100 Very Best Restaurants 2014: 8407 Kitchen Bar

Critic’s Rating:

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8407 Kitchen Bar’s lamb Bolognese would make an Italian chef envious. Photo by Scott Suchman.

This chill bistro has tried to make the case that downtown sophistication need not be limited to downtown DC. The recent hire of chef Justin Bittner, however, tacks on an important brief to that argument. Bittner turned Bar Pilar into a food lover’s destination with dishes that looked straightforward yet flooded the mouth with waves of flavor.

Here he’s brought a new playfulness to the menu—his trotter tots are a minor masterpiece of richness and crunch—and tweaked perennials like the house-made tagliatelle (oxtail ragu has replaced Bolognese) to keep diners guessing. Butchering and charcuterie have long been an interest of Bittner’s, and you could make a simple, rewarding meal of his robustly spiced terrines and pâtés, along with a good cocktail and one of pastry chef Rita Garruba’s soul-satisfying desserts.

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

Don’t Miss: House-smoked salmon; buttermilk fried calamari; cast-iron-seared shrimp with romesco; rabbit rillettes; heirloom-tomato BLT; cheeseburger.

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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.

Anna Spiegel
Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.