Café Atlantico is a funky, cool restaurant in the Chinatown section of D.C. They have an active bar scene and an avant garde menu. We realized, at first glance, that this was not a place you typically bring children. To their credit, the staff did not give us any indication that our daughter (I will refer to her as “S.”) was anything but welcome. They were gracious and accommodating, and the bartender even whipped her up a Shirley Temple to sip while we drank some wine. We started with an order of guacamole prepared tableside (yum!). This is normally served with homemade tortilla chips. We were not able to determine easily if the chips were safe to eat (it was a question of cross-contamination in the fryer) so S. ate hers with a spoon and a big smile on her face. They are also able to prepare jicama slices to wrap the guacamole up like raviolis.
There were lots of options on the gluten-free menu, but because the food itself was a little sophisticated for a pre-teen’s palate, we decided to order several different items from the appetizer and entrée menus to increase the odds of finding something S. would enjoy. She is not intimidated by different foods and tried an assortment of food including “pizza style” oysters with tomato sauce, garlic oil, aged parmesan and basil mayo; grilled octopus with warm strawberries and arugula; and her favorite, the duck confit. Our waiter was extremely helpful and spoke with the chef several times on our behalf to inquire about different items, including the delectable dessert choices. S. happily chowed down on the white chocolate mousse served with white chocolate hazelnut ice cream and coffee gelée. They simply left off the streusel topping that typically comes with it.
S. also loved the sip I offered her from my Mexican hot chocolate and ordered her own.
The next night we had our appetites ready for dinner that night at Nora, a beautiful restaurant in the Dupont Circle area. Our waitress helped point out the foods that S. could choose from (no separate menu, but it was just as easy to manage with her help). She decided on the spicy crab salad appetizer, followed by the chicken roulade stuffed with a ricotta arugula filling. For dessert she devoured the crème brulée and did not give her deserving parents a single bite!
Sunday morning, after checking out of our hotel, we drove the 25 minutes to Bethesda, a lovely suburb of Maryland to the wonderful Lilit Café, a favorite of ours that serves a delicious selection of gluten free gourmet sandwiches, pizza, crab cakes and desserts, including a large variety of gelato. S. and her dad shared the gluten-free Classic Italian sandwich: ham, Genoa salami, pepperoni and provolone with oil and mayo on terrific GF bread. They also split the GF Margarita pizza topped with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and basil, shredded mozzarella and tomato sauce. Fantastic! We had enough left over to wrap up three slices to take home. S. made room for dessert, too: hand-dipped scoops of coffee and caramel Italian gelato. We also loaded up on take-out from their grocery section and picked up four loaves of our favorite sandwich bread made by the local Sweet Sin Bakery, along with individual desserts: pecan tart and chocolate mousse.
The weekend was a delicious success and one we’ll happily repeat come spring.