It’s been a delicious year over here at Bad Sentences. Over the next few weeks, we’ll take a look at some of the best things we’ve seen, done and eaten in 2016. First up, our absolute favorite DC dining experiences of the year.
Best DC Dining Experiences in 2016
Presented in no particular order, these are definitely the best meals we had all year. Writing this list made me very hungry. I suggest grabbing a snack before you start reading.
Anytime you eat at Rose’s Luxury, it’s going to be one of the best meals of the year. We were lucky to start the year off with a spontaneous trip to one of DC’s most lauded restaurants and it was just as delicious, if not more so, than the first time we visited.
Highlights: The famous lychee salad is always delicious, but this trip we were especially wowed by a vadouvan curry with sweet potato and caramelized banana and a confit goat with BBQ sea island red peas, rice and garlic breadcrumbs (pictured above). Of course, the menu changes regularly so while these dishes may not be available when you visit, I guarantee you’ll still have meal to remember.
Our communal dinner at Via Umbria was one of the most unique dining experiences we had in DC this year. The space is a combination of a market, restaurant and cafe and offers a huge selection of Italian wine, groceries, gifts and more. In addition, Via Umbria regularly hosts “Italian Dinner Parties” with different themes. This particular dinner celebrated food from Liguria, a small coastal region in the Northeast part of the country near the border of France. They have a host of upcoming parties and other events that are surely just as delicious as the one we attended.
Highlights: My favorite thing about this meal was chatting with fellow diners around a gorgeous table (pictured above) filled with Italian delicacies. We met a lovely couple from Denmark and I was positively enchanted hearing the dinner’s host Alessandro Anfosso speak about life in Italy. I also loved being able to select an affordable bottle of wine from the shop downstairs to have with our meal.
We knocked off another DC hot spot in January, this time braving a very long and cold, but very worth it wait at Bad Saint. Getting into the Filipino restaurant in Columbia Heights is even more difficult these days, after it received both Michelin and Bon Appetit honors in a single year, but I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Highlights: My favorite dish of the night was the Ginisang Ampalaya with bitter melon, farm egg and preserved black bean (pictured above). However, we enjoyed every single dish we ate that night as well and definitely need to go back soon to try more.
Bad Saint sent us on a Filipino kick we couldn’t quit, and soon we found ourselves at Purple Patch for brunch. While this Mount Pleasant eatery hasn’t received quite the hype that Bad Saint has, they are turning out delicious and authentic Filipino food that is much easier to come by (they take reservations and have ample seating).
Highlights: The ube (purple yam) pancakes (pictured above) with lechon kawali (crispy fried pork) and macapuno (coconut) syrup may have been the most fun thing I ate all year. These were delicious without being too sweet, and very filling compared to average pancakes. I’m also obsessed with the space at Purple Patch. The bright and cheery decor and local art made for a very handsome dining experience.
Chef Katsuya makes the best ramen I’ve ever eaten, hands down. Our experiences at Daikaya and Haikan started the love affair and then Bantam King converted me from a chicken hater into a chicken ramen fan girl. This wasn’t your average meal either, but an hour-long Chicken Ramen 101 class. First, we learned all about ramen and then we feasted on the goods. If you get the chance to attend one of these classes, I highly recommend it.
Highlights: It’s always fun to get a proper education while you dine. We had the opportunity during the class to sip several different types of stock from the various stages of ramen preparation and each one was tastier than the last. Of course, nothing could compare to diving into that steaming bowl of broth and noodles at the end. Heaven.
There you have it, the absolute best meals I had in the district this year. I look forward to even more deliciousness to come in 2017.
While I love fine dining and hitting up DC’s hot spots, sometimes the best meals are completely low-key and unassuming. We spent a memorable Saturday afternoon at Las Placitas eating giant plates of cheesy Mexican food, and it’s a meal I keep thinking back to again and again. Maybe it was the loads of chips and salsa, or the free tequila shot, but we couldn’t stop raving about our experience at this under-the-radar restaurant on Barrack’s Row.
Highlights: The friendly, attentive service was the star of the meal followed by the fact that I felt transported back to Oklahoma with the huge, comforting plates of Mexican cuisine. All of the food was deliciously gluttonous. The prices are great, too. I can’t say enough good things about this place.
How could or anniversary dinner at The Dabney not make the list? The Dabney was one of DC’s hottest restaurants in 2016, and for good reason. This meal had it all: romance, great service, a killer view of the famous kitchen and, of course, delicious food.
Highlights: Vegetable-based dishes shine at The Dabney. We loved the hearth-roasted vegetables with summer farro salad and herbs from the garden and the charred oyster mushrooms with carmen red pepper, hoisin, cucumber and young greens. The best dish of the night was definitely the ember-roasted beets with smoked and dried scallop, Virginia peanut basil, lemongrass and pickled chili (pictured above). The combination of earthy and pungent flavors and unusual presentation captured our imaginations and captivated our taste buds. The bourbon brown sugar ice cream sundae was one of the best desserts we had this year as well.
We’ve been to Convivial for both brunch and dinner, and had great experiences both times. However, our first visit for brunch was hard to top. The Shaw hot spot offers a great mix of healthy and indulgent items on their brunch menu in a beautifully elegant atmosphere.
Highlights: The quinoa porridge with Spring vegetable succotash, goat cheese, egg whites and pistachios (pictured above) was one of the prettiest dishes I had all year. If that wasn’t enough, Tom voted the fried chicken and waffle with sausage gravy and sunny side up egg the best fried chicken brunch dish in DC.
Tail Up Goat
Tail Up Goat is another super-trendy DC restaurant with a long list of well-deserved accolades. What made my experience there even more special was spending it with a great group of friends, one of whom I hadn’t seen since she’d given birth several months prior. Tail Up Goat impressed me with unusual flavor combinations that inexplicably worked and extreme attention to detail.
Highlights: Although my girlfriends had mixed feelings on the matter, I loved the palate-cleansing shrub we were offered at the beginning of the meal. I thought it really set a tone for the experience. The brown rice bread (pictured above) with red kuri squash, hot honey, pecans and benne seeds changed the way I think about restaurant appetizers and was certainly one of the best things I ate all year.
Did your favorite DC restaurant make the list?