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Experts Share Their Top Restaurant Standbys of 2016

Where the pros went again and again

Le Diplomate
Missy Frederick is the Cities Director for Eater.

As per tradition, Eater asked a group of journalists, bloggers and friends of the site to weigh in on the year in food. Here, they share their go-to restaurants this year.

Tom Sietsema, food critic, The Washington Post: “I’d be happy to pay my own way at Ambar in Arlington, Conosci in Mount Vernon Triangle and Rasika in Penn Quarter. Buck’s Fishing & Camping is back on my list, too.”

Nevin Martell, freelance food writer and cookbook author: “If I was in the mood for a sandwich, Duke's Counter, Smoked & Stacked (love the Messy!), Taylor Gourmet and G were my go-to spots. Tiffany MacIsaac and Buttercream Bakeshop will always get my business when I need a sweet fix. I couldn't get enough of Bantam King, mainly because of their spicy miso ramen (extra noodles, please!). Speaking of spice, Peter Chang's restaurants in Arlington and Rockville were mandatory destinations for hot, flavorful fare. And if I was going out for dinner or brunch with my family and some friends, we always went to Republic in Takoma Park.”

Svetlana Legetic, founder, Brightest Young Things: “Rasika West End, Tail Up Goat, Compass Rose, Le Diplomate, Iron Gate and as always, Ghibellina at happy hour. If you don't know where to find me, playing your odds and stopping by Ghibellina between 4 and 6 is a very good way to bet on seeing me.”

Ann Limpert, food critic and editor, Washingtonian: “I’ve probably eaten at Le Diplomate more times than any other restaurant in this city, and not just because it’s two seconds from where I live. It’s just consistently great, and they don’t get judgy when my husband and I order an onion soup and burger at 10 a.m. I usually don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but being pregnant this year changed that. So I spent a LOT of time just happening to walk/drive by Junction Bakery (for the chocolate chip cookies and coconut brownies) and Buttercream Bakeshop (OMG those s’more bars).”

Cori Sue Morris, Co-Founder, Bitches Who Brunch: “I frequent B Too and Le Diplomate because they’re a few blocks away from me and I can always count on a good steak frites and a glass of wine, which is a standard food group for me. If I’m taking an out of town friend, I’m going to the Dabney. If I’m grabbing a cocktail, it’s Left Door, CopyCatCo, or Archipelago.”

Jessica Strelitz, freelance food writer: “I live in Northern Virginia and work full time in addition to freelance, and I cook dinner with my family on most nights. When we do go out for sit-down meals, the magic window is under an hour. That's the expiration point on good behavior for a 16-month-old and a four-year-old. We love Four Sisters Grill in Clarendon — the food is fast, fresh and delicious and the staff is amazing with families. When it's warm we order slices and I get a prosciutto-heavy Capri sandwich and sit on the patio at the Italian Store’s expansion location in Westover (N. Arlington). They have *very* heavy pours during their wine tastings on Friday nights.

Does breakfast at Sugar Shack on Columbia Pike count? We do that a lot too, especially after I've been traveling for work: it's a special spot for my 4-yr-old and me.

I ate at Momofuku in CityCenter at least a half dozen times this year, nearly always for lunch. I think about the cold noodles with Sichuan sausage and cashews all of the time. It's really good that parking there sucks or else I'd be there weekly.”

Laura Hayes, Food Editor, Washington City Paper: “Sushi Taro, Iron Gate, Kapnos, Baan Thai, Chaia, Cava Grill, Maketto, Izakaya Seki”

Dan Silverman, PoPville (i.e. the Prince of Petworth): Same as last year — Pho Viet hands down best Pho in DC, Brookland's Finest when I want to bring the kids though it's just as tasty and plenty more fun without them. Also Sushi Taro and Izakaya Seki never had a bad meal at either place — ever.

Jessica Sidman, food editor, Washingtonian: Baan Thai, Ghibellina, and Etto are some of my go-tos when I'm not eating out for work. Proximity to my apartment is key.

Stefanie Gans, food editor and critic, Northern Virginia Magazine: It's probably because it's down the street from me, but I'm a sucker for Nicole Jones and Stomping Ground in Del Ray. It's also just the right fit for the neighborhood (wish they were open more for dinner).

Jody Fellows, Burger Days/Falls Church News-Press: Taco Bamba has always been my go-to and now, with a location right by my home in Vienna, my taco consumption is hitting a record high. I'm also becoming addicted to the new cachapas at La Caraqueña in Falls Church.

Tim Carman, The $20 Diner Columnist, The Washington Post: Fiola blows me away every time I go there. The prices do, too, but then again, I'm a cheapskate. I love eating at Rose's, too. It's always playful and delicious.

Maura Judkis, The Washington Post: My colleague Tim Carman wrote about Lezo's Taqueria in Mount Pleasant earlier this year, and I am lucky enough to live a few blocks away, so it's my regular take-out spot. I'm also a longtime Donburi fangirl, and I'll never turn down a trip to Compass Rose. Bantam King was love at first sight.

Eun Yang, NBC: 2 Amys, always 2 Amys. But All-Purpose makes me so happy, I’ll keep going back there for sure. And I’m basically ready to move into Buttercream Bakeshop.

Rebecca Cooper, reporter and columnist, The Washington Business Journal: Majestic lounge/Front Porch in my 'hood, Centrolina, Rasika West End for nicer lunches and dinners, Wiseguy NY pizza, bagels from Yael at the Del Ray Farmer's Market, Mandu for late-night eats, The Partisan and Copycat Co. for drinks.

Becky Krystal, reporter, The Washington Post: I rarely feel like I can return to the same place twice, but this year I made repeat visits to Bindaas, Kapnos Taverna and the Source. Cheesetique is a longtime standby, too, and I do have a soft spot for the sandwiches at Taylor Gourmet.

Anna Spiegel, food editor, Washingtonian: Off the clock, you would most likely find me at: Le Diplomate, Ghibellina, Izakaya Seki, Glen’s Garden Market (specifically seeking out grilled cheese and tomato soup), Rappahannock Oyster Bar/Union Market, Panda Gourmet, Fiola Mare for special occasions, and Lauriol Plaza. That last one is more about proximity to home (and nostalgia), but I’ll stand by their chips and fajitas any day.