Notable New Restaurants
2941 Locals don’t usually cross the Potomac for dinner; now they’re heading into Virginia to 2941, one of the most glamorous restaurants inor outsidetown. The glass-walled dining room has a fish-filled pond in front and stunning lake views. Jonathan Krinn’s French-American menu includes delectable mushroom-stuffed quail and a surf-and-turf pairing of scallops and roast veal tenderloin (2941 Fairview Park Dr., Falls Church, VA; 703-270-1500).
Mantis Minimalism rules at this glass-wrapped Adams Morgan spot decorated with chocolate brown couches, low tables and a Buddha perched above the bar. A chic crowd sips Cosmos and snacks on excellent pan-Asian tapas: tender beef satay, seared scallops with a luxurious saffron cream, and rice noodles with spicy pork meatballs (1847 Columbia Rd. NW; 202-667-2400).
David Greggory This self-styled “Restau Lounge” is run by two veteran Washington chefs: Greggory Hill (who cooks) and David Hagedorn (who hosts). They’ve created an art-filled space and a menu that’s whimsical but still needs fine-tuning: Deviled eggs and snapper seviche precede rabbit cassoulet (2030 M St. NW; 202-872-8700).
Ceiba Jeff Tunks, the man behind the menus at DC Coast and TenPenh, has turned his attention to Latin America. Decorated in colorful Mexican tile and rich Brazilian wood, Ceiba (not yet open at press time) uses lava rocks as bowls for molcajete: shaved beef, peppers and cheese, served with tortillas (701 14th St. NW; 202-393-3983).
Nectar Pretheater dining got a lot better when Nectar, with restaurant director Jarad Slipp and chef Jamison Blankenship, opened near the Kennedy Center. The space is simple and small; dishes like scallops with chorizo matchsticks or veal cheeks with curried lentils are seasonal and elegant (824 New Hampshire Ave. NW; 202-298-8085).
Best Dining Deals
Palena Frank Ruta, a former White House cook and an F&W Best New Chef 2001, has plenty of fans lining up to eat his haute Italian food in the restaurant’s refined dining room. But everyone likes a bargain, and there’s no more exquisite a bar menu in town than the top-notch one served in Palena’s front café. Everything is $9from the succulent roast half chicken to the hamburger served with house-made pickles (3529 Connecticut Ave. NW; 202-537-9250).
Cantina Marina America’s Gulf Coast influences much of this supercasual menu, built around satisfying oyster po’boys, crisp catfish tacos and chicken-fried steak. For the best seats, sit out on the deck, where live music plays on Friday and Sunday nights, or climb the stairs to the octagon-shaped tower. Both overlook the Potomac, and some tables also have a view of the Washington Monument (600 Water St. SW; 202-554-8396).
Chef To Watch
José Andrés Washington’s golden-boy chef José Andrés is building an empire. In addition to his role as partner at two Jaleo tapas restaurants, he presides over Café Atlántico; at the new, six-seat minibar, he’s created a menu that might include hot and cold pea-and-mint soup or jicama-wrapped salmon (405 8th St., NW; 202-393-0812). At nearby Zaytinya, where the clean blue-and-white color scheme suggests the Aegean, Andrés has set his sights on Greece, Lebanon and Turkey. From the open kitchen come dozens of luscious meze, from minty raw beef with crushed wheat to spanakopita in homemade phyllo (701 9th St. NW; 202-638-0800).