100 Best Restaurants 2008: Mannequin Pis

No. 79: Mannequin Pis

Cuisine: Moules frites—the Belgian staple of steamed mussels with fries—in enough variations to keep you coming back without getting bored, plus a great selection of Belgian beers.

Mood: You might be sitting in a cafe in Brussels—Jacques Brel posters on the wall, French music on the stereo, and homages to the famous namesake statue. The faded decor and distressed chairs add to the air of authenticity. All that’s missing: cigarette smoke and sidewalk dining.

Best for: Mussel lovers, beer hounds, small groups, families.

Best dishes: A kilo of mussels in a variety of preparations—with or without cream, beer, bacon, even goat cheese; cheese croquettes; beef carbonnade; steak frites; light-as-air chocolate mousse; a dense, down-to-earth chocolate terrine.

Insider tips: New ownership has kept to the original menu. Along with a variety of flavors for the mussels, there are such bistro staples as steak frites and beef carbonnade, a stew cooked with beer. Beer is king, but you won’t go wrong with French wine offerings from importer Robert Kacher. There are hiccups: Fries can be soggy and cut too short (and don’t ask for ketchup—they come with mayo only); and profiteroles taste of the freezer. For dessert, stick with anything that includes the words “Belgian chocolate.”

Service: ••

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.