Cuisine: DC’s preeminent seafood emporium, a bastion of the traditional, regionally rooted American cooking that has fallen from favor with the influx of trendy, high-concept restaurants.
Mood: A mix of sophistication and conviviality, polish and accessibility. High-rollers, tourists, conventioneers, politicos—all flock to Bob Kinkead’s Foggy Bottom brasserie for the fresh fish and seafood, nightly jazz piano, assured pacing, and extensive wine list.
Best for: Groups with cautious or persnickety diners, oyster lovers (five varieties are flown in fresh every day), travelers seeking sure-handed preparations of regional delicacies such as shad roe and soft-shell crab.
Best dishes: Butternut-squash ravioli in brown-butter sauce garnished with sage and pancetta; butter-poached lobster with shell-bean succotash; fried Ipswich clams with tartar sauce; elegant Chesapeake-oyster stew; the city’s definitive crab cake; delicately fried soft shells (in season); crab-imperial-stuffed cod with ham spoonbread; crispy skate wing with cauliflower flan; milk-chocolate tart with salted peanuts, peanut-butter ice cream, and a duo of sauces (caramel and vanilla).
Insider tips: Dine at the bar, where—steep prices notwithstanding—the atmosphere is unpretentious, even boisterous. The veteran barmen, quick to chime in with a quip, lend the place the air of an Irish pub—and mix an incomparably smooth Manhattan.