100 Best Restaurants 2008: Zengo

No. 100: Zengo

Cuisine: Flashy Latino and pan-Asian flavors sit side by side—and sometimes collide (chipotle miso soup, curried empanadas, sake sangría)—on a sharing-friendly menu that includes everything from sushi and dim sum to tacos and tiraditos.

Mood: With its kumquat-orange walls, swooping banquettes, and quirky design touches—the brown orbs hanging from the ceiling are clay renditions of jícama—the dining room is a chic backdrop for slickly turned-out guys and gals downing $11 mojitos.

Best for: Groups out on the town, first dates, posttheater small plates, and cocktails.

Best dishes: XO-style edamame, pungent with dried shrimp; wonton tacos filled with ahi tuna; the Angry Zengo roll with yellowfin tuna and fiery wasabi tobiko; pork arepas; pork ribs with kimchee; ancho-grilled shrimp with cabbage slaw and flour mini-tortillas; sweet, buttery black cod with lemon aïoli; a crumbly lemon-yuzu cake with ginger ice cream; churros with chai custard.

Insider tips: Flavors are bright and bold—sometimes too bold. By the end of a traditional three-course meal, your taste buds are likely to be zonked. Instead, make a meal of appetizers and small plates. But stay away from the ceviches, skimpy on the fish and heavy on the sauce.

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.