Wonton soup at the Source
When you order the wonton soup at Wolfgang Puck’s minimalist Asian dining room, the cart that rolls up to your table is the first signal you won’t be getting the throwaway Chinese-takeout app you probably grew up on. Instead, you’re presented with a bowl filled with egg noodles, pork-and-shrimp dumplings, a poached egg, and cilantro. But the real treasure is the rich pork-and-chicken broth, which has been cooked for 20 hours and pings with chilies and garlic.
Brown-rice bread with kuri squash at Tail Up Goat
On the heels of its Bon Appetit nod as one of the country’s 50 best restaurants, this Adams Morgan spot continues to soar and surprise. Take Jon Sybert’s brown-rice bread, which is now being served with some lovely fall accents: lush kuri squash, spicy honey, pecans, and nutty benne seeds. And don’t miss the cheese course, in which shards of goat gouda are spooned with orange/Campari jam and bitter cocoa nibs.
Toast with uni at Minibar
A little Jose Andres trompe l’oeil magic. What looks like a doll-sized slice of toast is actually made of soft green-apple meringue. It’s liberally slathered with cultured butter and laden with perfect, creamy lobes of sea urchin.
Lobster gratin at Plume
A dish that, sadly, you don’t see much anymore. Which makes the version at this plush dining room all the more special. The split lobster shell is filled with tender, sweet claw and tail meat that is bound with lobster bisque and the tiniest hint of vanilla, then broiled and garnished with lobster chips and lobster roe.
Chicago dog at Garden District
On a good week, the road to our annual 100 Best Restaurants issue is filled with dishes that are by turns thought-provoking, fascinating, and indulgent (see above). My lunch this past Sunday—a crispy-skinned hot dog with plenty of sliced tomatoes and sweet relish, downed at a picnic table in the fall sunlight—fell into a different category: pure, mindless pleasure.