Like Washington itself, Vidalia serves up sophisticated city flavors colored by a slight but unmistakable Southern accent. Long lauded as an oenophile's mecca, the restaurant now wins high praise from foodies too, for fancified down-home favorites like gorgeously lumpy crab cakes, five-onion soup with pheasant boudin blanc, and the signature dish of wild-caught shrimp on a mound of creamy, steamy grits. Downstairs from bustling M Street, the high-powered dining room is spacious and hushed, its subterranean location largely irrelevant thanks to warm yellow walls and well-planned lighting. Watch out for buttery cornbread and focaccia served with sweet onion marmalade before the meal; they may well spoil your appetite.
Tip: Reasonably priced tasting menus, uncommon in Washington, provide lots of variety in restrained portions, and at dinner, they're paired with recommendations from Vidalia's famed wine cellar.