2016 DC FOOD ROUND-UP – BY THE PROS

2016 tasted good. We ate amazing food, drank amazing cocktails and dined in amazing spaces. But what about the other food writers? How was their year? Based on the following responses, 2016 tasted good for everyone else as well. Some things more than others tho. Obviously.

So, we asked some of our favorite food writers in the area (read: people whose taste buds we TRULY trust) the following questions:

  • The best food trend of 2016/The worst?
  • The most anticipated or best D.C. restaurant opening in 2016/The one that didn’t quite live up?
  • The best dish you ate in 2016?/ The one you wish you hadn’t?
  • Best food event of 2016?
  • What do you think was THE food story of the year in 2016?
  • What opening are you most looking forward to in 2017?
  • What do you wish for D.C. in 2017 food trend wise?/ What do you hope stays away?
  • Favorite Chef? Favorite Restaurant? Favorite Bar?
  • Favorite food blog, web site or column?

And here is what we heard back:

Tim CarmanWashington Post

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The best and worst food trends of 2016?

Best trend: The long-overdue recognition that Washington is a quality restaurant town.

Worst trend: Enough with the fast-casual eateries already.

The most anticipated or best D.C. restaurant opening in 2016 / The one that didn’t quite live up?

Pineapple and Pearls was the most anticipated and best restaurant opening. Aaron Silverman and his team have redefined fine dining, pulling from cooking traditions that have not been previously aligned with white-tablecloth restaurants.

I had higher expectations for Slim’s Diner.

The best dish you ate in 2016? / The one you wish you hadn’t?

Best: Every single flatbread that I had a Pizzarium Bonci in Rome.

I didn’t regret trying a single dish in 2016. I never regret trying a dish.

Best food event of 2016?

I couldn’t attend this year, but the Chefs for Equality, put together by the Human Rights Campaign and a host of good people, is always the best event of the year.

What do you think was THE food story of the year in 2016?

The legal fight between Donald Trump and chefs Jose Andres and Geoffrey Zakarian, the would-be hotel restaurateurs who told the future president to take a hike.

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2017?

Qijian by Peter Chang, his forthcoming fine-dining flagship in Bethesda.

What do you wish for D.C. in 2017 food trend wise? / What do you hope stays away?

Michelin Guide will learn to recognize Washington’s true bargain restaurants, and not just those that don’t merit a star.

I hope “seafood charcuterie” never becomes a thing here.

Favorite Chef? Favorite Restaurant? Favorite Bar?

Not to dodge the question, but it’s impossible to pick a favorite chef or restaurant. My favorites will change week to week, maybe even day to day, depending on my mood and whatever delicious morsel I’ve just consumed. But let me offer a pair of chefs from my cheap-eats beat: Alfredo and Jessica Solis, the siblings in charge of El Sol Restaurante & Tequileria on 11th Street NW. I love what they’re doing with Mexican food.

Favorite food blog, web site or column?

I love reading Kenji Lopez-Alt’s The Food Lab on Serious Eats. I always learn something new and interesting. Every once in a while, I even get into a Twitter fight with him. I appreciate the wide-ranging topics on NPR’s The Salt blog, too. Locally, I think Young & Hungry remains required reading. Laura Hayes has picked up where Jessica Sidman left off, which was no easy task.

Jessica Sidman – Washingtonian

The best food trend of 2016 / The worst?

Best: Distillery bars. It’s still a relatively new thing that D.C. law allows distilleries to have bars or that restaurants can get permits to become “distillery pubs.” This is a really cool addition to the drinking scene, and I’ve had some amazing cocktails at Cotton & Reed, Republic Restoratives, and Jos. A Magnus.

Also, delivery options have gotten so much better. You can get food from some of the city’s best restaurants on UberEats and Caviar.

Worst: Restaurants with overwrought or gimmicky themes.

The most anticipated or best D.C. restaurant opening in 2016 / The one that didn’t quite live up?

Everyone is going to say Pineapple and Pearls, aren’t they? Yes, yes it’s true. I’m going to shake it up and say Whaley’s. Love the seafood risotto and seafood tower.

The best dish you ate in 2016? / The one you wish you hadn’t?

I have so many favorite dishes: crispy kale salad at Preserve in Annapolis, spicy miso ramen at Bantam King, chilled seafood misto at All Purpose, chicken adobo at Bad Saint, butternut squash empanadas at Timber Pizza, olive oil ice cream with grapefruit granita at Jaleo.

I’m not interested in piling on to BLT Prime just because it’s in the Trump hotel, but I had a truly perplexing lunch there. They have a lobster scramble inexplicably served in an ostrich egg shell (but with no ostrich egg) and topped a big blob of tomato paste and lobster antennae. I might have overlooked how strange it was if the execution was solid, but the dish had so much extra liquid it could have been a soup. And I would still like to know why the candied bacon absurdly hanging from clothespins is accompanied by a pickled and a lemon wedge.

What do you think was THE food story of the year in 2016?

The Michelin guide arrived in D.C… and Komi got robbed!

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2017?

A Rake’s Progress from Spike Gjerde of Baltimore’s Woodberry Kitchen

What do you wish for D.C. in 2016 food trend wise?

Ramen is everywhere, but I’d love to see an udon shop. I’d also love a place like Il Corvo in Seattle. They make three different pasta dishes (and a couple antipasti) each day, and that’s it. It’s very simple, affordable, and delicious.

What do you hope stays away?

What should stay away? Shishito peppers. They’re the new beet and goat cheese salad.

Favorite Restaurant?

Sushi Taro is always a favorite. And I probably go to Baan Thai more often than any place else.

Favorite Bar?

Two Birds One Stone

Favorite food blog, web site or column?

Maura Judkis at the Post has really been killing it this year. Not exactly answering the question, but two of my favorite food stories of 2016 were the New York magazine profile of Pete Wells and the New Yorker feature about the “most exclusive restaurant in America.” Definitely read them if you haven’t already.

