As we near the end of 2012, we take a look back at some of the most thrilling dishes this calendar year has offered us from restaurants in the District. It proved difficult to cut the list to only so many choices, but we narrowed it down to what we thought were our most memorable dishes of the year. With so many new restaurants opening up, we can’t wait to see what 2013 will bring. We’ll just have to spend wisely since we pay for daycare now.
The Source – Duck Bao Buns
If there’s one dish to order among the 30 or so at The Source’s fantastic dim sum brunch, it’s the duck bao buns. Chef Scott Drewno lacquers the duck overnight while the warm, soft buns encase the succulent, crispy meat stuffed inside.
Stachowski Market and Deli – Pastrami Sandwich
This sandwich single-handedly raised the bar for all other sandwiches in the DC area. Not only is it large enough to feed two people, but the pastrami is some of the juiciest, most flavorful you will ever come across. Sandwiched between two slices of hearty pumpernickel as well as a smear of spicy mustard, this is a pastrami lover’s dream. You’ll have lunch and dinner covered for just $12.
Mintwood Place – Escargot Hushpuppies
Chef Cedric Maupillier was able to devise one of the most inventive plates of the year by combining a classic French recipe with down home southern cooking. Wonderfully crispy on the outside and delicately rich on the inside, the escargot hushpuppies are the one appetizer you should order at Mintwood Place without question.
Corduroy – Broken Arrow Ranch Antelope
It’s been years since we last went to Corduroy, but after having a wonderful dinner there back in October, it’s the one restaurant we need to visit at least once a year, if not more. The Broken Arrow Ranch antelope was just one of the many reasons we need to come back. The antelope was one of the most delicious, most tender pieces of meat the two of us have ever come across in our years of dining.
The Pig – Charred Belly
It goes without saying that The Pig was one of the best restaurants to open in the area in the year 2012. We had several outstanding dishes, but the charred belly takes the cake. Beautifully presented atop a heap of celery root puree and watermelon jam, the pork belly was succulent and smoky. We came this close to ordering another plate of it.
Bourbon Steak – Brown Sugar Bananas
What happens when you compose a dessert consisting of the following?
– Banana cake
– Peanut ganache
– Fried Captain Crunch ice cream.
That’s right, perhaps the most amazing dessert ever. Good answer.
Minibar – Espardenyes with Bone Marrow
Out of all the cleverly-devised dishes at Minibar, the espardenyes with bone marrow stood out as the best tasting item out of the 27 plates we tried that night. You wouldn’t think that sea cucumber and bone marrow would complement each other, but somehow, they did. I would personally love to see this dish offered as a larger portion at one of Jose Andres’ other area restaurants.
District Commons – Pretzel Bread
When we decided to check out this fairly new restaurant before a show at the Kennedy Center, someone gave us a tip – “make sure you order the pretzel bread.” Good thing we did, because I’m still thinking about how good it was 11 months later.
Fiola – Black Truffle Gnocchi
Another dish from early in 2012. We decided to go here for a Valentine’s Day dinner because I had gone in late 2011 with some girlfriends and couldn’t stop talking about how great it was. I made Brett order the lobster ravioli (obvs) and the black truffle gnocchi was hands down one of the most decadent dishes I had this year. Sure the truffles were overpowering, but who doesn’t love truffles?
Haven Pizzeria Napoletna– White Clam Pizza
Everyone knows Pete’s Apizza, and while they still rank as one of our favorite pizza places in the DMV, they now have some close competition with the arrival of Haven. We got an order of their white clam pizza and boy was it tasty. Not something you would have everyday, but a nice salty, garlicky, and buttery treat.
Blue Duck Tavern – Braised Beef Rib
I’m not sure if it was the meat itself or the incredible housemade steak sauce that blew us away, but we couldn’t get enough of this dish served family style at Blue Duck Tavern.
Agora – Mücver
We’re a sucker for zucchini cakes every since we had our first bite in downtown Athens on our honeymoon. These are hands down the most authentic ones we have had in the DMV, and would go back to Agora in a heartbeat just to have them again.
Not sure why it took us so long to go here for brunch, but their French toast is hands down the best I have had in a restaurant in a long time. Simply prepared, and perfect.
Best Meals of the Year in DC:
Best Meals of the Year Outside DC: