Expect it to get a lot harder to nab dinner reservations at some of D.C.’s best restaurants. Recently, the Michelin Guide bestowed stars on a dozen restaurants in the nation’s capital, including two stars each to Minibar, Pineapple and Pearls, and the Inn at Little Washington.
This is the first year Michelin inspectors have visited D.C., expanding its American coverage from New York, Chicago, and the San Francisco Bay. No D.C. restaurants earned three stars, which is normal for the cautious Michelin.
There’s little surprise among the two-star winners, a level that Michelin describes as “excellent cuisine, worth a detour.” Minibar, the experimental tasting menu restaurant from outspoken and whimsical chef José Andrés, has long been celebrated for the chef’s culinary inventions. And chef Aaron Silverman’s Pineapple and Pearls has won accolades since opening earlier this year as an also-innovative fine dining companion to the trendy Rose’s Luxury—which received one star from Michelin.
Slightly more surprising is the inclusion of chef Patrick O’Connell’s classic French cuisine at the Inn at Little Washington. Though the Inn at Little Washington has long been considered one of the finest restaurants in the Mid-Atlantic, it lies about 70 miles outside of D.C. Michelin had indicated earlier that it would only include restaurants in the city proper, but apparently couldn’t help itself on this one.
In addition to Rose’s Luxury, eight other restaurants earned one star apiece, Michelin’s shorthand for “a very good restaurant in its category.” These include Fabio Trabocchi’s Italian temple Fiola, as well as a slew of newcomers that opened in the last year such as the regionally focused The Dabney, Tail Up Goat, Masseria, and chef Eric Ziebold’s return to the dining scene with Kinship. Also nabbing one star were old-timers Blue Duck Tavern, Plume, and Sushi Taro.
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Naturally, there were snubs — most glaringly, the omission of Komi and Little Serow, both highly regarded restaurants from James Beard Award-winning chef Johnny Monis. Michelin’s international director Michael Ellis told Eater DC that omitting the elegant Mediterranean Komi was “a tough choice” given Monis’s talent but that Michelin had found inconsistencies at the restaurant. Rasika also did not make the cut, to the surprise of many.
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Last week, Michelin named another 19 restaurants to its Bib Gourmand list of worthy yet affordable dining options. These included the popular Filipino restaurant Bad Saint, Maketto, Red Hen, and several of José Andrés’s less pricey restaurants such as Jaleo and China Chilcano.
In a press release, Ellis noted that D.C.’s culinary scene “has significantly developed” as chefs have traveled and incorporated lessons from other kitchens into their cuisine. “This gastronomic revival is amplified and supported by the ‘Mid-Atlantic cuisine’ led by young chefs who have decided to take advantage of their terroir and work local products,” he said, “thereby giving Washington a unique culinary identity.”
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