Mike Isabella flipped the script when devising this elegant Spanish-Moroccan restaurant inside the Marriott Marquis in Mount Vernon Square. The menu is paella-free, and there’s nary a bullfighting poster. Executive chef Michael Rafidi, an alum of Blue Duck Tavern, produces compelling compositions. Order the foie gras parfait with fresh-from-the-fryer ras el hanout-spiced doughnuts and pickled kumquats. It’s everything you want in a bite: sweet, savory, salty and umami. 901 Massachusetts Ave. NW
The fourth restaurant in James Beard Award winner Fabio Trabocchi’s ever-expanding empire is an upscale Italian trattoria in Van Ness with a strong emphasis on housemade pasta. There’s a trio of stone-cold classics—including rewarding rigatoni tossed in thick sauce embellished with pancetta and a blizzard of grated pecorino and Parmesan—along with a threesome of seasonal options, such as gnocchi lavished with rich porcini sauce and wild mushrooms. Visit to find culinary comfort, and you won’t leave disappointed. 4445 Connecticut Ave. NW
José Andrés continues his winning streak with his latest endeavor inside the MGM National Harbor. The sprawling space—Alice in Wonderland meets 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea—features several dining rooms, a small counter where diners can enjoy fried seafood and a crab shack on the patio during warm weather. Standouts include an heirloom-recipe jambalaya starring a whole lobster; a burger forged from grouper and pork; and a modern-minded lobster roll with mayo espuma. 101 MGM National Ave., Oxon Hill, Md.
Partners Carlie Steiner and chef Kevin Tien are the perfect pairing. She crafts memorable cocktails with surprising flavor combinations, such as the perky yet pleasantly bitter Mixed Bag with two amari, lime and ginger. Meanwhile, he uses Japanese cuisine as a foundation before adding on disparate influences. Prime examples are his karaage-fried chicken brined in buttermilk—a nod to his Louisiana upbringing—and eggplant enlivened with Szechuan peppercorns, chiles and fresh herbs. 828 Upshur St. NW
This sweet subterranean sister spot to DGS Delicatessen transforms hummus from a humble side into a hearty star. The smoothly whipped chickpeas form the base of blue-ribbon bowls filled out with flavorful toppings. Best of the bunch include roast kombucha squash drizzled with tart pomegranate molasses, sweet strands of roast onion with sumac and ramp vinaigrette, and a play on chicken shawarma. Every order comes with a fluffy round of warm pita—perfect for sopping up the last dregs. 1306 18th St. NW
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