100 Best Restaurants 2012: Bistrot Le Zinc

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


With restaurants, simplicity is an often-underrated virtue. But that’s what keeps drawing us back to this bistro–us and plenty of neighborhood regulars. The butter-yellow dining room, crammed with a ragtag array of pictures (a black-and-white shot of Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright, a Steve McQueen poster), tends to be busy even on weeknights.

Chef/co-owner David Ashwell, Robert Wiedmaier’s longtime right-hand man, is turning out such straightforward but soulful bistro fare as excellent steak frites, crocks of mussels, and a rich onion soup. There’s not too much tinkering with tradition, but the terrific lemon tart is like nothing we’ve had–its tender crust holds faintly citrusy custard covered with brûléed sugar and, atop that, translucent slices of raw lemon.

What to get: Mussels Bolognese; sweetbreads with grainy mustard sauce; escargots with Stilton and apples; rockfish crusted in brioche crumbs and served with tapenade.

Open Tuesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner. Moderate.

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.