Best of the Best: Top Dishes and Drinks From the 2014 Best of Washington Party

From truffles and lobster to sangria and grilled cheese.

Liberty Tavern's mozzarella arancini with bolognese was a dish we could have eaten by the bowl. Photograph by Anna Spiegel.

Our annual Best of Washington party is always one of the biggest culinary events of the summer, with more than 60 of Washington’s top restaurants gathering at the National Building Museum. The dishes and drinks we tasted at last night’s bash were some of the best yet, from luxurious bites of truffle and lobster to refreshing cold soups and crudos to comfort fare such as grilled cheese and hot dogs for after those Patrón margaritas kicked in. You’ll find our favorites below. Have some of your own? Share them in the comments.

Best luxurious bite: A decadent deviled egg with copious amounts of summer truffles from BLT Steak. Yes, we took two. Runner up: West End Bistro’s poached Maine lobster with marinated tomatoes and sweet corn coulis.

Best comfort fare (a.k.a. what we were craving after a few drinks): Daikaya’s unusual but addictive mashup of pimiento grilled cheese with kimchee on a griddled potato roll. Runner up: The bánh mì-inspired dogs from Haute Dogs & Fries. If you’re dragging today, you can find the full-size version at the Alexandria shop.

Best item from a restaurant’s regular menu: Toki Underground’s barbecue pork buns (found and eaten many times at the pop-up in Union Market). Runner up: The generous and always delicious crispy rice salad from Bangkok Golden.

Best cold soup: Chef Haidar Karoum’s salmorejo, a robust tomato and bread soup topped with jamon, chopped egg, and herbs (Proof/Estadio/Doi Moi). Runner up: Chilled corn soup with duck confit and grilled corn from Black’s Bar & Kitchen.

Best raw bite: Though better known for its American fare, the Majestic’s tuna sashimi with soy-yuzu vinaigrette and Thai chilies is a dish we’d love to see again. Runner up: Too many to choose one! Salmon tartar from Central, Del Campo’s ceviche, and Ayse’s spiced tuna crudo with tabbouleh and avocado yogurt all come to mind.

Bite we could eat a bowl of: 1789’s silky crab and corn fondue was a dish we could curl up with. Runner up: Liberty Tavern’s crispy sweet pea arancini with a molten mozzarella center, perfect for scooping in a bowl of hearty bolognese sauce.

Best dessert: The Georgetown Cupcakes are always delicious, but 2941’s butterscotch budino with apricot marmalade took the proverbial cake. Runner up: We’re becoming addicted to Ice Cream Jubilee’s creative flavors, such as Dark and Stormy and Thai iced tea.

Best drink: STK’s cucumber stiletto, a mix of vodka and St. Germain liqueur, was a truly refreshing sip. Runner up: We would happily sip a pitcher of Boqueria’s blackberry sangria.

Best presentation: California Tortilla’s plate with an attached drink holder was truly ingenious. We’d like to see them at every cocktail party. Runner up: The steaming, potion-like berry cocktail for Celebrity Cruises, served in rounded glass vessels.

Trend we’d like to see happen: Bring on the tea sandwiches! After trying Mike Friedman’s dainty squares of white bread filled with smoked trout, bacon, and corn, we’d go to the Red Hen for high tea any day. Runner up: taramasalata. We could have taken a bowl of the creamy roe spread from Kapnos’s table, and snagged many of Cava Mezze’s pillowy blinis topped with a truffled version and smoked trout.

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.