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.

“Worth a special journey”? Thanks to Patrick O’Connell, of course it is.
Aaron Silverman and his team serve one exquisite surprise after another, on the plate and in the glass.
The Petworth jewel becomes a little easier to experience, with a Monday night supper club that takes reservations.
José Andrés’s team will delight and amaze you — for a price.
The refinement of Chef Eric Ziebold’s food offsets a disconnect in service.
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.
The chefs behind ChiKo on Barracks Row plan a second venue for the casual hit.
Next to Nationals Park and on the Anacostia River, it serves sparkling seafood.
Fabio Trabbochi’s most approachable option is popping up in more neighborhoods.
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.
All-Purpose finds a way to improve by opening a new location on the Anacostia riverfront.
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.
At Amy Brandwein’s CityCenter restaurant, you’ll pass the pastas — and everything else — around the table with delight.
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.
Some highlights of Jeremiah Langhorne’s ode to the Mid-Atlantic are off the script.
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.
The bungalow gets an added dining room, making a stellar clafoutis more accessible.
José Andrés’s tapas pioneer revels in consistent small plates and a buoyant vibe.
Forget the flavor of the minute and try Ann Cashion’s time-honored favorites.
All the ingredients are here to accommodate an Iberian attitude.
Eric Ziebold’s less-formal place draws crowds for good reason.
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.
The perennial favorite plates textbook examples of some of the cuisine’s trademark dishes.
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.
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.
This family-run restaurant in Great Falls, Va., offers stellar hospitality.
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.
The sibling of the hall of fame across town is more than an offshoot.
The H Street NE spot features Swiss food and wine. Bring on the fondue!
There’s an emphasis on making guests feel special at the Adam’s Morgan fave.
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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