Cathal Armstong’s ode to rustic comfort cooking riffs on such classics as celery-root soup, meatloaf, and seafood stew, which is all to the good. Bargains such as Nana’s Sunday Dinner ($78 for a three-course meal for four) and the Royal Pick lunch ($12 for an entrée and soda or iced tea) draw a lively crowd to the retro-modern dining room and bar.
911 King St.; 703-837-9117; majesticcafe.com. Moderate to expensive.
If there was ever a restaurant for guys’ guys, it’s this sports-oriented spot. While you’re watching Tiger Woods or the Skins, you can fill up on bar snacks such as fried ravioli with marinara sauce, fried green tomatoes with shrimp, and fried okra with ranch dressing. Not everything is a cholesterol jolt: The “skinny” chicken with lemon-butter sauce and lightly bound crab cakes are worthy plates, too. Then you can feel a little less guilty about a slice of Elvis Pie, an Oreo crust teetering with banana, peanut butter, and whipped cream.
220 N. Lee St.; 703-535-3340; theoverwood.com. Moderate.
Cathal Armstrong nudged Old Town’s food revolution with his innovative seasonal cuisine in this stylish townhouse. The bar, airy bistro, and elegant tasting room each has its own charms, and the food is by turns rustic and delicate, with such dishes as bacon-egg-and-cheese salad, lobster-and-lemon ravioli, house-cured pork belly, and an inspired charcuterie platter with sausages and terrines made in-house.
110 S. Pitt St.; 703-706-0450; restauranteve.com. Tasting room, very expensive; bistro, expensive; bar, moderate.
With Greek-American dining so predictable, it’s refreshing to find a place that turns the template on its head. A Greek sampler is a treat, with its delicious spicy feta spread, grape leaves wrapped around cheese and rice, and garnishes of anchovies twirled around olives. Baked shrimp are stuffed and smothered with lump crab, and the broiled sirloin patties are a savory party of herbs and onion. Finish with the house-made tiramisu—not especially Greek but pleasing nevertheless.
1225 Powhatan St.; 703-548-2747. Inexpensive.
This shabby-swank rowhouse is home to one of the area’s most talented young chefs. Equinox alum Tony Chittum marries a dedication to local ingredients with a devotion to craftsmanship: Not only are the pastas and pâtés house-made; the sausages and scrapple are, too. He handles delicate (an arugula salad with goat cheese and marmalade) and decadent (Duroc pork two ways with rich polenta) with equal finesse. On weekends, look for one of the best brunches around.
1120 King St.; 703-684-9669; vermilionrestaurant.com. Expensive.