Washington DC
1. Bar Spero
Downtown
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Located between Union Station and Chinatown in the new Capitol Crossing development, Bar Spero is the eponymous concept from the Michelin-starred chef behind Reverie, Johnny Spero. Don’t be fooled by its billing as a bar, the restaurant serves a seafood-centric menu inspired by destinations near and far—from the Mid-Atlantic to Basque Country. Menu highlights include imported Spanish turbot and pork from Autumn Olive Farms in the Shenandoah Valley, as well as a raw bar, and most dishes are cooked over the open flame. Meanwhile, guests can also choose from a tightly curated wine list, regional beers on tap, craft cocktails, and a wide selection of vermouths.

2. Hill East Burger
Capitol Hill
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DC's newest saloon and smoked burger bar comes from the owners of Sloppy Mama’s and Republic Cantina. So needless to say, the vibes are full-on western—think Texas or New Mexico by way of our nation’s capital. Playing to the theme, the menu has a green chili burger (The Puebla) akin to what you might get in Santa Fe. There’s also a stacked smashburger called The Lancaster with a smoked beef patty, bacon, smoked cheddar, arugula, tomato relish, and pickled onion. All the burgers are made with a blend of prime brisket trim and Roseda Farms dry-aged beef. Pair that with one of the zero-proof drinks on tap, like an orange-Mexican oregano soda.

3. Nama Ko
14th Street
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Michael Schlow and executive chef Derek Watson (of Morimoto fame) have curated a menu with everything from a full sushi bar to hot entrees like a Koji-aged pork chop and Wagyu New York strip. Top your meal off with a pour from one of the most extensive sake menus in the city and Nama Ko's signature soft serve ice cream and sorbet offerings, including a honey-miso black truffle flavor.

4. La Tejana
Mount Pleasant
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Any given day, the streets of Mount Pleasant are buzzing with early risers trying to get their hands on La Tejana’s breakfast tacos. Ana-Maria Jaramillo and Gus May have crafted a menu of Tex-Mex breakfast tacos that typically sell out within a few short hours of opening. One popular pick is a barbecue breakfast taco that stemmed from a collaboration with 2Fifty BBQ, but those who prefer a vegetarian option should try the Super Migas with onions, poblanos, and scrambled eggs, and finished with tomato, queso drizzle, and crunchy tortilla strips.

5. Il Piatto
Downtown
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This newly opened Italian concept by restaurateur Hakan Ilhan offers lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch service with an approachable Mediterranean fare and classical Italian cuisine from Executive Chef Lina Nicolai. Tempting starters include poached pear with radicchio, toasted walnuts, goat cheese, and balsamic dressing; portobello mushrooms with creamy gorgonzola cheese; and fried risotto balls stuffed with mozzarella in a tomato-cream sauce. Entrees deliver on Italian comfort including Milanzana parmigiano, eggplant parmesan, and Maltagliati al Funghi, a flat pasta with truffle-infused ricotta and assorted mushroom sauce.

6. Grazie Nonna
Downtown
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Casey Patten (Grazie Grazie) and Gerald Addison (Bammy’s) are tossing pizza pies at this red sauce joint. The latest addition to the Midtown Center development in Downtown DC, its a respite from bustling downtown with an outdoor pizza garden and an extensive list of negronis. Order up the Green Goodness, with collard greens, provolone and pecorino cheese, and Clarbian Chilis, or the Drunken Love topped with vodka sauce and loaded with a mix of aged and fresh mozzarella, provolone, basil, and pepperoni cups. Main entrees are meant for sharing and include a whole branzino or the Chicago-inspired chicken vesuvio.

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