Where to Dine After Jazz in the Garden

Photo by Dean Beasom, © National Gallery of Art.

If music be the food of love, play on. Jazz in the Garden is back for the twelfth year in a row, and you don’t want to miss a single beat of it. The free concert series that features an array of jazz artists performing a wide variety of styles—including salsa, blusion, vibraphone, and Afrofunk, can be heard in the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden every Friday evening from 5-8:00 p.m., through August 31. Top local and regional artists perform in front of the Pavilion Café, next to the grand fountain and reflecting pool. If you’re looking to make a night of it out on the town, Dining in DC wants to provide you with some options for a post-Jazz dinner.

For those looking for to dine within walking distance of the Garden, check out these hotspots:

Whether you’re on a date or catching up with a good friend, Zaytinya (701 9th St., NW) in Penn Quarter offers a modern, friendly atmosphere. You and your companion can share their version of sangria – a tea punch with rum, brandy, cinnamon-apricot tea and lemon juice alongside delicious small plates. One could easily make a meal off of the fresh bread and olive oil, but once you see the food being delivered to surrounding tables, you won’t be able to stop yourself from ordering at least a couple of items. Must try: the Keftedes Kapama (beef and lamb meatballs with feta, tomatoes and cinnamon) and the Kolokithodeftedes (zucchini and cheese patties with a caper-yogurt sauce).

Dulce de leche. Photo by L. Shapiro

Also walking distance from the Garden is a true hidden gem, Cedar (822 E Street NW). The new executive chef, Aaron McCloud is exceptionally talented and offers delicate touches with garden-fresh eccentricity and wild meat passions to pair and excite each hand-crafted cocktail by Cedar’s expert Mixologist, Matt Perkins. Cedar, described as “field-and-stream in a polished urban style, is known for its contemporary take on country fare: roasts, game, sausages, salmon, trout, forest forage-berries, mushrooms, herbs, greens, and smoke. Using the freshest, seasonal ingredients prepared thoughtfully and with great care, Cedar reminds us of the bounty of the Great Outdoors. Must try: Lobster and White Chocolate Soup, Grilled Elk Sausage, Braised Texas Wild Boar, and for dessert the Carrot Layer Cake or Coconut Tres Leches Cake.

If you’re with a large group of friends with a big appetite, then Carmine’s (425 7th St., NW) is your best bet. A New York outpost of the famous family-style restaurant, Carmine’s has won over Washingtonians with their delicious Italian specialties, enormous portions, (each dish designed to serve 4-6 adults) for such an incredible value; it’s impossible to leave there without being completely full to the brim. Carmine’s serves great food and makes dining in groups a lot of fun. The value for the amount of food that you get is unmatched. The decor is rustic and the photos on the walls makes you feel like your at Grandma’s house eating at your Nonna’s dinner table. As the largest restaurant in Washington, DC with more than 20,000 square feet and 700 seats, regardless of how large your party is – they can accommodate you. Must try: Chicken Saltimbocca, Eggplant Parmesan, and for dessert, Strawberry shortcake. Their sangria is also very good!

“Food is the focus. Wine is the Passion.” That’s the motto at Proof (775 G St., NW), and it’s a great place to enjoy family-style dining. They highly encourage sharing a variety of cheese and charcuterie platters, as well as entree dishes in either “first” (small) or “second” (large) portion sizes. With an extensive menu of wines from multiple regions of countries from all over the world, the serving staff is more than happy to help you properly pair a glass or bottle of vino with your food selection to fully engage your taste buds. For a “fool Proof” dining experience, try the four course menu with wine pairing. This mouth-watering combination includes homemade mozzarella, soft shell crab with pasta, thyme roasted lamb tenderloin and rhubarb and strawberry upside down cake. Destination location: Gallery Place Chinatown Metro Stop

If you’re looking to get out of the touristy areas, consider hitting up one of these delicious joints located a bit off the beaten path:

