100 Best Restaurants 2011: Level

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

Given the preponderance of small-plates restaurants in the area, what makes this lounge/cafe special? To find out, try the Manhattan made with Wild Turkey and honeycomb—the best of an impressive list of cocktails—and then work your way through the eclectic menu, from juicy skewers of bison satay to crunchy rockfish “sticks” to tuna tartare punched up with soy, sesame, and Sriracha.

The restaurant’s devotion to detail is manifest in its relationship with local purveyors—18 farms supply the meats and produce. You see it, too, in something as basic as the sparkling water—diners dispense it themselves from a supply of vintage seltzer chargers. The obvious affection of the young staff for the restaurant’s mission translates into caring and informed service.

A few things could use fixing: The wine list isn’t in league with the cocktail menu, and dessert ends the meal with a whimper.

Also good: Barbecue-duck flatbread; crab dip; fish stew; stuffed green peppers with tomato sauce.

Open daily for 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.