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Happy Birthday!: Our Favorite Places to Blow Out the Candles
Comments () | Published July 8, 2009
Celebrate under the stars:

Poste. At this Penn Quarter brasserie, chef Rob Weland grows herbs on the restaurant’s back patio. Situated among the potted plants is a long, marble table that can seat 6 to 12. Every night except Thursday, the patio is available for one of Weland’s Poste Roasts: Customers choose one animal—duck, goat, pig, brisket, lamb, squab, salmon, or poussin—to be spit-roasted over hickory wood. Weland serves the meat—as well as seasonal sides—family style. The cost is $27 per person; alcohol is extra. Reservations are required at least seven days in advance. A cake-cutting fee is $9.50 per person. Call Stacy Nemeth at 202-449-7062 for more information.

Surfside. This tribute to the beach shacks of Baja California dishes out high-quality tacos and quesadillas for the prices of, well, beach-shack food. On the roof deck, you’re more likely to hear honking cars than crashing waves, but it’s about as close as Washington gets to the West Coast. If you have a minimum of 50 people, you can have the roof to yourself on the bookends of dinner service: from 2 to 6 or 10 to midnight. Chef David Scribner will work with guests to custom-design a buffet. The cost depends on what you want (we suggest the fish tacos and lots of guacamole), but count on a minimum of $30 per person. Cupcakes or cakes can be ordered from the bakery Something Sweet, run by Surfside owner Bo Blair’s wife. For more information, e-mail Molly at

It’s dinner theater—sort of: These restaurants offer special tables right in front of the kitchen.

Central Michel Richard. Up to 16 people can fit at the table with a view of the kitchen at Michel Richard’s bustling, casually hip bistro. Groups of fewer than ten can order off the regular menu, while larger parties will have to put together a set menu with four choices per course. Need help deciding? We’ve liked the “faux gras” terrine ($15), fish and chips ($18), bacon-and-onion tart ($11), and tagliatelle Bolognese ($21). In lieu of a cake, you can get a larger version of Richard’s signature “Kit Kat” bar ($9 per person), personalized by the pastry chef. For more information, call 202-626-0015 and ask for a manager.

Inox. At this lavish McLean dining room, 2941 alums Jonathan Krinn and Jon Mathieson turn out some of the most intricate food around. Consider this: crispy skate wing with scallops, roasted beets, blood orange, capers, pickled green mango, and a malted-mustard emulsion. To watch them meticulously decorate their plates, ask for the private room that’s separated from the kitchen by a glass partition. For a maximum of eight guests, the duo will create a seven-course tasting menu for $125 per person, with the option of a $75-per-person wine pairing. Here’s a nice touch: If you let the restaurant know it’s your birthday, all the chefs will sign a card. For more information, call 703-790-4669 and ask for a manager.

Want to celebrate at home but don’t want to dirty the dishes? These places are great at making large quantities of takeout.

Bobby’s Crabcakes. If you’re looking to throw an at-home Chesapeake-style bash without fishing for dinner yourself, this Rockville restaurant is a local favorite for its generously portioned crabcakes ($12 each), tart/sweet Key-lime pie ($4.50 per person), and three-cheese mac and cheese ($60 for 15 people). While the seafood’s the thing to get, other options include beef tenderloin ($295 for 15 people) and chicken Parmesan ($13.75 per person). For more information, call 301-217-0858. Orders require a minimum of 24 hours’ notice.

El Pollo Rico. Of all the Peruvian rotisserie-chicken joints in Washington, it’s this one—which has locations in Arlington and Wheaton—that takes the prize for the juiciest, most flavorful birds. Count on a whole chicken ($14.20) for every three people, and round out your meal with sweet-corn tamales ($1.85 each) or fried plantains ($2.35). Head for the nearest picnic table, and prepare for some very sticky fingers. The restaurant will deliver orders of more than $100. For more information, call the Arlington location at 703-522-3220 or Wheaton at 301-942-4419.


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Posted at 12:00 AM/ET, 07/08/2009 RSS | Print | Permalink | Comments () | Articles