Black Market Bistro

This retro-chic neighborhood spot oozes charm.

January 2006 100 Very Best Restaurants

THE SCENE. Owners Jeff and Barbara Black know how to pick their real estate. In an older neighborhood of turreted Victorians, this turn-of-the-century post office by the railroad tracks oozes country charm. The snazzy comfort food takes it beyond a local hangout.

WHAT YOU'LL LOVE. The front porch for summer dining and the casual drop-in vibe. You'll feel as though you're in some far-flung rural burg instead of mere minutes from "civilization." Freight trains that thunder by only add to the charm.

WHAT YOU WON'T. The first-come, first-served policy means waits on weekends at dinner. And if you're not in the main dining room, you may be left wondering about that vaunted charm–the second dining room feels second-rate.

BEST DISHES. Cornmeal-crusted fried oysters to dunk in chipotle rémoulade; steamed mussels gone Asian with coconut milk and cilantro; crisp-crusted pizzas; pan-seared rockfish with a zippy radish-and-scallion salad; grilled hanger steak with chimichurri; homey roasted free-range chicken with jus; a great hamburger with a heap of brittle onions and the pungent bite of Maytag bleu; an honest-to-goodness triple-layer chocolate fudge cake; and, at brunch, eggs Benedict on tender house-made "angel flour" biscuits.

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 Petworth.