Minibar at Cafe Atlantico

A thrilling 30-plus course carnival of culinary surprises.

From January 2006 100 Very Best Restaurants

THE SCENE. Culinary adventurers of all stripes huddle six at a time on high stools at a copper counter for one of the most intense, creative, and intimate dining experiences in the country. In this pocket-size corner of Café Atlántico–Minibar is a restaurant within a restaurant–José Andrés's team of chefs surprise, delight, and seduce with 30-some bite-size morsels crafted before your eyes, a sensory experience sure to get a rise out of even jaded foodies.

WHAT YOU'LL LOVE. The creativity, the precise orchestration of every miniature, and the heady feeling that another thrill is a moment away.

WHAT YOU WON'T. Some experiments, like a tasteless green-pea caviar, don't come off, and the overall effect probably could be achieved with fewer courses. Once you've experienced this dazzling tour de force–which is less about eating than about tasting and more a performance than a meal–you're not likely to feel a need to return next week.

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.