100 Best Restaurants 2009: Marvin

No. 100: Marvin

Cuisine: DC legend Marvin Gaye is the inspiration for a menu that veers from Belgium (he lived there for two years) to the American South. The big plates of fried chicken and waffles that seem to sail endlessly out of the kitchen’s window every night are well worth ordering; otherwise we’ve had better luck with the Euro side of the menu.

Mood: Owned by the guys behind Local 16 and 18th Street Lounge, this hangout stays jammed on weekends, in both the rooftop bar and the downstairs bistro. The dining room exudes a smoky brand of cool with raw light bulbs and a reggae soundtrack that competes with the laughter and conversation.

Best for: Dinner with friends who value scene as much as food; a meal before hitting the bars on U Street; Belgian-beer aficionados.

Best dishes: Frisée-and-watercress salad with apples, Roquefort, and lardons; seared foie gras over caramelized onions; French fries with three dipping sauces; chicken and waffles, that Harlem Renaissance–era classic; seared halibut in beurre blanc; bacon-topped burger on a brioche bun.

Insider tips: Appetizers are sized for sharing, as are desserts, although the sweets we tried—pumpkin cheesecake, profiteroles—were skippable. After dinner, head to the roof, where heat lamps and bottles of Delirium Tremens keep revelers toasty in winter.


Open Monday through Saturday for dinner. Moderate.

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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.