Best Bar Food: Dips and Spreads

Goat-cheese fodue with smoked chilies at the Fainting Goat. Photograph by Scott Suchman

To see the rest of our Bar Snacks package, including where to get lobster quesadillas, ham croquetas, and foie gras waffles, click here.


Grilling the avocados is the cool trick behind the guac at La Puerta Verde (2001 Fenwick St., NE; 202-290-1875). They’re then smashed with lime, diced tomato, cilantro, and red onion and finished with a sprinkling of Mexican chili seasoning.

Spinach-and-Artichoke Dip

The Hillstone Restaurant Group—behind Woodmont Grill (7715 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda; 301-656-9755), formerly known as Houston’s—is secretive about its famed dip, which tastes exactly as it did when we became hooked on it in the ’90s. All we know is that it’s maximally gooey with cheese and downright addictive, especially when its salted tortilla chips are further loaded with salsa and sour cream.

Beer Cheese

At William Jeffrey’s Tavern (2301 Columbia Pike, Arlington; 703-746-6334), local Port City Optimal Wit is blended with sharp cheddar and served with abundant accessories, including Stachowski’s spicy half-smoke sausages, warm pretzel rolls, pickles, and mustard.

Goat-Cheese Fondue

This fondue with smoky grilled bread has been a menu staple at the Fainting Goat (1330 U St., NW; 202-735-0344) since day one. Chef Nathan Beauchamp melds aged cheddar, smoked Gouda, and Amish chèvre in a cast-iron skillet, then brightens it all up with smoked Fresno chilies and a fennel-radish salad.

Strange Flavor Eggplant Dip

Is that baba ghanoush at Erik Bruner-Yang’s Maketto (1351 H St., NE; 202-838-9972)? Nope, it’s actually eggplant cooked with garlic, ginger, soy, sesame oil, and chili flakes on top of a hummus-like purée of tofu with miso. Despite the name of his Chinese dish, there’s nothing strange about it.

Smoked-Bluefish Rillettes

This refined French-style spread feels right at home at elegant Chez Billy Sud and its adjoining wine hangout, Bar à Vin (1035 31st St., NW; 202-965-2606). Virginia bluefish is cured overnight in salt, sugar, juniper, and white pepper, then hot-smoked, blended with crème fraîche and cream cheese, and served in a pretty glass jar. Slather it on toast, and make sure to grab a bit of the trout roe sprinkled on top.

This article appears in the November 2017 issue of Washingtonian.

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 Petworth.

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.

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.