Chef Alcy De Souza named his restaurant after the Grammy Award-winning song that, in his words, “evokes beauty, elegance, and a dream.” At Grill from Ipanema, Chef Alcy is living his dream, which grew out a childhood spent helping his mother prepare meals for their family in Brazil. He wanted to bring the flavors of Brazil to the US and open a contemporary restaurant that stayed true to the history of Brazilian cuisine, which has roots in the indigenous people as well as immigrants from Africa, Europe and Asia. So for the past 20 years, he and his team have been serving authentic dishes from various regions of Brazil to hungry diners in the Adam’s Morgan neighborhood. Classic entrees include the Brazilian national dish, feijoada, a rich stew of black beans, dry beef, pork, sausage, and smoked meat served with collard greens and rice, as well as moqueca a baiana, a palm oil and coconut milk stew with cilantro, tomato, onion, scallions, green pepper, and a choice of fish. The drink menu also features authentic Brazilian creations, such as fruity cachacas and caipirinhas, as well as Brazilian beers and a soda featuring guarana berries, a fruit found only in the Amazon.
Franklin D. Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart, Robert Frost, and Calvin Coolidge were some of the first inhabitants of the walls of Occidental Grill & Seafood, where their autographed photos have since been joined by more than 1,500 statesmen, power brokers, and celebrities. Throughout the restaurant’s nearly 110 years in business, its various menus have served as a mirror to the major events of the 20th century, from the conserved portions that addressed the food shortage during World War I to the 1924 victory banquet for the World Series–winning Washington Senators. Today, following a massive renovation in its 100th year, executive chef Rodney Scruggs achieves the difficult task of paying homage to the past in forward-thinking dishes. Scruggs himself boasts quite the history in the culinary realm. His first job after studying culinary arts at Newbury College was—perhaps not so coincidentally—the Occidental, where he worked his way from a line cook to an executive sous chef. His career led him through some of the area’s most notable eateries before he returned to the Occidental, where he furthers simple combinations of fresh, local ingredients with refined touches and careful preparation. To wit, crispy soft-shell crab is accompanied by a sweat-pea puree, and roasted virginia rack of lamb hails from Border Springs Farm and sits beneath a coating of demi-glace. In addition to American craft beers and wines from around the globe, diners can honor the eatery’s legacy by sipping classic cocktails such as a rickey from Washington circa 1883 and a sidecar from 1920’s London. Surrounded by the aforementioned autographed photos, the main dining room exudes old-school elegance. From high, recessed ceilings, ornate bowl-shaped chandeliers dangle over white tablecloths in front of burgundy leather booths and windsor chairs. The wine room has a slightly darker décor, as the wine bottles lining the walls reflect the rich-chocolate color of high-backed leather chairs.
Nestled in the U Street Corridor and surrounded by restaurants that serve small plates, the owners of Lost Society prefer to think big with respect to both their eatery’s dishes and ambience. They commissioned Joseph Evans—formerly the executive chef of Smith & Wollensky’s DC location—to bring his expertise in creating a set of steak-centric menus that rely on local produce, dry-aged and certified-Angus beef, and regional seafood. To start, the richness of Wagyu beef carpaccio is cut by grapefruit and pea tendrils, and fried oysters get an upscale twist with a worcestershire beurre blanc and smoked maple hot sauce. Ten-ounce filets and 12-ounce sirloins come topped with herb butter, and blackened catfish is accentuated by a scallion cream sauce.
But the artfully plated dishes comprise only half the appeal that lures Lost Society’s trendy clientele. Design consultants Olvia Demetriou and Melinda Nettelbeck of hapstak demetriou + transformed the restaurant’s two stories into a space that balances modern elements with nods to the Victorian-era underground. The dining room lives on the first level, where studio lighting bounces off brocade banquettes, framed spy mirrors, and wallpaper patterned with the faces of ladies in elegant hats. Diners lounge on the purple and yellow couches lining exposed-brick walls before retreating upstairs to see the chandeliers hanging above the neutral-toned bar and roof deck. To seal in the supper-club experience, they sample signature cocktails—such as a lychee martini or jalapeno margarita—some of which are created by recipes that are more than 100 years old.
Lauded by the Washingtonian as 1 of DC's 100 Best Restaurants of 2012, J&G Steakhouse showcases the favorite recipes of Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten in the heart of Capitol Hill. Executive Chef Philippe Reininger prepares the culinary mogul's dishes, grilling filet mignon to perfection and seasoning succulent new york steaks with black peppercorn. Steaks share the limelight with entrees such as seared atlantic cod and maine lobster—both seasoned with scallions and chilies—and a selection of raw dishes including spicy tuna tartare and oysters on the half shell. A dessert selection that includes tiramisu with coffee gelato and cheesecake glazed with hibiscus syrup rewards palates with decadent ends to their experiences. To match its eclectic menu, J&G Steakhouse offers both indoor and outdoor dining at its elegant space in the W Washington D.C. hotel. In the high-ceilinged main dining room, cream-colored walls bask in natural light from floor-to-ceiling windows, some of which frame the Washington Monument. Fire pits, red umbrellas, and vibrant trees populate the outdoor patio, which hugs the corner of 15th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. J&G Steakhouse's proximity to the White House and the Capitol makes it a common stop for DC luminaries and hungry copies of the Constitution.
Culinarily speaking, it’s hard to find anything more classic New York City than a thick, juicy steak. Bobby Van knows that well. He opened his first restaurant in the Hamptons during the summer of ’69, and, though his storyline was nixed from the Bryan Adams hit, the brand eventually found fame as a family of grills and steak houses now renowned throughout NYC and the East Coast.
The menu at each eatery opens with a selection of salads and seafood appetizers, which may include delicate crab cakes or chilled-lobster cocktails. Entrees may prove to be the hardest course to decide on, with a selection that spans lamb chops, fish, and a steak selection of filets, sirloin, and marbled porterhouses that can feed two, three, or four. Each space also holds a full bar stocked with spirits and wines handpicked by the sommelier.
Originally founded in the summer of 1969 in Bridgehampton, New York, Bobby Van’s Grill has since expanded to nine locations throughout New York and Washington, DC. Inside each kitchen, executive chefs oversee a menu built on plates of Prime dry-aged USDA beef, fresh seafood, and organic chicken. Servers ferry dishes amid each restaurant's similar but distinctly unique decor of private dining rooms and wine rooms furnished with white tablecloths.
In Washington, DC's New York Avenue location, diners savor their lobster cocktails and veal chops amid marble columns, grand mirrors, and babbling fountains that casually ask them if they're going to finish that. The 15th Street steak house lets visitors wine and dine alfresco on the sidewalk patio, located just one block from the White House.