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.

Four decades later, Patrick O’Connell’s destination restaurant is more magical than ever.
Here’s where polish and fun go hand in hand.
Bold flavors and smart service make this 24-seat Petworth spot worth waiting for.
It’s a beguiling show, led by a masterful ringleader and his fellow performers.
In this hushed hideaway, Eric Ziebold’s sublime cooking shines.
The tiny Filipino spot in Columbia Heights serves tastes and hospitality you'll savor.
At this dimly lit spot in Shaw’s Blagden Alley, inspired cocktails lead to sensational food.
A delectable mash-up of Chinese and Korean flavors emerges from a tiny Barracks Row counter.
Next to Nationals Park and on the Anacostia River, it serves sparkling seafood.
Exquisite pastas and more, from the team behind Fiola and Fiola Mare.
It answers a host of questions with its quiet, gentility and good cooking.
Sure, it’s tight. But thanks to gracious service, enticing food — and now drinks — you won’t notice.
You’ll find creative and wonderful Italian American dishes — plus killer desserts.
Michael Schlow’s pizza-and-pasta place tastes great, especially for the price.
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.
By making loaves, sandwiches and sweets to die for, Mark Furstenberg proves he deserves his accolades.
When you don’t want pretense with your dinner, book a table here.
The modern bistro maintains the spirit of fun and accessibility established by its late founder.
Amy Brandwein’s skillful cooking extends to the pastas for sale in the market.
Come to this Georgetown spot for the cozy charm, and stay for the food.
Cedric Maupillier channels the legendary Michel Richard, but puts his own stamp on French-American fare.
With an open hearth as his centerpiece, Jeremiah Langhorne crystallizes mid-Atlantic cuisine.
The menu is streamlined, and the flavors are super-charged.
This cozy rural restaurant honors local producers.
At Fabio Trabocchi’s flagship, the seats are plush and the food is luscious.
On the Georgetown waterfront, it glorifies the ocean’s bounty.
In an Annapolis bungalow, Frederik De Pue cooks up fresh flavors.
Jose Andres’s oldest restaurant remains a model of liveliness.
Ann Cashion brings her Southern sensibility, and likable food, back to Adams Morgan.
Forget modernism. This is where you go when you want pork with mashed potatoes.
Eric Ziebold’s less-formal place draws crowds for good reason.
This eight-seat counter inside Sushiko showcases the delightful creations of talented brothers.
In an updated dining room, Johnny Monis’s superb cooking reigns.
Tim Ma’s menu is small, but there’s not a boring dish on the list.
This take on a French brasserie has what you want — if you don’t mind the noise.
If you love the heat and the funk of real Thai food, line up at this Dupont Circle hideaway.
The vibrant Taiwanese-Cambodian restaurant on H Street NE also includes a top-notch cafe and retail shop.
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 chef-owner presents an artful, ever-changing Japanese tasting menu in Old Town Alexandria.
This family-run restaurant in Great Falls, Va., offers stellar hospitality.
His newest restaurant combines elegant food and modern style.
The four-star gem in Penn Quarter lives up to its acclaim.
Less formal than its older sibling, it serves a must-try brunch.
The H Street NE spot features Swiss food and wine. Bring on the fondue!
It’s a carb lover’s paradise in Adams Morgan.
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.
The Bethesda branch of an Arizona-based chain promises tasty nutrition, and delivers.
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)
Experience the D.C. food scene through imagery.
  • Oct 12, 2017
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