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The 50 Finest

Washington's booming culinary scene boasts inspiring new restaurants, impressive chefs, dishes to die for, experiences to savor and a spectrum of food and drink trends that take dining out into a whole new and exciting realm. Welcome to a gourmand's paradise.

Chef Tarver King makes the journey to The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm worth it, especially for dishes like scallop crudo with guanciale emulsion.



Pineapple and Pearls
James Beard Award winner Aaron Silverman has another hit. This modern New American-meets-pan-global stunner offers guests one option: a reservations-only, $250 all-inclusive 15-course tasting menu accompanied by pairings from mixology maestro Jeff Faile. POWER MOVE Not in the mood to drink with dinner? Reserve a seat at the bar to enjoy the full meal for just $150. 715 Eighth St. SE

Top Chef favorite Jennifer Carroll teamed up with restaurant-empire builder Mike Isabella to create this Mediterranean-minded Mosaic District standout. As a protege of Eric Ripert, she knows about preparing seafood, as evidenced by her stellar shellfish-packed bouillabaisse rich with saffron and fennel ($64 to $86) and artful whole-fish presentations (prices vary). POWER MOVE Order a selection of small tastes to start. Seacuterie, such as blue catfish rillettes ($8)perked up with lemon rind, is a surefire bet, as is the pastrami spiced celery root ($6). 8296 Glass Alley, Fairfax, Va., 703.462.8662

Eric Ziebold’s haute cuisine explores a swath of the American experience and beyond, including a lobe of foie gras dressed up for the season ($150) and a spot-on whole roasted chicken with aromatic breading piped underneath its crackly gold skin ($56). POWER MOVE The menu's Indulgences section lives up to its name. Lobster-topped French toast ($30) and caviar service with housemade micro-potato chips ($80) are worth the splurge. 1015 Seventh St. NW, 202.737.7700

Chef-owner Jeremiah Langhorne delivers the best of the Chesapeake and nearby farms to his Shaw masterpiece, The Dabney.

This globally inspired crudo bar comes courtesy of Michael Schlow, who has already impressed District diners with Tico and the Riggsby. Highlights include furikake-dusted poke and slices of raw hamachi with uni and caviar ($18). POWER MOVE Choose the “Put Yourself in Our Hands” option ($45 or $135 per person) to enjoy a unique tasting menu based on your preferences and whatever is exciting in the moment. 465 K St. NW, 202.629.4662

Bad Saint
The 24-seat Filipino eatery doesn’t take reservations and can only accommodate parties of four or fewer, but it’s more than worth any inconvenience. The Columbia Heights breakout offers electrifying Far East fare–from clams amped with Sichuan chile peppers ($20) to ukoy and soft shell crab ($9) to classic lumpia (eggrolls stuffed with pork and beef, $9). POWER MOVE Three seats overlook the petite open kitchen, so if you can score a spot there, you’ll be able to watch chef Tom Cunanan conjure your meal while you eat. 3226 11th St. NW

The Dabney
Chef-owner Jeremiah Langhorne melds timeworn tastes and techniques from below the Mason-Dixon line with contemporary thinking. The menu changes frequently, but expect both terrestrial and aquatic options, such as lacquered pheasant, seasonally accented pork loin or pan-fried blue catfish (prices vary). POWER MOVE Show up before your reservation to sit at the bar and sample its exclusive menu of small snacks, such as pork-belly sliders lavished with deeply sweet watermelon molasses ($4). 122 Blagden Alley NW, 202.450.1015

Erik Bruner-Yang’s vibrant homage to Cambodian and Taiwanese traditions is brilliant. Guests can dig into anything-but-ordinary fried chicken perked with Chinese five spice, plenty of cilantro, vinegar notes and small blasts of heat ($26), as well as aromatic beef curry ($28) or pork-packed bao buns ($6). POWER MOVE Sunday dim sum never fails to delight with its small plates boasting big flavors, including rice-noodle crepe wrapped around roast pork ($6), chive and shrimp cakes ($5) and revelatory peanut-butter anchovy brittle ($4). 1351 H St. NE, 202.838.9972

