100 Best Restaurants 2010: Jackie’s

No. 82: Jackie's

Cuisine: If restaurants were people, this would be the hearty partyer who hunkers down with Wittgenstein in his spare time: playful but with a serious side. That side—evident in the fine stemware, thoughtfully composed salads, and detailed riffs on American comfort food—transforms what otherwise might be a convivial night of fun into a minor gastronomic outing.

Mood: The dining room—all exposed beams, dangling light bulbs, hot-pink pillows, and sculpted plastic chairs—is a masterpiece of retro chic. It’s framed by a bar with a drop-down projection-screen TV and an open kitchen, and it crackles with an energy rare in fine dining.

Best for: Dining out without getting dolled up—or having to leave the kids at home.

Best dishes: Butter lettuce with anchovy dressing and aged sheep’s-milk cheese; Prince Edward Island mussels in a Madras curry broth with lime jelly and cilantro; pan-seared swordfish with shrimp butter; pimiento-topped “Elvis” burger; Hudson Valley duck leg with duck sausage; a roast of braised pork, house-made sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, and hominy stew.

Insider tips: Frank Morales, who previously manned the stove at Rustico, has recently come aboard to run the show. The streamlined menu is a little less zippy, and Morales is given at times to overproducing his dishes, but the Elvis burger is better (and bigger) than ever and the cheese grits are otherworldly.

Service: ••½

Open Monday through Saturday for dinner (cafe menu on Monday), Sunday for brunch and dinner. Moderate to expensive.

See all of 2010's 100 Best Restaurants

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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.