Susan Able – Edible DC

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The best food trend of 2016 / the worst?

Seeing widespread use by chefs of super local ingredients like our fantastic Virginia and Maryland oysters, amazing local produce, and historic heirloom crops and animals from the Colonial days that people have worked hard to re-establish, like Carolina Gold rice and Mulefoot hogs. And beyond local, the passion for authentic, whether it be amaros by Don or the incredible tortillas made absolutely in the traditional method using corn sourced from Mexico at Espita Mescaleria. Those chips taste like “fritos made by angels,” to quote Tom Sietsma.

The worst? Rainbow foods scare me, especially rainbow bagels. That’s just yuck for me.

The most anticipated or best D.C. restaurant opening in 2016 / The one that didn’t quite live up?

Clearly there was a lot of drama about the prix fix restaurants opening (Shaw Bijou, Pineapple and Pearls), and Shaw Bijou is still proving itself while Pineapple and Pearls has, but what has been thrilling is to see what happened in 2016 in Shaw within a multi-block radius with Kyrisan, Haikan, Hazel, All Purpose, Smoked and Stacked, so much great food within a small area and great to witness firsthand the birth of a new dining district.

The best dish you ate in 2016?/ The one you wish you hadn’t?

Tough question. Most unforgettable? My birthday beef dinner at Restaurant at Patowmack Farm which Chef Tarver King roasted on a spit in front on a winter night in front of the restaurant. This deliciously smoked roast beef became my dinner, which was amazing and each course was delicious and inventive. The most beautiful was lunch at the Oval Room with Chef John Melfi. He is an artist, and his plating is some of the best in D.C. Best this week? Vegetable ramen at Haiken with the spice bomb added.

Wish I hadn’t? Had really bad luck using home delivery companies three times from local restaurants, and honestly, each time everything came late and cold; one was actually inedible-cold, congealed and gotten smashed.

Best food event of 2016?

Well, besides our own Eat, Drink, Local event, there are so many great food events but the HRC Chef’s for Equality is always tops and this year the newly reinvented FRESHFARM Market FEAST event at Dock 5 was really great, especially since it featured mainly vegetarian courses.

What do you think was THE food story of the year in 2016?

The ascendancy of Washington D.C. as one of the most important food cities in the US of course, and achieving our status of becoming a city with Michelin-rated restaurants. It was a thrilling year to love food here. But at the end of the year, the story is not only how elevated our food scene is–but how tight the community is to and supportive of its own. The D.C. food community and friends has risen up  in tremendous support of Comet Pizza, targeted by fake news with terrifying results, and it has been a heart warming show of strength at the end of this year.

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2017?

Definitely seeing what Chefs Spike Gjerde and Erik Bruner-Yang do at the Line Hotel.

What do you wish for D.C. in 2017 food trend wise? / What do you hope stays away?

More Asian countries having food representation (can we get a Fat Rice here?). Continued pop-ups with great concepts, and more that happen at farms. More tables in Bad Saint or an expansion? I hope D.C. landlords keep rents sane enough that we can continue to keep chain restaurants away who can afford the high rents but make neighborhoods feel generic.

Favorite Chef? Favorite Restaurant? Favorite Bar?

Hard to chose just one! Will have to say that I’m just in love with my own ‘hood and all the places to eat and drink really well within a mile of our office–Convivial, Espita, All Purpose, anything Derek Brown has going on 7th Street or the Columbia Room.

I’m really impressed by Centrolina, and a shout out to Chef Amy’s store market, her homemade sausages are to die for, and she has great curated selection of cheese, pasta and wine. It is a one stop shop for dinner, but cross the sidewalk to stop at Rare Sweets for a slice of cake. Never get enough time to spend in Adam Bernbach’s bar, 2 Birds 1 Stone. Does anyone?

Favorite food blog, web site or column?

We follow a lot of blogs, but I try to keep on top of food policy and politics stories and Civil Eats is a go to for me everyday. I’ve been obsessed with baking pies and galettes this fall and winter, and one of our former contributors, Emily Hilliard, is a wonderful writer and has the best pie blog going, nothinginthehouse.com. Highly recommend going there for a coffee break and inspiration. 

Laura Hayes – Washington City Paper

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The best food trend of 2016/The worst?

Best: Chef or restaurant collaborations. I loved seeing Columbia Room take over at Espita, Erik Bruner-Yang making a salad for Sweetgreen, Scott Drewno designing a taco for Taco Bamba, and beyond.

Worst: Eye-roll worthy restaurant names or themes like Dirty Habit, Mulebone, and Mythology Restaurant & Lore Lounge. How we got an insane asylum themed restaurant (Dirty Habit) complete with a padded room opening in a major downtown hotel (Hotel Monaco) in 2016 is beyond my wildest imagination.

The most anticipated or best D.C. restaurant opening in 2016/The one that didn’t quite live up?

Best restaurant opening: Pineapple & Pearls. I may have been over-served with the wine pairings but I remember tearing up after the meal thinking how special it is that Chef Aaron Silverman picked D.C. as his culinary home base.

One that didn’t quite live up: The Shaw Bijou. I watched Chef Kwame Onwuachi religiously on Top Chef because of his charming personality, kindness towards other contestants, and cool food. So, it was a real uppercut to the gut when I learned most people (including me) who fell in love with the chef on TV would be priced out of trying his food. Other local fine dining restaurants have built-in ways to experience their chefs’ food for less. If you can’t swing Pineapple & Pearls, there’s Rose’s Luxury. If you can’t swing Metier, there’s Kinship. And if you can’t swing Komi, there’s Little Serow.

The best dish you ate in 2016? / The one you wish you hadn’t?

