How About Dinner and a Show?

Jordan Wright

SIGNATURE THEATRE’s new and permanent digs in Shirlington Village have provided the perfect marriage of good food and entertainment. Running late? No problem. Their café has an eclectic selection of delicious soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts to enjoy in the expansive bar and lounge area. Pair with a glass of wine or one of many craft beers. Still playing “Sunset Boulevard” continues to draw a packed house until February 13th. Then catch the world premiere of the new musical “Wheatley’s Folly” in March. Check the schedule for the more intimate Cabaret Nights in The Ark.

If hip and politically left is your bent then you’ll treasure Busboys and Poets. Reminiscent of an old style bookshop cum coffee house, owner, activist and arts supporter, Andy Shallal encourages lingering and dialogue with music, open mic nights and poetry slams. The casual fare is affordable and delicious with pizzas, paninis, salads and full-on entrees.

T.H.A.I. is the best and prettiest Thai restaurant in the area. Chef Aulie prepares her flavorful thai-with-a-twist cuisine from her grandmother’s recipes in a sleek modern setting. Service is prompt and, as with all restaurants in Shirlington, they are super-aware of guests trying to make curtain time.

Samuel Beckett’s Gastro Pub serves Irish food in a large but cozy bi-level pub that pays tribute to the iconic dramatist. Local restauranteur Mark Kirwan who hails from the Auld Sod, gets it just right with traditional and new Irish comfort food. A large selection of esoteric Irish whiskeys, and 12 different Irish beers are on tap. Stays open for late night dining.

Aladdin’s presents Middle Eastern cuisine with an extensive Lebanese-inspired menu. The menu boasts of all healthy fresh ingredients. Be sure to try one of seven kinds of herbal teas or a fresh fruit smoothie with the “pitzas”, pitas, salads, kaftas and kabobs.

Ping by Charlie Chang’s is a dazzling bright red space serving Modern Asian cuisine with small plates, unique Asian fare, and dozens of sushi and nigiri options in their Shina Lounge.

ARENA STAGE opened their $35 million dollar glamorous new digs this past fall to thunderous applause. Next Stage by José Andrés is where the uberchef designs the dinner menus to reflect the current production. Open two and a half hours before curtain time, reservations are highly recommended. Upscale light fare is sold at Concessions. Before the show, sip champagne on the lofty terrace with a waterfront view.

CityZen in the five-star Mandarin Hotel is noted chef Eric Ziebold’s fantasy creation, reflecting a fine French dining experience with innovative cuisine in a stunning setting. The fixed price menu is full of inspired seasonal dishes. Also in the hotel is Sou’Wester, Ziebold’s interpretation of regional American cooking featuring hearty, wholesome cuisine from fried chicken to red velvet cake.

Phillips Flagship is the granddaddy of seafood restaurants in Washington DC. This location overlooking the Potomac River is well known for their all-you-can-eat seafood buffet, featuring over 30 selections, and dockside dining.

THE SHAKESPEARE THEATRE COMPANY, with its Lansburgh Theatre and nearby Sidney Harman Hall, has a wealth of dining options in its Penn Quarter neighborhood.

Fogo de Chao is a carnivore’s carnival. With 15 different cuts of flame-grilled meats sliced tableside, it serves Southern Brazilian churrascaria including a lavish salad bar in an attractive white-linen Gaucho-themed atmosphere.

Carmine’s has burst onto the scene in recent months with its signature style of abbondanza. Originating in New York City, this wildly popular resto offers mega-portions of classic Italian recipes like your nonna, if you had one, would make for the famiglia. Make sure to sample their famous meatballs.

At Ella’s Wood Fired Pizza you’ll find pizzas, calzones, pastas and salads in a low-key casual spot that uses high-end toppings on crispcrust pizzas. This Neapolitan-inspired restaurant also offers gluten-free crusts and lots of vegan options.

Jaleo – José Andrés triumphs in his everpopular Spanish-themed tapas restaurant featuring dozens of scrumptious small plates. Perfect for grazing or dining over a pitcher of sangrias and six varieties of regional paellas. This is where you’ll find the luscious ibérico ham.

A fashionable destination with a theatrical décor, Zola is known for its out-of-the-box cool American cuisine. Stunning seasonal selections and artisanal cocktails showcase Executive Chef Bryan Moscatello’s original fare.

THE KENNEDY CENTER is the jewel in the crown of area theatres. The splendid Roof Terrace Restaurant wows guests with exquisite pre-theatre American Modern seasonal dishes by Chef Joe Gurner. Reservations recommended.

Situated beside the Kennedy Center, newcomer Rivers at the Watergate Restaurant arrived recently with a splash. Whether pre- or post-dinner, its stylish cuisine attracts visiting performers and celebs who gather round the piano bar after the show. While recently in town, Marvin Hamlisch and the cast of “Hair” made this their regular hangout.

West End Bistro is renowned chef Eric Ripert’s chic French-influenced American comfort food outpost. Known as a hip and fashionable destination among the local cognoscenti, its signature dishes are drawn from Ripert’s Provencal roots.

Beloved local chef, Ris Lacoste, has finally opened her very own restaurant and brought her loyal following with her. A tip-top trendy spot, the food at the eponymously-named RIS is influenced by the local farmer’s market and elegantly tweaked classics. Her French onion soup is reason alone to check it out.

Dine beneath suspended clouds with farmto-table fare at the eco-friendly Founding Farmers Restaurant. Owned by a consortium of American farmers, it features handcrafted cocktails and heartland cuisine in an ultra-modern setting beside the IMF.