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August 22, 2014
Your 14th Street Dining Guide
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The stretch of bars and restaurants on 14th Street is getting national notoriety, not to mention loads of local attention. Since DC's new playground for food and drink can be overwhelming, we're here to help you plan a perfect night out with these 10 superlatives:
Most Underrated Happy Hour: Kapnos
Kapnos has a happy hour that can easily double as dinner. That's because 11 “bites” are offered at $5, like a mini lamb gyro fresh off the restaurant's signature spits or grilled haloumi dressed in black pepper honey. You can also select three Greek dips for $12 to go along with their crave-worthy flatbread. Drink wise, you're sipping on $5 beer, $6 wine, and $7 kegged lemonades. Happy hour is offered 5-7pm Mon-Fri (always) and Sat-Sun 12-7pm (through Labor Day).
Best Pizza: Etto
There's pizza, and then there's Etto pizza. The perfect pies seem to have spurred a bit of a cult following in DC. It helps that the corner restaurant is a cousin of the ever-popular 2Amys. Their pizzas range from a super simple Margherita to a more creative roasted cauliflower pie topped with capers, pine nuts, anchovy and breadcrumbs. It's a texture and flavor bomb you won't soon forget, probably because of the perfectly imperfect dough.
Most Consistently Awesome: Estadio
We haven't found anyone who's had a bad meal at Estadio. One of the earlier eateries to open its doors on 14th continues to provide a consistently excellent array of Spanish tapas utilizing high-quality ingredients. Despite the gargantuan volume of restaurants that have opened, Estadio is packed every night with people enjoying the sexy red and gold setting, boozy slushies, gourmet montaditos, and everything else the menu has to offer from the mind of Haidar Karoum.
Best Value: G by Mike Isabella
Every night when the clock strikes six, the sub-slinging G by Mike Isabella converts into an Italian trattoria of sorts. A four-course Italian tasting menu (with an optimal supplement) is served from 6-10pm for $40 per person. It encompasses a robust antipasti platter that's big enough to feed the Sopranos. Then, a primi pasta course arrives like these fluffy gnudi, followed by a more substantial secondi course. Finally, Italian desserts. Wine pairings are offered for an additional $29, and a vegetarian version is available. You'll leave super full for $40.
Best Cocktails: 2 Birds 1 Stone
Adam Bernbach is both a genius behind the bar and a budding artist. Upon grabbing a seat in his sleek, underground lair, you're presented with a cocktail menu in cartoon form. Adam's both hand-drawn the menu and handcrafted the drinks. One of his best tricks is making unique sodas like the banana soda currently featured in his "Bananas is My Business" cocktail. The bar had previously been out of reach for some, with cocktails topping out at $14, but just this month they added classic cocktails for a little less ($10), including a delicious Adonis sherry cocktail.
Best Date: Le Diplomate
France is the undisputed champion when it comes to most romantic country. Thus, Logan Circle's little taste of Paris doubles as an excellent date night pick. The restaurant hums with people having a true night out on the town, and the wine program is top notch. Impress her (or him!) by starting with a cascading seafood tower, or “Fruits de Mer Plateau.” After all, it's studded with oysters—a well-known aphrodisiac.
Best New Restaurant: Compass Rose
Set your navigation to Compass Rose to try the best restaurant that opened on 14th Street in 2014. Well, just off 14th Street, given its T Street address. The cozy brick restaurant from Rose Previte and husband David Greene (pictured), is inspired by their travels. That's why the menu is like a game of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego. Former Jaleo chef JohnPaul Damato commands the kitchen, firing off street food from Peru, Sicily, India and everywhere in between. Note that it doesn't take reservations, so arrive early.
Best Bar to be Scene: Barcelona Wine Bar
Barcelona Wine Bar is a meat market in both senses. They purvey an impressive selection of charcuterie like coppa, speck, and chorizo picante. But, it also serves as a great spot for singles on the prowl. People are so eager to be seen on the picturesque patio that they'll skip out on work early or dawn an umbrella and sit out there in the rain. The inside bar is no different—it's packed with people asking wine-fueled questions like, "Wanna go on a date?"
Most Adventurous: Doi Moi
Dishes at Doi Moi can be bold and brazen, and not just because of the spice factor. They're not afraid to introduce people to new flavors like durian fruit flavored cake. To most, the exotic fruit tastes like diesel fuel. The Southeast Asian eatery from Mark Kuller and executive chef Haidar Karoum also serves: grilled house made sour Isaan sausage; hot and tasty grilled radish cakes; a savory ground duck & duck liver salad (pictured); and other rarities.
Best with Kids: Ted's Bulletin
Fourteenth Street isn't entirely an “adult swim” situation. There are a few spots that are both welcoming and fun for kids. Ted's Bulletin is the best of the lot, and not just because it's revived the popular childhood breakfast of Pop Tarts (pictured). The classic Americana, old-timey feel is a nice change of pace, as are the regular-sized portions in a sea of small-plate restaurants.
See You in a Week
We're taking next week off to upgrade our technology and recharge our batteries. We pride ourselves on being active members of the commercial real estate community—out at events, in-person interviews—and keeping up with you takes energy. When we return, expect more scoops, more photos, and more moorings (if we're doing a story about a port).