Best dish: For reals, a plate of buttermilk fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, and collard greens at Sweet Home Cafe inside the National Museum of African American History and Culture. I was trekking around to restaurants on the National Mall trying their food for a story. Even though I tried Sweet Home Cafe last and was overflowing with food, I finished every bite of the soulful cuisine. I can’t believe they can perform so well feeding crowds!

Worst dish: A mound of greying steak tartare topped with a two-inch thick round of greying, veiny foie gras at BLT Prime inside Trump’s D.C. hotel. It gets worse. They served it with (cold) fried grapes sitting in a puddle of what tasted like ballpark mustard along with spiky, almond-covered cookies that made no sense as a vehicle to get the steak tartare to your mouth.

Best food event of 2016?

Chefs for Equality. David Hagedorn and his team outdid themselves this year.

What do you think was THE food story of the year in 2016?

Michelin landing in D.C.

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2017?

Cathal Armstrong’s restaurant at The Wharf called Kaliwa because you can get Filipino, Thai, and Korean under one roof.

What do you wish for D.C. in 2017 food trend wise?/ What do you hope stays away?

Wish for: A diversification of Japanese noodle shops. Udon and soba are so much better than ramen. Yep, I said it!

Stay away: Places that call themselves “neighborhood restaurants” when they actually hope to be accolade-winning destination spots where you can’t escape a meal without paying $100 (per couple).

Favorite Chef? Favorite Restaurant? Favorite Bar?

Favorite Chef: Rob Rubba of Hazel. He’s kind of my culinary spirit animal for asking diners to mash tater tots into their steak tartare.

Favorite Restaurant: I can’t pick between Sushi Taro and Iron Gate. I even consulted a Ouija Board.

Favorite Bar: 2 Birds 1 Stone. Especially if one of the drinks of the day contains the bar’s face-melting, house made ginger soda.

Favorite food blog, web site or column?

It’s so special to be a part of a community with terrific food writers and editors, what a group! But if I had to pick, Maura Judkis’ stories always teach me something I didn’t know in an insightful, clever way.

Nevin Martell – Food Writer / Author

Nevin has been published in Washington Post, New York TimesSaveur, Travel + Leisure, and many other publications. He is the dining editor for DC Modern Luxury, and the author of seven books, including The Founding Farmers Cookbook: 100 Recipes for True Food & Drink & It’s So Good: 100 Real Food Recipes for Kids .Currently, he is co-writing the cookbook for Red Truck Bakery, which will be published by Clarkson Potter in the fall of 2018.
 

The best food trend of 2016 / The worst?

I love that there are more great places to get great sandwiches, including Smoked & Stacked and Duke’s Counter. However, I’m still not a fan of the sushi burrito fad.

The most anticipated or best D.C. restaurant opening in 2016 / The one that didn’t quite live up?

This year heralded a lot of great new additions to the dining scene, including Tail Up Goat, Hazel, the Backroom at Kingbird, Bantam King, Buttercream Bakeshop, Métier, Pineapple & Pearls, and Dirty Habit. On the other hand, the Shaw Bijou had more pre-opening hype than any other restaurant, but it fell flat once it debuted.

The best dish you ate in 2016? / The one you wish you hadn’t?

I had a lot of amazing dishes in 2016, including the green curried squash over jasmine rice at Sally’s Middle Name, the bacon noodles topped with a soft boiled egg at Conosci, all the breads at Tail Up Goat, togarashi potato chips with toasted sesame onion dip at Bar Pilar, butterscotch budino at Stella Barra, the rosemary apricot oatmeal cookie at the Wydown, and Katsuya Fukushima’s miso and honey gelato at Pizzeria Vetri.

Best food event of 2016?

NKOTB (that stands for New Kitchens On The Block) at Mess Hall, which gave diners a first chance to try Smoked & Stacked, Rooster & Owl, Gravitas, Colada Shop, and others before they opened.

What do you think was THE food story of the year in 2016?

Undoubtedly, the food story of the year was José Andrés’ legal entanglements with Donald Trump. Fingers crossed that our hometown hero triumphs.

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2017?

I’m looking forward to so, so many new restaurants, including those from Erik Bruner-Yang and Spike Gjerde in the Line Hotel, Mike Isabella’s Arroz, the Colada Shop’s D.C. location, Matt Baker’s Gravitas, Hamilton Johnson’s Honeysuckle, Rooster & Owl, Kyle Bailey’s the Salt Line, Johnny Spero’s Reverie, and Mirabelle from Frank Ruta and pastry chef Aggie Chin.

What do you wish for D.C. in 2017 food trend wise? / What do you hope stays away?

I wish someone would open a scoop shop specializing in sherbet.

Favorite Chef? Favorite Restaurant? Favorite Bar?

When I’m in the mood for a soul satisfying meal, I turn to Austin Fausett at Proof, Matteo Venini at Lupo Verde, and Victor Albisu at Del Campo. I love Archipelago for a fun night out that never fails to make me feel like I’m somewhere in the South Pacific. For an extraordinary cocktail and unparalleled bar bites, I always go to Barmini.

Favorite food blog, web site or column?

Locally, I read nearly everything Laura Hayes, Jessica Sidman, Tom Sietsema, Tim Carman and Rina Rapuano write. On the national level, I regularly read Bon Appetit, Saveur, Eater and the New York Times.

Maura Judkis –  Washington Post

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The best food trend of 2016/The worst?

So many bad ones. Rainbow unicorn food. Spiralized vegetables. Those godawful recipe videos with the hands and bowls and cheese that clogged up everyone’s newsfeeds for half the year. But hey, poke is pretty great.

The most anticipated or best D.C. restaurant opening in 2016/The one that didn’t quite live up?

I’m sure Pineapple and Pearls is on a lot of people’s lists here. But if we gauge the most anticipated, I would actually say Shaw Bijou — there was so much chatter beforehand about the $1,000 price for dinner for two with the full pairings, and whether or not it would be worth it. I have to save up so I can go and and find out!

The best dish you ate in 2016?

