Now Playing

The 50 Finest

Unbelievable uni, outrageous rockfish, incredible crostini and brilliant brioche—they’re just a thin slice of DC’s current dining decadence! We give you the delicious details on where and how to indulge all year in a city that continues to make gourmands exceedingly happy.

Magic Mike
Chef Mike Isabella slices tableside at Kapnos on 14th Street. 

Rose's Luxury
Chef Aaron Silverman takes the town by storm by getting all the ingredients right:clever decor, smashing service and superlative signature dishes, such as pork sausage, habanero and lychee salad, uni scrambled eggs with crispy potatoes and uni hollandaise, foie gras French toast, and melt-in-your-mouth smoked brisket. 717 Eighth St. SE, 202.580.8889 

Doi Moi
Proprietor Mark Kuller and chef Haidar Karoum (Proof, Estadio) deliver a modern hot spot on 14th Street. Expect bold Southeast Asian cuisine, and don’t miss the duck and duck-liver larb, half chicken roasted with lemongrass and spices, blue crab fried rice, and crispy whole fish. 1800 14th St. NW, 202.733.5131 

Iron Gate Restaurant
Washingtonians hail the reinvention of this Dupont establishment beloved for its secluded, wisteria-covered patio. Chef Anthony Chittum’s Greek-inspired menus, Jeff Faile’s cocktails and Brett Knoll’s wine list comprise a winning formula. 1734 N St. NW, 202.524.5202

Osteria Morini
New York chef Michael White has turned the Capitol Riverfront into a go-to food destination. Housemade pastas (truffled ricotta cappeletti, dreamy lasagna verde) and Alex Levin’s desserts (torta di limone, peanut butter caramellata) are de rigueur. 301 Water St. SE, 202.484.0660 

Fiola Mare
Chef Fabio Trabocchi and wife Maria add a third restaurant to their nascent empire, already a gathering spot for Hollywood notables and DC power players. A jaw-dropping view of Georgetown’s waterfront, pristine seafood, resplendent pastas and Tom Wellings’ desserts are a formidable combination. 3100 K St. NW, 202.628.0065 

Eat the Rich / Southern Efficiency
Derek Brown has turned Shaw’s Seventh Street into a boomtown by opening two bars and eateries alongside ham-and-sherry bar Mockingbird Hill. Look for Rappahannock oysters on the half shell and oyster chowder at ETR, and curried chicken over Carolina rice at Southern Efficiency. 1839 and 1841 Seventh St. NW, 202.316.9396 

Macon Bistro and Larder
A dash of France and a dash of Georgia add up to a lot of wonderful in this sweet Chevy Chase bistro. Make way for fried green tomatoes and pork belly, as well as seared sea scallops with butter-bean mash. 5520 Connecticut Ave. NW, 202.248.7807 

Chef Bryan Voltaggio cleverly carved out a restaurant-within-a-restaurant at Range. At the upscale Italian incarnation, don’t miss sweetbreads with gnocchi, truffles and cipollini, halibut with roasted sunchokes, and spinach tagliatelle with king crab and buttered popcorn. 5335 Wisconsin Ave. NW, 202.803.8020 

Menu MBK
Chef Frederik de Pue’s four-level winner is a market, bistro, bar and chef’s table in Penn Quarter. Chef de Cuisine Keith Cabot is a true talent; indulge in his pate de Campagne, whipped pork pate and Copper River sockeye salmon with artichokes and lemon puree. 405 Eighth St. NW, 202.347.7491 

For Jeff Black (Black Salt, Pearl Dive Oyster Bar), it’s all about location. So when he opened Republic in Takoma Park—a restaurant desert no more—the locals packed the place from day one to quaff local draft beers, slurp oysters, chow down on ancient grain salad and brick chicken, hang on the patio and groove to live music. 6939 Laurel Ave., Takoma Park, Md., 301.270.3000

The breathtaking setting and decor alone of the Falls Church restaurant make for a worthwhile trip; add chef Bertrand Chemel’s cooking and Caitlin Dysart’s confections—which are nothing short of extraordinary right now—and you have an exquisite journey. Mushroom tartines, smoked burrata ravioli and tangerine pavlova add up to a perfect meal. 2941 Fairview Park Drive, Falls Church, Va., 703.270.1515 

Trummer's on Main
The light-filled, chicly appointed dining rooms, vibrant cocktails and chef Austin Fausett’s imaginative cooking continue to make this Clifton resto a desired destination. The smoked bucatini—with vegetable ragout, 63-degree egg, puffed ancient grains and pecorino— is enchanting. Rappahannock Olde Salts oysters with pearl tapioca mignonette, cantaloupe and jalapeno also show why Fausett is a young talent worth watching. 7134 Main St., Clifton, Va., 703.266.1623

