100 Very Best Restaurants 2015: No. 23 Estadio

Mini Pork Belly Sandwiches at Estadio. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Pork belly has been maligned and mishandled over the last decade—how many bites of pure fat can a person take?

At this Spanish-inflected Logan Circle hot spot, Haidar Karoum not only redeems it; he turns it into one of our favorite sandwiches in the region—caramelizing the edges, giving it a slathering of aïoli, and cutting the unctuousness with pickled shishito peppers.

Karoum’s skill is not in turning the familiar on its head but in giving the usual tapas-house dishes tiny tweaks that key up their flavors in big ways. Soft béchamel croquetas are threaded with meaty mushrooms, plancha-grilled squid gets amped up with a major hit of lemon, and tender grilled chicken is fragrant with sambal.

The cocktail list—with its orange-and-thyme gin-and-tonics and seasonal slushies—is one of the city’s best.

Don’t miss:

  • Cheese and charcuterie boards
  • Open-faced sandwich with heirloom tomatoes and goat cheese
  • Chorizo and roasted-lamb-shoulder bocadillos (mini-sandwiches)
  • Ham croquetas
  • Hanger steak with mojo verde
  • Roasted corn with aïoli
  • Manchego cheesecake

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