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Here's What America's Food Critics Think of DC Dining

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Everyone seems to have loved Little Serow
Everyone seems to have loved Little Serow
Photo: R. Lopez

Earlier this month, food critics from across America descended upon our nation's capital for a few days of panels at the Association of Food Journalists conference, attending fancy parties at the State Department, taking tours of the White House and, duh, eating their faces off. Now that they've all dined at whatever local restaurants Washington Post critic Tom Sietsema told them to visit, what do the food critics of America have to say about DC restaurants? Well, a lot. Here's a look at the reports that critics from New York to Seattle have filed since returning to their home states.

Robert Sietsema, Village Voice: Robert Sietsema was one of the first to file his impressions of DC, having dined at Little Serow, Toki Underground, Fast Gourmet, Stachowski's, Ben's Chili Bowl and Wagshal's. After years of finding DC a waste of space, the Village Voice critic was impressed this time around: "I found a new energy to the food scene there, and almost didn't have a single bad bite. In fact, Washington, with its eclectic mix of eateries in all price ranges, beats New York in a few categories, though it pains me to admit it."

Katharine Shilcutt, Houston Press: Shilcutt also made it to a lot of DC dining destinations, lavishing praise on Little Serow and anchovy-filled dishes from Pesce and Pizzeria Paradiso. She liked her Shake Shack burger but didn't think it stood up to the hype — and, notably, Shilcutt didn't care much for Dukem on her visit to DC's Little Ethiopia as it "served its doro wot and tibs cold and in miserly portions." In a separate piece, Shilcutt reflects more on DC's craft beer scene and ChurchKey in particular, which she thinks could teach Houston bars a thing or two about "being as open and positive as possible" with craft beer neophytes.

Hanna Raskin, Seattle Weekly: Given her busy schedule of museum nerdery, Seattle Weekly's Hanna Raskin wasn't able to get out to many DC restaurants, but still she put together a guide to mid-Atlantic eating featuring icons like blue crabs at Cantler's and one DC pick, the pork ribs at Little Serow: "I was especially fond of a silky catfish soup and the molten pork ribs, gently glazed in a whiskey sauce that I sopped up with perfectly-cooked sticky rice. Both of the dishes spoke not only of Thailand, but of Little Serow's home at the edge of the American South."

Leslie Brenner, Dallas Morning News: Someone forgot to tell Leslie Brenner about Little Serow as Johnny Monis' white-hot restaurant is notably absent from her list of five DC dining destinations. Instead, she kept it mostly old school with visits to the Oval Room, Bibiana, Urbana, Jaleo and Ezme. Of the meal she shared with other food critics of America at Oval Room, Brenner writes, "Verdict? Chef Tony Conte's cooking was smart, lively, imaginative and confident. I'd go back in a hearbeat for Conte's spaghetti with smoked uni carbonara alone."

· All Previous Critics Coverage [-EDC-]

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