America Eats Tavern
Jose Andres' homage to American food may well be just the right vibe for The Ritz-Carlton space in Tysons where Fabio Trabocchi reigned years ago. Hangtown fry of scrambled eggs, fried oysters and bacon, foie gras s'mores, New England clambake, fried chicken and bananas Foster are attractive lures. 1700 Tysons Blvd., McLean, Va., 703.744.3999 

Brasserie Beck Kentlands
Chef Robert Wiedmaier brings his Belgian-inspired downtown DC brasserie to Maryland, where he offers signatures like steak tartare,casseroles of moules with frites, beef carbonnade and poulet grand-mere. Frame your repast with oysters on the half shell to start and white chocolate Belgian waffles with lime parfait and blackberry compote to finish. 311 Kentlands Blvd., Gaithersburg, Md., 301.569.4247 

The Inn at Little Washington
Chef Patrick O'Connell is simply in a class all his own, and his inn remains the benchmark of ultimate dining experiences. Dishes such as osetra caviar and peekytoe crab, a quartet of oyster slurpees and soft-shell and pork-belly BLT reflect the balance of playfulness and sublimity. 309 Middle St, Washington, Va, 540.675.3800 

Bitter End, MENU MBK
General Manager and Beverage Director Robert Yealu has an encyclopedic knowledge of back-bar bottles. Named for the oldest rock ‘n’ roll club in New York, his spicy sip combines rye, cognac, Amaro Averna, Luxardo and blended bitters, served over a big king cube. 405 8th St. NW, 202.347.7491

Sibling shakers Ari and Micah Wilder bring fresh ideas to classic techniques and lost ingredients. For this sip, the duo combines Bluecoat gin with Leopold Bros. Blackberry liqueur and a housemade soda infused with nitrous oxide. 1401 R St. NW, 202.234.0400 

Stay Close to Me, THE PARTISAN
Beverage Director Jeff Faile dabbles in eclectic and often unfamiliar cocktail ingredients.For this summer tipple, he mixes St. George Botanivore gin with Aperol, lemon and the almond liqueur Tempus Fugit Crème de Noyaux—it’s gorgeous. 709 D St. NW, 202.524.5322 

Bartender Trevor Frye pores over 18th century cocktail tomes and personalizes his potables with housemade concoctions— especially for this drink, which embodies summer with Riverboat rye, angostura and habanero shrub bitters. 2007 18th St. NW, 202.588.7388 

For the Birds, JACKSON 20
Bartender Andy Nelson freezes a water balloon until the outer layer is solid—then peels off the balloon and injects the egg with Elmer T. Lee bourbon, campari and Carpano Antica. The egg is cracked tableside, and it dilutes into a deliciously balanced summer cocktail. 480 King St., Alexandria, Va., 703.842.2790 

Vikram Sunderam, RASIKA
As if packing them in two locations (West End and Penn Quarter) for the cognoscenti to drool over palak chaat, lamb mirchi korma and cauliflower paratha weren’t enough, this year Sunderam upped the ante by winning the James Beard Award for Best Chef Mid- Atlantic. And you think you had trouble getting a reservation before? 1190 New Hampshire Ave. NW, 202.466.2500 

Jennifer Nguyen, ZENTAN
Nguyen took over chef duties at Thomas Circle’s Zentan last year and quickly made it a top DC destination for Asian food. Look for oysters with panko or bacon-wrapped mushrooms from the robata grill she installed, and order the dreamy Miyazaki beef, rock-shrimp tempura and hamachi sashimi. 1155 14th St. NW, 202.379.4366 

Ma got our attention with tiny Maple Avenue in 2009, but his latest place, Water and Wall, places him firmly in rising-star territory. Chicken-liver pate with fig vincotto, summer vegetable farrow salad, and duck confit with cider gastrique are noteworthy. 3811 N. Fairfax Drive, Arlington, Va., 703.294.4949

When Artley landed at Pizzeria Orso two years ago, it seemed an odd trajectory, but it turns out it was a great way to refine his talent. Sure, he makes a wicked Margherita. But consider his new superlative repertoire: Brussels-sprouts chips, butternut squash and lentil salad; fava ravioli with speck and corn velouté; and pork belly with mushroom ragout. 400 S. Maple Ave., Falls Church, Va., 703.226.3460

Aaron Silverman, ROSE’S LUXURY
What’s not to love when a chef names his restaurant after his grandmother? Rockville native Silverman took the smart route to success: gain experience working under great chefs—in his case, Jonathan Krinn, David Chang and Sean Brock. No reservations can mean long waits at this Capitol Hill charmer, but persevere, if not for the pork sausage and lychee salad alone. 717 Eighth St. SE, 202.580.8889 

