Ever since Mike Isabella took over the kitchen at Zaytinya in 2007, I have been drawn to this downtown power spot in an unhealthy (and unsustainable) way for someone of my tax bracket. I dare say that, these days, I’m far more likely to be ordering small plates here than at José Andrés’ three temples to Spanish gastronomy, which either means that Isabella’s one helluva chef or that I’ve picked up some seasonal allergy to cured meats. I think it’s the former. Isabella has, to my mind, solved Zaytinya’s once-maddening inconsistencies while injecting a creative seasonality into the mezze menu. A recent plate of spring bean plaki was as fresh as a snap pea from the garden, while a special of fried squash blossoms pulled off a neat trick: They were simultaneously rich and delicate.

701 9th St. NW, (202) 638-0800