Un Petit Paris at Washington, D.C.’s Le Diplomate

Washington, D.C. might not seem like the likeliest location for a taste of Paris. Yet after all, the city’s grid is the fingerprint of L’Enfant. On one of these alphabet streets (précisément Q and 14th) you’ll find the most charmante brunch in town.

I’m not a full-on Francophile, but I’m instantly delighted by our hostess’ navy shift dress, flats, and jaunty red scarf. Realizing this is indeed the front of house uniforme doesn’t even ruin it for me.

Reservations are a must at this bustling café. Sipping a café au lait, I admire the heaps of crusty bread darting around the room in the hands of black-tied waiters. It’s been years since my last visit to France. Is this how Paris really felt or only how I want to remember it? I decide it doesn’t matter and order a French 75 and a Romarin cocktail (vodka, St. Germain, rosemary, & grapefruit) in the spirit of joiee de vivre.

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We pull our gaze from the antique mirrors and lace curtains adorning the dining room to focus on the gorgeous menu. From the sugar packets to the decorative matchboxes we beg the hostess to hunt down, the design elements are magnifique.

This menu has me craving a breakfast of oysters, French onion soup, and omelets at once, but I settle on the duck hash. The creamy dish is flavorful and filling. My date takes a healthier turn with a spinach and tomato omelette. Le Diplomate has been a delightful start to my Sunday and I hate to leave it at meal’s end. I imagine how it must look at night, candlelight reflecting on the dark wood paneling.

The jewel box of Le Diplomate is the garden room, where diners are flooded in sunlight amid vibrant emerald tiles. On my way out I glimpse the outdoor dining area, closed for the season and I flashback to Parisian bites en plein aire. Maybe Le Diplomate isn’t exactly as I remember France, but it’s got all the best aspects covered.

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Le Diplomate
1601 14th St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20009

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