100 Best Restaurants 2009: Four Sisters

No. 26: Four Sisters

Cuisine: The move to a new location after more than a decade at the Eden Center has reinvigorated this Vietnamese stalwart. The cooking has never been so good: Shrimp toast, a seeming throwaway, is transformed into a little masterpiece of flavor and crunch, while staples such as lacquered quail with lime and black pepper are rendered with newfound refinement. A likable place has grown into something more: a destination.

Mood: The staff is one of the best around, quick to explain the nuances and protocol of the cuisine for a novice (they’ll even keep a baby company), but comfort is now joined by style: The saffron-walled dining room with Monetlike paintings of Vietnamese villages and handsome mahogany booths and chairs is an unexpectedly soothing setting.

Best for: A relaxed afternoon lunch; group dining; parties.

Best dishes: Shrimp toast; lacquered quail with lime-and-black-pepper sauce; spring rolls; deep-fried scallops over baby tomatoes, lettuce, and onion; short ribs with onion; filled rice crepes, both crispy and gelatinous; bun, a bountiful array of grilled pork, spring rolls, rice noodles, julienned carrot, and mint, ready for tossing together with fish sauce; a fizzy limeade; Vietnamese coffee, hot or iced; banana-stuffed sticky rice roll.

Insider tips: Got a large group? Dinner for ten—spring rolls, eight main courses, fresh fruit for dessert—is $168.

Service: •••

Open daily for lunch and dinner. Inexpensive.

See all of 2009's 100 Best Restaurants 

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.