Food

Here Are the Finalists for the 2019 RAMMY Awards

But the nominations don't reflect the full scope of DC's dining scene right now

The standing-only counters in the kitchen at Spoken English. Photograph by Scott Suchman

It’s that time again. Last night, the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washingtonian announced the finalists for its annual RAMMY Awards, recognizing the food and drink scene’s top names (with a few big asterisks). Among the contenders with at least three nominations: Daikaya Group, chef Victor Albisu‘s restaurants (Taco Bamba and Poca Madre), chef Erik Bruner-Yang‘s restaurants (Maketto, Spoken English), Trummer’s on Main, and The Source by Wolfgang Puck.

If many of the nominees don’t seem particularly current, that’s because of the many award rules. For starters, finalists must be paying members of the restaurant association. And even if they are, winners are not eligible to be finalists in the same category for five years. Plus, many of the categories stipulate that restaurants must have been open for at least a year or two to qualify.

In particular, the list of fine-dining nominees (Blue Duck Tavern, Bourbon Steak, The Source, Rasika, Trummer’s on Main) could have been the same any year within the past decade. Notably missing because because RAMMY rules disqualify them: Minibar (last year’s winner), Pineapple and Pearls (not a RAMW member), and Del Mar (too new).

Most of the winners will be selected by an anonymous panel of food writers and industry professionals, but the public will have the final say in four categories: fast bites, gathering place, casual brunch, and upscale brunch. Vote for your favorites here through April 30. The winners will be announced at the RAMMYs gala on June 30.

And now, the finalists:

Regional Food and Beverage Producer of the Year: This nominee is a food or beverage artisan who creates a product that is then utilized by chefs and restaurants. Nominees in this category may be cheese makers, coffee roasters, vintners, brewers, distillers, bread bakers, chocolatiers, honey producers, farmers, an ice cream/gelato company and many more. When the artisan is a restaurant or restaurant group, the products created must be utilized by chefs and/or restaurants outside of the maker’s restaurant group. The nominee must have been in business a minimum of one year by December 31, 2018.
Arcadia Farm
Atlas Brew Works
Ayrshire Farm
Ivy City Smokehouse
Logan Sausage Co.

New Restaurant of the Year: A restaurant that must have opened between January 1, 2018 and December 31, 2018 and already distinguishes itself as a pacesetter in food, beverage and service.
Chloe
Kaliwa
Poca Madre
Spoken English
St. Anselm

Cocktail Program of the Year: The establishment is distinguished by the quality, diversity, clarity and value of its craft cocktail program, evaluated separately from its beer, wine or other beverages. Nominees may be bars, restaurants, or any foodservice establishment with an exemplary cocktail program. The nominee continues to break new ground in education of its staff. The nominee must have been in operation for a minimum of one year as of December 31, 2018.
Barmini by José Andrés
Bresca
Daikaya
Petworth Citizen and Reading Room
Royal

Beer Program of the Year: The establishment is distinguished by the quality, diversity, clarity and value of its beer program. Brewery restaurants and brew pubs are eligible for this category and will be judged based on the diversity and quality of their craft beer. The nominee continues to break new ground in education of its staff. The nominee must have been in operation for a minimum of one year as of December 31, 2018.
B Side
Caboose Tavern
Pizzeria Paradiso – Dupont
Republic
Roofers Union

Wine Program of the Year: The establishment is distinguished by the quality, diversity, clarity and value of its wine program. The nominee’s wine program best suits the cuisine and style of the restaurant while enhancing the dining experience. Wine bars are eligible for this category and will be judged based on the diversity and quality of their offerings. The nominee continues to break new ground in education of its staff. The nominee must have been in operation for a minimum of one year as of December 31, 2018.
Cork Wine Bar and Market
Le Diplomate
Maxwell Park
Minibar by José Andrés
Trummer’s On Main

Rising Culinary Star of the Year: The nominee is an “up and coming” chef who demonstrates exemplary talent, shows leadership and promise for the future. The nominee must have been based in the Metropolitan Washington area for a minimum of two years.
Javier Fernandez, Kuya Ja’s Lechon Belly
Adam Howard, Blue Duck Tavern
John MacPherson, Three Blacksmiths
Daniela Moreira, Call Your Mother Deli, Timber Pizza Company
Kwame Onwuachi, Kith and Kin

Favorite Gathering Place of the Year: This nominee is a restaurant rooted in its neighborhood where guests come to eat, drink, and get together with friends repeatedly. The great atmosphere and good vibes are as important as the food and drink. The nominee must have been open for at least 2 years prior to December 31, 2018.
Duke’s Counter
Open Road
Perry’s
Quarry House Tavern
Vinoteca

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Upscale Brunch of the Year: The nominee is a restaurant that demonstrates a high standard of dining excellence and service for its brunch in an Upscale Casual environment. Brunch may be offered as full-service, buffet, or prix fixe. The nominee must have been in business a minimum of one year by December 31, 2018.
Estadio
Seasons
The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm
The Source by Wolfgang Puck
Unconventional Diner

