Every year, Michelin releases its coveted Michelin Guide, an inspiring and cutthroat restaurant guide that steers the eyes and forks of restaurant patrons across the world. It’s so renowned; it can make or break the reputations of even the world’s most coveted chefs. Its three-star system has been touted as the most competitive and prestigious ranking system for restaurateurs in the world.
Unlike other foodie awards, the Michelin award has precise criteria and only considers the quality of the cuisine served. No attention is paid to the style of the tablecloth or the wait service; it’s only the taste of the dish and its presentation that matters. Even a single Michelin star is scarce, and that has made its award a beacon for restaurants who attain it.
2021 marks the 5th year in a row that Michelin has created a restaurant guide for Washington DC, and things are only getting more delicious in the Capitol. For 2021, DC was awarded a total of 23 Michelin-starred restaurants. While there is only one 3-star restaurant on the list, other locales were awarded their first star. So on your next outing, why not explore all that DC has to offer and enjoy some world-class food. Without further ado, here are the 23 best restaurants in Washington DC, according to Michelin.
Three-Star Micheline Award
Inn At Little Washington
One of the most refined dining experiences in the area, The Inn at Little Washington from chef Patrick O’Connell is located in a rural area of Virginia outside of the Beltway. The region’s first three-star restaurant is known for a diverse menu featuring O’Connell’s mouthwatering kitchen creations.
For an Incredible experience of creamy, salty, crunchy, sweet, succulent, delicately prepared works of art, the restaurant inside the Inn at Little Washington has been the culinary domain of renowned chef Connell for more than 40 years. The restaurant’s patrons can choose from three different tasting menus that highlight various aspects of American cuisine. Their dishes are also prepared using local produce from the inn’s own lush gardens. Top entrees include shrimp-and- pork dumplings, carpaccio of herb-crusted lamb, and Antarctic Sea bass with lemon vodka sauce.
Two-Star Michelin Award
Pineapple & Pearls
This two-star gem is large and crowded, and entry is reserved via a ticket system. Led by Chef Aaron Silverman, Pineapple & Pearls is known for its multi-course meals, which allow patrons to taste a variety of fine American dishes. Some of the more noteworthy creations include smoked sturgeon salad, fennel bonbons, and potato ice cream.
Jose Andres’ Minibar
At Minibar, presentation is everything. After a creative cocktail in a stylish entry lounge, up to six guests take a seat at one of two diner-style countertops. From there, guests can watch as Chef José Andrés and his team prepares intricate dishes in a stainless steel kitchen that is theatrical in its presentation. The menu is constantly changing but may include up to 30 different mini-dishes at one time. Look out for hand-crafted beeswax cups, edible parmesan spoons, and Ibérico ham gel shaped like a snail.
Ryan Ratino–the chef behind fellow Michelin restaurant Bresca–has acquired several amazing chefs and creatives to bring Jônt to the District. The restaurant (which joins Pineapple and Pearls and minibar as the only two-star restaurants within city limits) offers a tasting menu that’s a journey through robust flavors while showing a playful technique that leads to dishes you won’t find anywhere else. An enormous drink menu means you’ll always find the perfect drink to pair with your meal.
One-Star Michelin Award
Located near the National Archives and often frequented by Capitol Hill politicians and lobbyists, the Fiola is an upscale restaurant that offers rich Italian dishes that are both rustic and stylish. Some noteworthy entrees include the gorgonzola fonduta with lobster ravioli with ginger and creamy parmesan that pairs incredibly with their impressive wine list.
Located near Union Station, Masseria is another Michelin-starred restaurant with a multi-course prix fixe menu. This chic establishment was built out of the remains of a former warehouse. A few of their signature dishes include tripe and lobster stew, handmade pasta with goat ragù, and beet ice cream.
Set in a restored row house, this one-star restaurant offers a perfect blend of modern and traditional flavors. Led by Chef Jeremiah Langhorne, Dabney’s open kitchen serves up gourmet versions of Mid-Atlantic dishes like grilled bok choy, fresh pan-fried catfish, and creamy grits.
At Kinship, the à la carte menu is comprised of simple categories like “indulgence,” “craft,” and “for the table.” Chef Eric Ziebold and partner Célia Laurent deliver New American cuisine in a modern, stylish setting. Some of the more noteworthy dishes include lobster French toast and double-cut Berkshire pork chops.
Located within the elegant Jefferson Hotel, Plume serves fine New England cuisine amid splendid colonial decor. The grand marble pillars and silk wallpaper were inspired by the designs of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello gardens. Like many other Michelin-ranked restaurants, Plume offers a prix-fixe menu. Some highlights include the Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab tea, King salmon poached in beeswax, and violet Pavlova.
Tail Up Goat
Tail Up Goat is a delicious Caribbean-inspired restaurant, and it features a funky bistro decorated with pastel tiles and lightly stained woods. The menu features stuffed porgy, maltagliati pasta, and cannoli with lemon filling. The bar also offers creative, island-themed cocktails, including several daiquiris and aguas frescas.
