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If I had to select a wine bar based strictly on options by the glass, I’d pick Veritas near Dupont Circle over this 14th Street NW hotspot, if only because the former includes some fine American wineries among its well-composed list. But, strange as it sounds, wine alone does not make a wine bar, and chef Ron Tanaka keeps me coming back to Cork for his simple but well-executed small plates. His duck confit and calamari are among my favorites in town, but what delights me most about Tanaka’s menu is how well vegetarians can eat here. Oil-cured Roma tomatoes, house-marinated olives, duxelles with caramelized onions on grilled bread, and, my personal favorite, the bland-sounding plate called “Avocado.” It’s thin slivers of fresh avocado layered on grilled bread, then dusted with ground pistachios and sea salt and drizzled with pistachio oil. Trust me, it’s a dish anyone could love—even a hardcore meat eater.1720 14th St. NW, (202) 265-2675
Next up: El Pollo Rico (Peruvian)