67. Westend Bistro by Eric Ripert ★★½
Ritz-Carlton, 1190 22nd St., NW; 202-974-4900
Cuisine: This outpost of chef Eric Ripert’s empire benefits from the spending power of its peripatetic culinary master. Among the new wave of casually elegant restaurants to hit DC, this byline bistro has evolved and now speaks with a bit of a Southern accent, with fried okra and shrimp ’n’ grits joining salmon rillettes and tuna tartare.
Mood: The slick room fades into the background, making this a surprisingly versatile choice for special occasions, dates, and business meetings. It’s neither hushed nor lively but something in between.
Best for: Happy hour at the U-shaped bar; dinner with friends, especially on the small patio in warmer months.
Best dishes: A buttery tuna carpaccio sprinkled with chives; a pot of rich salmon rillettes; a homey shrimp-and-bean soup; macaroni and cheese with ham and toasted bread crumbs; a golden-crusted fish burger with saffron aïoli; a filet of wild striped bass with Asian spices.
Insider tips: Desserts are a weak spot—the best of the recent bunch were the corn madeleines and the ginger parfait. And although the menu changes seasonally, the Web site fails to keep pace with those changes, making advance planning difficult.
Open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday and Sunday for dinner. Expensive.
66. PS 7’s ★★½
777 I St., NW; 202-742-8550
Cuisine: Chef/owner Peter Smith might dabble in ragoûts and udon noodles, but his real passion lies in mining a deep vein of regional American cooking. He has the most fun with his lounge menu, which features upscale takes on Chicago-style hot dogs (everything made in-house) and the signature French-fry-topped sandwich from Pittsburgh’s Primanti Brothers. The more expensive dining-room offerings are less fun—and less reliable.
Mood: There’s a buzz in the bar and lounge, where cocktail maven Gina Chersevani presides in her flowered apron over a bright-yellow lava-rock bar. The mood in the steely dining room is quieter and more suited for business dinners.
Best for: Happy hours or dates in the lounge (most everything is shareable); Chersevani’s excellent, outside-the-box cocktails, which feature everything from Miller High Life to marshmallows.
Best dishes: Tiny oxtail “tots”; flatbread topped with Buffalo chicken, blue cheese, and celery; snappy miniature hot dogs with house-made ketchup; tuna-tartare-filled sliders on buttery Parker House rolls; Primanti Brothers sandwich with soppresatta, shoestring fries, and a runny egg; sirloin au poivre, light on the pepper but thick and satisfying; short ribs and foie gras baked in flaky pastry; warm beignets served in a paper bag; Situation Rum cocktail with hibiscus tea; Yes We Can-ton, with Cava and pineapple; toasted cider punch.
Insider tips: A weeknight happy hour—with $3 beer, $4 wine, and half-price flatbreads—runs from 4 to 7.
Open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday for dinner. Expensive.
65. Indique Heights ★★½
2 Wisconsin Cir., Chevy Chase; 301-656-4822
Cuisine: Dynamic Indian flavors find their way into unexpected preparations, such as crabcakes (spiked with anise), Caesar salad with chicken grilled in the tandoor, and especially the lineup of chef/owner K.N. Vinod’s flavor-packed street-snacks menu. Purists can rest assured there are plenty of classic dishes, too.
Mood: A low-lit series of elegant dining rooms, outfitted with silk curtains and a gurgling fountain, is energized by brightly colored plates, glittering granite tables, and red-and-orange-striped booths.
Best for: An introduction to Indian cuisine; a filling meal after a day of shopping in the boutiques of Friendship Heights.
Best dishes: Vegetable samosa chaat, spilling with tomatoey chickpeas; crab tikki, anise-spiked crab patties with spicy coconut flakes; cayenne-rubbed tilapia with lemony rice; coconutty Malabar shrimp curry; a very peppery chicken chettinad; shreekand brûlée, a yogurt-based riff on crème brûlée studded with pistachios.
Insider tips: Midday deals abound. The all-you-can-eat lunch buffet holds about ten curries and dosas for $10.95. Weekday lunch boxes come both vegetarian ($6.95) and meat-filled ($7.95 to $8.95) and include two curries, rice pilaf, and naan.
Open daily for lunch and dinner. Moderate.