I went to Metier for my birthday, and I was utterly charmed by that picture-perfect palette of beef. I loved the lamb ribs at Tail Up Goat, the fried chicken sandwich at Covivial, and the dumplings at Bantam King. This summer, the WaPo food team did the suckling pig dinner at DGBG, and we had a blast. And I finally made it out to Woodberry Kitchen, and loved every minute of it.

Best food event of 2016?

I did a profile of “Pornburger” chef Mathew Ramsey earlier this year, and he hosted a truly epic pop-up dinner. It began with a boat ride on the Potomac, and when we got back to shore, he served us prosciutto and parmesan gelato sandwiches, then mole frites, then beef tongue with apple and radishes. A bluegrass band strolled in during dinner and played a few songs. Then Mathew surprised everyone with a falconer (!) who let all of the guests hold his owl, who was named — I love this name so much — Mister Hoots. And we capped off the night with one of Mathew’s wonderful, decadent burgers.

What do you think was THE food story of the year in 2016?

The arrival of the Michelin Guide. Love it or hate it, everyone was talking about it — even though it was as thin as a pamphlet. I hope next year’s guide will be a little more substantial.

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2017?

I’m definitely eager to check out Erik Bruner-Yang’s projects at the Line Hotel, and Johnny Spero’s Reverie. I have a sentimental thing for both Laduree and Blue Bottle Coffee, too, so I perked up when I saw they were coming here. But I associate both brands so strongly with Paris and San Francisco, respectively, that I wonder how they’ll feel in D.C.

What do you wish for D.C. in 2017 food trend wise?/ What do you hope stays away?

I’d like to see more chefs and restaurateurs delve into politics and social justice, like Tunde Wey, who is starting important conversations in his pop-ups throughout the country. Now is the time, and this is the place.

What I hope stays away from our restaurants: I hate that I even have to say this, but heavily-armed, fake-news-reading lunatics.

Favorite food blog, web site or column?

I’m so lucky to work with a group of inspirational writers and editors at the Washington Post. And we are all so lucky to have a deep well of food writing talent spread throughout all of the outlets in this city.

Missy Frederick – Eater DC

The best food trend of 2016 / The worst?

Best: Seafood plateaus for days. More vegetarian options. The increased prevalence of some regional dishes, from deep-dish pizza to Italian rainbow cookies. More local bakeries! New local distilleries! Ramen, ramen everywhere. And for me it was the #summeroftiki.

Worst: I wish chefs weren’t so driven to go tasting menu-centric (especially given D.C. prices), even if the trend fascinates me in kind of an academic sense. Additionally, 2016 was a really rough year for service in D.C. restaurants. I’m also not a big fast-casual diner, personally, so I sometimes wish the scene weren’t as fast-casual centric here.

The most anticipated or best D.C. restaurant opening in 2016? / The one that didn’t quite live up?

Tail Up Goat was my favorite opening of the year – definitely the whole package, and Eater’s Restaurant of the Year. Whaley’s, Hank’s Pasta Bar, Bantam King, and Convivial have been other favorite newcomers. Requin’s a nice addition to my neighborhood. On the new bar front, hooray for Left Door and Archipelago.

I haven’t been to the Shaw Bijou yet, but like many I struggle with its pricing structure (though I’m happy about its new a la carte bar offerings). I expected to like Kyirisan more than I did, as I generally really like Tim Ma’s food, but had issues with execution and service early on (I’ll go back, though).

The best dish you ate in 2016? / The one you wish you hadn’t?

Metier’s mushroom course, with its woodsy, ethereal presentation (meringue mushrooms!), really stayed with me. Don’t get the schweddy balls at Miracle on 7th, though.

Best food event of 2016?

I’m always partial to Chefs for Equality every year. Beyond that, we had such a good time this year throwing a local cocktail party for the Eater D.C. award winners at District Distilling (what a venue). And the Watergate hotel’s opening party was really fun and schmantzy.

What do you think was THE food story of the year in 2016?

The year of the tasting menu.

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2017?

I’m really excited for the restaurants at The Line Hotel from Erik Bruner-Yang and Spike Gjerde.

What do you wish for D.C. in 2017 food trend wise? / What do you hope stays away?

It looks like we’ll end up with some poke-centric places instead of more general restaurants offering poke, which I’m totally fine with.  I’m always interested to see more one-dish restaurants like they have in Japan – bring on the soba spots, curry or tonkatsu destinations. It looks like more affordable drinks are on the horizon – Service Bar and Ten Tigers helped kick it off, and openings like Hill Prince should continue the trend. I’m hoping competitiveness over potential Michelin stars helps spark service improvements.

I’d be happy if we never see the rainbow food trend here.

Favorite Chef? Favorite Restaurant? Favorite Bar? 

My neighborhood go-tos this year were B-Side, Peter Chang, Uncle Liu’s, Brine, Jinya, Marumen, Maneki Neko, Spacebar, and Taqueria Poblano. Hank’s Oyster Bar is my favorite everyday D.C. restaurant. But I’m always happy when I make the time to get to Archipelago, Hunter’s Head Tavern, Bombay Club, Wiseguys, Barmini, dumpling night at The Source, Thip Khao, Compass Rose, Maketto, Osteria Morini, Pepita (for drinks), and Cork. Great on the new-to-me this year front: Hai Duong in Eden Center, Taqueria Habanero in Columbia Heights, and Lapis in Adams Morgan.

Favorite food blog, web site or column?

I enjoy reading all my colleagues. Washington Business Journal continues to kill it with scoops, and Washingtonian has a real powerhouse team now with Ann, Anne, and Jessica. PoPville 4eva. And never discount Burger Days for breaking news in the burger department.

Beth Kanter – Author and Writer

Beth Kanter currently is working on Great Food Finds, Washington, DC, her follow up book to  Washington, DC Chef’s Table. She also is the author of  Day Trips from Washington DC and many magazine and newspaper articles.

