Blue and red plate specials

Regardless of where you lie on the political or ideological spectrum, D.C. offers plenty of culinary choices

Jeffrey Bouley
WASHINGTON,D.C.—Many people think meat and potatoes when they think ofconservative folks, and they think field greens and organic grainswhen they think liberal. So, with the polarization so common in thenation's capital these days, let's have both ends of thatculinary ideological spectrum—steakhouses on one end and veggiefare on the other—with a couple other cuisines tossed in to appealto the moderates.

Thechoices below—a few of them outside the D.C. city limits—are byno means the limit of your options within those categories, nor arethey even endorsements (talk to my lobbyist about those), but they'llgive you a start on calming the stomach growls when you're donewith daily events, meetings and presentations at Neuroscience 2011.



STEAKHOUSES

1625I St. N.W., Washington, D.C.
Thisrestaurant aims for an interpretation of the American steakhouse thatcombines bistro ambiance with steakhouse fare. The owners invite youto "Indulge in our signature warm popovers, along with speciallyselected steaks, fresh seafood and satisfying sides. Weeklyblackboard specials highlight seasonal flavors and localingredients." You can choose from Japanese Kobe beef or lessexpensive American cut, and you can also enjoy lobster, cheesecake,fresh fruits, cheese selections and more—but apparently you'dbetter make reservations well in advance.

101Constitution Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C.
Althoughit's not attributed, I imagine the quote on the website, "I'm apatriotic guy and someone has to supply the apple pie around here,"is probably from Charlie Palmer himself. Located near the NationalMall, this place is known for such range as aged Angus rib-eye"cowboy" steak and an iced shellfish platter of lobster, shrimp,king crab and oysters, as well as a novel wine cube—which isdesigned to appear as if floating on water—boasting 3,500 bottlesof exclusively American wine featuring more than 600 selections.Reportedly, this is a place that keeps busy with power brokers, soconsider reservations, and if you're there in the afternoon, thereis a prix-fixelunch.

111219thSt. N.W., Washington, D.C.
Thisrestaurant offers an outside patio, the bustling Wollensky's Grilland quiet formal dining rooms, as well as private rooms that can seatas many as 450 people. The theme here is "simple, elegant food in arefined setting." Midday food options include the house hamburgersmade from Smith & Wollensky's own aged beef and served withcrispy, hand-cut fries. Other options include split pea soup, friedcalamari, an iceberg wedge salad topped with thick slices of ripetomatoes and a Roquefort dressing. Lamb chops and roast chickenprovide options for the meat-eaters who are beef-averse.



VEGETARIANCUISINE

1919I St. N.W., Washington, D.C.
It'snot that Aroma is a vegetarian restaurant perse, but as with somany venues with Indian cuisine, veggies loom large and meat oftentakes a back seat—or at least less prominence than is the case withso many other places in the United States. Aroma prides itself onfine dining and authentic cuisine in a "serene, pleasantatmosphere" and counts entirely vegan soups and a vegetariansection among its menu options. The restaurant also has a location innearby Arlington, Va.

242518thSt. N.W., Washington, D.C.
Locatedin the Adams Morgan neighborhood, this establishment offersall-vegetarian offerings specializing in falafel. Reportedly, it alsohas an almost all-vegan toppings bar to create your own sandwich.Prices are reasonable and the eatery is open late into the night.

1341L St. N.W., Washington, D.C.
Thisgourmet restaurant—for which reservations are required—serves anentirely raw, all-vegan menu for your dairy-, gluten- and meat-freeneeds that also include desserts and organic wines. Elizabeth's GoneRaw seeks to celebrate nature and the ingredients of Earth in theirpurest form. Even the water they serve has been through areverse-osmosis treatment.

151317thSt. N.W., Washington, D.C.
Thisall-vegan, organic, full-service restaurant and bar has featured suchitems as raw pizza, vegan steak n' cheese sandwich and hand-madegnocchi, all with an emphasis on using local, seasonal ingredients.Cafe Green also offers raw selections, smoothies and desserts. It'sopen until midnight on Friday and Saturday and offers an extensivebrunch menu on Sundays until 4 p.m.



MONGOLIANBARBECUE

7201Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda Md.
Thewebsite for this restaurant recounts the history of the Mongolianbarbecue concept—a cuisine I first became acquainted with on abusiness trip to Washington, D.C. When the Mongols were doing theirfighting and hunting centuries ago, BD's notes, they would gatherin large community groups to celebrate their adventures and theirsuccesses. "Communing in banquet-style pavilions, the Mongols wouldcreate a 'feast' for all to enjoy by combining slivers of meatand vegetables, sliced with their razor-sharp swords, then cooked ontheir overturned shields over a blazing fire," the website notes.

Inthe modern day, this means going to a restaurant and picking out yourown noodles, rice, vegetables, meats, sauces and/or other fixings,and giving them over in a bowl to a chef who will stir-fry it on abig cooking surface where other patrons' food is likely alsocooking. It can be confusing for some at first, but many people likethe control they get over their flavors, and BD's regularly comesup as a recommended Mongolian barbecue destination.

619H St. N.W., Washington, D.C.
Locatedin Chinatown, this restaurant seems to get mixed reviews at timesregarding the price-to-quality ratio, but it remains a popularchoice. In addition, there is a portion of the restaurant devoted tothe Chinese food options to which most diners are accustomed.

7001FManchester Blvd., Alexandria, Va.
Thisrestaurant touts not only its casual setting and "colorful, lively"atmosphere but also the notion that Mongolian barbecue is not reallya cuisine but rather an "interactive style of exhibition cookingmodeled after a centuries-old legend."



SEAFOOD

1201F St. N.W., Washington, D.C.
Locatedin the Penn Quarter, Oceanaire goes for the "sleek andsophisticated" vibe, while offering the freshest seafood that itcan manage to fly in daily from around the world. The menu is basedon market availability so selections change each day.

7047thSt. N.W., Washington, D.C.
Callingitself a bipartisan favorite since 1995, Legal has a racetrack-shapedbar at which you can dine or a main dining room underneath ahull-like ceiling—plus a neon sign outside—so this is lesshighbrow than Oceanaire and is just a block from the conventioncenter, as well as being near the Verizon Center, International SpyMuseum and National Portrait Gallery, among other locales.

105431stSt. N.W., Washington, D.C.
Thisrestaurant and raw bar is located in downtown D.C. in Georgetown,just steps from M Street, and is reportedly the only restaurantoverlooking the C&O Canal. Sea Catch offers what it calls "freshseafood simply prepared in a casual, relaxed atmosphere."

1401K St. N.W., Washington, D.C.
ChefJeff Tunks is said to be famous for his Chinese-style smoked lobsterand pan-roasted rockfish with polenta cake and lobster corn broth,but the restaurant also offers such non-seafood fare as grilled NewYork strip steak with andouille hash and marinated free-range chickenwith roasted fingerling potatoes and grilled ramps.
 

Now,if that list isn't enough for you, and if you like to bump elbowswith important people—or self-important people, depending on youroutlook—you can always take a look at the "Power Dining" listof restaurants at the Destination D.C. website, athttp://washington.org/visiting/experience-dc/foodie-experience/power-spots/.
 

Jeffrey Bouley

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