Our Favorite Eats and Drinks from the 2019 Best of Washington Party

Whole coconut cocktails, spicy noodles, catfish dip, and more

Daikaya group's rotating restaurant was a top attraction at Best of Washington. Photograph by Jessica Sidman.

Last night’s Best of Washington party at the National Building Museum had Skee-Ball, an open bar, AND a mermaid (no joke—the theme was under-the-sea). Of course, we’re all about the food. More than 70 of the area’s top restaurants served up bites and drinks. Here are some of our food team’s very favorites.

Eggplant at Daikaya. Photograph by Anna Spiegel

Best in show: Daikaya Group 

For the second year in a row, chef Katsuya Fukushima (dressed in a Totoro costume) and the Daikya Group stole the show with their mini pop-up restaurant. It was worth the wait to rotate around four different stations, starting with a mezcal-and-sherry cocktail; moving to a scallop crudo with apple-dashi broth; then to charred eggplant, mini mozzarella balls, basil, and bonito flakes in an ethereal dashi broth; and capping it all off with a scoop of vanilla ice cream with umami-rich chicken skin-caramel sauce.

No, it’s not the ocean floor. It’s dessert from Kith & Kin. Photo by Jessica Sidman.

Best under-the-sea theme: Kith & Kin

The team behind chef Kwame Onwuachi‘s Afro-Caribbean restaurant at the Wharf prepared a full (edible) seascape at their table, including chocolate shells filled with sprulina (green algae) white chocolate coconut mousse and pineapple as well as curried king crab with plantain granola.

El Sapo’s whole coconuts. Photograph by Jessica Sidman.

Best drink: El Sapo‘s whole coconuts

Everyone was lining up for this Silver Spring Cuban restaurant’s booze-spiked whole coconuts. The logo-seared fruit was the best marketing move at the party.

Peter Chang’s family brought a lazy susan to present their food. Photograph by Jessica Sidman.

Best one-stop dinner: Mama Chang’s

At the table for Peter Chang’s Mama Chang, you could load up your plate with as many Sichuan noodles and hunks of spicy smoked fish as you wanted.

The Dabney’s take on chips and dip. Photograph by Jessica Sidman.

Best junk food riff: The Dabney‘s catfish dip with cornmeal cracker

Chef Jeremiah Langhorne brought back one of our favorite snacks: an artisanal take on Doritos (bbq’d cornmeal crackers) with smoked Chesapeake catfish dip. Bonus: it’s on the menu at the restaurant if you stop by soon.

Kogiya’s beef short rib and kimchi sandwich. Photograph by Jessica Sidman.

Best sandwich: Kogiya‘s beef short rib and kimchi on milk bread

Our favorite Korean barbecue spot grilled up marinated beef short ribs then sandwiched it with kimchi. Bonus: the cute cartoon cow seared on the soft slices of milk bread.

Blue Duck Tavern’s vegetable pot pie. Photograph by Ann Limpert.

Best savory pastry: Blue Duck Tavern’s vegetable pot pie

We didn’t miss chicken at all in this pot-pie garnished with watermelon radishes and a gingery broth.

Momofuku’s lettuce cups. Photograph by Ann Limpert.

Best hand-held snack: Momofuku‘s lettuce cups

Chef Tae Strain‘s team filled lettuce cups with brightly flavored pork-sausage-and-shrimp larb and toasted rice.

Chiko’s spicy noodle with Sichuan pickle. Photograph by Anna Spiegel.

Best nood pic: Chiko‘s spicy noodle with Sichuan pickle

We couldn’t help snapping some ‘gram photos above Chiko’s table, which was heaped with garlicky noodle bowls with toasted sesame and crispy shallots—not just a pretty picture but a tasty meal as well.

The best cones not filled with ice cream came from Jaleo. Photograph by Jessica Sidman.

Best vegetarian: José Andrés’s restaurants

Perhaps a fitting plug for his new book, Vegetables Unleashed, Andrés’s restaurants served meatless fare (plus a delicious Oyamel margarita). Zaytinya’s chilled yoghurt soup with spring vegetables and golden raisins put any gazpacho to shame, while Jaleo served its classic cones with Spanish goat cheese, tomato marmalade, and dehydrated tomato flakes.

A rum and pineapple golgappa. Photo by Anna Spiegel

Best cocktail-food hybrid: Bindaas

Hungry and thirsty? The pineapple-rum golgappas—like a shooter in an edible, crispy shell cup—fulfilled both cravings (we also loved Rasika’s spiced shrimp as an accompaniment).

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.

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.

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.