100 Very Best Restaurants: #12 – Spoken English

A bartender at Spoken English. Photograph by Scott Suchman


We know—a standing-only restaurant sounds faddish. But think of Japanese tachinomiya bars, where patrons are packed shoulder to shoulder reveling in food and drink. Here, add reservations and more elbow room (the maximum capacity is 15) and you have Erik Bruner-Yang’s modern-Asian hideaway. Tucked inside an active kitchen at the Line hotel, diners at two communal tables watch chefs fry chicken-skin dumplings—best knocked back with a Suntory-whiskey highball—and grill kushiyaki skewers such as Camembert drizzled with fermented honey. It’s tempting to graze, but then you’d miss the standout large-format plates—especially the whole duck served with house-made tortillas, cucumbers, scallions, and a bevy of sauces. Expensive.

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.