100 Very Best Restaurants 2014: Minibar

No. 2 on this year's list

Critic’s Rating:

Cost:

Photograph by Scott Suchman.

At $250 per person (before alcohol), José Andrés’s Penn Quarter culinary lab—with 12 seats surrounding an intensely focused kitchen—is among the most expensive restaurants in the world. Yet as you make your way through the thrilling 25 to 30 courses, you’re constantly reminded how few chefs have the creative capacity and technical wizardry to make food that’s at once perspective-altering and delicious. Bite the head off a meringue “rubber ducky” and a burst of ice-cold foie gras envelops your tongue. A tempura-fried sea bean invokes the lushness of a tropical island. A liquefied Marcona almond, frozen and stuffed with blue cheese, pays homage to an iconic Spanish tapa.

If you go, go all out—wine pairings, which begin at $75 per person, elevate the experience and showcase the skills of the exceptional service team. If you want to marvel at the place on the (relatively) cheap, book a table at the adjacent Barmini, where 15-minute cocktails complement such snacks as uni panini. Open: Tuesday through Saturday for dinner. Don’t miss: Parmesan canalé; chicken shawarma; Vietnamese pig ears; chocolate doughnuts; mezcal-flavored gummy bears.

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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.