100 Best Restaurants 2011: L’Auberge Chez François

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

François Haeringer, who founded this Alsatian restaurant 56 years ago, was a fixture in the kitchen and dining room until he died in June at age 91. But his son Jacques has long overseen the kitchen, so a lot remains the same: the amiable servers in red vests, the flowery decor, and the menu of old-school French fare, such as côte de boeuf, Burgundy-style snails, and a lovely lobster with butter and tropical fruits.

There are, however, some signs of change, most notably the creation of Jacques’ Brasserie, a dining room with a more casual à la carte menu of hanger steaks and thin, bacon-loaded Alsatian pizzas.

On both menus are such standouts as a crepe stuffed with mushroom duxelles, Roquefort and duck-confit salads, and dessert soufflés, plus the place’s star dish, choucroute garni, an array of sausages, bacon, and salt pork over sparkling-wine-and-apple-stewed sauerkraut (the meats get fancier in the main dining room). Fortunately, the Alsatian classic hasn’t changed a bit.

Also good: Onion soup; sole meunière; plum tart with cinnamon ice cream; baked Alaska with four ice creams.

Open Tuesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner. Expensive to very expensive.

>> See all of 2011's 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.