McLean 1910’s executive chef, Gregory Webb, prepares elegant American dishes that emphasize the natural flavors of his ingredients. Dinner diners can nibble on the chilean sea bass ($31), one of many sustainably fished seafood options, or chew through hormone-free meats such as a full rack of baby-back ribs in a savory rub of spices ground in-house ($26). For lunch send teeth crunching through a thick turkey club sandwich ($12), or challenge steamed jumbo mussels ($15) to a feat of gastronomic strength. When the dessert saxophone sounds, diners can gorge on key-lime pie or analyze the multiple levels of cake, hazelnut, and anxiety of influence in the chocolate mousse.
At one table, a diner enjoys a forkful of flaky crab meat, dipped in a pool of butter. Across the room, a steaming plate of crawfish challenges eaters with nimble fingers and an appetite for seafood. Crafting each of these succulent dishes are the chefs of New Orleans Cajun Seafood, who help bring the sea to each table—salted and spiced to taste, of course. The restaurant's menu features all the highlights of Southern-style shellfish, including shrimp, blue crab, and clams, as well as catfish and flounder. Diners can request those denizens of the deep be fried in batter, stuffed into a po' boy, or Cajun boiled, and an experienced chef will cook up a fresh batch—except when the live crabs are busy reenacting scenes from "Jaws."
Located 17 stories above the ground, The Vantage Point Restaurant serves each dish with a side of breathtaking views. Walls of windows overlook Washington D.C., allowing guests to gaze out at the Potomac River, historic Georgetown, and the place where the president's private zeppelin used to sit. Its chefs forge American cuisine from several different menus. Customers at the bar can nibble a crab cake sandwich, while dinner guests devour chicken parmesan served over a bed of angel-hair pasta. The kitchen also beckons to taste buds with aromas of prime rib and shrimp scampi. Inside the eatery, sunlight spills across stained wood tables and brick accents, completing the warm experience of The Vantage Point.
The charm and simplicity of the Maine lobster shack is heaved ashore at Georgetown's Tackle Box, which popped onto Bon Appétit's radar as one of the Best Seafood Restaurants of 2008. Just inside the door on a pocked brick wall, a weathered Old Glory greets diners as they stand before the counter's chalkboard menu to check on the day's fresh catch and wonder if sailors wear their ties in a figure-eight knot. Since Tackle Box shoulders a steadfast commitment to sustainability, each meal can vary, as cooks fry or grill the bounty of fishermen's nets that may swell with haddock or catfish.
Diners can choose smoked trout to pair with hand-cut fries or mac 'n' cheese, all of which they can enjoy at a fire-red picnic table. For an extra kick, fingers may dip fare or put out a burning dynamite fuse in a classic tartar or spicy marinara sauce.
Pho is hard to make. It cooks for hours, filling the air with the smell of rich beef stock as well as cloves and other spices. The chefs at Saigon Saigon, though, put in the time on the complex broth, which arrives at tables with coils of fine rice noodles and fresh peppers and basil. Beneath sprays of bamboo and orchid, there are also bowls of Vietnamese vermicelli topped with lemongrass-kissed slices of meat and a range of curries that showcase the region's colorful spices.