94. Et Voila! ★★
5120 MacArthur Blvd., NW; 202-237-2300
Cuisine: Sturdy Belgian bistro classics, generous pours from French boutique wineries, a well-chosen Belgian beer roster, and a short menu of wonderful desserts—many of them centered around Callebaut chocolate—make chef/owners Claudio Pirollo and Mickael Cornu’s restaurant one that would be welcome in any neighborhood.
Mood: The modish space could fit right into the bustling bistro scene in Brussels—ivory and orange walls and clear wall panels embedded with grasses and leaves.
Best for: A relaxed meal with friends or a significant other.
Best dishes: Any of the carefully dressed salads, but especially the chopped endive with Chimay cheese and pecans; silken gravlax with crème fraîche and a wedge of olive-oil pancake; a robust carbonnade à la flamande (a kind of beef stew) spiked with dark beer; a flavorful organic Meyer-beef burger with Chimay and bacon; crisp golden fries; a standout chocolate mousse; Belgian waffle with poached pear and dark chocolate.
Insider tips: As good as many plates are, there are some disappointments—the hanger steak and moules with garlic and white wine being two. The owners recently introduced a menu of savory and sweet crepes at brunch, and the early results are promising; we like a version with ham, cheese, and egg.
Open Monday for dinner, Tuesday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday and Sunday for brunch and dinner. Moderate.
93. Cedar ★★
822 E St., NW; 202-637-0012
Cuisine: At this Penn Quarter newcomer, chef Andrew Kitko’s Modern American menu offers just a handful of appetizers and entrées, forgoing the chance to dazzle diners with elaborate dish descriptions and instead emphasizing his commitment to execution. Simple though his dishes are, many are elevated by house-made touches such as duck bacon and pickled figs.
Mood: The contemporary dining room evokes the Pacific Northwest with wood-trimmed walls and photos of giant cedars. A friendly staff and soft lighting keep the small, subterranean dining room from feeling like a basement.
Best for: Happy hour, when there are $5 deals on beer, wine, and cocktails; brunch; an after-work dinner with office pals.
Best dishes: Creamy oyster pan roast with leeks and Jerusalem artichokes; beet salad with pickled figs and goat-cheese fondue; pork-belly BLT (lunch and brunch) and smoked-salmon eggs Benedict (brunch); poached lobster atop a sort of deconstructed clam chowder; filet mignon with potato-porcini gratin and roasted carrots; trumpet mushrooms and poached egg over lentils; pumpkin-pecan tart; apple-almond brown-butter cake; Red Burro cocktail with ginger beer and blackberry purée.
Insider tips: The bar is small, but the bartenders are friendly and eager to whip up special requests.
Open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday for brunch and dinner, Sunday for brunch. Expensive.
92. Faryab ★★
4917 Cordell Ave., Bethesda; 301-951-3484
Cuisine: Subtle spicing and assured cooking—from vegetable stews to open-faced meat-and-leek-filled dumplings—set a high standard for the area’s Afghan restaurants.
Mood: Afghan textiles and rugs give the white-walled space a gallery-like feel, but when tables fills up, conversation can get lively, transforming one of Bethesda’s most intimate hideaways into a convivial party.
Best for: Families and groups who enjoy sharing; vegetarians.
Best dishes: Fried appetizer pastries such as bulanee (with leeks) and sambosa (with meat and chickpeas); open-faced dumplings known as mantu (with meat) and aushak (with scallions), blanketed with creamy yogurt and meat sauce; quabili pallow, a fragrant heap of brown basmati rice studded with carrots, raisins, and braised lamb; stewed pumpkin with yogurt sauce; melting eggplant; spinach with onion and garlic.
Insider tips: Several dishes are finished with dabs of tomatoey meat sauce and yogurt, which can make for a meal of redundancies; mix it up when ordering. Desserts are not a high point.
Open Tuesday through Sunday for dinner. Inexpensive.