It’s no secret that I love trying new-to-me restaurants in DC and make sure to prioritize eating out—sharing good food and drink with family and friends is one of my favorite way to spend both my time and my money. I’ve been doing these restaurant roundups on a quarterly basis, and am so excited to share all the great meals I’ve been enjoying this summer around the DC area with you today.
If you’ve been to any great restaurants in the DC area lately—please don’t hesitate to let me know! I keep a running list of places I want to try and am always looking for new spots to try out.
DAUPHINE’S | DOWNTOWN NEAR McPHERSON SQUARE
I love New Orleans and I love cajun food, so when I first heard about Dauphine’s, it jumped to the top of my list. I also knew my friend Kristyn feels the same way about New Orleans, so we did girls’ night here earlier this summer. Done by the team behind The Salt Line, Dauphine’s offers classic Louisiana fare and the interior also has a ton of nods to the Big Easy—their center bar is especially gorgeous!
Kristyn and I split a cheese and charcuterie board and oysters to start, and then I did the seafood gumbo as my main. It was delicious—but it still wasn’t as good as my mom’s! Regardless, I would definitely go back—this would be a great spot for a special occasion or to take your parents.
SUPRA | LOGAN CIRCLE
Supra was my dinner club’s June restaurant—for those of you unfamiliar, my dinner club meets once a month to try a new-to-us DC restaurant, and we usually pick splurge-type restaurants. We also share everything, even if the restaurant isn’t tapas or family style—it’s a great way to try a ton on the menu!
Supra serves up Georgian food, and we went on a chillier, rainy night and it was the coziest atmosphere—so I definitely think this would be a great spot to head to once the temperature drops! I wasn’t all that familiar with Georgian food, but it was all really good—lots of meat and potatoes, so definitely come hungry. The ajaruli was my favorite—it was a big piece of bread shaped like a boat with cheese and an egg mixed into it. We also really liked the Khinkali Qvelit, which were soup dumplings.
MAKAN | COLUMBIA HEIGHTS
Makan was our July dinner club spot—and like June when we tried Georgian food for the first time, July was the first time we tried Malaysian food. The vibe at Makan was really fun—it was lively, with a partially open kitchen and a really good playlist. We sat inside, but they also had a really fun looking patio.
We split some really amazing food here. We did the sate yam, which was chicken sate with peanut sauce, kerabu mango, which was mango salad and so good, char kway teow, which were street noodles (this was my favorite dish!), kl cii pan see, which were spicy hakka noodles, and beef rending. For condiments we did sambal and acar nenas.
MORRIS AMERICAN BAR | MOUNT VERNON SQUARE
Morris American Bar is one of my favorite places to grab a drink in DC! I hadn’t been since before the pandemic and was excited to return. My friend Rachel, who I interned with at Conde Nast, visited DC in July and we came here for a pre-dinner drink. They do have some small bites, but I’d recommend coming here for a pre- or post-dinner drink, and I would also recommend getting a reservation. We sat on the bar and tried a few different cocktails—this is also the type of place where you could tell the bartender what you like and they can mix you up something you’ll enjoy.
SAN LORENZO | MOUNT VERNON SQUARE
After drinks at Morris American Bar, my friend Rachel and I walked over to San Lorenzo. This place was amazing—I had only been for a drink before, but the food was incredible and I will definitely be back. This restaurant is on the smaller side, so I probably wouldn’t come here with a larger group, but it would be the perfect spot to enjoy some delicious Italian food with 2-4 friends.
We both started with the burrata and arugula salad and split the tuna tartare—it was amazing, you have to order it if you go! They also bring out fresh baked bread and olive oil for the table. As my main, I did veal ravioli, which was a special that night. It was delicious.
I can’t recommend San Lorenzo enough!
CRAZY AUNT HELEN’S | CAPITOL HILL
I went to Crazy Aunt Helen’s in Capitol Hill with some girl friends for dinner on a Monday night—it was a great way to mix it up, and I always am reminded how charming Capitol Hill is and how I need to get over there more often.
