100 Best Restaurants 2012: Circle Bistro

From soulful bistros to high-gloss steakhouses, there's lots of good eating in DC, Maryland, and Virginia


In warm tones of cinnamon and apricot, this dining room and lounge, a favorite of Kennedy Center patrons, gives off a pleasing glow. The menu is short, but chef Ethan McKee, formerly of Equinox, has a way with flavor. Using local, sustainable ingredients, his plates draw on influences from Morocco to France to Korea but never feel strained. If the service seems a bit amateurish, the goodwill usually makes up for it.

What to get: Butternut-squash soup with cayenne-dusted pumpkin seeds; chopped salad with hearts of palm, avocado, artichokes, and truffle vinaigrette; rib-eye steak (we like it with the winey hunter’s sauce) and crispy fries; trout amandine with lemony brown butter, haricots verts, and marble potatoes; at lunch, pork confit on baguette with pickled vegetables and chilies; lemon meringue tart.

Open Monday through Friday for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Saturday and Sunday for breakfast and dinner. Moderate.