With its high-gloss redesign, joining of the main dining room and bar, and hiring of a new chef, Ardeo has become one of DC's most exciting mid-level destinations.
Owner Ashok Bajaj's million-dollar facelift has brought about a livelier, louder atmosphere, in which diners linger. The best reason to stay is Nate Garyantes's small plates--by turns elegant and homey, incorporating influences from Mexico to the Mediterranean. You can swing by to knock back half pours of wines from a wide-ranging list or indulge in a well-paced, well-priced meal.
What to get: Chicken-liver mousse; salmon rillettes with everything bagels; fritto misto with green-goddess dressing; Southwest-style green-chili/chicken soup; "carbonara" with smoked ricotta; rabbit Bolognese with ricotta agnolotti and carrot purée; suckling pig with red-eye gravy and cheddar grits; chocolate-pistachio tart; vanilla-citrus cheesecake.
Open Monday through Friday for dinner, Saturday and Sunday for brunch and dinner. Moderate.