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Stars of the Show: DC’s Award-Winning Restaurants
You’re in for a treat at any of these accolade-accruing eateries in the nation’s capital.
As you may have heard, DC’s dining scene has officially arrived. After the release of its first Michelin Guide, we decided to compile the city’s award-winning restaurants that require your attention.
Accolades include Bib Gourmand or star-status in the aforementioned guide, James Beard Awards, RAMMY Awards (honors handed out by the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington for local dining excellence) and recognition from reputable publications Bon Appétit, which recently named DC its restaurant city of the year, and Zagat, which named the District hottest food city for 2016.
Rasika & Rasika West End
Considered one of the finest Indian restaurants in the United States, Rasika has been a feather in DC’s dining cap since opening in 2005. Its sister restaurant, Rasika West End, opened in 2012 to similar acclaim. Chef Vikram Sunderam is a master in the kitchen, a notion validated when he was named Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic by the James Beard Foundation in 2014 (an award he had been nominated for three times before). You’re lucky: you can witness Sunderam’s distinctive cooking at two locations in the District.
José Andrés Restaurants
The accolades continue to pile up for one of DC’s most popular culinary personalities. José Andrés was named Outstanding Chef by the James Beard Foundation in 2011 for his exceptional work at minibar, which was also deemed two-star worthy in DC’s first Michelin Guide. To go with that honor, four other Andrés creations were named as Bib Gourmands: Jaleo, Zaytinya, China Chilcano and Oyamel. So it’s safe to say that when you eat with José, you’re bound to be amazed (yes, we wanted that to rhyme). A Tour de José is a great way to experience the chef’s expertise.
Get all fine-dined at Marcel’s, a French-Belgian restaurant that has been coated in accolades for both its food and its chef since it opened back in 1999. Chef Robert Wiedmaier was named Chef of the Year at the 2009 RAMMYs, and while that may seem like a while ago, Marcel’s was named Formal Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year at the 2016 RAMMYs, so it’s still going strong. So is its amazing boudin blanc.
Across from the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Chef Eric Ziebold has formed a wholly distinctive menu at Kinship, one that has earned the buzzworthy abode a star in the Michelin Guide. Split into Craft, History, Ingredients and Indulgence, Ziebold takes you on a journey through cuisine. The chef cut his teeth at a Michelin three-star restaurant under Thomas Keller, which shows in the creative expertise of Kinship. His adjacent French-themed tasting menu restaurant, Métier, also deserves consideration.
Rose’s Luxury & Pineapples & Pearls
Chef Aaron Silverman is officially a DC dining superstar. For his incredible work at Rose’s Luxury, Silverman won Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic at the 2016 James Beard Awards. The no-reservations neighborhood eatery has been making waves since opening in 2014, when it was designated as the Best New Restaurant in America by Bon Appétit, and Rose’s recently received a star rating in the Michelin Guide. Silverman’s second locale, Pineapple and Pearls, features one of the best fine dining experiences in the District, evidenced by its two-star rating from Michelin.
Blue Duck Tavern
Situated in the Park Hyatt Washington, the Blue Duck Tavern features exquisitely cooked seasonal fare. If you’re in need of a brunch spot, the Tavern should be a go-to: the eatery took home the award for best Upscale Casual Brunch at the 2016 RAMMYs. The restaurant’s consistent excellence also led to a star rating from the Michelin Guide. Step inside to enjoy its open kitchen and wood-burning oven, and you’ll want to end each meal with the delicious apple pie.
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, one of the most historic in the District, and a fitting setting for Schlegel’s dynamic cooking.
Situated near Yards Park in Capitol Riverfront, Osteria Morini is a rustic escape to the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. After you take in the ragus, pastas and affordable wines, it’s time to expose your taste buds to the wonderful dessert creations from pastry chef Alex Levin, who was named Pastry Chef of the Year at the 2016 RAMMYs. One look at the offerings on the dessert menu will awaken your sweet tooth: mascarpone mousse, spiced rice pudding, pistachio panna cotta…time to make a reservation.
