barmini (501 9th St NW)
If you’re into mixology and cocktails barmini is your heaven. The list of a la carte cocktails is extensive, but go for the full experience and get the tasting menu of about eight different cocktails for $65. They are all amazing as is the experience of watching your bartender prepare them. The snacks are limited so eat before if you’re hungry. Must make a reservation.
Centrolina (974 Palmer Alley NW)
Solid Italian food in City Center. The squid ink pasta and eggplant were highlights. The cocktails were only okay, so stick with wine or beer. They have a small store attached where you can buy pasta and other specialty food items.
Cuba Libre (801 9th St NW)
We went for the happy hour which had excellent prices, great drinks, and good food. It’s a good place to meet up with friends when you’re lost in the sea of the business area around Metro Center. They have light-night salsa dancing as well.
Daikaya (705 6th St NW)
I’ve been to both the upstairs and downstairs–and the upstairs can definitely be skipped as nothing I had there stood out. There’s a reason there’s a huge wait for the downstairs though–the ramen is delicious. We both agreed the spicy ramen was the best tasting of the two we got and that it was for sure one of the best we’ve ever had.
Graffiato (707 6th St NW)
I’ve only been to Graffiato for happy hour, but it’s another great happy hour option in the Chinatown area. The bar snacks are all yummy (we sampled the meatballs, calamari, and arancini) and a good size for soaking up all those $5 proseccos.
Jaleo (480 7th St. NW)
The tapas arm of the Jose Andres restaurants. The tapas are all quite delicious, and nice than what you get at La Tasca a few doors down. The bacon-wrapped dates are a favorite. It’s good to make a reservation.
Matchbox (713 H St NW)
If you’re looking for a more creative pizza, Matchbox is the spot. They have a wide variety of interesting pizzas, and also a really good happy hour. There are a few locations.
Momofuku CCDC (1090 I St NW)
I was so happy that right as we returned to the DMV CCDC and it’s neighboring Milk Bar opened up, allowing me to satisfy Noodle Bar cravings locally. The pork buns, as always, must be had, as well as the ramen. The menu is always changing like at the other David Chang restaurants, so try the weird and interesting stuff while it’s there.
Oyamel (401 7th St NW)
I don’t go to Oyamel for dinner as much as the happy hour. $4 Tecates and 2 for $4 tacos always hit the spot!
The Partisan (709 D St NW)
One of the best meals I’ve had in DC and one of the best dishes I’ve had in my life were at the Partisan. Attached to Red Apron butcher, the theme is obviously meat. A slow cooked lamb shoulder was one of the best dishes I’ve ever tried. The charcuterie selection is also excellent, we loved the tete de pho. Make a reservation.
Proof (775 G St NW)
Proof was a surprisingly good restaurant. The food was excellent, and the wines even better. We gave the sommelier some general descriptions of what we liked and he came back with exactly what we wanted. They do a 50% of select bottles night on Sundays, which when we went and scored an expensive bottle half price.
Zaytinya (701 9th St NW)
Of all the Jose Andres restaurants, this one is my favorite. Serving up Mediterranean small plates, the food is always fresh, bright, and delicious. They also have an excellent multi-course lunch deal!