855 E St., NW
Washington, DC 20004
Neighborhood: Penn Quarter/Chinatown
Cuisines: Spanish/Portuguese, Modern
Tuesday through Saturday for dinner.
Nearby Metro Stops: Gallery Place-Chinatown, Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter
Price Range: Very expensive
Noise Level: Chatty
Oaxacan marshmallow; pig-tail-curry panini; chicken shawarma; Thai soup; carrots with coconut; beech-mushroom risotto; oysters with escabeche; squab with oysters and seaweed; “pine snow” with honey; sticky rice with mango.
Only the top 40 restaurants were ranked in 2011's Best Restaurants list.
In this 27-to-30-course eating adventure, José Andrés makes culinary allusions to familiar dishes, but the creations make you second-guess past associations with, say, guacamole or corn on the cob.
Andrés’s understudy, Ruben Garcia, and a team of three cooks put on an epicurean circus act: Plumes of smoke rise from blenders, liquids are puffed into foams, and a cotton-candy machine makes for a delicious Thai-flavored cotton-candy ball. The experience is designed to be interactive: Want to know what holds that “Pisco sour” together or why that “frozen yogurt” tastes like Sweetgreen’s but looks like snow? Just ask.
Here’s the catch: Securing one of the six seats at the two seatings a night requires persistence—and a redial button. Call at 10 am exactly a month in advance.
Also good: The menu is predetermined, but you might see a cone with dill cream cheese and salmon roe that recalls bagels and lox; steamed pita with bottarga (compressed fish-roe shavings), leeks, and radish; spot prawns hiding in a foam of “brioche”; and the signature “Philly cheesesteak.”
Open Tuesday through Saturday for dinner. Very expensive.