Nick Stefanelli’s solo debut is set in the middle of a crisscrossing maze of international import shops, but you feel like you’re in one of Los Angeles’ hippest neighborhoods. Light wood walls enclose the open-air courtyard, which transitions into a covered patio and the industrial-chic dining room inside. The nouveau Italian fare is just as transfixing as the settings. POWER MOVE On Fridays and Saturdays, the chef offers a six-course La Cucina menu featuring a curated selection of pastas, flavorful small plates, carne, pesce, verdure and Jemil Gadea’s memorable desserts ($150, add $90 for pairings). 1340 Fourth St. NE, 202.608.1330

Tail Up Goat
Chef Jon Sybert uses the Mediterranean as a starting point for dishes like toasted rice bread topped with Greek yogurt, roasted carrots and orange marmalade ($10), and supple discs of corzetti pasta coated with rich goat ragu hiding an Arbol chile kick ($18). POWER MOVE Beverages include wonderful nonalcoholic options, such as tart ’n’ tangy hibiscus and blood-orange agua fresca; and tepache, fermented pineapple juice redolent with clove, allspice and anise ($8 each). 1827 Adams Mill Road NW, 202.986.9600

Chef Michael Friedman unveils a homage to the pizzerias he loved growing up in New Jersey. The big difference is the gourmet treatment. The Buona is sassed up with chile honey and pepperoni ($16), while Duke #7 arrives with spicy ’nduja, pickled giardiniera and pools of melted mozz and scamorza ($17). POWER MOVE All-Purpose boasts desserts worth saving room for, such as an Italian cookie sampler and luxuriant gianduja panna cotta ($9 each). 1250 Ninth St. NW, 202.849.6174


Rose’s Luxury
Groups of eight to 10 can reserve the lush rooftop garden at Aaron Silverman’s still hotter-than-hot Barrack’s Row breakout ($110 per person). Guests are treated to drink pairings and an exclusive menu that often features special treats unavailable downstairs. Don’t worry if it rains—the elevated dining room is covered and heated. 717 Eighth St. SE, 202.580.8889

The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm
At this worth-the-road-trip gem overlooking the Potomac River, Executive Chef Tarver King wows with his inventive New American fare. His ever-evolving tasting menu spotlights the finest seasonal, sustainably sourced ingredients, including many rare edible wild plants he personally forages from the surrounding woodlands. 42461 Lovettsville Road, Lovettsville, Va., 540.822.9017

The Inn at Little Washington
Chef-owner Patrick O’Connell’s outsize personality, enduring commitment to hospitality and prodigious talent continue to drive this charmingly appointed, five-star gourmet getaway in the Virginian greenbelt. Immerse yourself in the beyond-luxurious meal at one of the two kitchen tables ($395 to $595, plus cost of meal) set in the middle of the action. 309 Middle St., Washington, Va., 540.675.3800

L’Auberge Chez Francois
Enjoy an authentic Alsatian experience in the Virginia countryside. For more than
40 years, the Haeringer family has faithfully recreated the food of their forefathers—including Chateaubriand steak, sauteed Dover sole with lobster and Provence style scallops—as a part of a sumptuous six-course tasting ($75 to $85). 332 Springvale Road, Great Falls, Va., 703.759.3800

A much-decorated bastion of elevated French-Belgian cuisine, this Foggy Bottom scene-stealer has been impressing diners for more than 17 years. To truly appreciate chef-owner Robert Wiedmaier’s artistry, settle in for the seven-course tasting menu ($155 per person) accompanied by the indulgent caviar service ($130 to $150). 2401 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 202.296.1166


Nicholas Stefanelli’s hot spot skews Puglian, but General Manager and sommelier David Kurka unearths the depth and breadth of Italy on his varietally driven 550-bottle list. The voluptuous yet mineral-driven and crisp 2014 Marisa Cuomo Ravello ($80) from the Amalfi Coast blends Biancolella with Falanghina, while the 2012 Michele Satta Syrah ($160) from the cool Bolgheri region of Tuscany boasts concentrated cherry, rosemary and black-olive notes—perfection with Stefanelli’s squab with sour-cherry agrodolce and English pea puree. 1340 Fourth St. NE, 202.608.1330

