Takoma Park has long been known for loud and lively debate, but until Jeff Black’s Republic arrived two years ago, it had never been known for loud and lively restaurants—the kind where people crowd the bar and the din approximates that of a party at full volume. Few restaurants, including the other five places in Black’s portfolio, have even half as much character as this one, with its boudoir-like red booths, antique brass lamps, and a box radio by the host stand. The greatest rewards are the simplest—a tray of perfectly shucked Skookum oysters from Washington state, a bowl of mussels (its divine tomato broth could stand alone as its own dish, to be soaked up with crusty bread), a shrimp po’ boy to make a New Orleanian forget home. With bigger plates, the cooking tends to lose its clarity. As at all of Black’s restaurants, desserts are a highlight, delivering homey satisfaction.
Don’t miss: Goat-cheese crostini; falafel platter; brick chicken with chorizo; pan-roasted swordfish; chocolate-salted caramel tart; apple-pie doughnut.