100 Best Restaurants 2011: Estadio

No. 23

Only the top 40 restaurants were ranked in 2011's Best Restaurants list.

Tax attorney turned restaurateur Mark Kuller can add a new title: hit maker. Proof, his debut restaurant in DC’s Penn Quarter, is about as tough a wine-bar reservation as you’ll find. And this Spanish spot in DC’s Logan Circle is fast matching its sibling in popularity.

In an ideal world, you could walk in, get a seat at the bar, and watch the vintage World Cup games that play on TV while enjoying Cava-spiked slushies and tapas. But a no-reservations policy for groups smaller than six after 6 pm means that unless you arrive early, you’ll have a one-to-two-hour wait. That might seem silly for charcuterie boards and small plates, but dishes such as grilled chicken marinated in Lebanese yogurt and lemony charred squid prove the place is worth the wait.

Bookend meals with a few rounds of pintxos—toothpick skewers of, say, chorizo, Manchego, and a cube of quince paste or artichoke and a vinegary boquerón—and one of the terrific sweets, from a lovely fig tart to a vanilla-ice-cream float spiked with sherry.

Also good: An open-faced sandwich of goat cheese, salsa verde, and tomatoes; miniature sandwiches with chorizo and Idiazabal cheese or spicy tuna with roasted peppers; mushroom croquetas; hanger steak with tomato-and-bread salad; a bowl of blistered shishito peppers.

Open Monday through Friday for dinner, Saturday and Sunday for brunch and dinner. Moderate.

>> See all of 2011's 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.