For the second time, Post food critic Tom Sietsema has included a list of his top 10 new restaurants in his Spring Dining Guide. “It was tough to keep the 'best new' list to just 10 restaurants this year,” Sietsema says. “To make the cut, a restaurant had to be cooking something special, adding value to its neighborhood and (this is looking ahead now) serving as a role model on the scene.”
Here's the rundown of the top recent additions to our ever-growing restaurant scene (restaurant names are linked to Sietsema's reviews).
10. Colada Shop (not yet rated)
This bright Cuban cafe is a destination for several reasons. During the day, you can pop in for caffeine thanks to brews from Compass Coffee. If you need something more substantial, croquetas and empanadas will satisfy your hunger, along with a great veggie Cuban sandwich. Come evening, you can imbibe affordable cocktails from Juan Coronado, formerly of Barmini. 1405 T St. NW. coladashop.com.
9. Kobo (3 stars)
Brothers and co-chefs Handry and Piter Tjan have created a new destination within Sushiko with their tasting-menu counter. Half the time, it's devoted to vegan food — think “caviar” made from black beads of seaweed. The other days, you'll be able to sample masterful dishes with eggs, meat and seafood, such as Wagyu beef wrapped around creamy sea urchin. 5455 Wisconsin Ave., Chevy Chase. kobo-sushiko.com.
8. Fish by José Andrés (3 stars)
It's all about seafood at one of the marquis restaurants at the MGM National Harbor casino. Be sure to check out the crab cakes, oysters and lobster jambalaya. Or treat yourself to a seat at the Maryland Fry Bar, where five diners can enjoy eight small seafood courses. Barbecue-rubbed chicken and pineapple upside-down cake show the kitchen is adept at more than seafood. 101 MGM National Ave., Oxon Hill, Md. mgmnationalharbor.com.
7. Bindaas (2 1/2 stars)
Global street food is all the rage these days, and Rasika chef Vikram Sunderam does justice here to the dishes of his home country of India. The offerings are fun to eat with your hands and perfect for sharing. Some of the best include puffed biscuits called golgappa, filled with avocado, yogurt and chutney; uttapam pancakes; and pao bhaji, a kind of Indian sloppy joe. 3309 Connecticut Ave. NW. bindaasdc.com.
6. Tiger Fork (2 1/2 stars)
In decor and food — not to mention atmosphere — this buzzing Blagden Alley destination is an ode to an Asian night market. Chef Irvin Van Oordt offers a tight but delicious menu. Never eaten raw potatoes? His dish of crispy sour potatoes includes them along with fried spuds to delicious effect. Wontons and a rice noodle dish of cheung fun are worth your attention, too. Behind 922 N St. NW (in Blagden Alley). tigerforkdc.com.
5. Ambar (2 1/2 stars)
The Arlington spinoff of the Balkan restaurant on Capitol Hill is charming enough to stand on its own merits. Witness the obliging service and attractive decor featuring photos from Belgrade, Serbia, where there's another branch. Of course, the food, from the rich veal soup to the dips and stuffed cabbage, is reason enough to become a regular. 2901 Wilson Blvd., Arlington. ambarrestaurant.com.
4. Arroz (not yet rated)
Mike Isabella already has restaurants devoted to Greece, Japan, Italy, Mexico and France in his portfolio. This swanky addition specializes in the food and drinking pleasures of Morocco, Spain and Portugal. Such dishes as the duck bomba rice and burned eggplant are in the capable hands of executive chef Michael Rafidi. Don't miss the towering rum baba for dessert. 901 Massachusetts Ave. NW. arrozbymic.com.
3. Himitsu (3 stars)
This Petworth restaurant is small — only 24 seats — but mighty. A no-reservations policy hasn't kept diners away from the Japanese-accented spot from chef Kevin Tien and bar maven Carlie Steiner. Strong dishes coming out of the accommodating open kitchen include a riff on Peking duck served with biscuits and whole fried shrimp with warm spices. 828 Upshur St. NW. himitsudc.com.
2. Sfoglina (3 stars)
Fabio and Maria Trabocchi claimed their Van Ness restaurant would be a more casual sibling to such spots as Fiola and Fiola Mare, but they must have a different definition than the rest of us. This stunner of a dining room, decked out in plenty of red accents, is a posh place to park yourself for a dish of house-made pasta. “Nibbles” and “not pasta” plates are just as enticing. 4445 Connecticut Ave. NW. sfoglinadc.com.
1. Mirabelle (Not yet rated)
Former White House chef Frank Ruta, also known for his previous stints at Palena and the Grill Room, makes a strong case for the pleasures of fine dining. At the downtown French-inspired restaurant, you'd be well served by sampling Ruta's boudin blanc. Other highlights: the dessert cart stocked by pastry chef Aggie Chin and the attentive staff led by wine and service director Jennifer Knowles. 900 16th St. NW. mirabelledc.com.