100 Best Restaurants 2011: Equinox

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

Chef Todd Gray is one of the fathers of Washington’s local-food movement, and area chefs who started in his kitchen have gone on to spread the gospel. Still, Equinox’s proximity to the White House has made it more of a power-dining spot than a Chez Panisse–like oasis. Gray often schmoozes with VIPs, but the kitchen rarely suffers for his absences.

Superlative soups, such as a summertime sweet-corn velouté with lump crab and an autumnal chestnut-and-porcini-mushroom blend with bacon, mirror the seasons. Main dishes of crisp soft-shell crabs or steak with a side of short rib walk the line between delicate and hearty. A fire last year closed the restaurant for six months, during which it got a facelift. The kitchen seems to have been reinvigorated as well.

Also good: Barbecue shrimp over grits; crispy crab spring rolls; seared scallops with artichokes; perfectly crusted Arctic char; gnocchi with asparagus and Boucheron cheese; truffled macaroni and cheese; brown-butter ice cream and sorbets of apple and pear.

Open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday and Sunday for dinner. Very expensive.

>> 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 Petworth.