Details

Palena Cafe (Closed)

3529 Connecticut Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20008

202-537-9250

Neighborhood: Upper Northwest, Cleveland Park

Cuisines: Modern, Italian, American

Opening Hours:
Open Monday through Saturday 5:30 PM to 10 PM.

Wheelchair Accessible: Yes

Nearby Metro Stops: Cleveland Park

Price Range: Moderate

Noise Level: Chatty

Reservations: Not Needed

Website: http://www.palenarestaurant.com

Best Dishes:
Fried lemons, onion rings, and potatoes dauphinoise; house-made hot dog with German potato salad; roasted chicken; cheeseburger; raviolini stuffed with duck or oxtail; corned brisket; gnocchi; charcuterie.

Price Details:
Cafe menu, $10 to $14.

Special Features: Wheelchair Accessible, Kid Friendly

100 Best Restaurants 2010: Palena / Palena Cafe

No. 18: Palena and Palena Cafe

Cuisine: You won’t see chef Frank Ruta crisscrossing town to hit his other restaurants (he doesn’t have others), or hawking his book (he hasn’t written one), or doing publicity events (he claims shyness). Almost without fail, Ruta stays in his kitchen, a subterranean lab where he churns out an array of French- and Italian-inspired dishes for his restaurant and casual cafe that ride the border between lustiness and elegance.

Mood: This is two restaurants in one, so it depends: The one in the back, more formal, conjures a drawing room, all faded elegance. Up front is the cafe, a casually elegant setting where diners feel free to carry on and pass plates.

Best for: Jaded palates.

Best dishes: An Asian-spiced roast chicken; truffled cheeseburger; any of the exquisite and wholly original soups; any pâté, terrine, or sausage that appears on the nightly menu; the rotating roster of pastas, ranging from a simple and immensely satisfying pappardelle with ragu to more intricate and refined arrangements; cookie plate.

Insider tips: On Mondays, Ruta combines his cafe and restaurant menus, making for interesting high/low eating full of variety and affordability; diners can, if they wish, have a burger and a delicately roasted turbot, too.

Service: •••

Open Monday through Saturday for dinner. Moderate to expensive.

See all of 2010's 100 Best Restaurants