100 Best Restaurants 2010: Central Michel Richard

No. 13: Central Michel Richard

Cuisine: Celebrated French chef Michel Richard—the genius behind the whimsically haute Citronelle—puts his spin on American and French comfort food. Where else can you find divine gougères alongside a killer corned-beef sandwich? Or Budweiser and Chassagne-Montrachet?

Mood: The loud, blond-wood dining room, complete with a Warholian portrait of Richard, is as fizzy as a bottle of Veuve. It’s the antithesis of a stuffy power spot, but the Hill crowd likes it anyway.

Best for: Celebrating anything; fans of burgers (there are five kinds on the menu); taking out-of-towners.

Best dishes: Perfectly shucked oysters; mussel chowder; “faux gras” terrine; Gruyère gougères; corned-beef sandwich; an ultra-rich, duxelles-slathered grilled-cheese with a three-cheese béchamel for dipping; light and crisp fried chicken; cheeseburger with cheddar and bacon; macaroni and cheese; a messy but wonderful coconut Pavlova; Richard’s famed, hazelnut-backed riff on a Kit Kat bar.

Insider tips: Just because the fried chicken is inspired by KFC doesn’t mean you can stroll right in—this is one of the town’s toughest reservations.

Service: ••

Open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday and Sunday for dinner (closed Sunday in summer). Expensive.

See all of 2010's 100 Best Restaurants

Get Our Weekend Newsletter

The best DC news, delivered straight to your inbox.
Or, see all of our newsletters. By signing up, you agree to our terms.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.