There's one question for which most people have a ready answer—or 20: What's your favorite restaurant? For the 35th year, we asked readers to weigh in on their most beloved spots.
Topping the list for the second year in a row is Dino, the leisurely, terra-cotta-painted bistro in Cleveland Park where chef/owner Dean Gold sources the best ingredients he can find, whether burrata from Puglia or lamb sweetbreads from Virginia. Mintwood Place, the farmhouse-chic Adams Morgan dining room that pairs a similarly laid-back dining room with an ambitious French-American kitchen, took the crown for best new restaurant.
Among Virginia restaurants, Trummer's on Main in Clifton stands out for its playful American cuisine and elegantly sunny decor. And once again, red-meat lovers hailed Ray's the Steaks and Ray's Hell-Burger, both in Arlington.
Marylanders have lots of love for the mini-gyros and flaming plates of saganaki cheese at Rockville's Cava, not to mention the decadent comfort food at Potomac's Founding Farmers.
Check out the rest of the list and you might discover a place to add to your own roster of favorites.
Photograph of Dino by Scott Suchman.
Click to expand a category.
1. Dino, Cleveland Park. Dean Gold's convivial wine bistro serves Italian classics such as minestrone soup and Roman-style fried artichokes alongside more inventive creations. Ever had tater tots made from pigs' trotters?
2. Rasika, Penn Quarter and West End. The Penn Quarter Indian destination and its new sibling don't look much alike—the former is warm and jewel-toned, the latter mod and glassy—but both excel at curries and chaats.
3. Maple Ave Restaurant, Vienna. Chef Tim Ma, who worked at the two-Michelin-starred Momofuku Ko in New York City, weaves influences from far and wide into his eclectic menu.
1. Komi, Dupont Circle. Washingtonian critics have named this cozy, Greek-inspired rowhouse restaurant the best place to eat in Washington for the past four years.
2. The Inn at Little Washington, Washington, Virginia. Patrick O'Connell's over-the-top, brocade-lined getaway brings a sense of humor to luxe dining. Witness the black truffles shaved over your box of movie-theater popcorn.
3. Trummer's on Main, Clifton. You'd never guess that in this 19th-century mansion—with porch lanterns and paintings of Ulysses S. Grant—lie such whimsies as banana mousse with olive-oil powder.
1. Ray's the Steaks, Courthouse. Michael Landrum's flagship is loud, fast-paced, and free of flash and pretension.
2. Bourbon Steak, Georgetown. This celebrity favorite in the Four Seasons Hotel, known for butter-poaching its steaks, is overseen by San Francisco chef Michael Mina.
3. BLT Steak, downtown DC. Michelle Obama is a repeat customer at this upbeat steakhouse, which specializes in gargantuan popovers and USDA prime beef.
1. Cork, Logan Circle. Old World wines—most of which can also be bought at Cork's market across the street—pair with ambitious small plates.
2. Proof, Penn Quarter. This low-lit haunt boasts a wine list that satisfies big-spending wine geeks and bargain hunters alike.
3. Screwtop, Clarendon. Former AOL exec Wendy Buckley runs this neighborhood hangout and its new nearby wine shop, Grateful Red.
1. Bistrot du Coin, Dupont Circle. The favorite place of many revelers to cheer the arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau or to celebrate Bastille Day.
2. L'Auberge Chez François, Great Falls. Jacques Haeringer does his late father, who founded the restaurant in 1954, proud at this Alsatian-inspired cottage.
3. Mintwood Place, Adams Morgan. Leave it to Michel Richard protégé Cedric Maupillier to turn escargots into hushpuppies.
1. 2 Amys, Cleveland Park. Obelisk owner Peter Pastan's more casual place follows to the letter the Neapolitan method of pizza-making.
2. Pete's New Haven Style Apizza, Columbia Heights, Friendship Heights, and Clarendon. This trio of pizzerias gets Connecticut-style pies right. Don't miss the Staven, with pepperoni, sausage, whole garlic, and caramelized onions.
3. Matchbox, Penn Quarter, Capitol Hill, Logan Circle, and Rockville. Thin-crust, wood-fired pizzas can be paired with a slew of craft brews. A Merrifield location is opening soon.
1. Peking Gourmet Inn, Falls Church. Take your cue from this Bush-family favorite's name and go for a whole, lacquered duck.
2. Meiwah, West End and Chevy Chase. Have a hankering for Cantonese, Szechuan, Hunan, or sushi? You'll find them all at these crowd pleasers.
3. Ping Pong Dim Sum, Dupont Circle and Penn Quarter. These sleek outposts of the London-based chain sling more than 20 kinds of dumplings, wontons, and buns.
1. Rasika, Penn Quarter and West End. James Beard Award–nominated chef Vikram Sunderam and restaurateur Ashok Bajaj have made the Penn Quarter original one of the best Indian places in the country. Its West End spinoff isn't far behind.
2. Indique Heights, Chevy Chase. Colorfully elegant destinations for creative street snacks and tamarind-laced margaritas.
3. Masala Art, Tenleytown. If you don't have a chili fiend's tolerance for spice, you'd better load up on the naan and raita.
1. The Passenger, Mount Vernon Square. It might look scruffy, but the bartenders here mix some of the top cocktails in the area.
