Photos By Nicholas Karlin, Words By Brandon Wetherbee
Best for: Large groups, Penn Quarter workers, first dates with potential
New York City’s The Smith opened their first D.C. restaurant this week. Located at the corner of 9th and F St NW, it’s as close as you can get to the Hill without feeling like your blocks from the Hill. Across 9th is the Portrait Gallery. Across F is a very large Courtyard. Kitty corner is the Spy Museum. The Smith should please patrons of all three.
The restaurant is attempting to provide something for everyone. It mostly succeeds. Similar to Farmers & Distillers, the menu is extensive. There are over 50 options. That’s a lot, especially for the area. Most make sense and one of our favorite dishes doesn’t.
We’re recommending it for people going to nearby museums, hotels and work because the restaurant is malleable enough for multiple needs. The place is large enough for big groups and, depending on where you’re sitting, can feel as warm as Le Diplomate. The lighting is fantastic. Good lighting really helps on dates. So do photo booths. They have one.
If you’re on a lunch break (lunch begins next week), the kale and quinoa salad is a fine option.
If you’re going for after work drinks order the toasted sesame hummus and a “Make a Buck,” house made ginger with your choice of spirit. We enjoyed the Kentucky Buck and we’ll enjoy it more during summer months. Related, The Smith does not offer happy hour. We hope this changes. As of now, there are no happy hour plans. The four NYC locations do not offer happy hour. Penn Quarter is not NYC.
All of that works. What doesn’t is the tuna poke. The trend doesn’t need to be on the menu. If you want fish at The Smith, stick to the raw bar or crab cake tarts. We realize the crab cake tarts are not nearly as healthy as the tuna poke. If you want healthy, once again, we really enjoyed the salad.
One of the highlights was the vegetable bibimbap, which makes the least amount of sense on the menu. On the other hand, the PQ Burger Supreme was just fine, which doesn’t cut it when Shake Shack is across the street.
Restaurants that try to be everything to everyone are rarely good. Based on The Smith’s first week, they’re doing quite well. They were packed at 7 p.m. on a Tuesday night. And it makes sense. Groups between 2 and 8, co-workers, families, first dates and everyone in between were enjoying meals that ranges from $20 to $200. To our left were two men on their phones eating steak and burgers while working. On the right was two young 20-somethings eating salad. Behind us was a date going to town on a raw bar platter. A nearby family ordered the crab cake tots after hearing us rave about them. If their first Tuesday is any indication of success, The Smith will fit right in in Penn Quarter.