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Washington D.C.

steak fries dinner restaurant charlie palmer washington dcWashington's vibrant restaurant scene has been gaining national attention as it moves from meat and potatoes to a more creative environment. At top-end and historic restaurants near Capitol Hill you can dine with the movers and shakers, or head to Adams-Morgan (specifically 18th Street, NW, south from Columbia Road) for an array of ethnic cuisine. The historic Union Station railway station has a large food court for a quick lunch (everything from sushi to barbecue).

For modern American with Southern regional leanings, your best bet is Vidalia on Dupont Circle, where you can try such treats as shrimp and grits, and veal sweetbreads. For those not looking for a full meal, check out the wine bar where you can buy wine by the glass and sample from a menu that includes a trio of deviled eggs and baked macaroni with truffled goat cheese. Keep in mind that menus change seasonally.

Ben's Chili Bowl is a landmark lunch spot -- the signature dish being a chili-covered "half-smoke" hot dog. The place has been here for more than 50 years and is where comedian Bill Cosby met his wife (it was also featured in the movie "The Pelican Brief").

For delicious hot and cold mezze (Greek appetizers) perfect for sharing, head to Zaytinya. Construct a meal from small plates like Ottoman-style roasted eggplant, beef and wheat fritters with almonds, and sauteed shrimp with shallots and mustard. The unique wine list showcases wines from Greece, Turkey, Lebanon and Israel.

A longstanding favorite a stone's throw from the White House, the Old Ebbitt Grill is the oldest bar in town, established in 1856, and a good spot for breakfast, lunch or a light supper amid a display of Teddy Roosevelt's hunting trophies. Presidents Grant, Cleveland and Harding were also regulars here. Sit in the mahogany and velvet booths and you may spot politicians and journalists among your fellow diners. Good bets on the menu include crispy fried Mahi Mahi, and cowboy steak with mashed potatoes.

For a quick and cheap bite in Adams-Morgan, the Amsterdam Falafelshop serves falafel and French fries accompanied by a huge bar of condiments including hummus, red beets, eggplant puree and cabbage salad.

Movers and shakers do power lunches and dinners at Charlie Palmer Steak, where the menu includes meat, game and fish, creatively prepared, and the extensive wine list is unusual in that it's all-American (with at least one from each state). Views out the windows are of Capitol Hill.

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