Best Ethnic: Rice
1608 14th Street, NW
Best Brunch: Level One
1639 R Street, NW
Best Wine Bar: Cork
1720 14th Street, NW
Best Late Night: Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse
1609 17th Street, NW
Best New Restaurant: The Pig
Logan Tavern, Commissary, The Heights and Grillfish are all neighborhood favorites operated by EatWellDC, which is run by gay business partners, David Winer, Winer’s nephew Josh Hahn and Antonio Oquendo. Now their newest addition, The Pig, joins the list of favorites as the Best New Restaurant in D.C. This pork-centric restaurant focuses on snout-to-tail dishes from locally sourced ingredients and ethically raised animals.
The Pig is still a socially conscious neighborhood restaurant but it is not an American Tavern, “meat-and-potatoes”-type venue. Instead the restaurant specializes in small plates.
“The coursing and rhythm of the meal is different and it is a more service-oriented type of establishment,” Hahn says. This 72-seat establishment has quickly become a favorite in Logan Circle and hopes to become a mainstay like other EatWell restaurants. (JH)
1320 14th Street NW
Best Dessert: Sticky Fingers’ Red Velvet Cupcake
Sticky Fingers was born in 1999 in Doran Petersan’s Kitchen. Now her creations are available in her Park Road location and dozens of wholesale locations up and down the East Coast. Petersan, who dubbed herself a “junk-foodie genius”-turned vegan, was determined to create animal-free counterparts of some of her favorite guilt-laden items.
This cupcake is a completely vegan classic Red Velvet cupcake coupled with cream cheese-style frosting. And when Petersan and her team aren’t busy winning Best of Awards, they are competing to win Cupcake Wars on the Food Network for the third time. (JH)
Sticky Fingers Bakery
1370 Park Road, NW
Best Chef: Jamie Leeds — Hank’s Oyster Bar
Jamie Leeds has been having a good couple of months — opening Hank’s on the Hill, winning her fight to expand her patio in Dupont and winning Best Chef. Hank’s Oyster Bar came to fruition in the spring of 2005. In 2007, she opened a second Hank’s in Old Town Alexandria. This year, Leeds expanded the Alexandria location and opened a third Hank’s on the Hill. Leeds, a lesbian, says opening Hank’s on the Hill while expanding the Alexandria location is her “most exciting accomplishment.”
It is hard to dispute this honor if you have ever had the fried oysters at Hank’s, one of the best things I’ve eaten all year. Leeds serves up fresh and delicious seafood every day at all of her locations, making this a well-deserved honor. (JH)
Hank’s Oyster Bar
1624 Q Street NW
633 Pennsylvania Ave SE
1026 King Street Alexandria
202-462-HANK (Q Street)
Best Date Restaurant: Logan Tavern
Logan Tavern is located right in the middle of the Logan Circle neighborhood and is a great location for a date. After all, you can hit the gym before the date and if the date goes well, you can even hit up a bar to extend the date. If it goes poorly, it’s not because of the restaurant but you can hit the bar anyway.
Logan Tavern is owned and operated by EatWell DC and combines friendly prices with a hip, laid-back atmosphere. Logan is a great go-to place for delicious, un-fussy food. It’s a place where you recognize the ingredients, the flavors and the dishes you are being served. There is no need to worry about what the wait staff delivers. The drinks are affordable and the service is excellent with friendly and accommodating staff. Plan ahead so that you can get one of the cozy booths to cuddle up in. The only thing you will need to worry about is connecting with the guy or girl at the table with you. (JH)
1423 P Street NW
Best Coffee Shop: Tryst
Tryst has been a part of the Adams Morgan community since 1998 and gives Washingtonians the opportunity to get together over a cup of great coffee, a sweet treat or two or even a cocktail. David Fritzier, beverage manager, says, “Combining coffee and booze comes from a place of inclusion and community.” Tryst aims to be your “third place” — that place that you go after your home and work, the place that balances out your life. (JH)
2459 18th Street
Best Restaurant Outside of DC: Hard Times Café in Old Town Alexandria
Founders and brothers Jim and Fred Parker opened Hard Times Café in 1980, not really knowing what they were getting into. Now, 30-plus years later they are a successful regional chain, cooking award-winning chili, and winning Best of Awards (in 2005 USA Today named Hard Times as one of the top 10 places to get chili and now they are Best Restaurant Outside of D.C.). The chili has a story all its own that dates back all the way to 1874, to a recipe that comes from their grandfather Ira.
Jim and Fred refer to their food as “all the food you love to eat” like chili, wings, char-grilled burgers, nachos and ribs. There is even a chili taster in case you can’t decide which of the four chilies they offer you want to order. (JH)
Hard Times Café
1404 King Street, Alexandria VA
Best Caterer: Q Caterers
Q Caterers has been serving the Washington area for five years, but its owners have 15 years of experience in the catering industry. They offer traditional as well as creative and innovative cuisine for their clients. Q Caterers, co-owned by Paul Herndon, offers catering for a wide variety of events and does all its baking on site.
Clients rave about the food from Q Caterers and guests are always looking for more. (JH)
2144 California Street
Best Food Truck: Curbside Cupcake
Food Trucks have been all the rage for several years in D.C. and this year, the best food truck of them all is Curbside Cupcake. It started with one truck in November of 2009 and was D.C.’s first mobile cupcakery. It operates weekdays from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. and some weekends in the spring and summer.
Today Sam and Kristi Whitfield have three trucks bringing “cupcake bliss” to D.C., Arlington and Montgomery County. When Sam was working as a lawyer in 2009 some co-workers wanted cupcakes, but nobody wanted to go out and pick them up. That got Sam thinking that cupcakes should come to people, people shouldn’t have to come to cupcakes. When he got home that night he asked his wife Kristi, and that set the wheels in motion and just a few years later they own and operate D.C.’s favorite food truck. (JH)
Best Local Dish: Half Smokes at Ben’s Chili Bowl
The Half Smokes are famous in D.C. and are the most popular item on the menu at Ben’s Chili Bowl. Ben’s widow Virginia Ali, who has retired from the restaurant business, happened to be working the floor of the restaurant the afternoon I stopped in to enjoy a Half Smoke. She “is thrilled to be chosen as the winner of Best Local Dish,” and is “so excited that people still love all the food that they serve everyday.”
The “original chili half smokes” are the signature dish of Ben’s Chili Bowl. It’s a one-quarter pound half-pork and half-beef smoked sausage on a warm bun topped with mustard, onions and spicy homemade chili sauce. It’s served up in a basket with some fries and plenty of napkins. Famous fans include Bill Cosby and the Obamas. (JH)
Ben’s Chili Bowl
1213 U Street NW