January 2007: 100 Very Best Restaurants

Jeff Tunks's plush, bustling dining room picks up flavors from the Chesapeake Bay to the Pacific Rim.

No. 91: DC Coast

Jeff Tunks owns three other restaurants, but this palace in the art deco Tower building is his flagship. Reading the menu, which hasn’t changed much since the place launched in 1998, it’s easy to see where those other spots came from.

The banquetted dining room, with angled mirrors that afford even hidden tables a panoramic view of the action, is cushy but corporate, the service efficient but impersonal. The food is Tunks’s power-crowd-friendly blend of visually exciting and wholly unthreatening.

The menu is a mix of culinary influences and styles—the Passion Food Group’s greatest hits. The gumbo, full of mahatma rice and andouille sausage, recalls the version at Tunks’s Louisiana-inspired Acadiana. Chinese-smoked lobster is the market-price star of the menu here and at his pan-Asian eatery, TenPenh. And a chèvre-stuffed chile relleno would be right at home at his Nuevo Latino hot spot, Ceiba. But the best thing on the menu is something Tunks hasn’t replicated elsewhere: a beautifully seared, double-cut pork chop with rich sweet potatoes, green beans, and fruit chutney—the very definition of wintry comfort food.

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.