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From ‘Good Eats” to Fine Dining, D.C. Has Something for Everyone

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Today D.C. ranks #8 in “America’s Best Restaurant Cities” by Esquire magazine. When attending the PRSA 2014 International Conference, where should you begin? Here are just a few restaurants.

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Editor’s note: This is the second post in a series of guest posts from the PRSA National Capital Chapter publicity committee leading up to the PRSA 2014 International Conference, October 12 – 14. Follow the Conference conversation by searching the hashtag #PRSAICON and following our PRSA National Events Twitter handle, @PRSAevents.

It used to be the Washington dining scene was known mostly for its downtown “power-lunch” spots, formal dinner parties along Embassy Row or the dives on Capitol Hill for starving congressional staffers.

Then a funny thing happened in our nation’s capital. Ambitious young chefs started moving in and opening interesting new eateries. Ethnic neighborhoods blossomed and there was suddenly a vibrant restaurant scene. Add in D.C.’s Southern roots and an emphasis on farm-fresh ingredients, and you have a gastronomical mixing bowl.

Today D.C. ranks #8 in “America’s Best Restaurant Cities” by Esquire magazine. In fact, the TV show Top Chef taped a season in D.C.  And many  D.C. area chefs have participated in the 12 seasons of Top Chef competitions including Bryan Voltaggio, Mike Isabella, Spike Mendelsohn, and Carla Hall–a host on  ABC’s The Chew.

photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc

So where to begin? Here are just a few restaurants:

Ardeo + Bardeo, 3311 Connecticut Ave., NW (202-244-6750) $$$ – Are you an oenophile (wine lover)? Then this is the perfect place to savor great wine, while dining on modern American cuisine incorporating Asian and Mediterranean influences. Named to Washingtonian’s “100 Best Restaurants” for three years running.

Cleveland Park Bar & Grill, 3421 Connecticut Ave., NW (202-806-8940) $$ – Yes, sports fans, there is a local sports bar, and it’s known to have good, wood-fired, brick-oven pizza.

Lavandou 3321 Conn. Ave. NW, (202-966-3002), $$$ – Promising a taste of Provence this restaurant features a broad menu using farm-fresh ingredients including a variety of herbs.

Lebanese Taverna, 2641 Connecticut Ave., NW (202-265-8681) $$ – This local chain, started by Lebanese immigrants, is a favorite of vegetarians and is known for its authentic food including kibbeh and baba ghanoush.

Medium Rare, 3500 Connecticut Ave., NW (202-237-1432) $$ –You get STEAK, bread, salad and fries all for $19.75. And the service is quick, too.

Palena, 3529 Connecticut Ave., NW (202-537-9250) $$$ –Named in The Daily Meal’s “America’s 20 Best Italian Restaurants,” Palena has a casual café with moderately priced a la carte items and an upscale dining room with a three- and five-course prix fixe menu.

Ripple, 3417 Connecticut Ave., NW (202-244-7995) $$$ – Ripple’s chef Majorie Meek-Bradley has been named a James Beard “rising star” semifinalist. Ripple says its focus is on “sustainability, organic and locally acquired produce, and a good time.”

Other restaurants worth checking out a little further away:

Bombay Club, 815 Connecticut Ave., NW (202-659-3727) $$$ – This well-known Indian restaurant was ranked #10 in Washingtonian’s “100 Very Best Restaurants of 2014.”

CityZen, 1330 Maryland Ave., SW (202-787-6148) $$$$ – Located in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, this restaurant The Washington Post describes the restaurant as “a world-class culinary experience.”

Jaleo, 480 7th St., NW (202-628-7949) $$$ – This modern Spanish tapas restaurant has become a favorite spot.

Mintwood Place, 1813 Columbia Rd., NW (202-234-6732) $$ – Named one of the “Best New Restaurants of 2013” by Condé Nast Traveler, this Adams Morgan restaurant has been visited by the Obamas, among others. The food is inventive and fun—described as modern farmhouse and French-influenced American.

Old Ebbitt Grill, 675 15th St. NW, (202-347-4801) $$- As the oldest dining saloon in D.C. and located near the White House, Old Ebbitt serves American Cuisine, and offers the largest selection of oysters in D.C.

Restaurant Nora, 2132 Florida Ave., NW (202-462-5143) $$$ – Billed as America’s first certified organic restaurant, Restaurant Nora has been a Dupont Circle institution since 1979, serving fresh, local ingredients in New American dishes.

Vidalia, 1990 M St., NW (202-659-1990) $$$ – James Beard Award Winning Chef Jeffrey Buben describes his cuisine as regional American with a heaping serving of Southern influence.

Zaytinya. 701 Ninth St., NW, (202-638-0800) $$$ – Listed in Washingtonian’s 100 Best Restaurants, celebrated chef José Andrés offers an innovative mezze (small plates) menu inspired by Turkish, Greek and Lebanese cuisines served up in an award-winning modern setting.

Jay Morris is president of Jay Morris Communications LLC, an independent PR and marketing firm in Alexandria, Va. He serves on the PRSA-NCC board and blogs at


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