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Posted at 12:38 PM ET, 12/29/2011

Washington’s 40 most essential eats

With the new year fast approaching, we might have compiled an exhausting list of workouts, or resolutions we’d never actually stick to.

But we decided to go in another direction.

In this week’s Weekend section, we fully devoted ourselves to the one resolution we want to stick to: to eat every last glorious thing this city has to offer. To that end, we spent months eliciting reader help in pointing us to Washington’s most necessary eats, the dishes no local should go without consuming at least once (and sometimes, at least once a week).

The resolution-breakers.

Nominations poured in from Weekend and Going Out Guide readers who took to Facebook, Twitter and our Going Out Gurus blog to pen flowery love letters to frites, milkshakes and the city’s most superlative slice of white pizza. Culling through these caloric wonders, we gleaned insights about the surprisingly egalitarian animal that is the Washington foodie.

We have, for example, a thing for gas stations: No fewer than three gas-station eateries landed on our list. Although pancakes and burgers won a few nods, voters overwhelmingly displayed a passion (and palate) for ethnic foods, from chaats to pupusas. Kebab joints drew more nominations than four-star establishments. And it seemed that every reader had a favorite purveyor of Peruvian chicken, leaving us wondering whether it is rotisserie chicken, and not the half-smoke, that is truly Washington’s most beloved dish.

To see all 40 of the best reader-recommended dishes, visit our photo gallery with a mouthwatering look at every slice, sandwich and taco that made the cut.

The dishes that made the cut?

Charcoal-broiled chicken at El Pollo Rico; pizza at Vace Italian
Delicatessen
; the chivito at Fast Gourmet; lengua taco at R&R Taqueria; falafel and frites at Amsterdam Falafelshop; the toasted marshmallow milkshake at Good Stuff Eatery; pho at Pho 75 Arlington; house-made pasta at Pasta Plus; Lahori choley at Ravi Kabob House; the pulled pork BBQ sandwich at Bayside Bull; charcoal-broiled chicken at Sardi’s Pollo a la Brasa; the sandwiches at Earl’s Sandwiches; mashed potatoes at Wild Onion Cafe; chaat samosa at Kabob n Karahi ; pork-cheek chili nachos at the Passenger; pupusas at Blanca’s Restaurant; the Margherita D.O.C. at 2 Amys; duck confit at
Bistro Provence
; the pizza at Ledo Pizza; moules bleu at Granville Moore’s; fried chicken at Central Michel Richard; the palak chaat at Rasika; Blue Buck pancakes at Market Lunch; suppli al telefono at 2 Amys; Peanut Butter Blossom at Hello Cupcake; Plaka gyro
at Plaka Grill; the burger at Sunshine General Store; tater tots at Sticky Rice ; pho ga at Pho Royal; popcorn of the day at Founding Farmers; Jamie Stachowski’s sausages and charcuterie; the margarita at
El Nopalito Grill
; gal bi tang at Gom Ba Woo; the deli fare at Parkway Deli ; the Phoenix sandwich at Lost Dog Cafe; tacos at Taco Bar II; crab cakes at Crisfield Seafood; pollo saltado at La Granja de Oro Restaurant; Port City Porter at Port City Brewing; and the breakfast burrito at Anita’s.

And if you think we missed your favorite D.C. dish, let us know in the comments, or e-mail us at goingoutguide@washingtonpost.com. We’ll post some more favorites on our blog.

Now, for a little visual amuse bouche: Get a sneak peek at five of our top 40 dishes below.


The fried chicken at Central Michel Richard . Order it for takeout, and it’s served in a bucket, a la KFC. But this is hardly chain-restaurant fare. (Deb Lindsey/For The Washington Post)

The pho at Pho 75 in Arlington. Reader David King of Washington crowned it “the must-try benchmark for D.C. pho.” (Lavanya Ramanathan/The Washington Post)


The chicken at El Pollo Rico in Arlington. (Elinor Hitt/For The Washington Post)


The palak chaat at Rasika. Crispy, sweet, spicy and light as air, this was a Washington favorite from the moment the Penn Quarter restaurant opened in 2006. The dish has been dubbed “iconic.” (Kathryn Norwood/For The Washington Post)


The moules bleu at Granville Moore’s. “Whichever style mussels you order at Granville Moore’s,” wrote reader Jeremy Bailey of Washington, “make sure you ask for extra bread, because you’ll be dipping into the delicious broth long after the mussels have been consumed and the shells discarded.” (James M. Thresher/For The Washington Post)

By  |  12:38 PM ET, 12/29/2011

Categories:  Restaurants

 
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