Bourbon Steak
Guests can sink their teeth into dense cabernets and earthy Bordeaux at the Georgetown steakhouse, but the 750-bottle list is also peppered with eclectic regions and grapes. Head Sommelier Julian Mayor says Old World drinkers will find Bordeaux structure, Burgundian elegance and Barolo’s earth and minerality in the 2008 Quinta da Muradella Tinto ($159). The 2012 René Geoffroy Cumières Rouge ($107) is a rare still red wine from Champagne that, paired with the seafood tower, crushes the antiquated no-red-wine-with-fish rule. 2800 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 202.944.2026

At his hip French American restaurant in Shaw, top toque Cedric Maupillier’s sharable, not-quite-small plates cozy up to the wines on the 90-bottle list that highlight French regions and its varietals produced around the world. The effervescence in Gonet Medeville NV Champagne ($80) delivers classic notes of baking bread. 801 O St, NW, 202.525.2870

Ottoman Taverna
Haven’t ever tried wine from Turkey? Nuray Karatas, general manager of the Mount Vernon Triangle taverna, hopes to change that, with a handpicked 95-bottle mezze-friendly list that also encompasses offerings from Greece, Lebanon and Israel. The 2014 Kavaklidere Vin Art ($48) from Cappadocia blends the acidity of indigenous Narince with the lushness of chardonnay; earthy, full-bodied Buyulubag Shah ($77) from Avsa Island is a cuvée of syrah, cabernet sauvignon and merlot that’s made for chargrilled lamb and beef kabobs. 425 I Street NW, 202.847.0389

Wine Director Kate Chrisman thinks pink with 15 rosés on the list; the 2015 Le Grand Bouqueteau ($59), a chinon rosé from the Loire Valley, stands out with savory, herbal and complex tones. The 2014 Julian Ostolaza Gañeta Txakolina from Spain’s Basque region ($45) is an acid-hound that scrubs away the richness of fried calamari salad. 1940 11th St. NW, 202.332.9463


Family Style
Large-format entrees are ruling tables across the District. Spit-roasted chickens ($22 to $38), pork shoulders ($79) and salt-baked dorado ($44) are available to share at Kapnos. Groups of diners at Provision No. 14 dig into communal platters, such as rockfish in aromatic curry broth ($45) and chile-braised short ribs ($32).

Sweet Spots
Sugar fiends, rejoice. DC desserts just got a serious upgrade. Princess of pastry Tiffany MacIsaac opened her white-and-blue hued Buttercream Bakeshop in Shaw featuring dainty macarons, kaleidoscopic funfetti cake and instantly addictive passion fruit cream-filled flakies (prices vary). Over in Northeast, craft chocolatier Harper Macaw forges boutique bars from sustainably sourced Brazilian cacao, including the Filibuster (milk chocolate punctuated with salty pretzel bits and peanuts, $9).

East Meets West
Greater Asia is the source of inspiration for some of the most palate-pleasing new restaurants in DC. Erik Bruner-Yang’s H Street hot spot, Maketto takes its cues from Cambodia and Taiwan. At Alfie’s in Parkview, Alex McCoy transforms his travels through Thailand into electrically flavored fare. And Momofuku at CityCenter from David Chang channels his Korean heritage into bao buns, ramen and beyond.

Petite Gourmands
Forget the chicken fingers and hot dogs. Chefs are catering to pint-size foodies by upgrading their kiddie menus. Trummer’s On Main’s multicourse kids' tasting menu features horseradish-crusted salmon, arancini and beef stroganoff ($38 per child). In the Atlas District, DC Harvest offers smaller diners espelette pepper spaghetti with asparagus and a petite steak with rosemary roasted fingerling potatoes ($10 each).


The Delgres, the DMV and the Sang
All right, we're cheating a little—there are three cocktails under the same banner of innovation created by Andra "AJ" Johnson at Macon Bistro and Larder. The bar genius has been using under-the-radar spirits for these gems to great effect. Witness her DMV swap: Instead of Grey Goose, she uses local One Eight Distilling vodka. It all makes sense—why not use local spirits to slam dunk the perfect drink?—and patrons have been flocking to MBL to offer their hosannas. $15 each, 5520 Connecticut Ave. NW, 202.248.7807

Dhania Cooler
When we think of Indian cuisine, we typically don't think about the complementary cocktails. But Rasika mixology boy wonder Jeremy Wetmore crafts a taste of India with a flair for the dramatic: Sipsmith London dry gin, Fonseca white port, Genepy Des Alpes, orgeat syrup, lemon juice, cilantro and cucumber-ribbon garnish. It's this type of creativity that make dining at one of the best restos in DC even more pleasurable. $12, 633 D St. NW, 202.637.1222

