Updated: Dec 21, 2020
In the restaurant world, 2019 was the year that gave and the year that took away. We lost many favorites—RIP Ray’s the Steaks, Sally’s Middle Name, Proof, and Himitsu. But oh, how we gained. This past year brought newcomers like Queen’s English, Rooster and Owl, Thompson Italian, and, most importantly, the restaurant who won the top spot in our ranked list: the modern Korean Anju in Dupont Circle.
Our top 20 is an exciting and eclectic mix. There are special-occasion dining rooms like Komi, Minibar, and Métier (all former #1 winners). Mediterranean lunch spot Green Almond Pantry, Trinidadian destination Cane, and Ivy City fine-dining room Gravitas are among the first-timers on our list. Other places, like Bresca and Rose’s Luxury, have been around for a while, but are operating at the top of their game. There’s plenty to dig into—at every price point.
Clams and rockfish in coconut milk at Bad Saint. Photograph by Scott Suchman
The Top 20:
The guys behind the fast-casual Chiko create thrilling Korean plates—and panchan—that both push boundaries and honor tradition.
2. The Dabney
Jeremiah Langhorne’s oft-changing menu is packed with mid-Atlantic indulgences both humble and grand.
The Trump Hotel location might be a dealbreaker, but there is pitch-perfect omakase happening in this minimalist dining room.
Johnny Monis and Anne Marler’s 17 year-old dining room in Dupont Circle is still putting out thrilling Mediterranean tasting menus.
By day, the Mount Pleasant cafe serves fantastic breakfasts and lunches; at night, the dining room turns out plates that are both surprising and satisfying.
6. Poca Madre
Victor Albisu’s mod-Mex dining room in Penn Quarter wows with ceviches, DIY tacos, and mezcal-spiked cocktails.
Ryan Ratino channels a range of influences—midwestern meat and potatoes, a destination-worthy osteria—at his bright, brass-lined 14th Street dining room.
8. Bad Saint
Good news about this teeny Filipino dining room—it’s still at the top of its game, and it now takes reservations.
The tasting menu at Aaron Silverman’s luxe dining room is currently kicking things off with tableside martinis.
Chef/owner Peter Prime celebrates bold, bright Trinidadian flavors at his H Street hotspot.
This Rappahannock County tasting-menu destination is all about over-the-top splendor—with a dash of whimsy.
At this sophisticated tasting room and upstairs à la carte restaurant, Eric Ziebold mingles an elegant French sensibility with hearty American flavors.
This sliver of a Japanese dining room in Old Town serves a single five-course menu—a great value—each night.
14. Mama Chang
Acclaimed chef Peter Chang pays tribute to the matriarchs of his Chinese family at this buzzy Fairfax spot.
15. Kith and Kin
Last year, Kwame Onwuachi wrote a memoir and snagged a James Beard award. What’s most impressive, though, is that his Afro-Caribbean restaurant at the Wharf keeps getting better and better.
José Andrés is behind this surrealist odyssey of a tasting menu (20-plus courses!).
One of the city’s more vibrant tasting-menu experiences comes out of this warehouse-chic Ivy City space.
18. Izakaya Seki
Check out the hand-illustrated specials menu at this discreet, father/daughter-owned Japanese izakaya.
The eight-seat lunch counter and market serves the kind of Mediterranean food you fantasize about stumbling across in an alley somewhere far away.
20. Rose’s Luxury
Wisely, owner Aaron Silverman has brought back some of the hits that put Rose’s on the culinary map in 2013.
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