F&W’s roundup of the best restaurants in Washington, DC, from a casual gastropub serving the British classics to For more great restaurants, check out our guide to the best places to eat in the country.
It was big news when superstar French chef Alain Ducasse announced he would follow the New York launch of his restaurant Adour with a second Adour in the newly revamped St. Regis. Just like in the original, über-talented designer David Rockwell created the dining room. But unlike the original, the local ingredients used here run from Chesapeake Bay striped bass to pigeon and quail eggs from a small farm in Virginia.
We loved: Pressed foie gras and organic chicken with black truffle.
Renowned French chef Michel Richard made his name with the refined Citronelle. But his modern bistro, with protégé Cedric Maupillier running the kitchen, draws crowds with its mix of soulful American and French classics, from fried chicken to cassoulet. Inventive cocktails like the rhubarb sour, made with fruit puree, rum and lemon, are served at the long bar, which overlooks Pennsylvania Avenue.
We loved: The chunky lobster burger; “faux gras” chicken liver terrine.
Five years after its launch, CityZen remains one of DC’s most enticing destinations. Credit F&W Best New Chef 2005 Eric Ziebold’s modern American dishes and sommelier Andy Myers’s impressive 500-bottle wine list. Locals order the three-course prix-fixe menu at the bar, a bargain at $50.
We loved: Polyface Farms poussin with dried currant and Italian-pistachio mousse.
At chef Jamie Leeds’s new gastropub, Anglophilia is apparent in the bright red phone-booth entrance, the British bands piped over the speakers, the British beer list with bottles like Old Speckled Hen—and of course, the menu, which has all the British classics, from fish-and-chips to bangers-and-mash. On Sunday afternoons, traditional roasts such as lamb are served family-style.
We loved: Scotch eggs (hard-boiled eggs wrapped with sausage); house-made headcheese.
Khalid Pitts and Diane Gross—Washington, DC, politicos—decided to open a wine bar after working together on John Kerry’s 2004 presidential bid. Four years later, they launched Cork. Their Old World–dominated list includes a “Still Curious” section of lesser-known appellations, like the Loire’s Savennières. Small plates by chef Ron Tanaka, formerly of CityZen, are just as thoughtful: For instance, he cures trout overnight with lemon zest, juniper berries and cloves, then serves it with fennel and toasted hazelnuts.
We loved: Grilled bread topped with avocado, crushed pistachios, pistachio oil and sea salt.
At the tiny, 12-table Komi, young chef Johnny Monis (an F&W Best New Chef 2007) treats pristine ingredients with reverence. The result: delicious, deceptively simple dishes like a scallop presented tableside in its shell and shima-aji fish in its own light consommé.
We loved: Roasted suckling pig for two. Insider tip: Book a reservation at least a month in advance.
At this brick walled Penn Quarter restaurant, chef Haidar Karoum has created a menu of sharable plates from carefully sourced ingredients, like heirloom tomatoes and line-caught swordfish. The irreverent (and mohawked) Sebastian Zutant, one of the city’s best wine directors, oversees the 1,000-plus-bottle wine list.
We loved: Slow-roasted pork panini with spicy slaw; sautéed sweetbreads with Medjool dates, bacon and spinach.
Restaurateur Michael Landrum already had a fanatical following at his unpretentious steak house, Ray’s the Steaks. The response has been just as enthusiastic for his new burger joint in an Arlington strip mall. The hefty 10-ounce burgers, only $6.95 each, are made from freshly ground and hand-trimmed steak and roast cuts and include complimentary toppings like caramelized onions and mushrooms sautéed in sherry and Cognac. Luxurious, unexpected options, like bone marrow and seared foie gras, go for just a few dollars more.
We loved: The black-peppercorn-crusted B.I.G. Poppa burger, topped with aged Danish blue cheese and grilled red onions.
- Dublin-born Cathal Armstrong (an F&W Best New Chef 2006) is such a locavore that he grows some of his own produce in the restaurant’s organic garden. He also relies heavily on the best ingredients from area farms for his tasting menus (sautéed butter cod with celery-root crisps), as well as his bistro offerings (pork belly confit with cabbage, onions and potatoes).
- We loved: Sautéed rockfish with sweet corn and Maryland blue crab.
Scott Drewno, an alum of Los Angeles’s Spago and Chinois, heads Wolfgang Puck’s first DC fine-dining restaurant, at the Newseum museum. The three-level spot has a first-floor lounge serving wood-fired pizzas and pork-belly dumplings, while in the elegant upstairs dining room, political and media bigwigs congregate over modern Asian dishes like squares of suckling pig with plum puree.
We loved: Tandoori arctic char with cardamom raita.