The best food trend on 2016/The worst?

Thrilled to see more menus include cauliflower, chickpeas, and vegetables in general done in fun ways.

The worst: The sushi burrito

The most anticipated or best DC restaurant opening in 2016

Most anticipated: Pineapple and Pearls

The best dish you ate in 2016?/ The one you wish you hadn’t?

This summer my husband and I found ourselves at Tail Up Goat quite a bit. Every meal we ate there was near perfect. I can’t put my finger on one dish but they all kind of have morphed into one delicious meal in my mind. I almost always take the staff’s wine recommendation (non- Riesling German wine, who knew?) when I eat there and have yet to be disappointed.

Hadn’t: Whatever I was eating on election night

What do you think was THE food story of the year in 2016?

Community, I think, is the story of the year. Just look at the tremendous outpouring of community support for Comet Ping Pong, Little Red Fox, Terasol, etc.this week.

DC is a special place to call home and our restaurants reflect this. More than ever before we have restaurants in DC deeply rooted in their neighborhoods – and the people who live in DC hold a strong and growing sense of neighborhood pride in their local spots even in the case of high profile places like Bad Saint.

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2017?

Sfoglina, here in my neighborhood.

What you wish for DC in 2017 food trend wise?/ What you hope stays away?

More local bakeries – we are making good progress and I hope it continues.

Away: May God Bless and Keep the rainbow bagel far away from us.

Tim Ebner – Food Writer

Eater, Edible, Washington City Paper, Thrillist, and Capitol File.

photo credit: Brent Combs

photo credit: Brent Combs

Best food trend of 2016?

We upped our game when it comes to delis, diners, and Italian pastries. As for drinks, bars seem to be embracing the $10 and below cocktail. A nice change of pace from the $14 or $15 cocktail trend.

Worst food trend of 2016?

Most anticipated or best D.C. restaurant opening in 2016?

All Purpose. Because: eggplant parm and veal sweetbread marsala.

The one that didn’t quite live up?

Cappy’s Crabs. I was excited for a crab house to open in D.C., but the steamed crabs came out super watery. The jumbos looked more like mediums to me too.

The best dish you ate in 2016?

Surprisingly, it was a salad. But, it was a damn good salad from the summer menu at The Dabney. The dish was grilled romaine topped with a light dressing, bacon and hush puppy croutons. Thanks for helping me eat my greens Jeremiah!

The one you wish you hadn’t?

The fried chicken sandwich at Crisp. It’s right around the corner from me, and they started out strong when they opened last year, but their fried chicken is really overcooked. Not even the sandwich can save it.

Best food event of 2016?

The Edible DC Eat/Drink Local at Longview Gallery (disclaimer: I work for them). But, this really is becoming a food event to mark on your calendar each May. It’s a great value, the swag is awesome, and you will leave feeling absolutely stuffed.

What do you think was THE food story of the year in 2016?

Donald Trump being Donald Trump.

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2017?

Very excited to see what Johnny Spero has in store for us at Reverie in Georgetown.

What do you wish for D.C. in 2017 food trend wise?

More homegrown talent. There were many bright spots this year, such as Kyirisan (Tim & Joey Ma), Tail Up Goat (Jon Sybert, Jill Tyler, and Bill Jensen), and Federalist Pig (Rob Sonderman and Steve Salis). They all took big risks and it paid off because they’re not only talented, but they have great respect for this city.

What do you hope stays away?

Awful New York restaurants thinking that they can elbow their way into the D.C. market. I’m looking at you Nakazawa Sushi, Magnolia Bakery, and 10Below. Keep your gimmicky desserts and egotistical sushi in Manhattan. Also, Donald Trump.

Favorite Chef?

Rob Rubba at Hazel.

Favorite Restaurant?

It’s still The Red Hen.

Favorite Bar?

It’s still Boundary Stone.

Favorite Food Blog, Restaurant or Column?

It’s still Eater DC.

Rina Rapuano – Food Writer at Zagat

The best food trend of 2016?

Really good and fast vegan food.

The worst food trend?

Cool it with the crudo, people. It doesn’t need to be on every menu.

The best DC restaurant opening in 2016?

Hazel, Pineapple & Pearls, Tail Up Goat, Metier and Anxo are my top five, in that order.

The one that didn’t quite live up?

Conosci — everyone else seemed to love it, but my meal there lacked pop and joy. (I’m a big fan of Michael Schlow’s, though, so I’ll return to give it another try.)

The best dish you ate in 2016?

I can’t choose, so I’ll go with these three: Grandma’s zucchini bread with foie gras mousse at Hazel; eggplant Parm at All-Purpose; and foie gras poutine at Sally’s Middle Name.

The one you wish you hadn’t?

The oily Monte Cristo at Slim’s Diner.

Best food event of 2016?

I didn’t attend many food events this year, but I think Chefs for Equality has an amazing mission and was by far my favorite event in 2015.

What do you think was THE food story of the year in 2016?

The fact that Zagat and Bon Appetit named DC the most exciting dining city in the country this year. Chefs here are killing it, and the city’s finally getting some well-deserved recognition for their hard work and creativity.

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2017?

I’m pretty excited about Mirabelle from chef Frank Ruta and pastry chef Aggie Chin.

What do you wish for DC in 2017 food trend wise?

That local chefs continue to push the envelope as far as creativity goes — and that the national recognition keeps pouring in.

What do you hope stays away?

Sushi Nakazawa.

Favorite Chef?

Aaron Silverman

Favorite Restaurant?

Hazel

Favorite Bar?

Left Door and La Jambe

Favorite food blog, web site or column?

I hate to sound all annoyingly kumbaya, but I have too much respect for all of my peers to pick a favorite. Each one offers something unique, special and useful.

Russell W. Warnick – Food Writer at DistrictBrit

The best food trend of 2016 / The worst?