Milk Punch
Go ahead, indulge a little this summer—or all year long, for that matter. Bartender Scott Jimenez at Station Kitchen & Cocktails has a simple mission: Think of a Big Easy brunch when sipping this eye-opener. It boasts bourbon infused with salted caramel, which is added to RumChata, maple syrup and whole milk. It's garnished with a waffle and brandied cherries. $14, 2015 Massachusetts Ave. NW, 202.265.1600

Summer in a glass can be found at Langdon Park's Nido. The sip is built around the glory of vermouth and inspired by Madrid's aperitivo-bar trend of chilled vermouth accompanied by tepache pineapple liqueur, lemon, sugar and crushed ice. $10, 2214 Rhode Island Ave. NE, 202.627.2815

Kiss From the Rose
Tequila's smoky cousin—Fidencio Clasico Joven mezcal—adds complexity to this winner at the West End's Blue Duck Tavern. You'll also taste jalapeno agave and lemongrass rose syrup. The sip is shaken, stirred and served on a large rock with a pink peppercorn-sugared rim. $15, 1201 24th St. NW, 202.419.6755


Chefs Jeff Tunks and Brant Tesky deliver brunch on the Bayou with Southern interpretations of classic indulgences. The eggs Acadiana promises perfectly poached eggs over crawfish crabcakes and tasso ham hollandaise, while the smoked turkey hash could make bacon a thing of the past. The meal is made truly authentic with a live jazz accompaniment. Sun., 11am-3pm, $29 per person, 901 New York Ave. NW, 202.408.8848 

Le Diplomate
This authentically Parisian bistro's extensive brunch menu will appeal to anyone’s midmorning cravings. Classics like the croquet-madame and Gruyere omelet are accented by delightful surprises like French toast with Champagne, strawberries and lime. Sat. and Sun., 9:30am-3pm, prices vary, 1601 14th St. NW, 202.332.3333 

Central Michel Richard
As a DC icon and James Beard Award winner, Michel Richard takes no shortcuts when it comes to brunch. Savor a leisurely three-course menu of familiar yet refined dishes like the fried chicken and waffles or spicy lamb sausage. Bottomless mimosas, Bellinis and Bloody Marys are well worth the extra $15. Sun., 11am-2:30pm, $27 per person, 1001 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 202.626.0015

The Lafayette at The Hay-Adams
Abundance is executed with finesse as guests are treated to an appetizer buffet, plated entrees like truffled scrambled eggs or focaccia French toast and a sumptuous dessert display to finish. Sun., 11:30am-2pm, $80 per person, 800 16th St. NW, 202.638.6600 

Gourmands will find a carving station with braised short ribs and lamb chops, fresh seafood towers of lobster and oysters, abundant bowls of bright salads, and, of course, the traditional omelet and pastry stations with customized creations. Sun., 10:30am-2pm, $80 per person, 2800 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 202.342.0444 

Bistro Bis
The Capitol Hill favorite delivers one of the city’s classiest brunches in a warm and intimate dining room. French delicacies include smoked salmon on toasted brioche, pork terrine topped with poached eggs and steak frites with silky fried eggs. Baskets of fresh and buttery pastries also lure Francophiles like few other spots in town. Sat. and Sun., 11:30am-2:30pm, prices vary, 15 E St. NW, 202.661.2700


Cedric Maupillier, Convivial
After finding success with Mintwood Place, the celebrated chef is playfully blending French fare and American accents at this magnifique masterpiece in Shaw. Best bet: reimagined coq au vin stars supercrispy fried chicken on a drift of mashed potatoes ($18). 801 O St. NW, 202.525.2870

Scott Drewno, The Source
He's still amazing. Four guests can enjoy an interactive hot-pot dinner ($65 each) around a custom-built table, or a pair of diners can enjoy a lavish 16-course tasting menu at the chef’s counter overlooking the kitchen ($150 each). 575 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 202.637.6100

Brad Duboy, Blue Duck Tavern
The rising star's standouts include a 45-day dry-aged local rib-eye for two with an rich bordelaise sauce ($120) and Chesapeake Bay crabcakes perked up with preserved lemon ($16, $32). 1201 24th St. NW, 202.419.6755

