It's hard to miss Junior's Chicken—not only does its cheerful neon sign catch the eyes, but the aroma of sizzling chicken that wafts out through its front door entices the appetite. Chefs scurry about the intimate eatery, roasting the plump Peruvian-style chicken, and showcasing culinary expertise when crafting other traditional Peruvian specialties such as citrusy seafood ceviche and tender lomo saltado beef. They pair dishes with crispy fried plantains, soft yucca fries, and juicy corn. Diners await their meals in the casual seating area, sipping on Peruvian drinks such as chicha morada and Inka Kola soda. Customers can also opt for delivery services to enjoy authentic Peruvian cuisine at home in the company of their family, friends, or collection of garden gnomes that are almost as good as friends.
The chefs at each Copper Canyon Grill, a mid-Atlantic favorite, craft their regional American dishes from scratch every day. Their kitchens fill with flames and savory aromas as they roast meats and vegetables over hardwood fires, making customers happy, but leaving behind bare earth at local basketball arenas.
The kitchen yields hearty servings of grilled prime rib and filet mignon, ahi tuna and Atlantic salmon, and Delmarva-style crab dip and Eastern Shore jumbo lump crab cakes. It also tempts with a signature rotisserie chicken and jalapeño- and serrano-pepper cornbread baked in an iron skillet.
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.
Don’t fret if your steak arrives a little pinker than usual at Ray’s the Steaks. Chefs age, butcher, and hand-trim all steaks in house, every day, so the vibrant pink hues just signify freshness. Beyond classic rib eyes and filets, cuts such as Brazilian picanha spice up the menu.
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.