Photo of Pappe thali by Reema Desai

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A strong class of new restaurants opened during D.C.’s sleepy summer months. Now that winter’s announced its arrival, these eateries are worth revisiting as they swap out refreshing cocktails for stronger mixtures and serve dishes that will warm you up from the inside out. Here’s why the following four restaurants will be even better in the colder months ahead.  

Pappe

1317 14th St. NW

If you struggle to choose when faced with a multi-page menu at an Indian restaurant, thalis are the answer. Breakout Indian restaurant Pappe rolled out the sampler trays for diners to enjoy daily from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. In creating a thali, a chef will incorporate sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and spicy flavors into small bowls arranged on one plate. Pappe offers four to choose from ($14-$20), two of which are vegetarian. The Maharaja thali is the most luxe with lamb, chicken, vegetable curry, daal (lentils), raita, pickles, rice, and a choice of naan. The restaurant also introduced a new set of seasonal cocktails that lean heavily on warming spices, like the “Sweet By and By” with rye, house-made mango chutney, allspice dram, Cocchi Dopo Teatro, and bitters ($12).

Poca Madre

777 I St. NW

Chef Victor Albisu is launching a taco omakase menu on Dec. 4. Borrowing the word from the Japanese, which translates to, “I’ll leave it up to you,” the modern Mexican restaurant will serve a 12-course taco tasting menu on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for $90 per person. It will include up to seven tacos, along with other masa-based dishes like sopes and tlayudas. Drink pairings include beer, tequila, and mezcal. Albisu’s goal is to show guests the variety of ways Poca Madre uses corn, and the flavor they’re able to coax out by grinding and cooking the masa in house. 

San Lorenzo

1316 9th St. NW

Shaw’s new taste of Tuscany from Massimo Fabbri has game. The chef, formerly of Tosca and Poste, is working with local farms to put pheasant, duck, and lamb on the menu. Diners can also expect short rib ravioli, braised lamb shank, and wild boar ragu over homemade pappardelle pasta. He recommends pairing these dishes with his restaurant’s heartiest Italian red wines. “The fall and winter time in Italy is the ideal time to enjoy rich meats and game,” he says. Fabbri is slowly introducing the winter dishes on the menu. 

America Eats Tavern

3139 M St. NW

Georgetown’s home for American comfort food and barbecue is converting its back patio into a cozy space that will feature live music shows on Nov. 28, Dec. 6, Dec. 12, and Dec. 19. During the shows, diners can order off of the “social hour” menu of discounted food and drinks until 9 p.m. On the regular menu, winter comfort food additions include a rich mushroom soup with cranberry walnut toast and cornbread pudding with eggnog ice cream for dessert. Since winter is brown liquor season, note that America Eats has an impressive whiskey list. Sample them in monthly flights. “One of the whiskeys we’re most excited about is a pre-Prohibition style whiskey from J. Rieger’s Kansas City Whiskey, which actually has some sherry in it,” says beverage director Chrissy Wilson.