2017 Spring Dining Guide

Tom Sietsema renews acquaintances with familiar restaurants and celebrates new favorites.

The Piemontese 40-Yolk Hand-Cut Pappardelle Primavera at Sfoglina screams “spring” with seasonal vegetables, extra virgin olive oil and garlic. (Dixie D. Vereen / For The Washington Post)
The Piemontese 40-Yolk Hand-Cut Pappardelle Primavera at Sfoglina screams “spring” with seasonal vegetables, extra virgin olive oil and garlic. (Dixie D. Vereen / For The Washington Post)

Pulse checks. Relationships can use them and so can restaurants, which is why, every spring, I return to a clutch of dining rooms to bring you up to speed on places that have been around for a while.


Given the attention lavished on new restaurants, it’s only fair to devote space once a year to establishments that have been previously reviewed, but not recently. A lot can change in a year, let alone decades.


One of my jobs is to steer you in delicious directions — and save you the heartache or indigestion of lesser restaurants. My annual spring guide is therefore a collection of highs, lows and in-betweens on the dining scene.


This has also been an exciting era for openings as some of the city’s leading chefs have either expanded their operations or returned to the stove. So I’m also sharing a list of the 10 best new restaurants from the past year.


I hope you’re hungry. I’ve put out a spread.

Best new restaurants (No. 5)
The full Balkan experience is yours for the tasting.
Best new restaurants (No. 4)
The bomba rice is a bounty of textures in this well-conceived dining room.
Best new restaurants (No. 7)
From the team behind Rasika, this street food specialist has become a Cleveland Park favorite.
Chef de cuisine Brad Deboy has some clever ideas on his latest menu.
Six-time Beard nominee Cindy Wolf has designed everything with a diner’s well-being in mind.
Best new restaurants (No. 10)
Croquetas, empanadas and an $8 daiquiri make this a highlight on one of Washington’s busiest dining corridors.
Best new restaurants (No. 8)
From bright tuna tartare to delightfully crusty crabcakes, this is seafood done right.
The fryer is the source of the better dishes here: Rabbit fritters, rock shrimp tempura and the “world’s best chicken nugget.”
Best new restaurants (No. 3)
Bold flavors and smart service make this 24-seat Petworth spot worth waiting for.
Best new restaurants (No. 9)
This eight-seat counter inside Sushiko showcases the delightful creations of talented brothers.
Chef Francis Layrle knows how to make his clientele happy.
The not-quite 30-year-old restaurant has one of the best outdoor patios around and satisfying plates of unfussy food.
If some of the plates could use more finesse, they have flavor in their favor.
Best new restaurants (No. 1)
Former White House chef Frank Ruta spares no expense for his guests.
Quality and quantity is a far cry from what it used to be at the National Museum of the American Indian.
The lines are gone, but David Chang’s D.C. outpost still has hits on the menu.
Chef Esther Lee is staying true to the restaurant’s made-from-scratch recipe for success.
The dishes taste as good as they look here, brushed with color and flecked with gold.
The tasting menu features ingredients grown or raised on the 40-acre farm — and a welcome break from reality.
The nigiri is still excellent, but competition among Asian restaurants is more fierce than ever.
For a tasty pizza and a well-selected beer, this is still the spot in Dupont Circle.
Not quite the charmer it once was, this Bloomingdale eatery still has its highlights.
Ryan Ratino brings a fresh touch to the Cleveland Park wine bar staple.
Chef Aaron Silverman’s no-reservations dining room dares you to eat differently.
Best new restaurants (No. 2)
Exquisite pastas and more, from the team behind Fiola and Fiola Mare.
A tangy cioppino and stellar service bring the City by the Bay to Pennsylvania Avenue.
Best new restaurants (No. 6)
At this dimly lit spot in Shaw’s Blagden Alley, inspired cocktails lead to sensational food.
Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema’s latest survey of the D.C. food scene. (Dixie D. Vereen / For The Washington Post)
Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema’s latest survey of the D.C. food scene.
  • May 3
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