The Hungry Man’s Guide to Father’s Day

Brasserie Beck’s moules frites with garlic and white wine. Photograph by Polly Wiedmaier.

For the beer-loving dad: Our area now boasts a handful of places where even an avid beer connoisseur can taste some new brews. At Brasserie Beck, beer director Bill Catron presides over one of the largest Belgian-beer selections in the country, and he’s always happy to pour a taste of anything on tap and talk shop with enthusiasts or inquisitive novices. Chef Robert Wiedmaier’s hearty plates—including house-ground lamb sausage with lentils, rabbit braised in kriek beer, and enormous pots of mussels with frites—are great complements to the first-rate suds. At Alexandria’s Rustico, Greg Engert’s beer list is comprehensive and eclectic, and he’ll pair your choices with comfort fare from chef Frank Morales—anything from gourmet pizzas to mac ’n’ cheese laden with mushrooms, pancetta, and Asiago cheese.
•Brasserie Beck, 1101 K St.; NW, 202-408-1717;
•Rustico, 827 Slaters La., Alexandria; 703-224-5051;

For the dad on a diet: Maybe Mom’s been giving him a hard time about his eating habits and now Dad is finally watching his cholesterol. Don’t ruin his progress with a fat-and-calorie-laden meal. Head for Sushi-Ko in Glover Park or Chevy Chase and order a mix of sushi and sashimi, as our nutrition experts suggest. Rock Creek, at Mazza Gallerie and in Bethesda, offers nutritional facts for all its menu items, and nothing tops 500 calories—that includes the luscious sablefish in Thai red curry broth and a rack of lamb with butternut squash and lentils. Or spend some time together outside and plan a picnic in Georgetown with tasty designer salads from Sweetgreen followed by sorbet—made from fruit from the farmers market—at Dolcezza.
•Sushi Ko, 2309 Wisconsin Ave., NW, 202-333-4187; 5455 Wisconsin Ave., Chevy Chase; 301-961-1644;
•Rock Creek at Mazza, 5300 Wisconsin Ave., NW, 202-966-7625; Rock Creek Bethesda, 4917 Elm St., Bethesda, 301-907-7625;
•Sweetgreen, 3333 M St. NW; 202-337-9338;
•Dolcezza, 1560 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-333-4646;

For the foodie dad: So Dad’s more likely to be glued to the Food Network than to ESPN, subscribes to Gourmet and Cook's Illustrated, and knows who won James Beard Awards last week. Surprise him by booking a table at one of the city’s most revered culinary destinations—it’s unlikely that you’ll get a last-minute reservation for Father’s Day, but you can always present Dad with a homemade gift certificate announcing your dinner date. If a splurge is in order, we’d try for José Andrés’s avant-garde, six-seat Minibar or Johnny Monis’s Greek-accented Komi—both are intimate and unconventional and will provoke lots of conversation about each delicious bite you take. Don’t have that kind of cash? Dad will surely appreciate the $50 three-course meal in the lounge at recent Beard Award winner Eric Ziebold’s CityZen. Or, for just $13.95, you can treat him to a two-course lunch at Restaurant Eve’s bar.
•Minibar, 405 Eighth St., NW; 202-393-0812;
•Komi, 1509 17th St., NW; 202-332-9200;
•CityZen, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 1330 Maryland Ave., SW; 202-787-6868;
•Restaurant Eve, 110 S. Pitt St., Alexandria; 703-706-0450;

For the serious carnivore: If your father loves nothing more than red meat, he’ll find nirvana at Fogo de Chao in DC’s Penn Quarter, where servers dressed in traditional gaucho garb proffer 15 different cuts carved tableside. There’s sirloin, filet mignon, beef and pork ribs, leg of lamb . . . and a massive salad bar, but feel free to ignore it. The fixed-price dinner is $49.50 ($32 at lunch) and includes all you can eat—turn your coasterlike disk to green and the gauchos will appear with their skewers of meat; flip it to red for a break. If that sounds like too much money (or just too much meat), check out Thirsty Bernie’s, the casual new Arlington spot from charcuterie master Jamie Stachowski. At the now-closed Restaurant Kolumbia, Stachowski won loyal fans for his charcuterie boards loaded with house-cured meats. Sure enough, there’s often a “Stachowski sampler” of meats on the menu at Thirsty Bernie’s as well as three meat-lovers sandwiches: the Polish chef’s beef on weck, kielbasa, and house-made pastrami on pumpernickel.
•Fogo de Chao, 1101 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 202-347-4668;
•Thirsty Bernie’s, 2163 N. Glebe Rd., Arlington; 703-248-9300.

For the vegetarian dad: Let’s not get too caught up with the meat-loving-dad stereotypes. Maybe yours would prefer a stir-fry of tofu to a big hunk of beef. Many ethnic spots are great picks for vegetarians. Try Passage to India in Bethesda for outstanding vegetable curries (or Saravana Palace in Fairfax for an all-veggie menu of dosas, uthapams, and idlis); Huong Que for a vegetarian-friendly Vietnamese menu that includes an excellent pot of caramelized tofu with chilies and lemongrass; or Joe’s Noodle House, with its separate 93-item menu of vegetarian Chinese dishes.
•Passage to India, 4931 Cordell Ave., Bethesda; 301-656-3373;
•Saravana Palace, 11725 Lee Hwy., Fairfax; 703-218-4182;
•Huong Que, 6769 Wilson Blvd., Falls Church; 703-538-6717.
•Joe’s Noodle House, 1488 Rockville Pike; 301-881-5518;

For the beach-bumming dad: If Dad’s spending this weekend nostalgic for the calls of seagulls and the whiff of salty air, head to Tackle Box, Barton Seaver’s New England-style fish shack in Georgetown. You can have a casual round of fried clams and lobster rolls at an indoor picnic table, or if you’re actually headed to the beach (or would rather eat at home), pick up a lobster pot ($40 per person)—packed with Maine lobsters, grilled onions, Quahog clams, mussels, chorizo, corn on the cob, lemons, and rockweed—to go. Either way, don’t miss pastry chef Heather Chittum’s excellent blueberry pie, made with Maine blueberries. If Dad’s more of a crab fiend, the jumbo lump crab cakes at Bobby’s Crabcakes in Rockville are hard to beat and also travel remarkably well.
•Tackle Box, 3245 M St., NW; 202-337-8269;
•Bobby’s Crabcakes, 101 Gibbs St., Rockville; 301-217-0858;

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Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.