100 Very Best Restaurants 2013: Vidalia


Vidalia pairs hearty bison short ribs with chanterelles and cornbread purée. Erik Uecke.

About Vidalia


In all their efforts to keep diners interested, restaurateurs sometimes forget the basics. Not Jeff Buben, who has always understood the importance of making a good first impression and a strong closing statement. The complimentary bread basket at his subterranean, Southern-accented restaurant, loaded with buttery cornbread and onion loaf, sets a tone of warm generosity that no amuse-bouche could. And the desserts, with multiple variations on pie and cake, are a welcome sight in an age of airy sweets that seem intended to entice models who are wary of indulging.

The best dishes remain the most identifiably Southern, such as the shrimp and grits, whose precision attests to the boss’s insistence that the “little things” aren’t little. There might not be a better happy hour in DC, with excellent Southern-style cocktails, wine flights from one of the city’s best lists, and an array of $3-to-$5 snacks.

Don’t miss: Foie gras with espresso pound cake; oyster pan roast; crabcakes; Frogmore stew; stuffed roast quail; caramel layer cake; devil’s-food cake.

Open: Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday and Sunday for dinner.

Very 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 Logan Circle.