The 2021 Best New Chef's view of the nation’s capital includes rum, brunch, and Jersey-style pizza.

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A Storied Smoke

"Without a doubt, the half-smoke is one of the most quintessential D.C. dishes. It's a smoked sausage made with half beef and half pork, served with onions, mustard, or chili. Ben's Chili Bowl is the place to get the best version! For 62 years, civil rights leaders and celebrities have flocked to Ben's to get their signature half-smoke."

Shop & Nosh

"FreshFarm Market in Dupont is a short eight-minute walk from Anju. It's open on the weekend, and there is a fantastic variety of local produce, meats, flowers, and cheese. Some of my favorite vendors are Seylou Bakery for 100% whole and fresh-milled flour, bread, and pastries, and Puddin' for chicken and beef sausage gumbo and brown butter bourbon pudding." 

Best Brunch

"Avocado tartine with radish, lime, sesame seeds, and mushroom hash; pain perdu with cherries and almonds. They sound delicious, right? These are some of the awesome brunch dishes chef Matt Conroy of Lutèce is whipping up. His food is fun and yet rooted in French-inspired technique and flavor."  

Rum Lovers, Rejoice!

"Tucked in Union Market is Cotton & Reed, a rum bar that exceeds all expectations. They only offer rum, no wine or beer, and they are unapologetically good at making some of the best rum cocktails. My favorite is Liquid Nostalgia, a blend of white rum, blood orange, and Rujero Singani [a Bolivian grape spirit] that basically tastes like an orange creamsicle."

Pies That Surprise

"I didn't even know Jersey-style pizza was a thing! All-Purpose Pizzeria does a pizza called Enzo the Baker with Bianco DiNapoli tomatoes, Calabro mozzarella, capicola bacon, spicy chiles, pickled peppers, and basil. These flavors work so well with their chewy crust."

Souvenir Alert

"Angel Gregorio's love of spices and travel is evident at her shop, The Spice Suite. She has some of the most creative and unique blends of oils and spices you can find. She offers 400 to 500 SpiceBoxes each month that contain curated products and sell out each month within minutes of being put up for sale." 

Chef's Night Out

"The Uncaged Chefs has no rules, just good food like jerk brisket tacos, peach cobbler chicken and waffles, barbecue shrimp, and fried grits. Chef Damian Brown is a mad man cooking whatever he wants, and his dishes have big flavor and impact when they hit the table. He is always whipping up something new and crazy, like Fruity Pebbles cinnamon buns with cereal milk icing."

Fancy Pants

"Fancy nights out are few and far between, so when I do go out, I tend to go big. Minibar by José Andrés has innovative food and cocktails. It's a gastronomic journey utilizing the best products available in whimsical but approachable ways."

Grape Escape

"Maxwell Park is a wine bar that's not stuffy at all; they have an exciting wine list and fun atmosphere. They have regular events to introduce guests to the variety and breadth of types of wines, like orange wine and rosé."

Nature is Healing

"The Japanese have this idea called forest bathing, where you recharge in nature. I like to do this at Great Falls of the Potomac, with its lush trees, waterfalls, and easy hiking trails. I can spend the whole day out there with a good book and a light lunch. It allows me to clear my head from the hustle of the city."

Don't Miss

"If you want a unique food experience you cannot find anywhere else in the U.S., I would suggest Maydān. The moment you walk through the weathered door, it's like being transported to another country. The massive blazing fire in the center of the restaurant is impressive, but more so is how the chefs harness the fire to cook dishes like the rib-eye with adjika and blue fenugreek."