The Washington Post

2016 Spring Dining Guide

In this season of renewal, we update our take on old standards and appreciate new favorites.

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(Deb Lindsey /For The Washington Post)
(Deb Lindsey /For The Washington Post)

For a lot of people, spring is a time to look ahead. For me, it's an opportunity to revisit restaurants that I’ve previously taste-tested and rate them anew.


In light of the scores of fresh faces competing for your dining dollars, it only seems fair to check back with some veterans. What about that steakhouse that’s been grilling since the 1970s, the pizza joint that originally whetted an appetite for Neapolitan pies, and the Southern institution with a new chef? They deserve some attention, too, if only to steer you to a standard-bearer — or direct you away from a disappointment.


I’m also sharing something new this year: a list of my top 10 favorite newcomers, each of which adds something special to the area. Join me for a feast.

It’s easy to like the way executive chef Douglas Alexander thinks.
Best new restaurants (No. 4)
With just 24 seats (and no reservations), the Columbia Heights spot takes diners on a bold-flavored ride
Go for the history or nostalgia, but don’t expect a good chili dog.
Owner Youssef Eagle Essakl’s dining room suggests the countryside.
The kitchen wows with expertly prepared hunks of beef and real Dover sole over a roaring dinner crowd.
A few pleasantries remain, but they’re outnumbered by lackluster performances from both the cooks and the waiters.
The kitchen shows occasional glimmers of promise, but it’s not the draw it once was.
Plate-sized pies are decorated with decorated with toppings that change with the calendar.
Best new restaurants (No. 3)
The follow-up to Mintwood Place dares patrons to follow the road less taken, with playful reinventions.
Best new restaurants (No. 8)
Jeremiah Langhorne’s D.C. debut features local sourcing and a central hearth in Blagden Alley.
Best new restaurants (No. 6)
Don’t stop at the 90-plus mezcals, with expert tacos, seviche and more.
Fabio Trabocchi’s Penn Quarter flagship is back on top.
This all-you-can-feast Brazilian steakhouse chain has the meat-and-service thing down pat.
The restaurant in The Plains, Va., radiates warmth.
Best new restaurants (No. 10)
At long last, something fresh to whet appetites in Old Town.
Best new restaurants (No. 2)
Eric Ziebold’s latest is as warm and buttery as his famous Parker House rolls.
The biggest issue with the Dupont Circle restaurant is the ready availability of superior Korean food outside D.C.
Best new restaurants (No. 5)
The guy behind the style is Nicholas Stefanelli, adding dash to the District.
The homegrown pizza-and-burgers chain retains many of its opening-day charms despite a broad expansion.
You’ll feel especially far from Paris once the food starts coming.
Best new restaurants (No. 9)
The two-story Dupont Circle oasis features a compelling menu of Peruvian standards and novelties.
The Capitol Riverfront pioneer delivers one of the most satisfying Italian scores in the city.
Best new restaurants (No. 1)
If any restaurant is worth its $250 price tag, it’s this one.
There are bigger and better steakhouses in Washington, but few are as dignified as this Ford-era mainstay.
The paella is as grand as the room in which it’s presented.
Best new restaurants (No. 7)
The Adams Morgan spot offers winning plates to share and smart hospitality.
The Northwest D.C. stalwart feels like the good old days more than it tastes like them.
The cornbread is as fine as ever, but other deficiencies are impossible to overlook.
There’s something to be said for consistency, and the Bethesda establishment excels at it.
Subtle improvements yield a newly distinctive restaurant downtown.