January 2007: 100 Very Best Restaurants

A bohemian brownstone inn with a sunny, eclectic dining room.

No. 94: Tabard Inn

What do Nora Pouillon, David Craig, Peter Pastan, and Carole Greenwood have in common? Before they launched their own restaurants, they all worked in the kitchen of this nearly 90-year-old boho inn.

Though the inn is best known for its summer garden and winter fireplace, its restaurant can lift your mood, too. Nicaraguan chef Pedro Matamoros, who began as a line cook, upholds the Tabard tradition of cooking seasonally and without shortcuts—terrines, pastas, ice creams, even hams and sausages are all house-made.

He’s also devoted to sourcing: The Angus rib eye comes from a humane-certified Kentucky farm, vegetables from the Path Valley Amish collective in Pennsylvania, and the briny Glidden Point oysters from one of Maine’s cleanest rivers. His eclectic cooking—a lush lobster risotto with preserved lemon shares the same menu with robust pork-belly confit with sauerkraut—reflects the inn’s aesthetic, a hodgepodge of hippie paintings, antique love seats, and ficus trees.

Brunching at the Tabard—in the garden when it’s warm, the sunlit dining room when it’s not—has become a rite of passage for newcomers to the city. And rightly so: The freshly fried doughnuts dusted with cinnamon sugar are as classic as the inn itself.

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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 Logan Circle.