Beyond the world-class museums, iconic landmarks and perpetual political dramas on Capitol Hill, there’s another reason why Washington, D.C., should be on your radar: the food and drink scene here is blowing up. The era of the stodgy, vapid steakhouse, once reserved for politicians and other power-lunchers, has been eclipsed by a generation of cool newcomers, including one hugely popular spot that Bon Appétit recently declared America’s “best new restaurant of 2014.” Other new standouts include a downtown restaurant celebrating snout-to-tail butchery, and a low-key bar located inside a historic carriage house, where the specialty is a glass of pink bubbles and a shot of bourbon. Here are five of the hottest new places bringing ever more gustatory gusto to the capital city.

1. The Partisan
It’s all about meat, lots and lots of it. This should come as no surprise, though, as one of the brains behind this meat-centric operation is Nathan Anda, the founder of Red Apron, a local mini-empire of butcheries. Here, Anda and chef Ed Witt celebrate whole-hog butchery with a check-off list of house charcuterie that’s chock full of unexpected surprises, like the Thai chili–spiced pig heart terrine and pork blood sausage studded with pine nuts and raisins. While it’s tempting and easy, don’t go overboard with the cured meats, so you can dig into the kitchen’s more substantial offerings. The much-talked-about pig head is roasted low and slow for 13 hours and is a fun, visually stimulating and interactive feast of crackly skin and rich, fatty meat. 709 D St. NW; thepartisandc.com

2. Roses Luxury
Small on space but big on buzz, this Capitol Hill location — named “best new restaurant in 2014” by Bon Appétit — has packed in the crowds since it opened by nailing the culinary trifecta: (1) an understated, chic décor; (2) charming, affable service; and (3) ambitious, globally influenced cooking by chef and owner Aaron Silverman. The menu is made up of small, sharable plates categorized into cold, warm & grill, pasta and other goods. Among the best seasonal items are thick, fat bucatini topped with a tangy sungold tomato sauce, and fresh, creamy peaches whose almost-sugary sweetness are balanced with bitter shiso and salty ricotta. And, big bonus points to the kitchen, which frequently sends out extra treats on the house. 717 8th St. SE, rosesluxury.com

3. Bluejacket and The Arsenal
From the operators of local hot spots Iron Gate and ChurchKey/Birch & Barley, this massive 7,000-square-foot space is dedicated to exceptional craft microbrews and pub food. Beers are frequently rotated. But, there are 20 original offerings daily, ranging from High Society, a bracing and assertive barley wine, to Haywire, a crisp, hoppy wheat session beer. As beer and fried foods are a natural pairing, we recommend the house-made tater tots, pork rinds, pig tails and fries. These come buried under your choice of ham gravy and gooey cheddar, sweet and savory general satan’s sauce, or fiery frankenbutter and blue cheese. 300 Tingey St. SE; bluejacketdc.com

4. Red Hen
Tucked away on a quiet, unassuming street in Bloomingdale, Red Hen exemplifies what we want in a true neighborhood restaurant. The open kitchen and large central bar, surrounded by exposed brick and dark wood, provide a warm and casual backdrop for chef Michael Friedman’s Italian-focused cooking. Carb fans will flip for the pastas, all of which are house made and extruded, a process in which dried dough is forced through a die. Instead of spaghetti and fettuccine, you’ll linger over bowls of pillowy ricotta cavatelli folded with shredded lamb and bacon, or silky, squid-ink paccheri tossed with tender calamari rings and meaty chickpeas. In short, this is the kind of modern comfort food that we want to come back to, over and over again. 1822 1st St. NW; theredhendc.com

5. All Souls Bar
By pairing a handsome historical space (a corner carriage house) with restaurant-quality service, All Soul sets the tone for a drinking experience that’s totally laid back, affordable and welcoming to all (hence the name). Owner David Batista – he sees himself foremost as a host, then a bartender – honed his chops for years at Jaleo and Zaytinya before his then-boss, José Andrés, became the culinary superstar he is now. There’s a simple, solid menu of wines, beers and cocktails. But, it’s the house “All Souls” you’ll want to toss back first. A glass of sparkling rose with a shot of Maker’s Mark, the unorthodox coupling has long been a personal favorite of Batista’s. And, guess what? It works. 725 T St. NW; allsoulsbar.com

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