100 Very Best Restaurants 2015: No. 86 Liberty Tavern

Sunday brunch at Liberty Tavern. Photograph by Chris Campbell.

This Clarendon bistro was at the forefront of the upscaled-downscale movement when it opened in 2007. It wore its sophistication lightly, presenting itself as a low-key place that just happened to put out food of surprising refinement. Now every other place that opens seems to have copped that formula and Liberty Tavern no longer feels as quietly daring. But ultimately we don’t care how unique a place is—we care how good it is. And Liberty remains a rewarding experience, from the expertly mixed cocktails to the strong French-press coffee.

You can eat simply and lightly (the wood-fired pizzas are as good as ever; go for the Vermont, with cheddar and prosciutto) or settle in and explore Matt Hill’s menu of lusty, Italian-accented comfort food—the gnocchi are worth a visit all by themselves.

Don’t miss:

  • Smoked lamb ribs
  • Charred octopus with black-garlic aïoli
  • Fritto misto
  • Roasted scallops with chanterelles
  • Apple dumplings
  • Cookies-and-confections plate

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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.