Palena (Closed)

3529 Connecticut Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20008


Neighborhood: Upper Northwest, Cleveland Park

Cuisines: Modern, American

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

Wheelchair Accessible: Yes

Nearby Metro Stops: Cleveland Park

Price Range: Very expensive

Noise Level: Intimate

Reservations: Recommended


Best Dishes:
Roast chicken; truffled cheeseburger; any of the soups; any pâté, terrine, or sausage; pastas; cookie plate.

Price Details:
Three-course menu, $57; four-course menu, $66; five-course menu, $75.

Special Features: Wheelchair Accessible

100 Very Best Restaurants 2014: Palena and Palena Café

No. 17 on this year's list.

It’s a terrific time to try both the low-key cafe and the formal dining room at Frank Ruta’s Cleveland Park stalwart. The more casual room’s two most famous dishes—roast chicken and a cheeseburger—have never tasted better, and a seasonal salad of warm vegetables in walnut-anchovy dressing honors gorgeous ingredients with beautifully balanced flavors.

In the hushed dining room, choose from three- or five-course prix fixe menus featuring lovely fish dishes such as cardamom-rubbed, rare-grilled tuna, and fluke crudo with passionfruit sabayon. Despite the occasional disappointment—roasted red peppers overpowered one clunky salmon-and-shrimp dish—this remains a best bet for special-occasion dining.

Cafe open: Monday through Friday for dinner, Saturday for brunch and dinner. Dining room open: Tuesday through Saturday for dinner. 

Don’t miss: In the cafe: Salad with beets and hazelnuts; brodetto, a broth with fennel, halibut, and shrimp; cookie plate. In the dining room: Pan-roasted sablefish; gnocchi; kabocha-squash agnolotti; wood-grilled venison; chocolate torte.