Best Thing We Ate

Best Things We Ate in DC in 2013

By Rina Rapuano  |  December 17, 2013

Confession: We've... eaten some things this year. Perhaps even overindulged. But we did it all for you in the name of research, and it puts us in the prime position to separate the best from the worst and share them with you. Here are some of our favorite dishes from 2013, those that lived on in our memories long after they were cleared from the plate:

  • Credit: Elizabeth Parker

    Most Mind-Blowing Dish...

    While our entire meal at Rose’s Luxury was outstanding, the pork sausage/habanero/lychee salad was the dish to end all dishes. The juicy, cooling lychee is the perfect counterpoint to the nearly 20 other ingredients in the dish - including spicy chiles, toasted garlic chips, peanuts and coconut. When a dish is this complicated, it takes a skillful hand to keep them from tasting overwrought, and chef-owner Aaron Silverman pulls it off flawlessly. We cannot say this emphatically enough: Eat. This. Dish.

    717 Eighth St. SE; 202-608-5988

  • Credit: Four Seasons Hotel

    Most Crave-Inducing Burger…

    It’s kind of obscene how frequently we crave the oak-fired prime steak cheeseburger at Bourbon Steak. The texture, seasoning and flavor of every single element is perfection: the juicy patty, the spicy pickles adding a bit of cha-cha-cha, the soft bun, the secret sauce. Yes, we know there are lamb, veggie and Korean BBQ salmon burgers on the menu - but we’re not sure we’ll ever be able to resist the classic.

    2800 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; 202-944-2026

  • Best Sweet Relief for a Hangover...

    We’ve had a lot of sticky buns this year - we’ve even had more than our fair share of bacon sticky buns - but the version on the Sunday brunch menu at Pizzeria Orso stands out for the moistness of the bun as well as for having the perfect amount of glaze and bacon on top. Chef Will Artley lets the dough rest for 24 hours before baking them for two hours. They come two to an order, yet you still won’t want to share.

    400 S. Maple Ave., Falls Church, VA; 703-226-3460

  • Our Fried-Chicken Obsession...

    When GBD Fried Chicken and Doughnuts opened earlier this year, the sleeper hit was the fried chicken bao, a steamed bun stuffed with crispy-fried thigh meat and pickled vegetables. Eating it made us wish someone in DC had thought to cross a fried-chicken sandwich with a Chinese bao and a Vietnamese banh mi sooner. This tasty snack is a bargain at $3.50 a pop - but only available for dinner and late-night, not lunch.
    1323 Connecticut Ave. NW; 202-524-5210

  • Best Taste of Summer...

    Casa Luca came on the scene strong when it opened this July, and our first round of tastes included a stellar sampling of “piccoletti,” or bites, that really captured the essence of summer. Served in precious, mismatched teacups with saucers, these whimsical tastes included prosciutto, corn and mint; heirloom tomato and stracciatella of mozzarella; and a summer vegetable crudité with salsa verde. In the dead of winter, memories of these flavors will have to sustain us till sunnier days.

    1099 New York Ave. NW; 202-628-1099

  • Best-Dressed Taco…

    It’s no longer challenging to find traditional Mexican fare in this area, so we’d like to single out the Black Pearl at Taco Bamba for reminding us of a trip down the coast of California. The name is fitting since it’s the tuxedo of tacos, with owner Victor Albisu lending his chef-y twist by adding squid-ink aïoli to the layering of beautifully fried tilapia, spicy coleslaw and avocado. It’s like a road trip in a tortilla.

    2190 Pimmit Dr., Falls Church; 703-639-0505

  • Credit: Scott Suchman

    Best (Non-Ramen) Noodle Dish...

    Taking a breather from the ramen craze, we fell hard for the spicy Chiang Mai chicken and noodle curry at Doi Moi. Creamy and spicy with a remarkable depth of flavor, the sauce happily drenches the tender chicken and the noodles cooked to just the right texture. It's a dramatically plated dish, with its garnish of wispy, crispy noodles. Pair it with a bottle of mead to cool the heat (and to taste one of this year’s burgeoning bar trends).

    1800 14th St. NW; 202-733-5131