2017 Fall Dining Guide

There's never been a better time to be a diner in D.C.; Tom Sietsema's top 10 and 43 other favorites

Yellowtail with fish sauce inaigrette, thai chili, orange and tobiko is one of many stunning sights to behold at Himitsu. (Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)
Yellowtail with fish sauce inaigrette, thai chili, orange and tobiko is one of many stunning sights to behold at Himitsu. (Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)

When we look back on 2017, anyone who dines out with any frequency is likely to remember this as an especially Riesling-rich, white-chocolate-robed, crudo-crazed, girl-powered, tier-trayed, “everything-spiced” (or soft-served) moment in Washington. That’s a good thing, for the most part, and the uni lover in me is not the least bit concerned about sea urchin dethroning pork belly as the “it” ingredient. To paraphrase Humphrey Bogart’s character in “Casablanca,” “We’ll always have pork chops.”

Is this the best time in memory to be eating in Washington? Having just surveyed more than 100 restaurants to bring you my 50-plus favorites, I’m thrilled to include more new names, neighborhood restaurants and standard-bearers that raise the bar not just for themselves, but for the country. Now is a heady time for Asian restaurants of all stripes, and I’m convinced there’s no more entertaining place for fine dining than in Washington. Indeed, four of my top five favorites are serious splurges.

Bigger than ever, this year’s collection includes thoughts from my colleagues Tim Carman and Fritz Hahn, who weigh in with their favorite cheap eats and bars, respectively. As the food scene has matured —and the choices are about to swell — the competition has gotten fierce. It’s a diner’s market these days. Enjoy it while it lasts.

No. 1 Inn at Little Washington

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

No. 2 Pineapple and Pearls

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

No. 3 Himitsu

The Petworth jewel becomes a little easier to experience, with a Monday night supper club that takes reservations.

No. 4 Minibar

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

No. 5 Métier

His underground space beckons with exceptional flourishes and extraordinary flavors.

No. 6 Bad Saint

The tiny Filipino spot in Columbia Heights serves tastes and hospitality you'll savor.

No. 7 Tiger Fork

At this dimly lit spot in Shaw’s Blagden Alley, inspired cocktails lead to sensational food.

No. 8 ChiKo

The chefs behind Chiko on Barracks Row add breathing room and lunch to their second location.

No. 9 The Salt Line

Next to Nationals Park and on the Anacostia River, it serves sparkling seafood.

No. 10 Sfoglina

Fabio Trabocchi’s most approachable option is popping up in more neighborhoods.


It answers a host of questions with its quiet, gentility and good cooking.

Afghan Bistro

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

All-Purpose Pizzeria

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

Alta Strada

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


Kebabs and other small plates delight, and so does the old-world setting.


Empire-builder Mike Isabella’s latest restaurant is also his best.


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.

Buck’s Fishing & Camping

When you don’t want pretense with your dinner, book a table here.

Central Michel Richard

The modern bistro maintains the spirit of fun and accessibility established by its late founder.


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

Chez Billy Sud

Come to this Georgetown spot for the cozy charm, and stay for the food.


Cedric Maupillier is never one to let his guard down at his friendly French-American spot.

The Dabney

Jeremiah Langhorne’s ode to the region showcases prime ingredients.

Espita Mezcaleria

The menu is streamlined, and the flavors are super-charged.

Field & Main

This cozy rural restaurant honors local producers.


At Fabio Trabocchi’s flagship, the seats are plush and the food is luscious.

Fiola Mare

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


At Frederik De Pue’s Annapolis bungalow, creativity is the main course.


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

Johnny’s Half Shell

Ann Cashion’s deft touch with Southern-minded cooking is a joy to experience.


All the ingredients are here to accommodate an Iberian attitude.


Eric Ziebold’s dinner party as a restaurant will make anyone feel right at home.


This eight-seat counter inside Sushiko showcases the delightful creations of talented brothers.


With Johnny Monis at the helm, just sit back and enjoy the ride.


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

Le Diplomate

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

Little Serow

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


The vibrant Taiwanese-Cambodian restaurant on H Street NE also includes a top-notch cafe and retail shop.

Mason Dixie Biscuit Company

The Southern charmer draws seemingly everyone to its Northeast drive-through.


This dream of a restaurant near Union Market showcases Nick Stefanelli’s cooking.


The Spring Valley spot channels Cape Cod.


The downtown gem is still gorgeous, and often delicious.


The tiny Alexandria spot assures personal attention from the chef.

Our Mom Eugenia

This family-run restaurant in Great Falls, Va., offers stellar hospitality.

Q by Peter Chang

Don’t be afraid to follow the guidance of the staff for some of the best Chinese food in the area.


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

Rasika West End

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


The H Street NE spot features Swiss food and wine. Bring on the fondue!

Tail Up Goat

The Adams Morgan favorite makes guests feel special.

Timber Pizza

Delightful pies, empanadas and cocktails draw diners to this little Petworth storefront.


Pasta dishes cooked to simple perfection are just one draw at this downtown beauty.

True Food Kitchen

The Bethesda branch of an Arizona-based chain promises tasty nutrition, and delivers.

10 restaurants that almost made the list

These places are still solid. We just had to stop somewhere.
Experience the D.C. food scene through imagery. (Deb Lindsey / For The Washington Post)

The D.C. food scene in photos

Experience the D.C. food scene through imagery.
  • Oct 12, 2017
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