Truth be told, I was kind of meh on this place—it did just open this summer, so I would give it the benefit of the doubt and go again. It was also decorated by the team behind Little Miss Pixie’s, which is one of my favorite vintage stores in DC, so it at least had that going for it!
Where it went wrong in my book was that the service was bad, and the food was just so-so. Our table all ordered burgers, but our server came back three or or four times to clarify our asks—even though they weren’t allowing any tweaks to the menu. The burgers were a lot of bun and less meat, and the fries were really soggy.
I know it is really hard to be in restaurants right now, so I’d definitely give them the benefit of the doubt and try it again—if for no other reason than to go back and admire the decor.
REVELER’S HOUR | ADAMS MORGAN
I loved, loved, loved Reveler’s Hour! It’s done by the team behind Tail Up Goat, which is another one of my favorite restaurants in DC. I came here with some friends from high school and the ambiance was really nice—the lights were all down really low, which let the beautiful bar shine—and it wasn’t too loud.
We started with the garlic knots and then each did a pasta—they rotate their menu rather frequently, but I did a really fresh pasta with limes, jalapeños, and sun dried tomatoes. It was unlike anything I had ever had before, and it was really good.
BARCA | OLD TOWN ALEXANDRIA
Barca had been on my summer bucket list ever since it opened earlier this year and it didn’t disappoint. Located in Old Town Alexandria, it’s located right on the water, so it offers unparalleled views of the Potomac! My sister Jennifer and I came here on a Monday night after work—if you want a table, you’ll definitely need to get reservations and they book up really far in advance. The bar is first-come, first-serve, but there’s no guarantee there will be a spot available, which is why I definitely recommend reservations.
They serve up Spanish-style tapas, and the food was so good—we definitely over-ordered because it all sounded so good, but we did patatas bravas, gambas al ajillo, croquettes, pan con tomate, and fresh tzatziki with pita bread.
While we were eating dinner, a huge summer thunderstorm rolled through. Luckily, the restaurant does have a way to close off three sides of it to elements with clear plastic, so we were able to stay mostly dry—but it definitely made for a more exciting dinner than we bargained for!
THOMPSON ITALIAN | FALLS CHURCH
August dinner club was at Thompson Italian, which was GREAT! Definitely make a reservation here and go as soon as you can—it is so good, and you almost wouldn’t expect it given it’s on a small strip mall near downtown Falls Church. My family ate here once for Mother’s Day several years ago and I forgot just how amazing the food was.
We started with burrata and peaches, meatballs, and garlic bread, and then split four pastas—the rigatoni, ricotta cavatelli, eggplant ravioli, and a truffle mushroom special. They were all so good, I’m honestly not sure which one was my favorite! For dessert, we did the cheesecake, which was definitely my favorite, the chocolate mousse, and a piece of chocolate cake.
I usually am not one that thinks restaurants are cold, but it was freezing in Thompson Italian, so definitely bring a jacket or wear something with sleeves!
CARVEL ICE CREAM | VIRGINIA SQUARE
Ever since I’ve lived in Arlington, I’ve wanted to get ice cream at this Carvel! Jennifer and I put it on our summer bucket list and met here one night after work for a sweet indulgence. The night we went, it was very drizzly, but we sat under an umbrella and it was totally dry. It definitely won’t take me years to go back here again—even if the small is $7!
WHINO | BALLSTON
This is a new wine bar at the Ballston Mall, which opened earlier this summer. I worked across the street from the Ballston Mall for five and a half years and am still in awe of how nice the Mall is now whenever I go over there. I liked Whino fine, but I much prefer screwtop wine bar or Verre Wine Bar. What turned me off a little bit from Whino was that there were birds flying around in the restaurant, presumably that flew in from the Mall, but when we told our waiter, he was very unconcerned—it just seems a little unhygienic to me.
One thing I did appreciate was that Whino had a nice happy hour that goes until 8pm—we loved the sliders which were on the happy hour food menu and ended up ordering another round. We also tried a summer salad, the gnocchi, and polenta tempertots. The food was good, but again, I am just really partial to screwtop wine bar‘s food!
I’d probably recommend just going to Whino for a pre-dinner drink to take advantage of their happy hour, and then eat elsewhere.