I have mixed feelings on this, is the fixed-price menu good or bad. On the one hand I appreciate a meal in which I don’t need to think, anything that Eric Ziebold, Aaron Silverman or Kwame Onwuachi serves up will no doubt impress. On the other hand, forking over what amounts to a monthly car payment for dinner seems a touch excessive. I’m single, if anyone would like to take me on a date to Pineapple and Pearls, Shaw Bijou or Metier I’m all yours, and apparently shameless. Having said all that, if the fixed price menu gives a chef the opportunity to express him or herself in ways a traditional menu can’t then keep them coming.

The most anticipated or best D.C. restaurant opening in 2016?

Despite it having just opened, between Marcus Samuelsson, Jose Andres’ new seafood centric spot and the Voltaggio brothers I’d have to say the MGM National Harbor takes the spotlight on new openings.

Best food event of 2016?

Not an event in the traditional sense, but the arrival of the Michelin guide was the highlight of the year for quite a few chefs, not as many as I’d have hoped, with some unusual omissions, Komi for instance. Perhaps next year the guide will have found its footing and explored the city a little more. In the meantime however, a huge congrats to all those newly minted restaurants. Keep doing you.

What do you think was THE food story of the year in 2016?

It was the story that never died, the Trump Hotel restaurant saga. Jessica Sidman’s coverage on that made for compelling reading. I’m sure we’ll be reading about it well into 2017 too.

What do you hope stays away?

What I hope stays away – hit pieces out of New York – we get it, you’re the mother fucking center of the universe, but between The New York Times and Grub Street I think we’ve paid our dues. There are some amazing chefs in this city, with high praise from more distinguished outlets, thanks Bon Appetit, thanks Zagat, D.C. really is the best restaurant city and we’ve known it for a few years, we just don’t need to brag about it. Now we can.

Favorite Chef? Favorite Restaurant? Favorite Bar?

I’m kinda crushing on Tim Ma and Kyirisan lately, having moved to Shaw this year I’ve taken a new appreciation for the neighborhood. Perched at the bar with a cocktail and a plate of wings watching the chef in action, pretty great evening if you ask me. I’ll also give a shout out to Haikan, love that spot.

Dan Silverman – Prince of Petworth

The best food trend on 2016/The worst?

I’m pleased with my new pizza and pastrami options.  Very pleased.

The most anticipated or best DC restaurant opening in 2016/The one that didn’t quite live up?

Pineapples and Pearls.

The best dish you ate in 2016?/ The one you wish you hadn’t?

My memory is for shit these days but I can tell you I had especially delicious meals at The Dabney, The Red Hen and Iron Gate this year.

Best food event of 2016?

Watching people react to New York Times articles about DC’s food scene.

What do you think was THE food story of the year in 2016?

I thought the coverage of the whole Michelin star thing was pretty fun.

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2017?

I know he came across like an ass and I know it’s in a hotel who’s name pains me to say but I freaking love Japanese so I’ll leave it at that.  I also love The Smith.  So for the record I’ll say The Smith but between me and you it’s the other guy.

What do you wish for DC in 2017 food trend wise?/ What do you hope stays away?

I’d be quite happy to see Chef Fabio Trabocchi open up more places.  I could do with less burn my eyes out spiciness.

Favorite Chef? Favorite Restaurant? Favorite Bar?

Fabio Trabocchi / Fiola Mare, Sushi Taro, Izakaya Seki, Pho Viet, Iron Gate, Red Hen – Christ this is impossible/ Solly’s, Nanny O’Briens, The Pug, Boundary Stone, Looking Glass Lounge, DC Reynolds, Petworth Citizen, Dew Drop Inn – Jesus this even harder than the restaurant one…

Favorite food blog, web site or column?

Laura Hayes now at City Paper and Jessica Sidman formerly at City Paper and now at Washingtonian are tops and I expect they’ll be at the top for years to come.

Priya Konings – Food Writer at BYT

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The best food trend of 2016/The worst?

The best: Real veggie options! (not salads, not a compilation of sides) I have seen some really inventive dishes this year like Chef Eddie Moran’s beet bourguignon at Woodward Table, dynamite shiitake meatballs from Chef Amy Brandwein at Centrolina and vegetarian mole at Espita Mezcaleria. I also had some spectacularly “meaty” veggie burgers at Shouk, Equinox, and Fare Well.

The worst: Filipino food. I’m over it.

The most anticipated or best D.C. restaurant opening in 2016/The one that didn’t quite live up?

Best: So many! Haikan, which has fabulous ramen; Fare Well is which is just all around amazing; Timber Pizza which I adore. Chao Ku, Bindaas, and Shouk are all seriously awesome too.

Didn’t live up: Kyirisan. Why does even the tofu dish have meat in it?!

The best dish you ate in 2016?/ The one you wish you hadn’t?

Best: I don’t have just one! Don’t make me choose! Ok so John Melfi’s tomato risotto changed my life. I also love Chao Ku’s veggie dan dan noodles. Dino’s Grotto’s ricotta stuffed squash blossoms were heavenly and Osteria Al Volo’s burrata ravioli is to die for. Also, some of the old gems from last year are still amazing and worth revisiting: Lupo Verde’s cacio e pepe, Obelisk’s burrata, Lapis’ aushak, Maketto’s leek buns, and 701 Restaurant’s savory funnel cake.

Bad: The gazpacho at Anxo Cidery and Pintxos bar was just no. So was their tortilla espanola. And everything else I ate.

Best food event of 2016?

I had so much fun at Equinox’s summer solistice bites and flights event! Emporiyum was also fun, as was the RAMMY’s! And seriously, nothing beats Blue Duck Tavern’s summer ice cream social.

What do you think was THE food story of the year in 2016?

Sadly, the death of Chaplin co-owner Armin Amin-Toomaji who was killed in a hit and run.

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2017?

I am curious about The Dish & Dram and Trattoria da Lina.

