January 2007: 100 Very Best Restaurants

No. 59: Black Market Bistro

Just minutes from the strip malls on Rockville Pike, this lovingly renovated post office turned restaurant is an oasis of countrified charm: a front porch for summer dining, freight trains clacking by, and a casual vibe that’s a fitting backdrop for the menu of comfort classics.

Black Market isn’t the most refined or flashiest or biggest of Jeff and Barbara Black’s four restaurants. But it’s the most likable and satisfying. Smart touches abound: Panko-crusted oysters come with a lemon-herb aïoli; black-bean soup is topped with a corn-poblano relish; a bowl of creamy scallion grits gets a boost from spicy-sweet New Orleans–style barbecue shrimp; a hardwood-grilled hanger steak is ramped up by a complex chimichurri; a rockfish is jolted to life by a stew of cockles, chorizo, and spinach.

More down to earth but no less rewarding are the Black Market burger with crispy onions and the pizzas—especially the Bianca with caramelized onions and garlic. Also not to be overlooked is the frozen chocolate-toffee crunch cake for dessert.

The popularity of the place and a no-reservations policy means waits at peak hours. But then again, some things are worth the wait.

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.