The next establishment is a newer addition to Michelin’s list of one-star restaurants. What Komi lacks in pizzazz, it makes up for in anticipation. Komi has no menu, so patrons must trust the guidance of the wait and kitchen staff. While it’s nearly impossible to predict your meal, some past confections have included mascarpone-stuffed dates and roasted kid goats.
Kinship’s sister restaurant, Métier, is the other newer addition on this list. While the two locations share both a kitchen and a chef, they offer very different experiences. If Kinship is casual and upbeat, Métier is sophisticated and mature. Patrons can look forward to dining on foods like Osetra caviar, smoked lamb loin, and deconstructed apple pie.
Spanish and Japanese cuisine collide at this restaurant and sake lounge that now has a Michelin star to its name. Chef Pepe Moncayo’s menu brings delight with each dish, combining seasonal tapas and desserts with bento omakase to create an experience he calls “Spanish Kaiseki.” An extensive wine and sake list round out this boundless culinary excursion.
Jump into Colombian cuisine at Elcielo D.C., inside La Cosecha in NOMA by chef Juan Manuel Barrientos. Barrientos mixes avant-garde and traditional Colombian dishes to create a flavor-packed thrill ride–incorporating all your senses. Two tasting menus–The Experience and The Journey–can be enjoyed in a reserved room next to the open kitchen. There is an a la carte menu served in the great hall featuring signature dishes.
Chef Danny Lledó has a menu reflecting the weather, farming, and ocean bounty of Valencia at Xiquet. Featuring a gorgeous wood-fired kitchen enclosed in glass, the Embassy Row restaurant offers tasting and a la carte menus. Standout dishes include the Red Prawn of Denia and either of the two paellas, including a vegetarian version with artichoke, asparagus, lima beans, and eggplant, or the seafood version with lobster, red prawn, scallop, and cuttlefish.
Rooster & Owl
After honing his skills at Michelin-starred restaurants in NYC, chef Yuan Tang partnered with wife Carey to open Rooster & Owl. The 14th Street NW restaurant serves contemporary American dishes. Diners are offered a four-course, prix-fixe menu with seasonal ingredients. You can expect something unique with dishes like Carolina-style barbecue carrots with a cornbread ice cream, meatless larb made with lime-kissed shiitake mushrooms, and grilled cobia fish served with broccoli mole and turnips dressed in fish sauce vinaigrette. The restaurant is welcoming diners who book in advance, but it also has a to-go menu for convenience.
Chef Matt Baker turned a tomato cannery in Ivy City into Gravitas, a farm-to-table restaurant highlighting the bounty of the Chesapeake Bay. The modern space has plenty of exposed brick and a cozy atmosphere. You can choose your own culinary evening with the flexible five- or seven-course tasting menu options, allowing you to sample a range of Baker’s popular dishes. Sipping on cocktails upstairs at the Conservatory–which includes a greenhouse and garden alive with flowers, fruits, and vegetables–makes for an unforgettable evening.
If a menu-less, 20-course dining experience sounds amazing, look no further than Sushi Nakazawa. This New York original turns eating into an adventure comes from chef Daisuke Nakazawa. He serves fresh-caught seafood in the style of “omakase”, a Japanese phrase that translates to “I’ll leave it up to you.” Sushi Nakazawa is inside the Trump International Hotel.
At Rose Previte’s Maydan (which means “town square”) everything from the spicy flavors to the interesting decor tells the story of travels across the Middle East and North Africa. Set in the back alley of a 19th-century brick building off 14th Street and marked only by a heavy wooden door, diners are greeted by the sizzling of turmeric-spiced whole chicken, lamb shoulder dressed in Syrian seven spice and chermoula sauce-marinated sardines roasting over the crackling oak-fired hearth. The restaurant provides a communal dining experience, with some shared tables.
Little Pearl allows you to enjoy Aaron Silverman’s award-winning creations without the crowds at Rose’s Luxury or the expense Pineapple and Pearls. This casual Capitol Hill spot in Silverman’s dining empire lets you choose from gourmet java, potato donuts, and a delightfully crispy fried chicken sandwich (served fried or Japanese-style) during a daytime visit. You can also wash down your fare with a glass of wine from an extensive by-the-glass list. Choose the affordable prix-fixe dinner menu for an elegant, yet more frugal dining experience in the evening.
At chef Ryan Ratino’s Bresca, a unique menu melts tantalizing flavors and a one-of-a-kind vision! Pastrami beets are served with whipped feta and dill on rye, foie gras is made into a sandwich and sea urchin linguini with truffles and chili is deliciously rich. Many of the herbs, spices, and garnishes are grown on the restaurant’s rooftop garden.
A neighborhood dining legend, this Barracks Row establishment–named the best new restaurant in America in 2014 by Bon Appétit–has fans line up hours in advance to get a table. You can score same-day reservations as well!
We think this is the city’s finest sushi restaurant. This Dupont Circle hot spot specializes in dining omakase-style – in which your meal is decided by chef Nobu Yamazaki. You can’t go wrong with whatever Yamazaki is serving.
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