The ebullient spirit of chef Michel Richard lives on at Central, though the brilliant Richard died in 2016. His namesake restaurant continues to win high marks for both food and ambience. A great downtown location on Pennsylvania Avenue, a generous bar, a menu that speaks to both French and American cultures (puffy gougères, fried chicken, mussels in white wine with frites, a lobster burger, mushroom Bolognese), and voilà! Central is It. The dining room can be loud, but the commotion signifies the happy time that most are enjoying. Tip: For best value, dine at the bar or on the patio for weekday happy hour 3:30 to 6:30pm, and enjoy some delicious deals from the bar menu, such as French fries for $8 and a plate of three sliders for $15.