From upscale fare to casual eateries, there's no shortage of dining opportunity near this treasure trove of national monuments clustered near the epicenter of federal government. Proximity to power, apparently, begets hearty appetites for everything from prime, hand-cut steaks to basic burgers and Asian delicacies. As the nation's capital, Washington's broad spectrum of international traffic has spawned an equally wide array of ethnic eateries, despite the district being somewhat sparse on ethnic neighborhoods. Chinatown (between 6th and 8th on G and H streets NW) bolsters traditional Chinese venues with Burmese, Thai, and other Asian cuisines. For fine dining, critics laud venues at the city's luxury hotels such as Seasons Restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel and Michel Richard Citronelle at The Latham Hotel. Also rating raves is The Willard InterContinental, where The Willard Room often features a three-course lunch and four-course dinners, especially during Cherry Blossom season in late March and April. That's when afternoon tea at the hotel features cherry scones with clotted cream, cherry tea cake, chilled cherry soup, cherry cheesecake, and more things cherry, similar to a culinary cherry bonanza going on elsewhere around town. Among top capital area eateries are Les Halles, Charlie Palmer Steak DC, McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurant, Rosa Mexicano, Palette, Indigo Landing in nearby Alexandria, and Bangkok Joe's Dumpling Bar & Cafe, the latter ranking as the capital's first dumpling bar. Reservations are highly recommended in Washington D.C., especially for Saturday nights. Last-minute tables are more readily available for before 6 p.m. or after 9:30 p.m., since areas inside the beltway are not known for rocking into the night. Some excellent restaurants offer well-priced bar menus, ideal when a dinner table can't be snagged. Other popular capital area restaurants, where food is worthy of the wait, don't accept reservations at all, allowing uncertainty to become part of the experience. Given Washington's crowded streets, restaurants offering valet parking are providing a true perk even when the service is not complimentary. Early birds rendezvousing with tardy companions should be aware that some restaurants insist the entire party "must be present" to be seated. Few enclaves require men to wear jacket and tie, although some do, so be sure to check when in doubt.
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