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Celebrity Chefs’ New Restaurants, Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. keeps getting more and more interesting as a food destination and we’re not just referring to high end places for power dinners. Three relatively new, casual eateries, Bobby’s Burger Palace, El Centro D.F, and the Sixth and Rye food truck-- all birthed by celebrity chefs-- add flare to D.C.’s food scene.

Iron Chef Bobby Flay’s Bobby’s Burger Palace has created burger lines. Sometimes these snake out the door and down the block. Either arrive early for lunch or be prepared to wait at this downtown eatery opened in August 2011 in the K Street corridor.

With sleek, curved counters and communal tables, the Burger Palace is a contemporary take on the old-fashioned diner. Along with tasty burgers, the eatery serves “nostalgic” sides such as sweet potato fries, crunchy onion rings and rich milk shakes. Three versions come spiked. “Get Crunchified,” the advice emblazoned on the staff’s black T-shirts, is a good idea. It means that at no extra charge, your burgers arrive topped with potato chips.

El Centro D.F, a venture by noted chef Richard Sandoval, a.k.a. the “father of modern Mexican cuisine,” takes a Latin American staple-- the taqueria-- and gives it a twist as smooth as its tequilas made from 100% agave. The restaurant’s three levels each have a different mood and cater to different crowds.

Sandoval calls El Centro’s cuisine Mexican comfort food. At the ground floor restaurant, best for families, order tacos to go or eat in. The rough plank tables and cream stucco walls with green splotches evoke a street-front eatery.

The reserve ahead, 64-seat, basement tequileria, reached by walking through the “Exit” door and down the concrete staircase, has the feel of an underground club. Signature dishes include Jalisco shrimp and crab enchiladas with Oaxaca cheese and tacos al pastor made with adobo marinade pork shoulder, cilantro and grilled pineapple.

El Centro is also known for its more than 200 tequilas and mezcals. Try the special mojito Mexicano made with El Jimador, a tequila blanco, and spiced with chile ginger syrup. If the weather’s nice, visit the popular rooftop bar. While there’s no view, there’s also no cover, at least so far. Late night on Thursdays through Saturdays a D.J. spins Latin tunes.

The Sixth and Rye food truck, which debuted May 2011, is DC’s first kosher deli on wheels. Although the food truck now appears in different locations at lunch time, the eatery-on-wheels began by being parked outside the historic Sixth and I synagogue. That accounts for the truck’s playful name.

Spike Mendelsohn, who also operates the District’s popular We, the Pizza and the Good Stuff Eatery, is the force behind the Sixth and Rye food truck. Mendelsohn, a contestant on Top Chef Chicago, created a place that answers the question “Where can I get a N.Y. style corned beef on rye? ”

Mendelsohn’s thick sandwich comes schmeered with his hot mustard and accompanied by his homemade potato chips. Vegetarians like the Israeli couscous salad and the veggie wrap. To locate the mobile deli, follow it on Twitter @sixthandrye or check the location at Food Truck Fiesta.

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