The ebullient spirit of chef Michel Richard lives on at Central, though the brilliant Richard died in August 2016. His namesake restaurant turns 11 in 2018 and continues to win high marks for both food and ambience. A great Penn Quarter location on Pennsylvania Avenue, a generous bar, a menu that speaks to both French and American cultures (devilled eggs, croque monsieur, fried chicken, mussels in white wine with garlic, hot dogs, trout almandine), and voila! Central is It. And the place is always full. The dining room can be loud, but the commotion signifies the happy time that most are enjoying. A couple of tips: For best value, order from the $24.50 three-course lunch special menu, or dine at the bar or on the patio for weekday happy hour 5 to 7pm, and and enjoy some delicious deals from the bar menu, like french fries for $5 and a plate of three sliders for $12.
- Elise Hartman Ford