100 Best Restaurants 2012: Central Michel Richard

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


Is there a chef more joyfully indulgent than Michel Richard? At his bustling, blond-wood-paneled bistro, Richard is all about over-the-top fun, serving his famed fried chicken in fast-food-style buckets and an already-gooey grilled-cheese sandwich with a three-cheese dipping sauce.

During the day, deals are made over bacon cheeseburgers and the best corned-beef sandwiches in town. Ties are loosened at night, and such go-down-easy cocktails as an old fashioned made with Maker’s Mark and figs keep a crowd around the bar. The dining room is a prime place for celebrating with Champagne and Richard’s fabulous desserts.

What to get: Cracker-thin bacon-and-onion tart; goat-cheese Caesar salad; oysters on the half shell; rockfish, shrimp, and mussels in lobster broth; tuna and lamb burgers with fries; meringue with berries and whipped cream; Michel’s Chocolate Bar, a riff on a Kit Kat; crème brûlée; napoleon.

Open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday for 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 Petworth.