To draw out the European experience, consider Ardeo+Bardeo (3311 Connecticut Ave., NW) in Cleveland Park. Whether you’re on a date or with a flock of friends, this charming spot has a variety of seating options, including a community table, a bar and lounge area and 24 spaces for rooftop dining. Modernly designed with old school elegance, Ardeo+Bardeo offers a delightful selection of hand-crafted cocktails, wine and small plates. You can’t go wrong with any item on the menu, but the rabbit bolgnese with ricotta angolotti and carrot puree, and the suckling pork belly with pineapple and ham are  favorites. Voted by Food and Wine Magazine as The People’s Best New Pastry Chef in February 2012, be sure to save room for dessert. Apple cobbler with rum-raisin ice cream, anyone? Destination location: Cleveland Park Metro Stop

If you’re thinking more along the lines of pizza, hit up 2Amys (3715 Macomb St., NW). The wait is long but well worth it for these authentic, Neapolitan-style pies. With a selection of unique fresh toppings like Gorgonzola cheese with honey and salmon bruschetta with goat cheese, you’re taste buds will be singing Mama Mia! before the second bite. The rustic ambiance is great for a date or night out with the entire family, as 2Amys is incredibly kid-friendly. Destination location: Cleveland Park Metro Stop (between N 38th St & N Wisconsin Ave)

To spice up your night beyond the sangria, head to the H St. corridor for some Ethiopian cuisine at Ethiopic (401 H St., NE). Eating without silverware can be a bit daunting at first, but the tasty sponge bread makes up for the mess. It’s the perfect place to go with friends and split different meat and vegetable combinations. The extra dry red wine and sweet honey wine imported from Ethiopia pair wonderfully with the spicy dishes to cool your heated pallet. With a hole-in-the-wall feel and exposed brick creating an earthy vibe, Ethiopic has a friendly wait staff ready to accommodate any party size. Destination location:  Union Station Metro Stop

Maybe you’re in the mood for seafood. If so, try out Senart’s Oyster Bar and Chop House (520 8th St., SE). This narrow restaurant with multiple TV screens has a New York vibe, appealing to city-dwellers, sports enthusiasts, cocktail lovers and seafood fanatics. Known for their Moscow Mules, you’ll find yourself sipping on fine liquors out of copper mugs; or you can enjoy an Old Chub, a Scotch Ale that is rich and earthy (and can put you right under the table if you aren’t careful). Senart’s main dishes are exceptional, but if you want to mix and match your fare, they offer a variety of starters that allows you to try all kinds of sea creatures. The classic Oysters Rockefeller with gruyere, spinach and bacon pair perfectly with the Ceviche – a Carolina shrimp, scallop, jalapeño, avocado and citrus concoction that will leave you feeling quite satisfied. Destination location:  Eastern Market Metro Stop

You may have heard that Logan Circle is the new up and coming DC neighborhood. After recently spending some time in the area at various bars and restaurants, I can believe it. If you haven’t tried Churchkey, (1137 14th St., NW) this could be the perfect post-Jazz destination for you. Offering a variety of unique flatbreads, such as the ricotta of fig, and to-die-for twister mac ‘n’ cheese, you can order a small plate or entrée size. Have a food allergy? Not a problem – the chef will accommodate your needs. Churchkey also offers a 5-course meal with beer and/or wine pairings for a very reasonable price. With outdoor seating and an upstairs bar with giant TV screens, you could easily spend hours at this joint throwing back some delicious brews. If you can decide on one, that is – the place has over 555 beers from 30+ countries, including 50 draughts and 5 ales conditioned in authentic cask, not to mention the 500+ bottled labels and exclusive brews brought in from all over the country. Destination Location: McPherson Metro

Hope that this listing is helpful! Enjoy! Comment below and let us know where you dine post-Jazz! Tell us your favorite spots!

Guest post by Ashley Morris

Ashley Morris moved to DC in May 2011 after graduating from Baylor University (Yeah RG3!) and works at a media relations firm in Alexandria, VA. A lover of food, wine, traveling, and photography, she truly enjoys the diverse culture that DC has to offer. Spending time with friends and family to her is of utmost importance, and she couldn’t think of a better way to bond with them than by enjoying a meal and some drinks at one of DC’s latest hotspots.


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