Washingtonian 100 Very Best Restaurants 2024

Photograph by Rey Lopez.
Penn Quarter
Japanese, Spanish
Sit down at José Andrés’s modernist tasting bar and you’re presented not with a menu but with a book, a blank page, and a gold-ink pen. The directive: to write or draw whatever inspires you. Creativity abounds here, and although the vibe is more scripted than it once was (we miss the one-on-one chef interactions that used to come with each dish), there are still plenty of wow moments. A butterfly perched on a purple flower—actually a cracker made from deep-fried, freeze-dried corn and piped with corn cream—kicks off the $325 16-course tasting menu. Japanese and Spanish ingredients and influences mingle in some dishes—salmorejo, a traditional Andalusian soup, is reimagined with unagi—and there are still glimmers of kid-like playfulness. “Vroom!” a server cries as she turns a nitrogen-dipped sesame tart into a racecar headed straight for your mouth.
Very Expensive
Japanese, Spanish
855 E St NW Washington, DC 20004