelloni, and huckleberry jus. The elegant dining room is finished with deep blue tones and framed prints, with several private dining options. D.C. elites are sure to stop by to see this remodel that opened in June.
The Point (Southwest Waterfront)
It’s not every day you can arrive at your dining destination by land or river. This new wood-fired seafood and grill restaurant, opened this past April, sits along the marina at the new Buzzard Point development, where Anacostia and Potomac rivers converge. The menu is fittingly full of seafood in dishes such as oozing crab dip doughnuts, wood-roasted oysters with blue crab miso butter, ora king salmon with peach tamarind curry, and roasted diver scallops with yuzu kosho beurre blanc. Dine indoors where the expansive restaurant can seat 280, or take advantage of the 140-seat outdoor patio. Still to come are a sushi bar and boardwalk shop selling fried shrimp rolls and ice cream.
Tried them all? Check out other options here.