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Dining Guide to Michelin Restaurants in Washington, DC
Indulge in the most travel-worthy culinary experiences at Michelin-starred restaurants throughout the nation’s capital.
For roving gastronomes and travelers who revel in experiences centered on food, it’s time to reserve a table in the nation’s capital. The first edition of Washington, DC’s Michelin Guide is available, and it’s brimming with Michelin-starred restaurants, affordable hot spots and essential eating insights covering more than 100 restaurants in and around the District.
In the months leading up to the guide's launch in fall 2016, rumors swirled around kitchens that Michelin’s anonymous inspectors were eating their way through DC, leading to musings about which chefs were destined for stardom. Well the selections are in, and DC’s dining scene is as hot as it’s ever been.
So why all the buzz? The District is home to a distinct landscape of diverse cuisines and perfectly cooked dishes, all of which are waiting to be devoured. Don’t just take our word for it. Check out these Michelin Guide highlights and make sure to book your tables early.
Restaurants with Stars
There are 12 restaurants in Washington, DC that have earned highly coveted Michelin stars. The three-star system is represented as follows: one star: “a very good restaurant in its category;” two stars: “excellent cuisine, worth a detour;” and three stars: “cooking worth a special journey.” While the city has to wait for its first-ever three-star restaurant, three restaurants achieved two-star status, including José Andrés’ minibar and Aaron Silverman’s Pineapple and Pearls. Popular one-star restaurants include Kinship from chef Eric Ziebold, Blue Duck Tavern near Georgetown, Plume in downtown DC and Masseria by Nicholas Stefanelli in the NoMa neighborhood.
Restaurants with Two Michelin Stars
minibar by José Andrés
Take a multi-course journey through the world of molecular gastronomy from renowned chef José Andrés. Located in Penn Quarter, this restaurant is regularly booked months in advance. Good to know: José’s four other area restaurants are all Bib Gourmand selections.
Pineapple and Pearls
Chef Aaron Silverman’s tasting menu is the stuff of perfection. Venture into Capitol Hill for a night filled with meticulously crafted courses – each paired with a drink. Tip: You can belly up to the bar for the same tasting menu sans drinks and save $100.
Inn at Little Washington
Locals in need of a lavish getaway reserve a room at the Inn at Little Washington in Virginia – if nothing but to relish one of the most elegant dining experiences in the area from chef Patrick O’Connell.
Restaurants with One Michelin Star
Blue Duck Tavern
After cutting his teeth at The French Laundry, a Michelin three-star restaurant, chef Eric Ziebold moved to DC and came into his own. In spring of 2016, he opened this hotly anticipated turn to rave reviews. Go down another floor and try the French-themed tasting menu restaurant, Métier, for an even more indulgent experience.
Located near the foodie wonderland of Union Market, Nicholas Stefanelli’s restaurant harkens back to his rustic Italian roots. Savor coastal cuisine cooked to perfection, aided by a well-manicured wine list.
Plume's German-born toque, Ralf Schlegel, isn't the first master chef in his family to earn a Michelin star, but he's the first to do so on American soil. The classically trained Schlegel executes his European-inspired dishes to perfection, something best experienced off the prix-fixe menu. The restaurant is located inside The Jefferson Hotel.
Chef Jeremiah Langhorne added to Shaw’s transformation as one of the city’s hottest dining neighborhoods with his Blagden Alley venture. Come here to discover what his signature Mid-Atlantic fare is all about.
Chef Fabio Trabocchi’s Penn Quarter outpost sates wine and negroni lovers, as well as connoisseurs of house-made pastas and Italian-inspired seafood. Head to his other spots, including downtown DC pasta house Casa Luca.
Neighborhood dining doesn’t get any better than this Barracks Row establishment, where eaters line up hours in advance to get a table. Tip: Get there by 4 p.m. to put your name on the list.
Tail Up Goat
Bib Gourmand, Under $25's & Others
There’s much more to incredible dining than stars, which is where the Bib Gourmand designation comes in. Named for the fluffy Michelin Man (Bibendum), Bib Gourmand restaurants must offer two courses and a dessert or glass of wine for $40 or less. In total, 19 DC restaurants – spanning 11 neighborhoods – received the honor, and we’ve picked out some of the restaurants that you should plan to visit.
The entire guide features a full range of 33 different types of cuisine, which is evident in many of the Under $25 picks. Among those that are featured in the guide: chef Katsuya Fukushima's ramen shop Daikaya, Ethiopian restaurant Chercher, late-night standby The Diner and Filipino restaurant Purple Patch. Rounding out the reviews are dozens of other notable eateries, including Marcel's (make sure to try the boudin blanc) and Lapis for Afghan cuisine.
How a Tire Company Became an Authority on Fine Dining
Founded in France by two brothers in 1888, the Michelin tire company published its first guide in 1900 with the intent to inspire car owners to spin their wheels. In addition to covering accommodations, the red guide also rated restaurants with affordable selections and the now-famous three-star system. Over time, the guide grew to include cities across Western Europe and eventually around the globe, and the prestige of being selected as a starred restaurant rose into a life pursuit for chefs.
The Inspectors and the Selection Process
Made up of food experts, hospitality industry alumni and former chefs, Michelin inspectors are the ultimate arbiters of culinary excellence. The inspectors never tip off restaurants to who they are. They dine anonymously, paying their bills in full like any other unsuspecting patron. Just like locals, they make return visits to continue the inspection process.
Inspectors judge each restaurant based on five criteria: product quality, preparation and flavors, the chef's personality as revealed through his or her cuisine, value for money, and consistency over time and across the entire menu
Now that restaurants are officially operating within a Michelin Guide city, chefs throughout the DC metro area must remain on their toes. The second edition is around the corner, meaning to earn high praise, restaurants everywhere must strive to deliver their best dish.
Dig in to DC’s dining scene today. Read up on even more culinary content.