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Best Dishes

Washingtonian critics pick their favorites.

Beef kebab: The kubbideh kebab at Shamshiry—melt-in-your-mouth minced spiced beef with hot buttered long-grain rice.

Chicken kebab: The wonderfully tender, juicy bone-in chicken at Ravi Kabob.

Tofu: Fried tofu with chili and fried basil at Bangkok 54—a dish that could make a hardened carnivore think about not eating meat.

Black beans: Pork-laden black beans laced with roasted green peppers and fluffy, oiled white rice at Cuba de Ayer.

Ethiopian dish: Yebeg wat, a lush and peppery lamb stew at Etete.

Korean barbecue dish: Crisp-edged grilled pork belly at Gom Ba Woo.

Pupusas: The thick, cheesy, greaseless griddle cakes at Irene’s Pupusas III.

Pork sandwich: The smoky pulled-pork sandwich, splashed with Mama Sophie’s red sauce and topped with creamy slaw, at Johnny Boy’s Ribs.

Baba ghanoush: The smoky, fluffy eggplant purée at Lebanese Butcher, which also has the area’s best kibbeh—lightly fried and gently spiced oblong meat patties.

Vietnamese pork dish: The slightly charred grilled pork on skewers with vermicelli noodles and forests of mint and cilantro at Minh’s.

Vietnamese seafood dish: Heads-on prawns, plump and full of pop, in sizzling coconut juice at Viet Royale.

Spring rolls: Vietnamese sausage rolls at Tay Do, tight bundles of warm and cool, crunchy and soft, fragrant and savory.

Crispy whole fish: The whole fish, scored and deep-fried until the skin turns crunchy, in a creamy red curry at Ruan Thai.

Tres leches cake: The white square of sponge cake, soaked in three milks but still intact, at La Flor de la Canela.

Butter Chicken: The hunks of tandoori chicken in a curry full of sharp, tomatoey tang at Bombay.

Taco: Shreds of slow-cooked goat meat drenched in a sweet and spicy guajillo-chili sauce and tucked into a two-ply corn tortilla at Taqueria Distrito Federal.

Wings: The juicy, mouth-tingling drumettes at Bombay Curry Company.

Aushak: The delicate house-made pastas filled with scallions and blanketed with meat sauce and dollops of yogurt at Faryab.

Vegetarian Indian curries: Channa batura—a fry bread the size of a sombrero with a rich, cinnamon-spiked chickpea curry—and eggplant, the purple veggie blistered in oil and swabbed in a gravy the color of a sunset, at Saravana Palace. Its fluffy uttappam, fired up with green chilies and mellowed with coconut chutney sambar, is also the area’s best Indian-style pancake.

Fried chicken: The crispy, hot-from-the-oil wings at Oohhs & Aahhs.

Dosa: Thin, hot, crunchy, and as big as a rolled blueprint, it’s the Special Rava Masala Dosai at Woodlands.

Nordic dish: Janssen’s Temptation at Domku—Sweden’s answer to scalloped potatoes, with anchovies, dill, and cream all folded into the mix.

Pizza: The Margherita at 2 Amys: tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, basil—and bliss.

Green-papaya salad: The rendition at Huong Que has just the right amount of lime and nuoc nam and is topped with shreds of pork and plump pink shrimp.

Peking duck: The lacquered, crisp-skinned version at Mark’s Duck House, roasted whole and carved just before serving.

Doughnuts: The lemon zest and sugar-dusted bomboloni—Italian-style doughnuts—at Bebo Trattoria are a reminder of chef Roberto Donna’s much fancier Laboratorio del Galileo.

Empanadas: The calzone-size half-moon pastries filled with cheese and diced jalapeños at Llajtaymanta.

Fries: The skinny-cut potatoes double-fried in olive oil and served with thick yogurt for dipping at Zaytinya give a shout-out to Greek culinarian Aglaia Kremezi—a fitting tribute.

Po’boy: Breadline’s brioche roll and vinegary cabbage slaw might be nontraditional, but they’re a perfect foil for the fried oysters doused with tangy hot sauce.

Pecan pie: The sweet but not cloying, rich but not heavy, darkly toasted wedge at Dixie Bones.

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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.