Whole lamb shoulder, KAPNOS
Mike Isabella is the man with the golden toque these days, and Kapnos—his homage to Greek Isle gastronomy—continues to impress. Begin with mezzes like taramosalata (carp roe, caviar, cauliflower), lamb tartare and red ruby shrimp, with rhubarb, saffron and fennel—an Isabella statement dish.But the major hosannas are reserved for Isabella’s whole lamb shoulder ($79) from his for-the-table menu, which also includes spit-roasted chicken and whole branzino. 2201 14th St. NW, 202.234.5000 

Gaeran, MANDU
Jim Chefs Danny and Yesoon Lee make this dish, which is like Korean matzo-ball soup, as a special (or on request) at Mandu's K Street outpost.Whisked eggs simmer in chicken and dashi stock in a clay pot, forming a delicate raft to be broken with your spoon.Simple, elegant and immensely satisfying. 453 K St. NW, 202.289.6899 

Turnip cakes with Szechuan soy, THE SOURCE BY WOLFGANG PUCK
Chef Scott Drewno's Saturday dim sum brunch is where you'll find Washington insiders feasting on the best Chinese food in town. Drewno cooks grated daikon radish and Chinese sausage into a thickened porridge that he steams and chills overnight.Cubes are first deep-fried, then stir-fried with XO sauce into irresistible deliciousness.Yes, turnips. 575 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 202.637.6100 

Asado pizza, DEL CAMPO
Beware: Chef Victor Albisu's Argentinian pizzas are habit-forming. The onion fugazetta (thick, sauceless, crisp-crusted, oozing with provolone and mozzarella) is grand, but the asado with grilled chorizo, short rib, sweetbreads, rapini and chimichurri is downright decadent. 777 I St. NW, 202.289.7377 

Bruleed foie gras torchon on brioche with grape jelly, 1789
Chef Anthony Lombardo is in the culinary zone at 1789, which isn't an easy task given its demanding Georgetown clientele. In this signature dish, creamy, luxuriant foie gras, brioche toast and charred pineapple jam into an ethereal, adult PB&J. This guy's a star, and we're sure to be wowed by his work in the months ahead. Make those reservations now. 1226 36th St. NW, 202.965.1789 

Ice cream sandwich, BLACKSALT
Sparkling sugar crystals spangle chewy gingermolasses cookies, which hold a scoop of cinnamon ice cream. Dots of caramel, strands of candied ginger and roasted peaches fill out the plate. Susan Wallace, executive pastry chef for Black Restaurant Group, has created a dessert that simultaneously evokes summer and the holidays. 4883 MacArthur Blvd., 202.342.9101 

Frozen lemon souffle, DECANTER
There’s something beyond decadent about this treat produced in chef Sebastien Rondier’s kitchen. Perhaps it’s the 30-minute advanced order required for the masterpiece, but more likely it’s the creamy consistency of the dish— rimmed with crushed pistachios and topped with lemon and lemon chips. 923 16th St. NW, 202.509.8000 

Spoon to the bottom of this dessert to unveil all the luscious layers—sweetly tangy passionfruit curd, rice pudding, crunchy almond crumble, strawberry prosecco sorbet and fresh strawberries. The dessert has quickly become a sensation since the resto’s opening last fall. 301 Water St. SE, Suite 109, 202.484.0660 

Meyer lemon ice box cake, BLUE DUCK TAVERN
“I make what I like to eat,” says Executive Pastry Chef Naomi Gallego, “because I think you’ll like it too.” You’ll love her modernist take on the picnic classic. A disc of zesty lemon curd is complemented with whipped cream cheese, graham-cracker-cake bits, floral Tasmanian pepper meringues and poppy blueberry pearls. 1201 24th St. NW, 202.419.6755 

Dark chocolate brioche bread pudding, FOOD, WINE & CO.
If you want to enjoy this souffle-style sweet by Pastry Chef Eva Stafford, order it at the beginning of your dinner—it requires 30 minutes to prepare. The confection arrives directly from the oven, its chocolate core still bubbling. For a finishing touch, it’s drenched with cognac sauce. 7272 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda, Md., 301.652.8008 

This resto has the most extensive Champagne list in Washington, so why not let chef Robert Wiedmaier pair off-the-menu courses with extravagant bottles of bubbly? Perhaps Pommery Rose Cuvee Louise Reims, 2000 ($850) with foie gras, caramelized peaches and brioche, or Jacquesson Degorgement Tardif-July 2010 Brut Grand Cru, Avize 1995 ($1,000) to wash down fillet of Dover sole with black truffle potato puree? 2401 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 202.296.1166 

Minibar by Jose Andres
Chef Johnny Spero helms a crew that silently turns out multiple courses of whimsy and delight, including pressed edible flowers, meringue "rubber" duckies filled with foie gras, truffled beech mushrooms in cellophane papillote, basil essence fashioned into corkscrew pasta, riffs on chicken shwarma, Margherita pizza and a final panoply of sweets (that frozen ice cream doughnut!) Served in neighboring Barmini. Outstanding. 855 E St. NW, 202.393.0812 

