Foodies won’t want to miss this foodie fast track of locations that have won accolades:
Ambar is known for delivering a true “Balkan Experience,” Eastern European cuisine. The Michelin Guide advises, “come armed with an appetite” to enjoy 40-something small plates, each with a unique take on the Balkans along with an impressive list of rakia, a classic spirit made from quince or plum. Try the best dishes from the Balkan Peninsula with a modern twist.
Busboys and Poets
Shirlington offers guests an intimate setting that has become pretty popular with neighbors and residents in the surrounding communities. Part coffee shop/restaurant, part art house, part performance arena, and all with the increasingly familiar Busboys atmosphere and mission, urban villagers are able to create a community without having to venture far from home. In close proximity to the Signature Theatre and the Shirlington Library, Busboys and Poets at Shirlington Village creates an environment where shared conversations over food and drink allow the progressive, artistic and literary communities to dialogue, educate and interact.
Circa is a chic and modern neighborhood bistro, with an energized social scene, serving burgers, pastas and salads. Meals are accompanied by an extensive wine list, a seasonal cocktail list and a rotating local craft beers. During warm weather, the patio offers a vibrant dining experience. A hummus appetizer, margherita flatbread, barbecue chicken flatbread and braised short ribs are on the menu. It’s a favorite for many professionals in the area who frequent it for happy hour.
Here’s a well-kept dining secret you can get in on: The Art Institute of Washington (1820 N. Fort Myer Drive, 12th floor) serves lunch and dinner at Culinaire, their student-run restaurant. Reservations are strongly suggested, and open dates vary depending on the school calendar. A Yelp reviewer put it this way: “Upscale food and dining for very low prices. The food was delicious and my boyfriend and I got two appetizers, two entrees, and a dessert for about $35 total.”
Green Pig Bistro
Green Pig Bistro aims to serve “food that is hearty, not heavy” and sustainable with proper technique.
It’s classic rustic French cooking with a decidedly American push: solid and basic yet approachable dishes. A communal chef’s table made of repurposed barn wood, wall coverings made of pages from cook and culinary books and antique knife and kitchen utensil collections will make your foodie self feel right at home. Green Pig Bistro delivers “comfort foods you crave,” and Washingtonian Magazine rated it among its “Very Best 100 Restaurants.”
Under the direction of Chef José Andrés and his team, Jaleo brings alive the spirit and flavors of Spain through a traditional and cutting-edge tapas experience. Jaleo’s Crystal City location, with its high ceilings, private and semi-private rooms, the restaurant offers an impressive assortment of Spain’s traditional small dishes, sangria and fine Spanish wines and sherries.
Seen on shows such as Good Morning America and Iron Chef America, Chef Morou Ouattara, executive chef and owner, combines French, African and Middle Eastern cuisines. Says Star Chefs: “The food is so creative and unexpected it defies any easy label, but fully lives up to the chef's descriptive of "modern tribal cuisine."
Experience Lebanese food and culture at this family-owned Arlington restaurant. “The Lebanese Taverna Pentagon City’s modern yet casual design transports you to Beirut with Middle Eastern music and décor,” writes the Dining Traveler. You won’t go wrong with beef or lamb shawarma, chicken shawarma or falafel, hummus, fattoush, and Lebanese rice.
Palette 22 embraces art and creativity, incredible flavors from around the world, and showcases it all in a cool space. Part restaurant, part art gallery, the menu features fusion cuisine from around the globe, all plated artfully. The architecture and interior design of Palette 22 bring together industrial elements, a mid-century modern aesthetic, the feel of an artist’s studio, and an open display kitchen in a late Art Deco base building.
See ice cream flash frozen before your eyes. Nicecream starts by combining fresh local grass-fed cream and local ingredients from nearby farms. Using liquid nitrogen, ice cream is frozen on the spot to create the freshest handcrafted cup of ice cream you can get.