After nearly a week of intensive reader voting, today we announce the winners of the eighth annual Eater Awards, celebrating the chefs and restaurants that made the largest impact on all 24 Eater cities over the past twelve months.
Here now are the establishments — from politically connected steakhouses and Cuban coffee shops to daring chef’s counters and redemption bids — that have taken the D.C. food world by storm. Thank you to everyone who voted last week, and congratulations to the winners of the readers’ choice and editors’ choice awards. Editor’s Choice winners will receive an illustrious tomato can trophy via FedEx, along with a full feature on Eater in the coming year. Read on to learn more about this year’s best of the best.
Restaurant of the Year
Say the name “Petworth” to dining aficionados and most will immediately crow about their favorite stops along hospitality-packed Upshur Street NW, the neighborhood’s tightly knit restaurant row. The destination that’s attracted the most attention since its arrival last fall is Himitsu, a cozy establishment that rewards patience (the 20-odd seat restaurant doesn’t take reservations) with engaging wines and irresistible cuisine. Barmini alum Carlie Steiner oversees the former — along with a drink list composed of inventive cocktails, regionally inspired coolers (Singani and ginger, anyone?), and a host of sherry offerings — while chef Kevin Tien attends to the latter via Asian-accented dishes ranging from sea urchin-topped toast and raw seafood sparked by Thai chilies to fried Brussels sprouts bolstered by a sprinkle of savory furikake spice doctored with crunchy quinoa. No wonder local and national press gladly line up for a place at these tables.
Restaurant of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Salt Line
Chef of the Year
To say its been a big year for seasoned chef Michael Rafidi would be an understatement. The hospitality vet, who previously cooked at global sensation Noma and locally at Blue Duck Tavern, returned to town earlier this year to lead the kitchen at Arroz, the Spanish-Moorish restaurant Top Chef alum Mike Isabella installed inside the new Marriott Marquis hotel. Since then Rafidi has also assumed command of the highly anticipated, Gallic-themed Requin Isabella unveiled this fall inside the newly minted Wharf complex. Opening two new restaurants in less than eight months is no small feat. Dazzling diners at each is even rarer.
Design of the Year
Succotash, Penn Quarter
Although he’d already shared some of his Korean-Southern cooking at the Succotash planted inside neighboring National Harbor, celebrity chef Edward Lee knew he had to do something different to pique interest inside the District. Mission accomplished. The stunning restaurant he and partner Knead Hospitality and Design brought to Penn Quarter blends old and new, celebrating the history of the former Equitable Bank building by preserving original charms (glossy marble floors, a gorgeous glass atrium) while also carving out room for two bars, cozy leather-wrapped booths, and a second story dining room overlooking all the action taking place below. Looking good, chef Lee.
Design of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: District Winery
Game Changer of the Year
Chiko, Barracks Row
Chefs Scott Drewno and Danny Lee appear to be having the time of their lives. They wear the same welcoming smiles captured in the photo above when one sees them at their new Barracks Row eatery, Chiko, the flagship restaurant the Source alum and Mandu co-founder (respectively) brought into being earlier this year with fellow Fried Rice Collective principal Drew Kim. While some remain fixated on categorizing the predominantly Chinese and Korean dishes (Is it fusion? Authentic? All of the above?) what’s not up for debate is that enjoying amazing, budget-friendly food in a relaxed atmosphere is what Washingtonians want more of. Might others attempt to replicate a restaurant that features award-winning chefs spinning out brisket-topped noodle dishes, fried rice with smoked seafood, and zesty avocado salads? Let’ em try.
Game Changer of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Colada Shop - T Street NW
Sensation of the Year
Bresca, 14th Street Corridor
2017 has been a roller coaster ride for Ryan Ratino. He started the year with a three-star review from Washington Post restaurant critic Tom Sietsema; closed the very same restaurant, Cleveland Park’s Ripple, in late June; scored a Rising Star nod from the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington in July; and opened his first solo restaurant, Bresca, in September. Oh yeah, and he took a trip to Europe to research his new menu and mentally catalog all the cups, plates, and tableware he planned to sprinkle throughout his stylish outpost on 14th Street NW. Some wondered whether the youthful chef turned restaurateur would be able to pull it all off. Now, people mostly talk about the artful cocktails, modern cooking, and what they plan to order the next time they visit.
Sensation of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Bresca