100 Best Restaurants 2011: Ris

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

Her dining room is only a year old, but chef Ris Lacoste is showing the confidence that comes from doing something very well for a very long time—she spent years working with chef Bob Kinkead, and for a decade she steered the kitchen at Georgetown’s 1789. Her menu might look scattered—shrimp tempura sits next to a textbook beef carpaccio—until you realize that her own sensibility is the common thread.

A standout pot of mussels with chorizo shows Lacoste’s affection for her hometown, Portuguese-heavy New Bedford, Massachusetts. A rich onion soup harks back to her time in France, and dishes such as a raisin-bread panzanella salad and a wonderful scallop “margarita”—a lime-soaked ceviche presented in a salt-rimmed martini glass—won plaudits at 1789.

The dining room, with starched tablecloths and sconces, looks like a refined throwback. But Lacoste is up with the times: Jeans are fine, tables are set aside for walk-ins, and a happy-hour menu lets you slip in for a beer and a plate of deviled eggs.

Also good: Gnudi, light ricotta dumplings; a crudo duo of sesame-crusted tuna and pastrami-cured salmon; orecchiette with rock shrimp and goat cheese; cheeseburger; skirt steak with a runny egg; ice-cream sundaes.

Open Sunday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday for dinner. 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.