100 Best Restaurants 2008: Tabard Inn

No. 87: Tabard Inn

Cuisine: Like his predecessors in this long-running kitchen, chef Paul Pelt makes his own pastas, terrines, and charcuterie and smokes his own fish. Fresh accents such as fried green tomatoes and ponzu sauce push the mod-American menu in new directions, while veteran pastry chef Huw Griffiths’s cobblers and ice creams remain rewarding as always.

Mood: Deco-inspired and as dark as a bordello, this Dupont Circle inn looks like something out of a Wes Anderson flick. But during the day, sun streams into the dining room, and in warm weather the patio is the prettiest place of all.

Best for: Center-city dwellers looking for a mini-escape, rumpled hipsters and their parents.

Best dishes: House-made charcuterie; smoked sablefish with lemony vinaigrette; sea scallops atop squid-ink black tagliarini with chili flakes; braised pork cheek next to pork tenderloin wrapped in bacon; freshly fried doughnuts at brunch; blackberry crème brûlée; roasted-banana ice cream.

Insider tips: In winter, the firelit parlor is one of the city’s lovelier spots for a cocktail. Want the Tabard’s famous weekend brunch? Make a reservation: Walk-ins can wait up to two hours.

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.