2. The Gibson, U Street. This unmarked, amber-lit hideaway feels straight out of an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel.
3. Trummer's on Main, Clifton. Cocktails are co-owner Stefan Trummer's thing, and his Sage 11, made with gin and elderflower, is a thing of subtle beauty.
1. Red Hook Lobster Pound, @lobstertruckdc. Fresh Maine lobster, bound with either lemony melted butter or mayo, is folded into top-split hot-dog buns.
2. TaKorean, @takorean. Bulgogi and kimchee meet cilantro and tortillas for these terrific fusion tacos. You'll find them on the road and at a permanent stand inside Union Market on DC's Fifth Street, Northeast.
3. CapMac, @capmacdc. Former Bourbon Steak cook Brian Arnoff is behind this mac-and-cheese-obsessed truck—as well as the brilliant idea of topping the dish with crumbled Cheez-Its.
1. Mintwood Place, Adams Morgan. A rustic-cool hangout that boasts terrific Franco-American cooking.
2. Little Serow, Dupont Circle. Komi chef Johnny Monis turns out fiery, funky Issan-style Thai at this no-reservations spot.
3. Green Pig Bistro, Clarendon. Former 2941 pastry chef Scot Harlan traded high end for homespun when he opened this folksy, Southern-accented dining room.
1. Dino, Cleveland Park. Whether it's free corkage or half-price dessert, there's a special every night of the week.
2. Ray's the Steaks, Courthouse. Some of the best steaks in town—with free sides—at sale-rack prices.
3. Founding Farmers, downtown DC and Potomac. Heaping portions of comfort food will likely leave you satisfied—and with ample leftovers.
1. Ray's Hell-Burger, Courthouse. There are loads of creative ways to accessorize your burger here, but it's tough to beat the classic American-cheese-laden Mack.
2. Good Stuff Eatery, Capitol Hill and Crystal City. Spike Mendelsohn, currently starring on Life After Top Chef, turns out skinny patties with toppings that range from chili and sour cream to pickled daikon.
3. BGR the Burger Joint, multiple area locations. Eighties record covers line the walls of this growing local chain known for juicy, grilled burgers that are worth the arm drip.
1. Trummer's on Main, Clifton. A special-occasion menu filled with surprises: Start with an icy cocktail named for the Titanic and end with popcorn ice cream.
2. Chef Geoff's, downtown DC, upper Northwest DC, Rockville, Tysons. With appetizers that range from lamb samosas to fried plantains, these cheery saloons take the melting-pot approach to American dining.
3. Founding Farmers, downtown DC and Potomac. Egg creams with U-Bet syrup and dishes such as meatloaf and chicken pot pie channel the Eisenhower era.
1. BlackSalt, Palisades. Jeff and Barbara Black's fish market/dining room showcases such delicacies as house-cured anchovies and bigeye-tuna tartare.
2. Hank's Oyster Bar, Dupont Circle, Capitol Hill, and Old Town Alexandria. The fryer gets a good workout at these New England–inspired seafood shacks.
3. Pearl Dive Oyster Palace, Logan Circle. This rollicking newcomer—another Jeff and Barbara Black production—features the couple's own specially cultivated oysters.
1. Oyamel, Penn Quarter. Regional Mexican antojitos, tacos, and moles get the stylized José Andrés treatment.
2. El Centro DF, Logan Circle. A year-round rooftop and more than 100 kinds of tequila keep this place packed.
3. Rosa Mexicano, Penn Quarter, Friendship Heights, and National Harbor. This slick chain, which started in New York, was one of the pioneers of upscale Mexican—and $14 bowls of guacamole.
1. Little Serow, Dupont Circle. Lines stretch down the block for the $45-per-person seven-course dinners at this subterranean den.
2. Thai X-ing, Shaw. Taw Vigsittaboot puts on a one-man show juggling brightly flavored salads and lush, spicy stews.
3. Bangkok 54, Arlington. This minimalist-chic cocktails-and-curry place is a fixture on our annual Cheap Eats list.
1. Cava Mezze, Capitol Hill, Clarendon, and Rockville. These small-plates spots throw jalapeños into their feta dip and shrink gyros into sliders.
2. Zaytinya, Penn Quarter. José Andrés's Santorini-white mezzeteria offers a parade of Greek, Turkish, and Lebanese flavors.
3. Zorba's Cafe, Dupont Circle. This order-at-the-counter carryout/dining room has been turning out souvlaki sandwiches and spanakopit for 28 years.
1. Trummer's on Main, Clifton. Silk paddle fans, white-painted roof beams, and French doors lend an Old South elegance to the main dining room.
2. Lincoln, downtown DC. Pop-art portraits of Abe cover the walls, and the floors are inlaid with—what else?—more than a million pennies.
3. Rasika, West End. A modernist, blond-wood take on a banyan, India's national tree, is the restaurant's centerpiece.
1. José Andrés, Jaleo, Minibar, Oyamel, and Zaytinya. The ebullient Spanish chef, a fixture on Letterman and the Today show, has expanded his empire to LA and Miami.
2. Mike Isabella, Graffiato and Bandolero. The Top Chef All Stars runner-up's first cookbook is out, and he has two new restaurants on the way.
3. Tim Ma, Maple Ave Restaurant. Ma ditched his engineering career for culinary school in New York, then opened his 28-seat restaurant in 2009.