Post food critic Tom Sietsema awarded almost 120 starred restaurant ratings in 2016. They ranged from the absolutely dismal — remember Founding Farmers? — to the totally scintillating.
Many of these spots have also caught the eye of the larger food world. Bon Appétit's crowning of Bad Saint as the second-best new restaurant in the country has made getting a seat there even more difficult. (The fact that the New York Times awarded the Filipino spot a glowing three stars doesn't help, either.) The Michelin Guide swooped into town for the first time this fall, awarding two out of three stars to the Inn at Little Washington, Minibar and Pineapple and Pearls, all of which received four stars from Sietsema.
His most highly rated restaurants are a mix of reliable standbys and relatively young upstarts. Here's a gathering of the best of this year's best as determined by Sietsema, featuring restaurants that earned three stars and above.
Inn at Little Washington: Patrick O'Connell's 38-year-old country escape is as elegant and splurge-worthy as ever. 309 Middle St., Washington, Va.
Komi: Sietsema calls chef-owner Johnny Monis “one of the finest chefs of his generation.” His tasting menu dinners feature flawless food and service. 1509 17th St. NW.
Little Serow: Monis's second four-star dining room offers a fiery — no reservations! — trip through northern Thai cuisine. 1511 17th St. NW.
Minibar: It's expensive, but a night at José Andrés's creative, whimsical ode to avante garde cooking is one you won't soon forget. 855 E St. NW.
Pineapple and Pearls: Aaron Silverman's prix fixe experience showcases the best of new fine dining. 715 Eighth Street SE.
Rasika: Fans of Indian cuisine take note: Sietsema believes this is the best Indian restaurant in the country. 633 D St. NW.
Bad Saint: You'll probably have to wait for one of its 24 seats, but when the Filipino food is this good, you probably won't mind. 3226 11th St. NW.
Fiola: Fabio Trabocchi's most established restaurant in Washington is downright fabulous. 601 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
Métier: Escape for an evening with Eric Ziebold's seven-course tasting menu, which affirms his role as one of Washington's premier talents. 1015 Seventh St. NW.
Rose's Luxury: Silverman's first Capitol Hill restaurant is still casting a spell over its customers. 717 Eighth St. SE.
All-Purpose: Chef Mike Friedman's Italian-American spot captured the No. 1 position in Sietsema's Fall Dining Guide. 1250 Ninth St. NW.
Central: Founding chef Michel Richard died earlier this year, but his protege, David Deshaies, is keeping the Frenchman's spirit alive. 1001 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
Clarity: Jonathan Krinn and Jason Maddens present polished but accessible food in a suburban setting. 442 Maple Ave. East, Vienna.
Conosci: Michael Schlow's hushed and handsome dining room excels with its fish-focused menu. 465 K St. NW.
Convivial: The food and setting are as joyful as the name at Cedric Maupillier's restaurant. 801 O St. NW.
The Dabney: Mid-Atlantic cuisine is emphasized to delicious effect by Jeremiah Langhorne, with the help of his wood-fired hearth. 122 Blagden Alley NW.
Fiola Mare: Fresh seafood is one of the many reasons to visit Trabocchi's restaurant on the Georgetown waterfront. 3050 K St. NW.
Jaleo: Andrés's flagship restaurant helped introduce the country to tapas, and it's still turning out some of the very best Spanish small plates. 480 Seventh St. NW.
Johnny's Half Shell: Ann Cashion moved the restaurant from Capitol Hill to Adams Morgan, and her cooking is as sparkling as the new location. 1819 Columbia Rd. NW.
Kinship: Ziebold's second dining room in a single address is stylish, serene and serving a menu full of the chef's passions. 1015 Seventh St. NW.
Le Diplomate: Hands down, it's the best French restaurant in the city, Sietsema says. 1601 14th St. NW.
Masseria: The Italian retreat in Union Market is a rich experience thanks to chef Nicholas Stefanelli. 1340 Fourth St. NE.
Rasika West End: This sibling to the original has an identity of its own, including Sunday brunch. 1190 New Hampshire Ave. NW.
Sushi Taro: The best way to eat here is at chef Nobu Yamazaki's six-seat omakase counter. 1503 17th St. NW.
Tail Up Goat: Great pasta, bread and wine are among the main attractions at this spot from three veterans of Komi and Little Serow. 1827 Adams Mill Rd. NW.
Woodberry Kitchen: The Mid-Atlantic, and Maryland in particular, may not have a better culinary advocate than Spike Gjerde. 2010 Clipper Park Rd., Baltimore.