I’m back to talk about one of my favorite topics—the DC restaurant scene!
If you’re new here, these dinner club posts were inspired by my real-life dinner club, which is now in its fourth year! Each month, we try a new-to-us, somewhat splurge-worthy DC area restaurant, and it has been such a way to explore my own city and develop deeper friendships with some gals I went to college with. In these quarterly posts, I share a roundup of some of the restaurants I ate at over the last three months. Most of the restaurants are new-to-me, but from time to time, I do include an old favorite of mine.
Over the last several months, I didn’t eat out as much as I did around the holidays—and my wallet and my waistline are grateful. When it’s super cold outside, I find myself gravitating towards wine nights in at home with friends and family instead of hitting the town. That being said, I did try some great restaurants and bars I’m excited to share with you today. And, 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.
MAISON CHERYL | CLARENDON
This place is just a couple of blocks from my apartment, but it’s tucked away on a street I don’t go down very often — it’s right across from the old Whitlows on Wilson space on Filmore Street. I met up with an old coworker here a couple of nights before Christmas and it was pretty quiet. The service was great and we loved the food; I went with the burger, which was on special, and my friend opted for a risotto. Not on special, the burger is $25, which is a lot to pay for a burger—granted, it’s waygu, but still. I would definitely go back to Maison Cheryl, but I will say that it is on the pricier side compared to what you can find at other spots in Clarendon—so just something to consider before booking a reservation or stopping by.
CARUSO’S GROCERY | HILL EAST
It was my turn to pick our dinner club spot in January and I went with Caruso’s Grocery! It’s located in a place called The Roost, which is a luxury food hall—it seemed like a really cool spot and would be a fun place for a pre-dinner drink or a standalone meal. As is customary with dinner club, we shared everything family style. We started with the garlic bread and burrata and then split three pastas — ravioli alla Genovese, Caruso’s Alfredo, spicy Neapolitan ragu — and the chicken parmesan. This was such an amazing meal and I would love to go back! It was also a really cozy atmosphere and felt a lot like an old school Italian restaurant in NY.
RT’S RESTAURANT | DEL RAY
For my Dad’s birthday, he wanted to go to RT’s Restaurant, which he saw named as one of the best restaurants in the South in a magazine. They do amazing creole and cajun food, which is one of my family’s favorites—so it was a great pick! We started with their famous ‘Jack Daniel’s Shrimp with Jumbo Lump Crabmeat’ and then for my main, I did their pasta jambayla, which was so good. My sister also let me sneak a few bites of her gumbo, which was also amazing. The service here was excellent and it was very family friendly. I have a feeling the Urban family will be back!
THE BAR AT CAFE RIGGS | PENN QUARTER
On Valentine’s Day weekend, my sister, Jennifer, and my friend, Jackie, and I all went to see the Girls Gotta Eat live show— it was so good and a fun way to mix up our normal weekend programming. We saw the 7pm show, which ended around 9pm, and we were all on too much of a high to head home early on a Saturday night. You might recall, in December my dinner club went to Silver Lyan at the Hotel Riggs for pre-dinner drinks and as we were heading there, I noticed how lovely their lobby bar was. I love a good hotel bar, and so when GGE let out, Jackie and Jennifer indulged me and we were lucky enough to score three seats at the bar. While we didn’t eat anything—we had eaten before the show—it was a great spot and I wanted to shout it out. I loved the vibes and would love to go back again soon. I’ve also heard it’s an incredible spot for brunch!
LITTLE PEARL | CAPITOL HILL
Y’all—February’s dinner club was a treat! We decided to splurge and head to Little Pearl, which has a prix fixe offering at $85 per person. (There’s also a wine pairing available for an additional fee, but we decided to order a la carte off the menu.)
We did a pre-dinner drink at Ophelia’s Fish House—I don’t personally think this spot is anything to write home about, but after trying a few other spots on Barracks Row, we opted for it because they had four open seats at the bar. It definitely did the trick!
Then, we headed over to the main event. Little Pearl is set up like a dinner party every night—so they welcome you at the bar for a round of drinks on the house and a couple of snacks, and then they move you into their glass-enclosed conservatory for the seven course dinner experience. They started us off with a non-alcoholic drink to cleanse our palette, and then it was onto the bubbles for me. (They also had two cocktails and variety of non-alcoholic options!) For snacks, they did their amazing air-whipped “angel eggs” and a sweet bread.
The menu at Little Pearl changes often, so I can only speak to what we had, but some of my favorites were the vegetable crudo, the white fish with truffle, their take on chicken and potatoes, and the dessert. They send a chef out with each course to give you an overview of the dish.
My only complaint was there was sometimes a lot of down time between each course—it’s nice to have a leisurely meal, but this felt a little stretched out at times. The glass conservatory was such a cool spot to eat dinner, and it felt very cozy on the cold winter night we went.They send you home with a warm chocolate chip cookie and a jar of milk, which was such a nice touch! Little Pearl would a great spot for a special occasion or a fun night with any foodies in your life.
PS—if you go, definitely check out the restroom! 😉
WREN | TYSONS CORNER
I work for Capital One, and since the pandemic forced us into a primarily work from home environment two years ago, there have been so many great additions to Capital One Center. On site, a new hotel, The Watermark, has opened up, and Wren is the restaurant in the hotel. My coworker and I went to check it out and we loved it—I am sure whenever we do go back to the office more often this will be a popular spot, and I am not mad about it. We split the edamame, shishito peppers, Tokyo chicken, and the waygu beef burger and everything was excellent. It was also a stunningly beautiful space!
NOBU | WEST END
OMG—so, obviously Nobu is a very popular and well-known restaurant with multiple locations across the US—but this was my first time at one and it was so good. The DC location is located in West End, and it feels very much like a NY or LA restaurant—it’s almost like you’ve stepped out of DC for the night.
Everything we ate here was so delicious! We did the yellowtail jalapeño, shishito peppers, lobster tacos, waygu dumplings, crispy rice with avocado and spicy tuna (my absolute favorite thing we ordered!), and split four rolls — the house roll, spicy tuna, yellowtail jalapeño, and salmon avocado. We had a plan going into the meal about what we wanted to order, and I was glad we did because our waiter definitely tried to upsell us at any opportunity—but other than that, it was an awesome experience. I would go back to Nobu in a heart beat!
THE LOFT AT LENA’S | ALEXANDRIA
Just last week, I went to The Loft at Lena’s with two friends from high school! Located right near the Braddock Road Metro Station, Lena’s is a really popular, family-friendly pizza place. Upstairs is an extension of the restaurant called ‘The Loft at Lena’s’, which rotates themes throughout the year. They serve a similar menu to the main Lena’s downstairs, with a few additions that tie back to the theme. When we went, it was still their winter theme—a nod to the 1920s Jazz Age, which was super fun. We especially loved the beautiful peacock wallpaper behind the bar.
We all opted for pizza—when in Rome, you know?! I did the margherita pizza and it was great. If you’re in NOVA, add this spot to your list for sure.