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Appetite for Perfection: DC’s Bib Gourmand Restaurants
Dine at these reasonably priced gems featured in Washington, DC’s first Michelin Guide
Although Michelin stars are highly coveted, the Bib Gourmand designation (“Bib” is short for “Bibendum,” known as “Michelin Man” in English) signifies a restaurant serving high quality cuisine at affordable prices (to be precise: two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less). In total, 19 DC restaurants received the honor in DC'S first Michelin Guide, published in 2016. We’ve picked out 11 that you should make a point to try in 2017.
If DC had a Culinary Mount Rushmore, José Andrés would certainly be on it, so it’s fitting that the acclaimed chef has four restaurants that achieved Bib Gourmand status (and you can tour all of them with the new Tour de José). China Chilcano is situated in Penn Quarter, serving up a delightful rendition on Peruvian food, which also features flavors from China and Japan. Relish in the combination and Andrés’ mash-up skills, and you’ll leave without completely emptying your wallet.
Another Andrés attraction, Jaleo first opened in the same Penn Quarter neighborhood back in 1993, helping to enliven DC’s downtown along the way. The sleek and stylish eatery serves up some of the finest tapas in the District, as well as Spanish small dishes and paellas. Drinks pair perfectly with the plates, as you can choose from Spanish wines, Sherries, sangria and cocktails to make your (affordable) meal perfect.
The wonders of Turkish cuisine are highlighted at Hakan Ilhan’s (Alba Osteria, L’Hommage Bistro Français) Ottoman Taverna, located in Mount Vernon Triangle. Ilhan pays homage to his native country at this I Street space that serves up enough deliciousness to warrant a visit from Michelle Obama and friends. The Taverna’s wood charcoal grill churns out incredible kebab, while the separately prepared flatbread makes for ideal accompaniment.
It’s no surprise that this cozy neighborhood abode received Michelin Guide love. A woodfire-powered kitchen, bucolic decor and a menu filled with Italian favorites make it Bib Gourmand-worthy. Pasta lovers will have difficulty resisting dishes such as mezze rigatoni with fennel sausage ragu or squid ink linguini, while those hankering for seafood can savor caramelized scallops or grilled swordfish. After enjoying The Red Hen, make sure to check out All-Purpose Pizzeria and Boundary Stone.
You’ve never had a Mexican food experience like the one at Oyamel - and José Andrés wouldn’t have it any other way. We highlighted the eatery’s innovatively tasty grasshopper tacos in our Signature Flavors piece, but there’s much more to this Chinatown hot spot. Journey south with the locale’s unforgettable guacamole, several creative margarita concoctions and yes, there are plenty of other taco options to choose from. ¡Salud!
Continue your culinary journey around the world with José Andrés at Zaytinya, another Penn Quarter treasure from the renowned chef. This time, you’ll visit the Mediterranean, as Zaytinya’s mezze menu winds through Greek, Lebanese and Turkish cuisine. These small plates are meant to be enjoyed among friends, so gather up your group and tack on some specialty cocktails or scour the extensive wine list for the perfect pairing. It’s officially party time.
Located near the vibrant Union Market, Bidwell is Chef John Mooney’s Southern-inspired home run of a restaurant, dealing in comfort food with more dazzle than you’d come to expect. Standout dishes include a lobster taco with avocado tomatillo salsa, crispy deviled eggs and even suckling pig. Much of the restaurant’s produce is grown on the roof of Union Market, which is as locally sourced as you can get.
Using market-fresh ingredients, Boqueria re-creates an authentic Barcelona experience through its distinctive tapas and Spanish takes on classic dishes. Choose from meat, seafood and vegetarian options to divvy up at the table, or get adventurous and order from the Chef’s Menu. The Dupont Circle location makes Boqueria a great night-on-the-town destination as you explore one of the city’s most exciting neighborhoods.
The Shaw neighborhood has evolved into one of DC’s hottest dining areas, and Tim Ma’s Kyirisan is at the center of the evolution. The restaurant is a mix of Chinese and French flavors, with Ma preparing offbeat dishes in a communal setting that suits the sophisticated space. Ma gets creative with dishes like deep fried tofu and chicken wings featuring crème fraiche and oyster sauce, and the drink menu is also full of fun, with crafty cocktails and plenty of delicious draft choices.
A lot can be said with a name. Pearl Dive Oyster Palace is appropriately titled, as the Logan Circle locale serves up some of the best oysters in the District. The interior is decorated with relics from America’s past, suitable as you barrel through oyster spreads sourced from both the East and West Coasts. Chef Jeff Black’s seafood expertise does not stop there, though – entrees like shrimp gumbo and any of three “po’ boy” sandwich choices will leave you breathless.
This casual neighborhood restaurant in the heart of Adams Morgan brings the vibrant flavors of Afghanistan to one of DC’s most diverse neighborhoods. The Popal family left their home country in the early 1980s, yet have operated primarily French-focused eateries – including Georgetown’s Malmaison – before returning to their roots with this labor of love. Open for dinner and brunch on the weekends, treat your taste buds to veggie dishes – described on the menu as Afghanistan’s “best-kept secret” – as well as tantalizing lamb chop kebabs and traditional dumplings.
Still interested in DC’s dining scene? Check out our piece on the city’s hottest restaurants.