100 Best Restaurants 2011: Tallula

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

In a neighborhood full of twentysomething bar-goers, this rust-orange dining room is refreshingly intimate. Like the spare decor, chef Barry Koslow’s food isn’t built on fanfare or flourishes. He turns seasonal ingredients into straightforward but elegant dishes that rely on common-sense flavor pairings.

There are Italian dishes—house-made pasta, polenta with baby-lamb ragu—that bring to mind Koslow’s mentor, Equinox chef/owner Todd Gray, but Koslow’s regularly changing menu has also included nods to Southeast Asia, Portugal, and the American South. The wine list is designed for sampling: There are three-, six-, and ten-ounce pours.

Also good: Fried oysters with apples and cauliflower-bacon purée; blue-crab sausage with citrusy Italian couscous; Portuguese-inspired haddock with clams and linguiça sausage; lemony cavatelli with veal sausage; potato-crusted salmon with beets; rockfish with green curry; Pekin duck with Brussels sprouts, pear, and salsify; cheese and charcuterie plates (get a side of mostarda, a fruit chutney); kiddie-inspired cookies-and-confections dessert plate.

Open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday and Sunday for brunch and 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 Logan Circle.