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1. LE DIPLOMATE

This venue regularly has a long line when its doors open for dinner seating. They do not take reservations for parties with less than six people and seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis. The tapas menu is eclectic and features small and family style dishes. With seasonal offerings, a recent menu included such delicious dishes as beef ribeye tartare, pickled ramps and crispy potatoes, grilled quail with Brussels sprouts, Caesar and apples..


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2. Komi

Johnny Monis is gathering quite a following for himself in his tiny Dupont Circle restaurant. Komi’s low-key dining room, a straight shot from front window to kitchen window, is home to some of the most adventurous eating in the city; the youthful chef is essaying New American cuisine with nods to his Mediterranean heritage and whatever else strikes his fancy.


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3. Fiola

When chef Fabio Trabocchi opened Fiola in 2011, he quickly established his new trattoria as the place to go in Washington for exquisite, sumptuous Italian. Pastas, naturally, are the stars of the menu, especially the tender pappardelle with bolognese ragu. But seafood plays a strong supporting role, and the bar offers a serious cocktail menu, including six different variations on the negroni. An order of bomboloni—Sardinian-style ricotta donuts—is a fitting end to a decadent evening..


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4. Zaytinya

Another José Andrés original makes the list because of its status as a maker of men. Many of DC’s top chefs who’ve gone on to open their own restaurants did a stint in this high-volume, high-pressure kitchen, churning out tasty Mediterranean small plates. Zaytinya has also managed to convert thousands of Brussels sprout haters into loyal fans with one spectacular dish.


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5. Little Serow

The opening of this hip, underground Thai restaurant allowed those priced out of Komi to try Johnny Monis’ food for less ($45 instead of $125). The lines that quickly began to form outside the no-reservations Little Serow demonstrated something else too. DC palates were changing -- diners were okay being along for whatever ride the kitchen threw at them, including heat, funk and fermentation.


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6. LE DIPLOMATE

A restaurant has to be pretty buzzy to attract folks from the Hill who generally prefer not to stray more than 100 yards from the dome (you know, in case there’s a vote). Or more steak to be had. Dinner at Le Diplomate often becomes an exercise in who’s who in DC, in large part because the food and wine satisfies. Le Dip (the adorable name regulars drop) is also important because it’s Stephen Starr’s first DC restaurant. He’s like the José Andrés of Philadelphia..


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7. Marcel's

With soft lighting, elegant white doorr, this French and Belgian cuisine venue is epitome of fine dining. Menu items change daily but the high quality of each meal does not. Choose from four, five, six or seven course meals. For those who love to attend shows at the Kennedy Center, be sure to check out Marcel's three course pre-theater dining menu. Some selections to try include the smoke salmon carpaccio, the roasted Berkshire pork loin or perhaps the melting hot chocolate cake. The price tag even includes an executive car service to take you to and from the venue.


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8. Rasika

Rasika brings the delicacy of upmarket Indian cooking to Washington. One of restaurateur Ashok Bajaj’s empire, which also includes the Oval Room, Bombay Club, 701, Ardeo+Bardeo and Bibiana, Rasika is under the creative eye of Vikram Sunderam, who ran the kitchen at London’s Bombay Brasserie for 14 years. Grouped into categories including "chaat", "tawa" and "tandoor", the menu covers much ground, with ample choices for both vegetarians and carnivores.


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9. Oyamel

Oyamel is emerging as one of the district's top upscale casual dining options. The menu features creative interpretations of modern, urban Mexican food – snacks or small dishes, tacos, ceviches and desserts. The guacamole is even made fresh at your table! You may want to take the Metro here because the drink menu is so enticing. Several different interpretations of the margarita are offered as well as house cocktails, wines and beers. Resident experts will also guide you through tastings of tequilas and mezcals.


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10. Izakaya Seki

A brisk walk from the main drag of restaurants and bars near U and 14th streets, NW, Izakaya Seki is tucked into an unassuming and narrow, two-floor row house. Choose to eat upstairs in the dining room or downstairs at the chef’s bar. Either choice is equally no-frill; coat hooks are just about the only décor. When it comes time to choose what to drink, brace yourself for page after page of sake selections. Your server is your best ally here. The salmon roe hand roll—with its barely warm rice and fresh roe—will put you in a state of nirvana.


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