Kapnos's wood-fired spits give
meats a good, even roast.
board is evidence that a sign of a quality cut is in its marbling.
Washington has become a great place to be a carnivore, but there’s more to the scene than just burgers and steak. “DC’s [meat] scene has exploded,” says Ben Eisendrath, president of District-based Grillworks, which makes custom wood-fired grills for high-end restaurants and others. “For the first time, chefs I work with in other cities want to know what’s going on in DC,” he says.
The word beef does not appear on the menu at Mike Isabella’s new Greek restaurant, Kapnos, where wood-fired spits draw diners’ eyes to the kitchen upon entry. The spits roll marinated pork, lamb, goat, and chicken lazily over a smoldering hickory fire before Isabella serves the meats family-style with an ancient-grain salad and house-made harissa and tzatziki. The meats can be served alongside smaller plates, including taramasalata (carp roe spread), charred octopus, duck phyllo pie, and royal red shrimp, which are also meant for sharing. Mark your calendar: Guests can call one day ahead and request a group dinner featuring a whole spit-roasted animal carved tableside and showered with fresh herbs and lemon vinaigrette. 2201 14th St. NW, 202-234-5000
All You Need Is Proof
The charcuterie menu at Proof in Penn Quarter is one of Washington’s most diverse: It typically boasts 10 or more different cured selections, including truffle-scented wild boar salume and luxurious cured Spanish Iberico pork loin. The restaurant also offers delectable selections such as rustic country pâté, duck liver mousse, and beef photerrine, depending on Executive Chef HaidarKaroum’s weekly menu scheme. Off-cuts are given star billing as well. Karoum fashions a rich and rustic dish out of veal sweetbreads, corn, cherry tomatoes, bacon, Yukon golds, and foiegras—which also shows up in a dish of its own with sweet cherry shortcake, pistachios, and cocoa nibs. Pièce de résistance: The crispy pig’s head plate, which includes a trio of tête de cochon croquettes with sugar snap peas, pickled baby carrots, and sauce gribiche. 775 G St. NW, 202-737-7663
The Ripple Effect
Marjorie Meek-Bradley, Ripple’s new chef who formerly ran the kitchen at Isabella’s Graffiato, brings her intense focus on high-quality local ingredients and a deft touch with meats to the Cleveland Park eatery. Her exciting housemadecharcuterie selection includes smoked pork rillettes, chicken liver parfait, an over-the-top testa (head cheese), and pig’s trotter terrine. Meek-Bradley also offers charred octopus with hummus, tomatoes, and olives, as well as a roasted leg of lamb, one of her specialties. Sunday brunch must-order: Try the chicken-fried pork belly on a biscuit with sausage gravy, a fried egg, and cheddar. 3417 Connecticut Ave. NW, 202-244-7995
Head to the Source The Source is perennially decorated as one of Washington’s best restaurants, and Executive Chef Scott Drewno, a two-time winner of the highly competitive Cochon 555 pork cook-off, has yet to find an animal he doesn’t like to give his signature East-West treatment. The menu features suckling pig, dumplings with crab and Kurobuta pork, crispy quail, Chinese duck, baby octopus, and even tofu—served with chili pork sauce, of course. East meats West: The crispy frog’s legs with blistered shishito peppers, Thai basil, and Fresno chilies. The tender frog’s legs are richer than chicken and the sauce makes them, er, jump off the plate. 575 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 202-637-6100