Food

The 14 Best New Restaurants of 2014

Our favorite casual joints, celebration spots, and unexpected surprises.
Lime-marinated shrimp adrak at Ananda, one of the best new restaurants of the year. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Washington welcomed a bounty of new restaurants this year, representing the full dining spectrum: casual neighborhood joints and fine dining destinations, celebrity chef-driven concepts and ethnic eateries. These 14 newcomers are just as varied, and each claimed spots on this year’s 100 Very Best Restaurants list. We’re looking forward to seeing what 2015 brings.

Aggio

5335 Wisconsin Ave., NW

Chef Bryan Voltaggio’s dressy Italian within Range came as a surprise—the team only gave a few hints about its Valentine’s Day debut. The menu proved exciting as well, with creative spins on traditional dishes. Nonna never made calamari Bolognese or mortadella whip with fresh focaccia, but we’re happy to eat it here.

Ananda

7421 Maple Lawn Blvd., Fulton

One of the most transportive culinary experiences can be found in this palatial Indian restaurant in Howard County, equipped with matching fireplaces on the veranda and a stately library in which to dine. The kitchen does its part equally well, serving refined dishes such as almond-crusted lamb chops and chickpea stew.

Compass Rose

1346 T St., NW

You’ve likely heard about Rose’s khachupuri, the rich and buttery Georgian cheese bread that has food lovers talking (or rather silently stuffing their faces). Still, this eclectic neighborhood restaurant is anything but a one-dish wonder, with a global range of hits like Korean pork ribs and grilled duck hearts.

Crane & Turtle

828 Upshur St., NW

Great things can come in small packages, as evidenced by this cozy 25-seat spot from restaurateur Paul Ruppert and former CityZen chef Makoto Hamamura. The French-Japanese menu pushes boundaries—hay-smoked tuna tataki, scallops with chorizo dumplings—but the vibe remains that of a relaxed neighborhood eatery.

DBGB Kitchen & Bar

931 H St., NW

The biggest celebrity-chef arrival of 2014 was Daniel Boulud’s CityCenterDC brasserie, and as our critics discovered, the opening months didn’t live up to the hype. Still, there’s a buzz in the dining room, and reason to believe the kitchen is on the upswing with plates like a superb coq au vin and crispy, pancetta-wrapped trout.

The Fainting Goat

1330 U St., NW

One of the most exciting culinary trends in Washington over past couple of years has been the increasing number of top-quality neighborhood restaurants. Chef Nathan Beauchamp, formerly of 1789, pairs seasonal ingredients and classic technique with a casual vibe at this gastropub, where a laid-back crowd tucks into mussels with pumpkin and lemongrass, or terrific goat Bolognese.

Fiola Mare

3050 K St., NW

The highest-rated newcomer on our 100 Best Restaurants list took the fourth slot, and still boasts the hottest tables in town nearly a year after opening. Chef Fabio Trabocchi’s seafood is unparalleled in Washington—if not much of the culinary landscape—both in creativity (try “under the sea” with shellfish and foie gras) and freshness.

Gypsy Soul

8296 Glass Alley, Fairfax

Chef RJ Cooper’s Mosaic District eatery isn’t as high-minded as sister venture Rogue 24, but offers enough inventive riffs from both the kitchen and bar to keep guests on their toes—and coming back for more. Many of the soulful dishes come by way of the South, such as chicken-fried quail and oyster stew with artichokes.

Lupo Verde

1401 T St. NW

An entire room devoted to Italian charcuterie and cheeses is one of the many draws at this charming 14th Street newcomer. Drop by the warmly lit bar for a board of salumi e formaggi and excellent cocktails made with Italian liqueurs, or head upstairs to the brick-walled dining room for craveable cacio e pepe pasta.

Ocopa

1324 H St., NE

Chef Carlos Delgado’s Atlas District Peruvian didn’t open with the fanfare of some others on this list, but the 24-seat eatery is one of the better arrivals of the year. Start with a deftly crafted rum cocktail and make a meal of small plates, such as pristine ceviche or potatoes topped with crab and avocado.

Partisan

709 D St., NW

The market-restaurant hybrid trend saw a number of additions this year, and this hotspot attached to Red Apron Butchery in Penn Quarter is among the best. Drinkers and carnivores do equally well, with meaty dishes like a roasted pig’s head for two, inventive cocktails, and an impressive selection of wines.

Saba

3900 Pickett Rd., Fairfax

This strip-mall Yemeni restaurant is a testament to how eclectic and exciting Washington’s dining scene has become. Chef/owner Tahia Alhoraivi concocts rich, aromatic rice dishes such as haneeth, made with braised lamb, and ethereal fresh breads.

Thai Taste by Kob

11315 Fern St., Wheaton

Don’t want to wait in line at Little Serow (sixth on this year’s list)? You’ll find similarly fresh flavors and bracing heat at this no-frills spot, for almost half the price. If you don’t live near Wheaton, specialties such as crispy whole fish or roasted pork over egg noodles is worth the trip.

Tico

1926 14th St., NW

Boston chef Michael Schlow joined the 14th Street restaurant boom comparatively late—his funky pan-Latin joint opened in June—but that doesn’t stop diners from packing the graffiti-filled dining room. Tequila drinkers find an impressive selection behind the bar, while vegetarians can do surprisingly well; we love the cabbage salad with salsa verde, roasted beets and yogurt, and falafel-esque edamame tacos.

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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.