Birch and Barley
Chef Kyle Bailey's ultimate pig roast for four to six guests (order one week in advance) is an unforgettable experience. It features a 20-pound roast suckling pig stuffed with ramps, lemon and fennel; sundry seasonal sides (spring onion spaetzle, grilled chard and favas); Greg Engert beer pairings and afterdinner whiskey from the staff's secret stash. 1337 14th St. NW, 202.567.2576 

The Partisan
Chef Nathan Anda has created a carnivore's playground. Boards teeming with housemade charcuterie astound, but the 10-pound pig head—cooked sous-vide for 12 hours and ovenblasted to a crackling crunch—is extraordinary. Pick the meat and pile it up on heavenly tigelles with salsa verde, pickled peppers and julienned pig-ears crispyfried in beef fat. 709 D St. NW, 202.524.5322 

Eric Ziebold's chef's table is legendary, with Ossetra caviar, Perigord and Alba truffles, and Japanese Kuroge beef. A divine course pairing might include 2005 Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne. 1300 Maryland Ave. SW, 202.787.6148 

Queens of the Kitchen
Female chefs are wowing the District. Leading the vanguard are longtime kitchen veterans like Restaurant Nora’s Nora Pouillon and Alba Osteria’s Amy Brandwein, among others. Newer additions to the ranks include Marjorie Meek-Bradley of Ripple and Roofers Union, Zentan’s Jennifer Nguyen and Mio’s Giovanna Huyke.

Chef-Driven Markets 
Watch out, Whole Foods—chefs are becoming gourmet grocers. Frederik de Pue's Menu MBK features a market bursting with housemade goodies, local produce and artisanal edibles. Bryan Voltaggio curated his own mini Williams-Sonoma within Range. And at Union Market, you'll find a stall from Ris Lacoste offering to-go versions of Lacoste favorites, baked goods and pantry staples.

Vegetable Renaissance 
Baconcentric dinners are so passe. Restaurants are now going out of their way to offer vegetarian tasting menus that tempt even hardcore carnivores. Elizabeth's Gone Raw showcases exquisite vegan fare on Friday evenings; Victor Albisu grills up plenty of colorful veggies at Del Campo; and both locations of Rasika offer six courses of meat-free, modernist Indian fare.

Gourmet Breakfast 
The humble breakfast is going gourmet, with toques like Top Chef s Bart Vandaele of B Too offering his Belgian touch to smoked salmon, herbedcrusted eggs and avocado on waffles. Flatbread-like tigelle at Red Apron Butchery comes packed with housemade meats and farm-fresh eggs. Blue Duck Tavern's morning glory features a sunny-side-up egg, wilted kale and lamb sausage on a biscuit.

Homage for Fromage 
DC suddenly adores gourmet cheese, and for good reason: It's popping up everywhere around town. Sona Creamery and Wine Bar has more than 100 choices and makes its own goat cheese. Grilled cheese palace GCDC offers six specialty sandwiches, including a standout with kimchee, thinly sliced Korean beef and, of course, cheddar. Even Right Proper is helping fromage fanatics get their fix with its wellstocked cheese counter.

Le Diplomate 
Some might think Stephen Starr simply lucked out by having the right point man select 14th Street last year for his entry into DC. But what doubters might overlook is that the food (skate grenobloise, grilled loup de mer, moules frites) continues to impress, and the crowd—flocks of the well-heeled and chic—understands that this is a scene worth embracing. 1601 14th St. NW, 202.332.3333 

Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak and Stone Crab 
When this offshoot of the famed South Beach seafood-andsteak restaurant opened in downtown DC this spring, it became an instant power player, with politicos, lobbyists, lawyers and business brethren flocking here to do deals over stone crabs and aged rib-eyes. 750 15th St. NW, 202.489.0140 

Some Washingtonians mocked this flashy restaurant-cum-nightclub for billing itself as a steakhouse for women, but guess what? Pro athletes (Richard Sherman, John Wall, Drew Gooden) and big-spender businessmen love to hang out here, along with stunning ladies. It's a scene. 1250 Connecticut Ave. NW, 202.296.1880 

Rappahannock Oyster Bar 
On weekends, good luck getting a seat at this Union Market hot spot, where the locals—especially chefs on their days off—love to bump into each other while downing Olde Salts, Barcat oyster chowder, lambs and clams, and JP Sabatier's cocktails. 1309 Fifth St. NE, 202.544.4702 

Bistro Bis 
Chef-restaurateur Jeff Buben (Vidalia, Woodward Table) refurbished the Capitol Hill restaurant where he plays host to congressmen, senators and lobbyists who appreciate well-executed onion soup, oyster stew, salade nicoise, duck confit and steak frites. Buben still reigns as one of DC's top talents. 15 E St. NW, 202.661.2700