Congratulations to these four newly-Starred restaurants joining the MICHELIN Guide Washington, DC this year! All four of these restaurants have been awarded one MICHELIN Star. Find every Bib Gourmand and Starred restaurant in the MICHELIN Guide Washington, DC right here.
Albi (Navy Yard)Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Located in the pulsating Navy Yard, this dining room is hip and lively. Arranged around a roaring hearth, the space features an inviting bar at one end and chef's counter at the other. À la carte is the way to go, but guests may just do better with the hyper-seasonal prix-fixe. Regardless, Chef/owner Michael Rafidi's dishes are full of surprises as he weaves in the flavors of the eastern Mediterranean with a myriad of local ingredients. Favorites like baba ghanoush and kefta are handled with precision, but the gutsiest dishes come from the hearth, imbued with smoke and char. A dessert of brown butter knafeh with yogurt ice cream is a marvel, while the wine program flaunts a litany of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern labels.
Imperfecto: The Chef's Table (Foggy Bottom)Cuisine: Latin American
Boasting all the buzz of a hornet’s nest, this soaring box of glass and marble virtually reaches for the sky. Inside, it's decked out with brass accents, terra-cotta, and a tight counter positioned directly under Chef Enrique Limardo’s perch. Here, he prepares an elaborate tasting, which is a far cry from the main, more casual menu; it's a celebration of Latin flavors, ace ingredients, and exacting technique.
Meals, served by the chef himself, take on an intimate if long form. Yet nobody's complaining, especially when offered such delights as kampachi tartare in kombu dashi with charred avocado seeds; aged hiramasa with leche de tigre; and snow crab salad with osetra caviar. In lieu of dessert, the brioche with camembert and truffle honey is quite perfecto.
Oyster Oyster (Shaw)Washington, DC
It is highly rare for a tasting menu to leave one feeling—well—energized, but so goes the imaginative cooking at this vegetable-focused gem. Who knew that turnip juice makes for good bread or that oysters can turn into a creamy and yet entirely creamless sauce? Chef Rob Rubba did, and his creations are delicious insights into what is possible with vegetables.
Thin strands of fried celery root weaved around smoked tofu and garnished with onion powder is delicate and replete with umami. Roasted lion’s mane mushroom with spring onion mole and black eyed peas is a combination you didn’t know you were craving. Local farms are the very essence of this sustainable restaurant; even carnivores cannot deny its food is original, confident, and tastes as good as it looks.
Reverie (Georgetown)Cuisine: Contemporary
Tucked off a quiet Georgetown alley, it almost feels like this secret gem is perfectly content with not being found. Accoutred with smooth wood and clean lines, this unusual delight flaunts a contemporary Nordic vibe; and enveloped by melodic tunes, the dining room is attended to by a disarmingly warm staff.
Nab a seat at the counter to witness Chef Johnny Spero's artistry. His cooking skews Mid-Atlantic, with a laser-focus on seasonality and inspired flavors. Snack on brown butter- and tamari-soaked toast with beef tartare, then move on to spoon-tender pork confit presented with a blood sausage purée and frizzled white kombu. Desserts run the gamut from melon granita with kombucha to fromage blanc capped by a luminous sheet of elderflower ice.
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Hero image: Reverie. Photo by Casey Robinson