Belgian restaurants are muscling into the Washington dining scene in a big way. Mussels and frites can be found in just about every neighborhood, and some of the better restaurants also sport additional Belgian treats. Chef Claudio Pirollo started his career by being named “Best Young Chef in Belgium” and his cooking success continues at his Palisades neighborhood bistro, Et Voila. The restaurant boasts top-of-the-line Belgian flavors like steamed mussels and pommes frites, carbonnade à la flamande and lapin à la bière. Even the atmosphere smacks of the old country, the soft, off-white walls are all decorated with posters featuring local cartoon hero Tintin, and the long and narrow dining area features a classic pressed-tin-tin ceiling.
Modern French Cuisine | Acclaimed Duck Burger | Onsite Herb Garden | Meal with a View | French Wines
Where to Sit: Ask for a table near the floor-to-ceiling windows, which look out over a sprawling koi pond and lush garden with an original Rodin statue at its center.
When to Go: Swing by during lunch, when the ever-popular Daffy burger is on the menu. This decadent sandwich showcases a patty blended with duck breast, duck leg, and foie gras. The patty is topped with even more foie gras, as well as a sweet-and-sour onion agradolce to cut the richness.
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Dress Code: Come as you are. Although you’ll still see business suits and date-night dresses, 2941 shed its former special-occasion-only image with a complete redesign in 2012, incorporating a laid-back dress code to match its more casual culinary offerings.
Before they even cook a meal, Chefs Christophe and Michelle Poteaux go to great lengths to get the ingredients. And they have high standards, sourcing organic and sustainably raised produce and meats from the Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic region. The results are prix fixe dinners featuring entrees such as tarragon-scented Amish chicken roast and hibiscus crème brûlée.
At Café Bonaparte, the hardest decision you’ll have to make is savory or sweet. Luckily, both have a tasty payoff. The European creperie and coffee shop serves crepes filled with eggplant, marinated chicken, or a sweet stuffing of Nutella or caramelized mango topped with vanilla ice cream.
Today's Groupon gets you $35 worth of French café fare and Belgian beer for $15 at L'Enfant Café & Bar. This Parisian-themed eatery is best known for their perfect crepes: "cooked enough to lose the doughy flavor and just thick enough to keep from tearing," according to The Washington Post. Get them with fresh strawberries, Nutella, amaretto liquor, lemon and sugar, stuffed with mushrooms and gruyère in béchamel sauce, or with roasted red pepper and goat cheese. With seven savory dinner crepes and more than 12 sweet options, L'Enfant can cook a staggering stack of crepe combinations (click here to see the sweet crepe menu).
Follow the tantalizing scents and stroll into Crepeaway, a crêperie originally based in Athens, Greece, which slings a variety of savory and sweet crêpes. Instead of mashing pancakes at home with a sizzling-hot blacksmith mallet, browse the mouthwatering menu and nosh on hearty crêpes such as the Big Papa with cheese, chicken, bacon, ham, turkey, and hot sauce ($7), the Leila with cheese, tomato, and fresh basil ($6.23), or the Antonio with cheese, ham, tomato, and mayo ($6.23). Pair foldable fare with a side of chips ($1), or wrap up filling lunches with sweet selections such as the Angel crêpe with Nutella chocolate, strawberries, and banana ($5.70). Crepeaway is open until 3 a.m. on Thursday and 4 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.