Insider’s Guide: DC’s 10 Hottest Survey Newcomers

By Rina Rapuano  |  March 27, 2015
Credit: La La Peng

Our most recent list of DC's Best Restaurants, which we revealed earlier this month, had its fair share of beloved spots that have withstood the test of time. But there were also plenty of newcomers — with one notable newcomer (new to the survey, anyway) taking the top spot for Best Food. Here we share 10 standout restaurants that are first-timers on our lists, along with their rank on those lists and our favorite dishes:

  • Credit: Fiola


    While Fiola has been around for nearly four years, the timing of its opening didn’t allow for it to be included in our last survey. To debut on the survey in the top food and service slots is quite the coup for chef-owner Fabio Trabocchi and his wife, Maria. Judging by all the lists they made (see below), they are truly wowing Washingtonians.  

    Lists: Best Food (1); Top Decor (6); Best Service (1); Top Bar-Menu Lunches (1); Best Italian Restaurants (1); Top Restaurants in Penn Quarter (1); Top Restaurants for Business Celebrations (1); Best Celebrity-Chef Restaurants (1); Top Restaurants to Meet for a Drink (1); Best People-Watching Restaurants (1); Top Restaurants With Private Rooms (1); Restaurants With Notable Wine Lists (1); Top Restaurants Near the National Gallery of Art (1)

    Must-Order: Maine lobster ravioli

    601 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; 202-628-2888

  • Credit: Elizabeth Parker

    Rose’s Luxury

    This Barracks Row Modern American spot became an instant hit when it opened in late 2013 and has only gained steam with each passing day. You’ll find mostly small plates with Southern and global influences, but also a few family-style entrees.

    Lists: Best Food (4); Top Decor (9); Best Service (8); Best New American Restaurants (3); Best Small Plates/Tapas (1); Top Restaurants in Capitol Hill (1); Best Restaurants for Dining at the Bar (1); Best Celebrity-Chef Restaurants (2); Presidential Restaurants (1); Most Romantic Restaurants (2); Most Trendy Restaurants (1); Top Restaurants Near Eastern Market (1)

    Must-Order: Pork-litchi salad

    717 Eighth St. SE; 202-580-8889

  • Credit: Scott Suchman

    Red Hen

    Bloomingdale has long had worthwhile neighborhood restaurants, but this soulful Italian favorite was one of the first to make the neighborhood a restaurant destination. The wood-fired grill and the wine program are two of the many compelling reasons to visit.

    Lists: Best Food (12); Best Italian Restaurants (3)

    Must-Order: Rigatoni with sausage

    1822 First St. NW; 202-525-3021

  • Credit: Greg Powers

    Fiola Mare

    The most recent restaurant in the Fabio Trabocchi empire, this Georgetown waterfront stunner has received raves for its dazzlingly fresh seafood, its handsome dining room and its unparalleled views of the Potomac. Order from the menu or check out the daily selection of fish on ice.

    Lists: Top Decor (2); Best Service (12); Best Italian Restaurants (4); Top Seafood Restaurants (1); Top Restaurants in Georgetown (1); Top Restaurants for Brunch (3); Most Trendy Restaurants (3); Best Waterside Dining (1)

    Must-Order: Frutti di mare

    3100 K St. NW; 202-628-0065

  • Credit: Jason Varney

    Le Diplomate

    Washingtonians instantly fell for this French corner bistro in Logan brought to us by Philadelphia restaurateur Stephen Starr. We love its charm, its patio, the fine service, the consistent food and — perhaps most of all — we love that it’s not a steakhouse.

    Lists: Top Decor (12); Best Classic French Restaurants (2); Best Restaurants on 14th St. (2); Best Restaurants for Patio Dining (3)

    Must-Order: Foie gras parfait

    1601 14th St. NW; 202-332-3333

  • Casa Luca

    Chef-restaurateur Fabio Trabocchi followed up his fine-dining flagship, Fiola, with this more casual dining room named for his son, Luca. Here you’ll find the space (and the prices) just a bit more relaxed, but not the quality of the pastas and seasonal piccoletti (small nibbles).

    Lists: Best Service (11); Best Italian Restaurants (5); Best Restaurants for Dining at the Bar (2)

    Must-Order: Grilled lamb shoulder

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

  • Credit: La La Peng


    Noodle fans know to head to the ground floor of this Chinatown hot spot for ramen slurped at communal tables, while chefs and Japanophiles regularly fill seats in the upstairs izakaya. Drinkers appreciate the extensive collection of Japanese whiskeys, sake, cocktails — and sake bombs.

    Lists: Top Noodle Shops (1); Top Restaurants in Chinatown (2); Best Japanese Restaurants (3)

    Must-Order: Shio ramen downstairs; chicken karaage upstairs

    705 Sixth St. NW; 202-589-1600

  • Mintwood Place

    Chef Cedric Maupillier charmed this city with this beautiful Adams Morgan dining room and his whimsical plays on modern French and American dishes. Folks love brunch here every bit as much as the dinner — and they love to eat on the patio most of all.

    Lists: Best Restaurants for Patio Dining (1); Presidential Restaurants (2); Top New French Restaurants (2); Top Restaurants in Adams Morgan (2); Top Dining-Alone Restaurants (2)

    Must-Order: Escargot hushpuppies

    1813 Columbia Rd. NW; 202-234-6732

  • El Chucho Cocina Superior

    This cheerful and colorful space gets packed to the gills at peak times with fans of its outstanding tequila selection, Mexican street foods and a shaded but open upstairs deck that keeps the fiesta going even during the worst of DC’s summer weather. Happy hour and brunch are very popular.

    Lists: Top Mexican Restaurants (1); Best Restaurants in Columbia Heights (1); Monumental Rooftop Views (2)

    Must-Order: Elote callejero

    3313 11th St. NW; 202-290-3313

  • Duke’s Grocery

    This eastern Dupont favorite has cultivated a passionate following for its English breakfasts, its thoughtful cocktails, its ever-changing British and global menu and especially its burger. Diners also love the fun atmosphere and playful interior, not to mention the patio.

    Lists: Good-Value Restaurants (2); Best Buys: Top Sandwiches (1); Best Sandwich Shops (1); Top Restaurants in Dupont Circle (4)

    Must-Order: The Proper Burger

    1513 17th St. NW; 202-733-5623