What do you wish for D.C. in 2017 food trend wise?/ What do you hope stays away?

I love all the new delicious new Asian venues that have opened in the last year and a half (Thip Khao, Chau Ku, Bindaas, Maketto, Haikan, Peter Chang Rockville, Reren) and hope there will be more!

Ugh restaurants that specialize in smoked meat.

Favorite Chef? Favorite Restaurant? Favorite Bar? 

Amy Brandwein is awesome and Uber talented and Centrolina is one my fave spots! As for bars, well, we all know I like it fancy. Minibar rules my world.

Favorite food blog, web site or column?

I love The Dining Traveler!

Logan Hollers – Food Writer at BYT

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The best food trend of 2016/The worst?

Best: The trickle-down effect of focusing on local, sustainable produce and proteins. It’s more expensive, sure. But it’s better for the environment, it’s better for consumers, and it’s a huge selling point to today’s diners. Love seeing this trend spread to more and more restaurants.

Worst: The inevitable ten-minute speech from servers on how we’re supposed to order and letting us know that “we just send out the food as it’s ready!” Yeah, dude – everyone does that now. I think this is where places like Rose’s Luxury and Little Serow and Red Hen (among many, many others) set themselves apart: having “small plates” (or really anything outside the traditional “appetizer, entree, dessert” format) is fine (preferable for me, really), but make sure your servers pace / course them out…there’s not much worse than having to set a dish on your lap to make room for yet another course sent out before you were ready for it.

The most anticipated or best D.C. restaurant opening in 2016?

Although it’s relatively new, the most anticipated (for me) *and* best was Himitsu. It almost sounds like a riddle: what do you get when you combine an expert in beer, wine, and spirits with a pro at raw fish and Asian flavors? In this case, you get one of the most exciting restaurants to open in D.C. in 2016. Everything that passes through chef Kevin Tien’s kitchen, from the nigiri preparations to the pillowy-soft tofu to the larger, sharable plates, is very good to excellent. Similarly, beverage director Carlie Steiner, a veteran of Barmini and the founder of Stir Bartending Co., somehow always knows exactly what tipple will best fit the dish you’re eating. It’s a match mad in heaven for D.C. food fans. Now if only they’d take reservations…

The best dish you ate in 2016?/ The one you wish you hadn’t?

Best dishes: Korean Fried Chicken at Himitsu; Margherita slice at Basile’s in Hoboken, NJ; roasted root vegetables at The Dabney; a Royale with cheese at the Lucky Buns pop-up; sautéed mushrooms, asparagus, and a soy vinaigrette in the Bedouin Tent at Compass Rose; xiao long bao from Bob’s 66; a 21-day dry-aged ribeye steak from Legends Steakhouse in Deadwood, SD; roasted butternut squash in green curry from Sally’s Middle Name; jamon Iberico from Jaleo; and literally every single thing I put in my mouth in Thailand and Laos. Oh, and we were coming back from Montauk earlier this year and we were hungover and starving and we stopped at this place called Red Bowl in Newark, DE, and had hands-down the best, most delicious plate of Chongqing Chicken with Chilies I’ve ever tasted. Life-saver.

One I wish I hadn’t: Traditional half smoke sausage at Halfsmoke. I don’t see any point in bashing them too much, but I paid $11.00 for a desiccated, insipid “half smoke” on a crumbly “bun.” I then walked a few blocks down Florida Ave. and had one of the best sausages I’ve had in the city *and a PBR* for $9.90 at Meats and Foods. Easy choice.

Best food event of 2016?

The 2016 Capital Food Fight, no question. Jose Andres knows how to throw a party; this year’s event had the potential to be especially poignant, given the results of the election two days prior. Instead, Andres made it a celebration of the service industry’s unique role in the fabric of the nation. Whether it was rocking his “I Am An Immigrant” shirt, specifically calling out the amazing work done by immigrants in restaurants and bars in D.C., or encouraging people to bump up the day-to-day kindness, Andres cheered us up exactly when we needed it most. Raising damn near $700,000 for DC Central Kitchen doesn’t hurt, either.

What do you think was THE food story of the year in 2016?

The entire run-up to and opening of The Shaw Bijou. Is Kwame super ambitious, opening up a place like that and charging what he does after little to no experience outside of a TV show? Sure. That said, any press is good press, and this place packed columns in all the food publications the entire summer and fall.

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2017?

Three big ones for me: Tiger Fork, Khao Poon, and Nobu D.C.

What do you wish for D.C. in 2017 food trend wise?/ What do you hope stays away?

As I say every other year: no more steakhouses. More ethnic cuisine in D.C. proper. People realizing that [fill-in-the-blank ethnicity] food doesn’t automatically mean it should be “cheap” – good food is good food, especially when it’s actually high quality and authentic. Less fast casual, and better fast casual (think Sweetgreen & Cava Grill). And keep elitist New Yorkers out of here. We already have an inferiority complex without more NYC restaurateurs coming down here and bashing our rapidly emerging food scene about which they have no clue. (Seriously, Borgognone, you come to D.C. and you love Carmine’s, bro. Just sayin’.)

Favorite Chef? Favorite Restaurant? Favorite Bar?

Chef(s): Nate Beauchamp and Scott Drewno.

Laura Hayes recently had a great piece about how it’s tough for restaurants to last on U St. One that hasn’t had a problem: The Fainting Goat. That’s in large part due to the steadying influence and culinary chops of chef Nate Beauchamp. It’s tough to walk the line between familiar “comfort” food and innovative twists, seasonal updates, special menus, etc. Nate nails it.

So does chef Scott Drewno; under his leadership, The Source continues to be one of the best (and most under the radar) restaurants in D.C. Want to drop in for some awesome non-traditional dim sum? He’s got you. Feel like dining out with some friends? Share an enormous cauldron of hot pot or some roast Peking-style duck. Celebrating something special? Belly up to the counter downstairs for a front-row seat to one of the most far-ranging tasting menus in the city. Either way, you’re guaranteed at least one belly laugh from one of the nicest, and most talented, chefs in the city.

