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Best of Georgetown 2012: Where to Eat in Georgetown

Georgetown’s eateries offer special-occasion splurges, creative salads, and loads of decadent sweets—including rich gelato, feathery croissants, and the area’s best cupcake.
The Buffalo Stomp at Thunder Burger & Bar is a bison patty topped with Gorgonzola and grilled onions. Photograph by Jeff Elkins.

Time to Celebrate

Citronelle (Latham Hotel, 3000 M St., NW;
202-625-2150)—chef Michel Richard’s flagship and the grande dame of the
area’s fine-dining scene—is closed for repairs. If you’ve got a special
occasion to toast, instead head to 1789 (1226 36th St.,
NW; 202-965-1789), in a Federal-style rowhouse lined with antique maps and
flowered wallpaper. Chef Anthony Lombardo is putting an Italian spin on
what has been a staunchly American menu, enriching a peach salad with
knobs of burrata cheese and pairing the famous rack of lamb with
polenta and ricotta-stuffed peppers.

The French institution La Chaumière (2813 M
St., NW; 202-338-1784) is rustic and casual, but flourishes such as
attentive service and Grand Marnier soufflés still make it feel special.
Hearty appetites can indulge in Emmental-and-Gruyère-capped onion soup, a
lovely boudin blanc, and classic quenelles of pike in a rich lobster
sauce.

Afternoon Pick-Me-Ups

With cupcake, gelato, and candy shops galore, Georgetown is a
mecca for sugar fiends. Check out Fleurir Hand Grown Chocolates
(3235 P St., NW; 202-465-4368) for artful chocolates in flavors
such as wattleseed-toffee and Grand Marnier-and-orange-blossom, plus
gift-worthy bars stuffed with bacon and smoky caramel.

Macarons, feathery croissants, and Breton-style butter
cakes are the things to pick up at Pâtisserie Poupon
(1645 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-342-3248), a narrow and minimalist French
bakery/cafe. The charming, brick-enclosed back patio is our favorite place
to sit.

For something lighter, head to the Argentinean-style gelateria
Dolcezza (1560 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-333-4646), which
has scoops ranging from piquant gin-spiked cucumber sorbetto to luscious,
chocolate-flecked stracciatella.

Although the cupcake competition is fierce in this city, the
fudgily iced Chocolate Satin cupcake and the Razmanian Devil, a lemon
cupcake with raspberry-jam filling, have us convinced that Baked
& Wired
(1052 Thomas Jefferson St., NW; 202-333-2500) is the
standout.

Pie Sisters (3423 M St., NW; 202-338-7437) is
a bit off the main drag, which means you aren’t likely to encounter
hourlong lines. Go for a wedge of rich coconut cream or double-crusted
apple, topped with pastry hearts.

Burger Crawl

The lounge at Bourbon Steak (2800 Pennsylvania
Ave., NW; 202-944-2026), Michael Mina’s restaurant in the Four Seasons
Hotel, is known for a high-gloss crowd, cocktails that take ten minutes to
make, and increasingly, some of the best burgers in the area. Don’t miss
the prime-steak burger, a spiffed-up take on a classic featuring
house-made pickles, terrific Cabot Clothbound cheddar, and an oversize,
buttery bun. The kimchee-laden Korean-style salmon burger is a good bet,
too. Accessorize them with Mina’s famous duck-fat fries, which come with a
trio of dipping sauces and seasonings.

Looking for something more laid-back (and easier on the
wallet)? The local-beef patties at Clyde’s (3236 M St.,
NW; 202-333-9180) and the Tombs (1226 36th St., NW;
202-337-6668)—two saloons that share an owner—are hefty and just sloppy
enough.

In the try-anything-once category, there’s Thunder
Burger & Bar
(3056 M St., NW; 202-333-2888), a rollicking
joint that features burgers and sliders with unexpected fillings—kangaroo,
caribou, elk—every Wednesday night. Its more conventional Kobe-beef and
standard cheddar-and-rémoulade-topped burgers are satisfying,
too.

Night on the Town

At night, Georgetown is a swirl of J. Crew-clad Georgetown
University students, twentysomethings on bar crawls, and crisply dressed
neighborhood locals heading to dinner. For a low-key meal, dig into a
spicy, thin-crusted Atomica pie—it’s topped with salami, kalamata olives,
and hot-pepper flakes—at Pizzeria Paradiso (3282 M St.,
NW; 202-337-1245), then knock back a cask ale or rye stout at the birreria
downstairs.

On warm nights, snag a patio table at Euro-mod Kafe
Leopold & Konditorei
(3315 M St., NW; 202-965-6005), where a
style-conscious crowd nibbles on excellent salads (kale and Parmesan,
cucumber and yogurt) and tender bratwurst over tangy sauerkraut. Or hit it
for dessert—the chocolate-mousse-filled domes and chocolate-apricot sacher
tortes pair well with Viennese-style coffee.

Have a late-night craving? The chef-and-bartender haunt
Bistro Français (3124 M St., NW; 202-338-3830) serves
classic French bistro fare—steak frites, roast chicken—until 3 am
during the week, 4 am on weekends.

Finally, read our
critics’ takes on two new Georgetown restaurants—Mike Isabella’s Mexican
small-plates spot Bandolero and the Modern
American Unum.

Let’s Get Lunch

There are outposts of the salad chainlet
Sweetgreen (3333 M St., NW; 202-337-9338) all over now,
but the tiny original is here. The Georgetown grads who opened it have
earned success with high-quality produce from local farms and innovative
bowls such as the Curry Gold, which mixes roast chicken, almonds, dried
cranberries, spinach, and beets with pineapple-yogurt
dressing.

Simple sandwiches and flatbreads are the thing at the chic
Puro Café (1529 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-787-1937), and
there’s no better place to enjoy them—plus an effervescent, mint-flecked
house-made lemonade—than the loungey garden, complete with billowing red
canopies and sleek ottomans.

At Cafe Divan (1834 Wisconsin Ave., NW;
202-338-1747), linger over rounds of kebabs and Turkish mezze such as
feta-filled pastries called sigara borek, patties of lamb
kofte, and minty yogurt dip with garlic and peppers.

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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.