Following an Eater tradition, we asked a group of restaurant critics, journalists, bloggers, and industry pros to weigh in on the year in food. Their answers to an annual “Year in Eater” survey will be revealed in several posts this month. First up, the dining experts share their regular go-to destinations in 2022 and the most exciting newcomers to D.C.’s restaurant scene.
Tom Sietsema, Washington Post food critic: I remain a big fan of the Hitching Post in Petworth, and not just because it’s near where I live. I love the simplicity of the soul food menu, the sense of community, the happy hour drinks and the occasional tastes of Guyana, the owner’s birthplace. Close behind: Queen’s English in Columbia Heights for chef Henji Cheung’s Hong-Kong-style dishes and attentive service and Reveler’s Hour in Adams Morgan for, well, everything you want from a restaurant. As for newcomers, I expect to have lots of agreement on Chang Chang. Aren’t we all thrilled that Peter Chang opened a place in the District?
Ann Limpert, Washingtonian executive food editor and critic: Some of my go-tos remain the same (Vace for a car slice of cheese pizza; Comet for jerk wings; Tout de Sweet and Little Food Studio for breakfast pastries; Estadio for brunch), but this year, I fell hard for Boogy & Peel—I love the pizza there so much, whether the Italian sub riff or the pepperoni with salsa macha—and also for the giant sandwiches at the relaunched Compliments Only (meatball with vodka sauce ftw).
Jessica Sidman, Washingtonian food editor: I’ve always been a fan of 2Amys, but I love it even more now as a parent. It feels sophisticated for us adults (give me all the anchovies), but it’s also totally welcoming to kids (I just need to convince my picky toddler to eat more than pizza crust). Otherwise our regular spots tend to be carryout. Some of the regulars in my rotation: Republic Cantina, All-Purpose, Cinder BBQ, Raku, Call Your Mother. The place that gets me the most excited though is Happy Gyro. I’m currently crushing hard on their falafel sandwich wrapped in the fluffiest pita you’ve ever seen, and I’ve spent way too much money on their ice creams. A little pro tip: they do have a few patio tables, and they’ll bring you out real plates and glasses if you want to eat your takeout there.
As for newcomers, the Duck and the Peach is a standout for me. It’s the kind of food that might seem simple but you’d never be able to make it that good at home. It also does justice to its name: The rotisserie duck is so juicy with that perfect crispy skin. Plus, the cocktails are on point. I had this concord grape enzoni that I’m still thinking about.
A Big Mac-inspired pizza at Boogy & Peel
Boogy & Peel
Lori Gardner, Been There, Eaten That blogger: I am always up for a meal at Anju. I also love Queen’s English, Albi, Oyster, Oyster, L’Ardente, Daru, and Reveler’s Hour. I was really smitten with Magpie and the Tiger, which sadly closed after only 7 months.
Rebecca Cooper, arts and food editor, DCist/WAMU: Stracci, a Roman pizza joint, technically opened in 2021, but it started as mostly a trailer and didn’t get its full indoor operation up and running until this year. We became regulars at both the outdoor and indoor tables, where they serve reliably great cocktails in a neighborhood that could use more going on in that department. Now, if they could just add a bar.
In D.C., Walter’s became my go-to for anytime I was heading to the ballpark, whether for a Nats game or the Lady Gaga concert. It’s one of the city’s best happy hours — and there are no exceptions for game days. Anytime I was in Navy Yard and NOT heading to Nationals Park, you could find me at Maxwell, probably sipping lambrusco.
Rick Chessen, Rick Eats DC blogger: My go-to places tend to be comfortable neighborhood spots with hands-on chefs/owners like Queen’s English, Martha Dear, Ruthie’s All-Day, Frankly…Pizza!, and Cielo Rojo. (It hadn’t occurred to me but it looks like all the restaurants on that list — except Ruthie’s — are run by married couples. Which I guess means I’m drawn to a place with great food that feels like a dinner party.)
Angie Duran, Women of Wine co-founder, director of operations for Duo Group and at Bottles Wine Garden: I’ve spent a ton of time at Estuary since Ria Montes and Sean Tew took over. Everything I’ve enjoyed has felt completely new but strangely familiar in the most comforting way. After many long days, I find myself at the bar over and over again.
Newcomer? Bar Spero, I haven’t stopped thinking about the burnt cheesecake ice cream and have been back multiple times for the grilled oysters – best dish I had all year. Excited to have Masako Morishita at Perry’s now, the chicken karaage will be enjoyed over and over again.
Nycci Nellis, TheListAreYouOnIt.com publisher: Whenever someone says let’s go to Albi (and people say it a lot), I never decline. Mike Rafidi and his team always knock it out of the park. (Also, that beverage program.)
Neighborhood gem Buck’s Fishing & Camping is exactly what I want when I don’t feel like cooking. I don’t even look at the menu anymore. The wedge and small steak, please. I love having an outpost of Chiko in Bethesda. That means lunchtime deliveries of half-a-cado salad and wok-charred wheat flour noodles with extra veggies. Another lunch go-to is Dauphine’s muffulettas, and for drinks, you can find me either up at the bar at Jane Jane or that booth in the back on the right. Then there’s Le Diplomate. What can I say? I am a sucker for the lobster frites.
For newcomers, Maiz 64 chef Alam Mendez and his team make addictive fresh tortillas on the griddle in the front of the restaurant (like dinner & a show). My go to is the chicken. Trust me, get the chicken (and the broccoli tacos). More new hits are Amazonia and Causa, Caruso’s Pike & Rose, and L’Ardente.
Penne alla vodka with peas and prosciutto at Caruso’s Grocery
Missy Frederick, Eater cities director: I’m in Falls Church, so my regular haunts are a little Virginia-centric this year, but included Hank’s Oyster Bar for cocktails and lobster rolls, SER for paella and croquetas, Ariake for chirashi, Ivy and Coney for Detroit-style and curly fries, Pizzeria Orso for pizzas and pastas, Peter Chang/Mama Chang for bamboo fish and more, B-Side for drinks and duck fat fries, Pho Than Long for #1 add meatball, Celebrity Delly for matzoh ball soup, Takumi for sushi and tempura, Inca Social for happy hour margaritas and chaufa, Maneki Neko for udon, Plaka Grill for Greek salad and gyro meat, Le Diplomate for bouillabaisse and chicken palliards, Italian Store for pies and hoagies, and Service Bar for drinks and crinkle fries.
Places that weren’t news this year but were either new to me or places I spent more time in than previously included the always-consistent Caruso’s Grocery, Tiki Thai (love a well-made tropical drink I can get outside of D.C. proper before 5 p.m.), Yellow for lamb pitas, Odd BBQ for hard-to-find roast beef on weck, RT’s for homey cajun, La Tingeria for local tacos, Annie’s Paramount for steak tips and martinis, Green Pig Bistro for a great bar menu, Jane Jane for perfect cocktails, Red Light for (again) Detroit-style, Kuya Ja for the obvious, Hanumanh for Lao bar snacks, Daru for dal with burrata, and Makan for perfect yu choy. Also shoutout to the excellent French Dip at Patsy’s and the shrimp and grits riff at Bammy’s.
It feels a little obvious since they just made our Best New Restaurants list ( but I have to go with Bar Amazonia for my favorite newcomer. I ended up there three times this year, which is more than I ever usually get to a new restaurant, particularly for the precisely made drinks and warm service at the bar. Don’t miss the alligator picadillo.