On a recent trip to DC we stayed near the Capitol and rediscovered a small cluster of restaurants very close to the Capitol and Union Station.
Along the 300 block of Massachusetts Ave NE there are three adjacent restaurants:
La Loma (Mexican) at 316
Bistro Cacao (French) at 320
Café Berlin (German) at 322
All three have outdoor dining, and it was early summer in Washington so we took advantage of the weather and dined outdoors- adding the the pleasure of the evenings.
During our week in DC we visited each of them on separate evenings. La Loma is generally the busiest of the three, but I’m not sure why. The food is reasonably priced, and not bad- but neither authentic nor especially tasty.
The other two, however, are winners. We had dined at Café Berlin in the past and thoroughly enjoyed it, and it was even better this time. They have a varied menu combining traditional German dishes with a mix of items from other regions for other palates. The service has been attentive both times we have dined at Café Berlin and we have had a couple of thoroughly enjoyable evenings there in recent years.
This was out first visit to Bistro Cacao, and it was fantastic. The menu is mixed French cuisine, the food outstanding, and service very good. If you have preconceptions about “snooty French restaurants”, you need to leave them behind, this is a welcoming and friendly place. As with their neighbors at Café Berlin, Bistro Cacao’s menu travels a beyond its implied borders- for example, I don’t usually think of Sangria when I think of French dining, but we had a nice carafe of red Sangria with our meal.
Both of these restaurants are reasonably priced for the quality of the food and service, especially if you keep in mind that you are on Capital Hill.
Dining is generally best done leisurely, and in good company- if you are lucky enough to find yourself with time and appropriate companionship, these are the kind of restaurants which can make for a wonderful evening.
(I should be back to dive bars soon enough, don’t worry)