The Red Hen
This cozy neighborhood locale has been raking in accolades, from winning Wine Program of the Year at the 2016 RAMMYs to its recent designation as a Bib Gourmand in the Michelin Guide. A woodfire-powered kitchen, bucolic decor and a menu filled with Italian favorites such as mezze rigatoni with fennel sausage ragu and squid ink linguini make The Red Hen a must-visit during your culinary journey through the District.
Founded by Mike Isabella, Kapnos takes Greek cuisine to the next level in the vibrant U Street neighborhood. Executive Chef George Pagonis won the 2015 RAMMY for Rising Culinary Star of the Year, and for good reason: he helped establish inland Greek food in the District with daily whole animal roasting and masterful takes on mezzes and spreads. With plates that are ideal for sharing, Kapnos is great for a date night or a family gathering.
Pearl Dive Oyster Palace
Logan Circle is home to Pearl Dive Oyster Palace, which serves up some of the best oysters in the District and one of the city’s best brunches as well. Need proof? Pearl Dive was designated as a Bib Gourmand by the Michelin Guide and received the RAMMY for best Everyday Casual Brunch in 2016. 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 Victor Albisu runs the show at this South American grill that is just a short walk away from Chinatown’s Verizon Center. Albisu won the 2015 RAMMY for Chef of the Year, well-deserved as his 174-seat space shows off the chef’s cooking heritage with slow-roasted meats, freshly prepared salsas and outstanding wine. A standout? The rolled wagyu skirt steak, a 12-ounce filet served with Dijon mustard, onion jam, rosemary and Parmesan cheese.
Although this Michael Mina restaurant’s specialty is right there in the name, it’s far from a one-trick pony: its impressive drink offerings won it Cocktail Program of the Year at the 2015 RAMMYs. While you dine on a T-Bone steak, sip a classic cocktail like a Manhattan or an Old-Fashioned, or get experimental with a drink like the Beet You to the Punch (Toronto Beet Spirit, fresh lemon, Mirabelle plum, coconut palm sugar) or the Hairy Chest (vodka, habanero, pineapple, fresh lime).
Chef Fabio Trabocchi’s Penn Quarter outpost sates wine and negroni lovers, as well as connoisseurs of house-made pastas and Italian-inspired seafood. The satisfaction is so sublime that the Italian eatery earned a Michelin star, so whether you go the three-course, prix fixe route or choose your own path, you’re sure to leave dazzled. Next on the list? Trabocchi’s downtown DC pasta house, Casa Luca.
Birch and Barley / ChurchKey
555 beers. That should be the leadoff to any conversation regarding Birch & Barley and its upstairs partner, ChurchKey, located on the vibrant 14th Street. After that number is thrown at you, it’s evident why the location won the 2015 RAMMY for Beer Program of the Year. Birch & Barley also provides an exciting, upscale dining experience, with a menu sporting locally sourced ingredients, informed by the flavors comprising beer sommelier Greg Engert’s immaculately curated beer list.
Chef Nicholas Stefanelli’s Michelin-starred Masseria presents an unforgettable dining experience in the midst of the bustling Union Market. With an uncomplicated menu consisting of three to six courses, each plate is equipped with loads of Italian flavor and pristine culinary style. Stefanelli’s menu guides you along the Italian coast, showcasing classic pastas, seafood and rare meat dishes like rabbit and squab. You’re in for an adventure.
This teensy 24-seat restaurant in Columbia Heights has been the star of the DC culinary scene with its modern take on Filipino food, served family-style and only to groups of four or fewer. How much has this walk-ins only hot spot soared, you ask? It was named the number two best new restaurant in the country by Bon Appétit, and was recently assigned Bib Gourmand status by Michelin. Expect bold food with the cuisine’s influences of Spanish, Mexican, Chinese and American flavors.Visit our Culinary Capital page to continue your DC dining education.
Map of DC's Award-Winning Restaurants
Where to go in the nation's capital for an A-plus meal