Inside The Salsa Room, Latin artists such as Marc Anthony, Oscar D'León, and Gilberto Santa Rosa croon to diners pouring over a menu of steak and seafood dishes. Drawing on influences from Latin America and the Caribbean, the club's chefs construct a menu bursting with spicy, flavorful ingredients like a piñata full of jalapeños. Chorizo adds a splash of flavor to breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes, creating taste-bud-tempting fare such as the house specialty guiso de garbanzos con chorizo—a blend of chickpeas, beef, and spanish chorizo in a tomato-based creole sauce. On Wednesday at 8 p.m., salsa and bachata dance instructors take to the floor to lead patrons in the rhythmic steps and sly glances that compose Latin choreography.
Charcoal-heated grills sear hearty kebabs of halal meats at Afghan Kabob House, flooding the restaurant with the scents of roasting chicken, lamb, and beef. To accompany the skewers, cooks toss together leafy salads, bake pillowy naan in a tandoor-style oven, and unite seasoned rice with saffron or carrots and raisins. The menu also boasts 20 different flavors of shisha for its hookahs, which encourage diners to lounge around after their meal and practice forming the perfect ring or Möbius strip out of smoke.
Named one of Northern Virginia's 25 Best Restaurants of 2007 by Northern Virginia Magazine, Eleventh Street Lounge impresses palates with a streamlined menu of small plates and innovative entrees suffused with organic ingredients. Dining duos can begin with the marcona almonds (a $6 value), plate of artisan cheeses (a $15 value), or pan-seared petite kalamata steak (a $14 value) served alongside a skewer of vegetables and nestled into a pillow of jasmine rice to dream of Kalamata's olive-oil rivers. Entrees expand dish diameters with succulent selections such as the peppery tuna steak anointed in five spices (a $17 value) and the petite tenderloin medallions, grilled and served with fried potatoes and mixed greens (a $15–$20 value).
Maté specializes in creating original sushi rolls with a Latin twist ($8–$15). The restaurant's novel nibbles include the Buenos Aires roll, a combination of jumbo lump crab, torched salmon, and tempura crunch; the Tamalito roll, a sweet and spicy mélange of yellowtail jalapeno, avocado, plantain, and corn masa wrapped in daikon skin; and the Mar del Plata roll, a cornucopia of lobster, cucumber, soy nori, chives, and avocado. Maté boasts a selection of seven ceviches, cooked with citric acid to heat-free perfection ($10–$17). For Asian-influenced Asian fare, select one of the restaurant's traditional sashimi, maki, or nigiri options. While relishing rolls or sipping sake from the sleek aluminum bar, diners can luxuriate in Maté's elegant atmosphere or try to blend in with the crimson décor by sharing embarrassing stories about email typos.
Whether you’re wining and dining friends or a potential love interest, this modern spot can set the mood. Enjoy views of the Potomac River—not to mention a three-story waterfall—as you dive into thoughtful entrees, such as the Angus filet dripping in sake butter, or nibble from a shareable plate of salt and pepper chicken wings.