Restaurant: Maketto

Alright. I drank the Kool-Aid. Living a few blocks away, I’ve seen Maketto grow from its infancy, focused on trendy shoes and some searingly hot food, to its fully matured current self, one that’s rapidly become one of the better new Asian restaurants in D.C. Chef James Wozniuk should be a household name: dude has crazy chops in the kitchen. The housemade drinking vinegars: delicious. The fried chicken and bread: easily one of D.C.’s must-eat dishes. Even during the day, when the crowds (somewhat) subside, it’s an outstanding coffeshop / work space. No matter when I visit, I find something I love; no matter who I send, they find something they love. That’s why Maketto is my favorite restaurant in D.C.

Bar: Copycat Co.

D.C.’s a town of $14 cocktails. It is what it is. (Yes, trolls – I realize there are, literally, hundreds of places in D.C. where you can get a Jack and Coke for less. I’m talking about the specific cocktail-focused spots.) I love booze, but it’s hard for anyone to justify ordering two drinks and dropping over $30. H Street NE’s Copycat Co. is the answer; reasonably priced, expertly-crafted drinks in a dark and cozy space. Devin Gong and Rob Tinney are both ace behind the stick (as are Berto and Eli), and the gorgeously hand-drawn menus (which change often and illustrate riffs on a theme or single drink or ingredient) are reason enough to at least stop in for a look. Need to soak up that alcohol? Wolf down the free Goldfish crackers and sample from a menu of Chinese street foods that includes bao, skewers, and dumplings. Go ahead and order the entire menu: it’ll set you back a mere $25.

Favorite food blog, web site or column?

Laura Hayes has done an awesome job taking over at Washington City Paper – breaking news is all well and good, but her unique, quirky writing style makes it fun to read, too. Tim Carman’s $20 Diner is consistently my favorite dining column; mad props to him for making it a point to showcase / highlight ethnic cuisines in and around D.C. I’ve also loved seeing Maura Judkis taking on more of a role over at the WaPo (and venturing outside of solely food writing, as well). Jason Tilery combines some of the best food photography in D.C. with some of the most enjoyable writing over at Capital Gourmand, and @the_gut (whoever you are) consistently succeeds in making me hungry with the pictures on his Instagram page. Finally, I’d be remiss in not mentioning the crew over at DonRockwell.com; easily, the most passionate, informed community of food fans I’ve ever been a part of, and one that, without fail, makes me realize how lucky we are to live in a great food city like D.C.

Kaylee Dugan – Editorial Assistant / Food Writer at BYT

The best food trend on 2016 / The worst?

The best food trend has been the increase of delicious vegetarian restaurants. The fast casual scene exploded with vegan and vegetarian geared places, and I’m excited by the variety.

The worst food trend by far has nothing to do with food and everything to do with poor organization. And by that I mean lines. I hate lines. I do not stand in lines. I will not go to a place that requires me to be in a line. I would love to try Rose’s Luxury and Bad Saint and a number of other amazingly reviewed places in the city, but I refuse to deal with that nonsense. Let’s just make reservations like the grown ass adults we are.

The most anticipated or best DC restaurant opening in 2016/The one that didn’t quite live up?

It definitely wasn’t the most anticipated restaurant, but my favorite restaurant opening was Haikan. From drinks, to small plates, to the very salty and savory shoyu ramen, everything was absolutely delicious. D.C. is chock full of fantastic restaurants, but it can still be hard to find a place that has the entire packed on lockdown. Haikan is one of them.

When it comes to disappointments, I’d have to say Halfsmoke. It’s so close to the office, and the food was actually pretty good when I tried it, but their opening was plagued with a variety of problems and I think they tried to do too many things too quickly. And to be honest, I was always put off by the millennial pandering. A restaurant doesn’t need a selfie nook. Just put in a photobooth.

The best dish you ate in 2016? / The one you wish you hadn’t?

The quesadilla huitlacoche at Oyamel. Any and every cheese plate at Right Proper. All of the dishes at Mother India in Glasgow. The chicken biscuit at District Distilling. A valrhona smore at Zaytinya. Grit cakes at Smoke & Barrel. Breakfast tacos at the Mount Vernon Market. All of the BBQ at Sweet Auburn in Atlanta. Damn it was a good year.

As for least favorite, I ordered pizza from La Villa Pizzeria after a long day of busing from NYC to DC and it was the worst delivery pizza I’ve ever had in my entire life. I’ve never been so angry at food.

Best food event of 2016?

Oyamel’s day of the dead was filled with excellent snacks and even better booze. The hangover I had the next day was vicious.

Likewise, I was lucky enough to take a party limo to Trummers On Main last week. I ended the night filled with booze and food and everything was right with the world.

What do you think was THE food story of the year in 2016?

Just like everyone else the Michelin madness reeled me in. I mean, I’ve seen Three Stars! I thought I was prepared for the insanity. I was not.

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2017?

Definitely A Rake’s Progress. I’d love to see a little more Baltimore weirdness in D.C.

What do you wish for DC in 2017 food trend wise?/ What do you hope stays away?

I’m really happy about all of the poke options that are popping up in / around the city, but I’d love to see some other Hawaiian staples. If someone could bring me a plate lunch right now I’d be so happy.

Favorite Chef? Favorite Restaurant? Favorite Bar?

Favorite chef has to be a tie between Andres, Drewno, and Meek-Bradley.
My favorite restaurant is still Brookland’s Finest.
My favorite bar will always be Copycat. Except I really have to stop telling people that because it’s getting harder and harder to get a seat at the bar.

Favorite food blog, web site or column?

Everything Eater is doing is A+ in my book, but I’m also a fan of Jessica Sidman’s new work at Washingtonian.