Just got back from a week at a conference in DC. Thanks to the Chowhound community for all the excellent info on this board, you all made my trip vastly more delicious. A few quick recaps:
Little Serow – hands down the best meal of the trip, and honestly one of the best dining experiences I’ve had out in a very long time. Having moved to tiny Santa Fe from Boston seven years ago this was an amazing experience both in terms of the fun, urbane, underground vibe and the remarkably uncompromising Thai menu full of challenging ingredients and no shortage of capsaicin. Not much to be said that hasn’t already been said, but I do want to mention how impressed I was by the exemplary FoH staff; it takes quite a bit to make me take note of the quality of service in either direction, but they absolutely nailed it with a combination of friendliness, attentiveness, and knowledgeableness. Is there better/more authentic Thai to be found elsewhere in town? Maybe, but the great food, well-curated beer and wine list, cool digs, and great service meant I had no need to seek it out.
Fiola Mare – I’m always skeptical of prominent upscale restaurants that would be on the radar of every hotel concierge inside the city limits, but this place totally delivered the goods. Delicious, genuinely authentic Italian seafood. The lobster ravioli was absurdly priced at $50, but it was just a beautiful dish in every sense, with perfectly made pasta lightly wrapping large chunks of fresh lobster meat in a thin, but rich butter and ginger sauce. Also a big thumbs up for the frozen Negroni, the most delicious grown-up Slurpee I could have hoped for. Everything else we tried was similarly spot-on.
Dolcezza – pretty good coffee, very good gelato. Stumptown’s coffee always strikes me as a shade too acidic, but the staff brewed/pulled it well. Best gelato flavors: crème fraiche and marmalade, strawberry stracciatella, and basically all of the sorbetti. This was right on my walk to the Convention Center so I went several times; it's worth noting that as often as not there was some sort of process crisis that slowed the line down to a crawl.
SUNdeVICH – fun but overrated. I went twice for lunch and the bread and fillings were fine but not great. The place is a machine though.
Centrolina – the grab and go sandwiches were vastly better than anything from SUNdeVICH. Very good bread, top notch fillings, wish we'd had a chance to do a sit-down meal.
Siroc – the actual homemade pasta was very good, but everything else (including the pasta preparations) was lackluster. Respectable wine list with some decent value.
Izakaya Seki – good, not great. Quality of the dishes was variable, the sake list was nothing special, and although I appreciated the relaxed vibe, everything felt a little rough around the edges. This place felt like it belonged on the restaurant row in a small college town.
Etto – quality varied from good to stellar. Excellent fresh cheeses, a few nice fish dishes (loved the anchovies and pesto), good pizza dough with OK pizza toppings, nice no-fuss wine list, weird cocktail program with some choices working dramatically better than others.