News & Politics

100 Very Best Restaurants 2013: 5 Places to Watch

We’re keeping close tabs on these restaurants—from Range, Bryan Voltaggio’s supersized dining playground, to José Andrés’s resurrected Minibar, which turns dinner into performance art.

1. Minibar

Even more than in its previous incarnation
inside Café Atlántico, the latest staging of José Andrés’s Minibar—in a
space that engulfs you in gone-to-heaven white—showcases a highly
manipulated cuisine, with liquid nitrogen, water baths, and powders
creating edibles so intense they taste like extracts. Still, it’s a tease
for the diner, a denial of the simple pleasures of chowing down. And the
cost—$225 for food—makes it the most expensive dinner in the

2. Range

Bryan Voltaggio clearly intends to show you the full extent of what he can
do at this 14,000-square-foot space in Chevy Chase Pavilion, which employs
a butcher and chocolatier. You can dine on kimchee pasta with uni
or down a Neapolitan-style pizza. The challenge for Voltaggio—a former
Top Chef contestant who owns three restaurants in Frederick—will
be in keeping so many balls in the air at once.

3. Suna

you think it’s daring to launch an all-tasting-menu restaurant in
recessionary times, then get a load of the dishes themselves at Johnny
Spero’s Capitol Hill arriviste. Candied root vegetables kick things off.
Meringues resembling shards of marble send you home. You won’t know what’s
coming, and when it does come, chances are you won’t know what you’re
looking at. It’s a beguiling, sometimes baffling, night out. But the
talent is undeniable, and the operation is sure to evolve and

4. Wildwood Kitchen

Robert Wiedmaier’s latest venture occupies the
middle ground between Marcel’s, his posh DC flagship, and Mussel Bar &
Grille, his clamorous Bethesda hot spot. The chef has cut down on butter
and cream—a shift for a man who made his rep with boudin blanc and other
caloric Continental classics. The surprise, early on, is that the food
hardly suffers. Pestos and caponatas abound, but it’s the technical rigor
of the kitchen that elevates dishes like lamb meatballs above the

5. Woodward Table

Jeffrey Buben’s third restaurant couldn’t be more different from his
Bistro Bis or Vidalia in mission or mood. The place calls to mind an
upmarket Hot Shoppes: unassuming and dependable. The
something-for-everyone menu emphasizes hearty portions of unfussy fare—a
lamb T-bone with pearl onions or corned beef with potatoes. But the price
for such simplicity is high, especially when others in its class offer
more in the way of daring or pampering.

100 Very Best Restaurants 2013