Before he owned K Town Bistro, Gonzalo Barba busied himself with feeding presidents and politicians at the Watergate Hotel. This experience, along with the rest of his 40 years in the restaurant industry, bred a respect for the careful balance of upscale cuisine and familiar atmosphere that characterizes many prestigious eateries. Gonzalo preserves this relationship today, serving K Town Bistro's European-inspired dishes in a warm, friendly setting marked by coral-colored walls and lace curtains.
The bistro's chefs pull from American, French, and English traditions when arranging their entrees. Beef wellington—filet mignon surrounded by a mushroom-liver mousse—is a crowd favorite, though it vies for the spotlight with seared salmon and lamb shanks. Lunchtime heralds crab-cake sandwiches and the omelet of the day, all of which are in the running to become the omelet of the eon. Guests can also pick their courses from a prix fixe menu and pair them with wines from Spain, France, Chile, and the United States.
Perch on high-backed chairs to peruse the exhaustive menu of Latin-American flavors and start with a beefy app such as the taquitos ($8.95) or the Mexican pizza with melted cheese, guacamole, and shredded beef and chicken ($8.95). Vegetarians can advance directly to platanos con crema y frijoles ($6.95), an order of deep-fried sliced plantains sided with sour cream and beans for dipping. For heartier appetites, try an order of fajitas for two. The combo platter includes marinated steak, shrimp, chicken, and pork ribs, served with grilled veggies (tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers) and south-of-the-border toppers (guacamole and ranchera sauce), all for $31.95. For an authentic mouthful of El Salvador, stick your fork into a few pupusas ($1.75 each), cheese-stuffed corn tortillas with a choice of six fillings, served with pickled cabbage and carrots. Diners will also find a variety of burritos, chimichangas, enchiladas, and egg-centric entrees.
The dark wood façade of Mezeh’s Mediterranean Grill creates a stylish, modern presence in the food court at Annapolis Mall. Patrons walk along the eatery’s glass case, first selecting a base for their meal—salad, rice, tortilla, or fresh-baked pita—to complement one of five fillings, including crisp rounds of falafel and morsels of chicken shawarma. Their dishes can be topped with tahini or spicy harissa sauce, along with vegetable blends such as red cabbage slaw or pickled turnips. All items on the menu are crafted without trans fats or preservatives, making them a healthy alternative to making ham sandwiches out of other ham sandwiches.
Elevation Burger’s grillmasters build environmentally conscious burgers that anchor buns with 100% organic, grass-fed, free-range beef rich with nutritious omega-three acids. A blanket of cheddar cheese and strips of bacon sheath each juicy patty, which comes packed with meat ground onsite and free from the touch of antibiotics, pesticides, and radioactive butchers. Fresh toppings such as caramelized onions and tomatoes customize each meaty handheld, and a bouquet of french fries sizzled in healthful olive oil accessorizes meals. To further bolster its Earth-friendly philosophies, Elevation Burger uses locally sourced ingredients when possible and strives to achieve LEED certifications for all its locations.
Soretti's specializes in serving a robust menu of authentic, home-style Ethiopian fare, which is traditionally eaten with injera, a light, spongy flatbread that serves as an edible utensil. For dinner, embark on a culinary odyssey with the gomen be-ayib, (collard greens with homemade cheese, herbed butter, and toast, $6.95) before tongue-hopping to the veggie combo #1 ($11.50), which features red lentils, cabbage, potatoes, split peas, string beans, carrots, and tomato salad. Meatier dishes including the beef tibs ($11.50) sautéed with jalapeño, onions, and herbs, cater to carnivorous cravings. Soretti’s also features a lunch menu and traditional weekend coffee service with eggs, toast, and omelettes. With its butter-hued walls and cozy tables, Soretti’s interior is as warm and inviting as diving off a springboard into a tub of margarine. Reservations are recommended for parties larger than six.
Even though Portuguese explorers couldn't pronounce the Swahili name for the African bird's eye chili—pili-pili—the sailors fully embraced its flavor shortly after landing in the region known today as Mozambique. Intrigued by the small, fiery pepper, they combined it with aromatic doses of herbs, garlic, and lemon to create the first peri-peri sauce. That sauce eventually became a wildly popular marinade for poultry, and the tasty concoction made its way to South Africa over the next several centuries. There, in 1987, two friends decided to honor this culinary legacy by founding the first Nando's Peri-Peri restaurant. The eatery continued to remain true to its South African roots, even while expanding to encompass locations in 24 countries across four continents.
Beginning with fresh chickens that never see the inside of a kitchen freezer, the chefs furtively marinate the birds in a secret peri-peri sauce for 24 hours before grilling them over an open flame. Diners dictate the heat level of their order, requesting that the grilled chicken arrive relatively mild or that wings be slathered with even more incendiary spices. The succulent chicken can be plated with hearty side dishes—such as Portuguese-style rice with herbs and peppers or peas with mint—or served in the form of a sandwich, wrap, or pita. To complement the menus' African flavors, Nando's worldwide locations collectively feature more than 4,000 pieces of African artwork.