The flower-filled stone patio at L’Auberge Chez François feels as if it’s plopped in the middle of French wine country, with grassy fields that anchor dramatic sunsets. This Alsatian-style Great Falls inn is known for such classics as coquilles St. Jacques, choucroute, and plum tart.
Steps from the bustle of Penn Quarter, the courtyard garden at Poste is an eclectic mix of neoclassical architecture and modern metal furniture. Cocktails such as the Basil Lemontini—with Kettle One and basil lemonade—are handcrafted, and bar snacks go beyond the ordinary; we like the artichoke fritters with green-goddess sauce, house-made warm pretzels, charcuterie and cheese boards, and the grass-fed-beef burger.
A reflecting pool gives a Zen-like serenity to the patio at Black’s Bar & Kitchen—a good thing because this Bethesda hangout is usually hopping. Boutique oysters shucked at the raw bar, smoky wood-grilled hanger steak with chimichurri sauce, and crispy fried chicken make for a menu with something for everyone.
Above the U Street corridor, the roof deck at Marvin is the place to hang with friends and work your way through some of the 30-odd Belgian beers on the lengthy list. The mood is lived-in bistro, with distressed brick walls, wood plank floors, and flickering votives. Snacks such as burgers and Belgian frites with dipping sauces are served Sunday through Thursday, but on weekends, when the crowds descend, it’s drinks only.
The cobblestone alley leading to Leopold’s Kafe & Konditoriei in Georgetown feels Old World; so do tables nestled around a miniature fountain. Like any cafe worth its salt, Leopold’s buzzes with conversation, and when it comes to food, you can go light, as in artful open-faced tea sandwiches—we like the egg salad and smoked salmon—or opt for a more serious meal such as veal schnitzel with Austrian potato salad.
Overlooking a shimmering lake ringed with woodlands, the terrace at 2941 Restaurant is a serene spot for a leisurely lunch of Frenchified Modern American fare such as duck breast with black-radish salad. In the evenings, classic and creative cocktails rule—think Tom Collins or Scottish Tonic—as do bar snacks on the order of yellowfin-tuna tartare with blood orange and fennel. The three-course bar tasting menu is a deal at $30.
This appeared as part of The Washingtonian's July 2009 Best of Washington issue.
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