2016 Fall Dining Guide

The scene is bigger and better than ever, and so is Tom Sietsema’s annual take.

Michelin and Bon Appetit decided this year that Washington is a food city worth paying attention to, but some of us have long appreciated the vibrant dining scene here. Among the area’s monumental assets: one-of-a-kind Indian, Spanish and modern American establishments and headliners including chefs José Andrés and a relative newcomer, Aaron Silverman. It’s true, though, that growth has recently exploded, with about 90 restaurant debuts this summer alone and the promise of many more good things to come. That’s why this year’s dining guide is the most expansive since I became food critic in 2000. My colleagues Tim Carman and Fritz Hahn weigh in with their takes on the area’s best cheap eats and go-to bars, respectively. And I give you 52 reviews of freshly visited establishments from all around the DMV — a restaurant for every week of the year.

No. 1: All-Purpose

Two locations continue to put out top-notch pies and so much more.

No. 2: Pineapple and Pearls

There’s technique behind the fun at Aaron Silverman’s tasting-menu room.

No. 3: Bad Saint

Incredibly, the hottest Filipino restaurant in the country keeps getting better.

No. 4: Kinship

Here’s where diners go when they want style and serenity with their foie gras.

No. 5: Convivial

Chef Cedric Maupillier turns the routine into something wonderful, makes us laugh, or both.

No. 6: Minibar

José Andrés’s team will delight and amaze you — for a price.

No. 7: Inn at Little Washington

“Worth a special journey”? Thanks to Patrick O’Connell, of course it is.

No. 8: Little Serow

Johnny Monis’s second restaurant rewards the adventurous with funky flavors and VIP treatment.

No. 9: Rasika

Traditional or not, old or new, Vikram Sunderam’s food delights.

No 10: Komi

Led by chef Johnny Monis, one of the best of his generation, Komi continues to dazzle.

Afghan Bistro

Sure, it’s tight. But thanks to gracious service, enticing food — and now drinks — you won’t notice.

Alta Strada

Alta Strada’s better, often lighter, Parmesans and pastas are a soothing tonic.

Banh Mi DC Sandwich

Every creation at Bahn Mi DC Sandwich deserves repeat consumption.

Bantam King

The sister restaurant to Daikaya focuses on ramen, with poultry in the broth, but also serves a killer fried bird.


From the team behind Rasika, this street food specialist has become a Cleveland Park favorite.

Bread Furst

By making loaves, sandwiches and sweets to die for, Mark Furstenberg proves he deserves his accolades.


Amy Brandwein’s CityCenter restaurant nails its pastas, wood-grilled seafood and more.


It takes a lot of skill to present food this polished yet accessible. Chefs Jonathan Krinn and Jason Maddens have done it.

Compass Rose

Owner Rose Previte makes it all happen at this cozy upstairs retreat off 14th Street. For even more of an escape — and a feast — book the private Bedouin tent.


This hushed, almost-hidden dining room is accessible through Alta Strada. Once you’re through the velvet curtain, prepare to indulge.

The Dabney

Chef Jeremiah Langhorne's facility with the enormous hearth at the center of this handsome dining room results in delicious plates with a local focus.

Del Campo

You’ll feel the burn and taste the char at Victor Albisu’s steakhouse, where meat isn’t the only draw.

Drift on 7th

The seafood at this Shaw newcomer is fresh and simple, but the kitchen also has a way with side dishes.


Relocated to Barracks Row, it’s a carnivore’s paradise thanks to meat master Nate Anda. But vegetarians are welcome, too.


At the bustling Spanish tapas place on the busy 14th Street corridor, the best seat is at the counter.

Field & Main

This cozy rural restaurant honors local producers.


The eldest of the three Italian restaurants created by chef Fabio Trabocchi has low-calorie options and indulgent possibilties.

Fiola Mare

Everything is deliciously refined at Fabio Trabocchi’s waterfront restaurant in Georgetown.


The Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s current star showcases Rob Rubba’s way with international accents.


Thanks to the sons of the chef and co-owner, this Cleveland Park stalwart is pulsing with new energy.


José Andrés’s tapas pioneer revels in consistent small plates and a buoyant vibe.

Kapnos Kouzina

In Bethesda, the newest arrival in the Mike Isabella family of Kapnos restaurants is outpacing its siblings.


Tim Ma’s menu is small, but there’s not a boring dish on the list.

La Cuchara

The menu changes frequently, but you’ll always find something to appreciate at one of Charm City’s best restaurants.

Le Diplomate

The perennial favorite plates textbook examples of some of the cuisine’s trademark dishes.


The Cambodian and Taiwanese food created by Erik Bruner-Yang seduces all the senses.


Chef Nicholas Stefanelli's Italian retreat in Union Market is one of the most alluring restaurants in the city.


His underground space beckons with exceptional flourishes and extraordinary flavors.

Nopa Kitchen + Bar

In Penn Quarter, executive chef Matt Kuhn cooks dishes with familiar ingredients in ways that don’t taste like everyone else’s.

Peter Chang

The restaurants in Rockville and Arlington are firing on all cylinders with their enticing Sichuan cuisine.


Chef Austin Fausett and general manager Brent Kroll have infused the wine-focused restaurant in Chinatown with their own charms.

Rasika West End

The sibling of the original across town is more than an offshoot.

Red Truck Bakery

Bryan Noyes’s shop is a food destination in tiny Marshall, Va., especially for its cakes and pies.

Rose’s Luxury

Sure, there's more competition for Aaron Silverman's Barracks Row eatery these days, but continues to cast a spell on its customers.

The Source

Weekday lunch is the best time to sample the cooking of chef Scott Drewno.

Sushi Taro

Nobu Yamazaki directs a symphony of flavors at his six-seat counter.

Sweet Home Cafe

The restaurant in the National Museum of African American History and Culture offers pleasing takes on dishes from four different regions of the country.

Tail Up Goat

The Adams Morgan favorite makes guests feel special.


Bryan Voltaggio’s flagship restaurant in Frederick is still well worth the trip.

Woodberry Kitchen

Spike Gjerde’s fetching barn of a restaurant in Baltimore is one that sweats the small stuff.


If you can’t find something to enjoy in this soaring José Andrés property, you’re too darn picky.
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