Washingtonian’s 100 Very Best Restaurants List Is Out: Here Are the Top 20 Spots

A sneak peek at our top-tier favorites.

Clams and rockfish in coconut milk at Bad Saint. Photograph by Scott Suchman

In the restaurant world, 2019 was the year that gave and the year that took away. We lost many favorites—RIP Ray’s the Steaks, Sally’s Middle Name, Proof, and Himitsu. But oh, how we gained. This past year brought newcomers like Queen’s English, Rooster and Owl, Thompson Italian, and, most importantly, the restaurant who won the top spot in our ranked list: the modern Korean Anju in Dupont Circle.

The list, which hits newsstands today, is the result of nearly a year’s worth of research. Anna Spiegel, Jessica Sidman, Cynthia Hacinli and I visited over 300 restaurants in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. As we have in the last many years, we ranked every one (and whittled endlessly—we felt passionately about around 130 places total).

Our top 20 is an exciting and eclectic mix. There are special-occasion dining rooms like Komi, Minibar, and Métier (all former #1 winners). Mediterranean lunch spot Green Almond Pantry, Trinidadian destination Cane, and Ivy City fine-dining room Gravitas are among the first-timers on our list. Other places, like Bresca and Rose’s Luxury, have been around for a while, but are operating at the top of their game. There’s plenty to dig into—at every price point.

Got questions/comments/beefs/rants? Of course you do! Join me for my weekly food chat this Friday at 11.

The Top 20:

1. Anju

The guys behind the fast-casual Chiko create thrilling Korean plates—and panchan—that both push boundaries and honor tradition.

2. The Dabney

Jeremiah Langhorne’s oft-changing menu is packed with mid-Atlantic indulgences both humble and grand.

3. Sushi Nakazawa

The Trump Hotel location might be a dealbreaker, but there is pitch-perfect omakase happening in this minimalist dining room.

4. Komi

Johnny Monis and Anne Marler’s 17 year-old dining room in Dupont Circle is still putting out thrilling Mediterranean tasting menus.

5. Elle

By day, the Mount Pleasant cafe serves fantastic breakfasts and lunches; at night, the dining room turns out plates that are both surprising and satisfying.

6. Poca Madre

Victor Albisu’s mod-Mex dining room in Penn Quarter wows with ceviches, DIY tacos, and mezcal-spiked cocktails.

7. Bresca

Ryan Ratino channels a range of influences—midwestern meat and potatoes, a destination-worthy osteria—at his bright, brass-lined 14th Street dining room.

8. Bad Saint

Good news about this teeny Filipino dining room—it’s still at the top of its game, and it now takes reservations.

9. Pineapple and Pearls

The tasting menu at Aaron Silverman’s luxe dining room is currently kicking things off with tableside martinis.

10. Cane

Chef/owner Peter Prime celebrates bold, bright Trinidadian flavors at his H Street hotspot.

11. The Inn at Little Washington

This Rappahannock County tasting-menu destination is all about over-the-top splendor—with a dash of whimsy.

12. Kinship/Métier

At this sophisticated tasting room and upstairs à la carte restaurant, Eric Ziebold mingles an elegant French sensibility with hearty American flavors.

13. Nasime

This sliver of a Japanese dining room in Old Town serves a single five-course menu—a great value—each night.

14. Mama Chang

Acclaimed chef Peter Chang pays tribute to the matriarchs of his Chinese family at this buzzy Fairfax spot.

15. Kith and Kin

Last year, Kwame Onwuachi wrote a memoir and snagged a James Beard award. What’s most impressive, though, is that his Afro-Caribbean restaurant at the Wharf keeps getting better and better.

16. Minibar

José Andrés is behind this surrealist odyssey of a tasting menu (20-plus courses!).

17. Gravitas

One of the city’s more vibrant tasting-menu experiences comes out of this warehouse-chic Ivy City space.

18. Izakaya Seki

Check out the hand-illustrated specials menu at this discreet, father/daughter-owned Japanese izakaya.

19. Green Almond Pantry

The eight-seat lunch counter and market serves the kind of Mediterranean food you fantasize about stumbling across in an alley somewhere far away.

20. Rose’s Luxury

Wisely, owner Aaron Silverman has brought back some of the hits that put Rose’s on the culinary map in 2013.

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.