100 Best Restaurants 2012: Birch & Barley/ChurchKey

From soulful bistros to high-gloss steakhouses, there's lots of good eating in DC, Maryland, and Virginia


Chef Kyle Bailey, his wife and pastry chef Tiffany MacIsaac, and beer director Greg Engert are the dream team at this beer-centric destination, which glows like a modern barn. Upstairs, ChurchKey is one of DC’s hottest bars, serving sandwiches, flatbreads, and nibbles along with an impressive roster of bottles and drafts. Downstairs is Birch & Barley, the more sophisticated sister establishment that, thanks to Bailey’s rustic cooking, is still tough to get into two years after opening.

The hard-to-find brews, such as a wonderful English bitter, are the obvious drink choices, but cocktails such as the mint gimlet also go down easy.

What to get: Juicy sweetbreads; herbal risotto with ricotta and marinated peach; pork loin with greens and eggplant; cavatelli with roasted chicken and chicken-skin cracklings; hake with beans and corn; grilled skirt steak with puréed potatoes and mustard greens; bratwurst burger; cookies-and-confections plate; summertime peach pie and blueberry tart.

Open Tuesday through Saturday for dinner, Sunday for brunch (until 8 pm). Expensive.

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.