The best and the brightest of the culinary field come to cities like D.C. to flourish and share their treats with the masses. When you grow tired of eating like a college student, venture out and try some tasty celebrity chef creations.
It may be tempting to eat somewhere close and quick but after midterms are over, load up your SmarTrip and head for Chinatown – dining at Graffiato is well worth the trek.
Chef Mike Isabella, who recently appeared on “Top Chef” and was runner-up on “Top Chef All-Stars,” opened this new venture in June after three years as executive chef for Zaytinya – a top Mediterranean restaurant in the District. Many of Isabella’s restaurants feature a small-plate style of dining.
Graffiato’s brick and steel décor, simultaneously rustic and modern, welcomes guests not only to fine Italian-inspired dining, but to an interactive dining experience. The first level seats 15 guests at a U-shaped bar where they have first row seats to culinary entertainment. Seating is also available at the wood oven, as well as in nearby booths. The second level provides a larger seating arrangement, but still guests can observe the chefs behind an open counter.
Inspired by an Italian-American influence from New Jersey, but infused with Mediterranean and Latin influences from Isabella’s culinary training, the pizzas and small plates you’ll chow down on are not short on an intense variety of flavors. If you fancy a late-night outing, the bar stays open later than the kitchen, and pizza is also available after the kitchen closes.
Address: 707 6th St., NW
Hours: Monday through Friday, lunch served from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and dinner served Sunday through Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. (kitchen closes at 10 p.m.), Wednesday through Thursday 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. (kitchen closes at 11 p.m.), Friday and Saturday 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. (kitchen closes at midnight)
It seems like one celebrity chef on the tip of every Washingtonian foodie’s tongue is José Andrés.
Chef and owner of ThinkFoodGroup, Andrés’ other restaurants in the area include Jaleo, Zaytinya, American Eats Tavern and minibar by josé andrés. Another of his restaurants, Oyamel, is an interesting choice among his other creative concepts, offering tasty Mexican-style small plates.
This is Mexican cuisine of a flavor and scale that you probably haven’t seen before. The guacamole is a must-try, and until Nov. 2, you can enjoy plates from a special Day of the Dead menu.
Take advantage of the relative accessibility of Andrés’ restaurants in D.C. If you wanted to eat at his flagship restaurant “é” in Las Vegas, you’d have to make reservations by e-mail months in advance.
Address: 401 7th St., NW
Hours: Tuesday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to midnight, Sunday and Monday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
As much of a D.C. staple as it is, maybe you’ve heard more than you’d like to about Ben’s Chili Bowl. Been there, done that. So next time you’re in the area, why not try Ben’s Next Door?
Located literally “next door” to Ben’s Chili Bowl, this more upscale restaurant – owned by the same people as Ben’s Chili Bowl – serves a greater and more distinct variety of the same type of food, in addition to a nice selection of cocktails and a happy hour. If you want to pass on that Ben’s chili dog you’ve tried once or twice already, check out something heartier, like steak or crab cakes from Next Door.
Though he doesn’t remain at Next Door, Chef Rahman “Rock” Harper – winner of the third season of the television show “Hell’s Kitchen” – pioneered the venue’s transformation in 2008.
Address: 1211 U St., NW (Across from the U Street Metro station)
Hours: Monday through Thursday from 11 to 2 a.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 to 3 a.m., Sunday from 11 to 2 a.m.