Best Latin American
1. Oyamel, Penn Quarter. Mexican tacos, soups, and ceviches are refashioned the José Andrés way—into small plates.
2. Rio Grande Cafe, five Maryland and Virginia locations. Kid-friendly and festive margarita and fajita spots.
3. Rosa Mexicano, Penn Quarter. Across the street from the Verizon Center, it’s known for guacamole made tableside and margaritas.
1. Georgetown Cupcake, Georgetown. This shoebox-size bakery can draw hourlong lines.
2. Hello Cupcake, Dupont Circle. You’ll find fanciful varieties such as peppermint and dulce de leche.
3. CakeLove, five area locations. Warren Brown started the cupcake craze years ago with his buttercream-topped sweets.
Best Frozen Yogurt/Ice Cream
1. Mr. Yogato, Dupont Circle. The zany owner holds contests while you wait for a fro-yo swirl.
2. Tangysweet, Dupont Circle. Frozen yogurt with a distinct tang and add-ins such as Cap’n Crunch and mochi.
3. Thomas Sweet, Georgetown. You can blend an array of toppings into ice creams or low-cal frozen yogurt.
1. Co Co. Sala, Penn Quarter. Chocoholics indulge in cocoa-themed tasting menus at this glam lounge.
2. (tie) Carlyle, Shirlington. The flourless chocolate waffle has a serious following.
Central Michel Richard, Penn Quarter. Richard’s takes on classics such as apple pan-dowdy.
3. Georgetown Cupcake, Georgetown. Cute, sprinkle-topped confections made with Valrhona chocolate and Madagascar vanilla.
1. Potbelly, multiple area locations. For warm, fast, cheap subs, this Chicago import is the place.
2. Italian Store, Arlington. Big, crusty rolls are stuffed with primo fillings.
3. Breadline, downtown DC. The sandwiches change every day except for fixtures such as roast turkey and prosciutto/mascarpone.
Best Weekend Brunch
1. Tabard Inn, Dupont Circle. The freshly fried doughnuts are one of the tastiest starts to the day we know.
2. Carlyle, Shirlington. Bellinis fly at this plush restaurant with an eclectic menu.
3. Whitlow’s on Wilson, Clarendon. Choose from loads of omelets or a brunch buffet.
1. 1789, Georgetown. A cozy, Federal-style house with lots of hideaways.
2. Komi, Dupont Circle. This is one restaurant that actually wants you to linger.
3. L’Auberge Chez François, Great Falls. Share a chocolate soufflé in the sweetly decorated dining room.
1. PX, Old Town Alexandria. The wondrous drinks are worth the hassle—no jeans, hidden phone number (call its neighbor Eamonn’s)—at Todd Thrasher’s reservations-only speakeasy.
2. (tie) Poste, Penn Quarter. You may find lavender in your margarita, but it works.
EatBar, Arlington. Bar whiz Gina Chersevani garnishes her drinks with ingredients such as bleu cheese and horseradish.
3. Mie N Yu, Georgetown. Fruity cocktails and specialty martinis that aren’t too sweet.
1. Citronelle, Georgetown. Some say Michel Richard is coasting, and we’ve heard gripes about the service.
2. Lauriol Plaza, Dupont Circle. Overflowing with twentysomethings, it often feels like a better place to drink than eat.
3. L’Auberge Chez François, Great Falls. Too fusty, some complain, and if you don’t like lacy decor and colored Christmas lights, consider yourself warned.
1. Citronelle, Georgetown. The tasting menu with wine pairings will set you back $280 . . . each.
2. Adour, downtown DC. New Yorkers complained that Alain Ducasse’s eponymous restaurant was too pricey; Washingtonians are saying the same about this hotel dining room.
3. (tie) Ruth’s Chris Steak House, six area locations. The steaks and à la carte sides can quickly add up.
Inn at Little Washington, Washington, Virginia. Do we need to explain this one?