Rob Rubba, Hazel
The mastermind's planet-spanning fare includes everything from foie-topped zucchini bread and gnocchi with pork kimchee ragu to Japanese cotton cheesecake. 808 V St. NW 

Jonah Kim, Yona
His ambitious dishes range from king crab-crowned ramen in an uni-butter enriched soup ($26) to an Asian accented Hawaiian tuna poke ($12). 4000 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, Va., 703.465.1100

Marjorie Meek-Bradley, Ripple
Her stellar performance on the last season of Top Chef earned legions of new fans, who are flocking to try dishes like the Parmesan-showered lamb ragu gnocchi ($15). 3417 Connecticut Ave. NW, 202.244.7995


Fiola Mare
Restaurateurs Fabio and Maria Trabocchi clearly created their Georgetown waterfront palace of culinary posh like a stage; the sight lines are staggering; the kitchen turns out stellar dishes like whole Spanish branzino ($65); and the waitstaff plays an integral part in the show. You'll see heads of state like Stefan Löfven, the prime minister of Sweden, along with folks like Damian Lewis, Gabrielle Union and White House insider Valerie Jarrett, who attended a Funny or Die White House Correspondents' Dinner afterparty here. 3100 K St. NW, 202.628.0065

Bourbon Steak
Sure, celebs crowd the tables here because this venue sits inside the Four Seasons. But, remember, the likes of Paul McCartney, Oprah Winfrey and Madeleine Albright, among countless others, could easily go elsewhere. They're lured by the inimitable service, and they stay for A5 Miyazaki Japanese wagyu ($285) and the lobster potpie ($74). 2800 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 202.944.2026

Ever since Daniel Boulud planted his gourmet flag at CityCenterDC last year, the celeb factor has been at full tilt. Expect a fair number of politicos like House Speaker Paul Ryan, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Fellow restaurateurs like Michel Richard and Massimo Bottura have also stopped by to test Boulud's menu mettle, including the boudin blanc ($13) and duck confit ($28). 931 H St. NW, 202.695.7660


Ice Cream Sandwiches, Osteria Morini
Fondly recall the summers of your youth with this trio of regal ice cream sandwiches. Chewy chocolate-chip cookies sandwich fresh mint gelato; raspberry sorbet is bookended by almond-rich amaretti cookies; and chocolate brownies hold together a scoop of vanilla gelato, accompanied by dulce de leche and chocolate sauce for dunking. $12, 301 Water St. SE, 202.484.0660

Coconut Pot de Crème, Brabo
Creamy coconut custard arrives with toppings galore: bright cucumber-yuzu sorbet, strawberry gel, lime-flavored graham crackers and preserved watermelon rind spiced with cardamom, star anise and cinnamon stick. A shower of flowers completes the summer sweet. $11, 1600 King St., Alexandria, Va., 703.894.3440

Blueberry and Lemon Tart, Fiola
Corporate Pastry Chef Brandon Malzahn starts with a shortbread crust, then adds layer after layer of delicious: lemon marmalade, vanilla sponge soaked with crème de cassis, stewed blueberries, blueberry mascarpone and fresh blueberries. The dessert for four is served with sea-salt gelato to balance the sweet and tangy components. Serves 3-4, $28, 601 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 202.628.2888

Diplomat Crepe Cake, Founding Farmers Tysons
This stunning 17-layer cake is worthy of an Instagram before you take your first bite. Between each crepe is a generous slather of fluffy vanilla pastry cream. The towering wedge can be served plain or topped with strawberry-blueberry compote or hot fudge. $8, 1800 Tysons Blvd, Tysons, Va., 703.442.8783

Tres Leches Twinkies, Del Campo
Your childhood favorite is completely reimagined. Soaked through with condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream, the bars of yellow cake come topped with grilled pineapple and passionfruit sorbet. $10, 777 I St. NW, 202.289.7377

Butterscotch Budino, Stella Barra
A riff on the yellow plastic-wrapped Brach’s butterscotch hard candies your grandmother always kept on her coffee table, the creamy custard is finished with a layer of light caramel speckled with sweetness-cutting, flavor-enhancing Maldon sea salt, and served in an old school Weck jar. $6, 11825 Grand Park Ave., North Bethesda, Md., 301.770.8609