Casual Brunch of the Year: The nominee is a restaurant that demonstrates a dedication to dining excellence, service and value in a casual environment for brunch. Brunch may be offered as full-service, buffet, or prix fixe. The nominee must have been in operation for a minimum of one year as of December 31, 2018.
Brookland’s Finest Bar & Kitchen
Casolare Ristorante & Bar
Compass Rose Bar + Kitchen
Maketto
The Tavern at Ivy City Smokehouse

Favorite Fast Bites of the Year: This nominee is a delicatessen, quick-serve restaurant, mobile food vendor, or coffee shop (with food menu) that demonstrates a dedication to good food and good service in a fast-casual environment. The nominee must have been in operation for a minimum of one year as of December 31, 2018.
Chiko
Little Red Fox
Rasa
Shouk
Taco Bamba Taqueria

Employee of the Year: The nominee is a non-managerial front or back of the house employee who serves as a model employee by displaying outstanding service, an excellent work ethic and a positive image.
Oscar Ardon, Doi Moi
Maria Contreras, Jaleo Crystal City
Valentine King, Hummingbird Bar and Kitchen
Eloy Juarez Alvarez, Mintwood Place
Fred Uku, The Red Hen

Manager of the Year: The nominee is a non-owner manager or general manager in the food service industry who displays the highest level of professionalism and leadership. This person must be an inspiration and mentor to all his/her co-workers displaying outstanding service, an excellent work ethic and a positive image.
Dave Delaplaine, Roofers Union
Sabrine Marques, PassionFish Bethesda
Donna Seal, Oceanaire
Richard Stewart, iRicchi Ristorante
Paris Twyman, Founding Farmers Tysons

Service Program of the Year: This nominee is a restaurant that demonstrates a high standard of excellence in service across the restaurant – from the reservation process, to the host station, to every element of the dining experience. The nominee must have been in business a minimum of two years by December 31, 2018.
Ambar – Clarendon
Carlyle Grand Cafe
Iron Gate
Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak, & Stone Crab
The Riggsby

Casual Restaurant of the Year: The nominee is a restaurant that demonstrates a dedication to dining excellence, service and value in a casual environment. The nominee must have been in business a minimum of two years by December 31, 2018.
All Purpose – Shaw
Bantam King
Bindaas – Cleveland Park
Maketto
Royal

Upscale Casual Restaurant of the Year: The nominee is a restaurant that demonstrates a high standard of dining excellence and service in an upscale casual environment. The nominee must have been in business a minimum of two years by December 31, 2018.
Centrolina
Iron Gate
Momofuku CCDC
Sally’s Middle Name
Sushi Taro

Pastry Chef of the Year: The nominee is a restaurant pastry chef who prepares desserts and baked goods and demonstrates a high standard of excellence and culinary artistry. The nominee serves as an inspiration to other food professionals. The nominee must have been a pastry chef for the past five years with a minimum of two years based in the Metropolitan Washington area.
Fabrice Bendano, Le Diplomate
Ana Deshaies, Unconventional Diner
Pichet Ong, Brothers and Sisters, Spoken English
Paola Velez, Iron Gate
Meagan Tighe, Trummer’s On Main

Formal Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year: The nominee is a restaurant that demonstrates a high standard of excellence in food, service and atmosphere and shows dedication to sophisticated culinary techniques in a fine dining environment. The nominee must have been in business a minimum of two years by December 31, 2018.
Blue Duck Tavern
Bourbon Steak
Rasika
The Source by Wolfgang Puck
Trummer’s On Main

Chef of the Year: The nominee is an executive chef or chef de cuisine who demonstrates consistent standards of culinary excellence. The nominee displays a dedication to the artistry of food and may be from any type of establishment. The nominee must have been a chef for the past five years with a minimum of two years based in the Metropolitan Washington area.
Kyle Bailey, The Salt Line
David Deshaies, Unconventional Diner
Marjorie Meek-Bradley, St. Anselm
Russell Smith, The Source by Wolfgang Puck
Nicholas Stefanelli, Masseria, Officina

Restaurateur of the Year: The nominee must be a working restaurateur or restaurant group who sets high standards in restaurant operations and entrepreneurship. Candidates must have been in the restaurant business for a minimum of 5 years in the Metropolitan Washington area.
Victor Albisu, Poca Madre, Taco Bamba Taqueria
Jackie Greenbaum & Gordon Banks, Bar Charley, El Chucho, Little Coco’s, Quarry House Tavern, Slash Run
Michael Friedman, Mike O’Malley, Colin McDonough, Gareth Croke, All Purpose Restaurants
Rose Previte, Compass Rose Bar + Kitchen, Maydan
Daisuke Utagawa, Katsuya Fukushima, and Yama Jewayni, Daikaya Group

Joan Hisaoka Allied Member of the Year: The award is presented to an associate member who best exemplifies commitment to and support of RAMW. This award recipient is determined by RAMW’s Executive Committee.
Coastal Sunbelt Produce
Congressional Seafood Co.
Saval Foodservice
TriMark Adams-Burch
The Veritas Law Firm

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.