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D.C.’s Best New Restaurants of 2018, According to the Experts

Local food writers pick their top newcomers of the year

Kimchi toast from Ellē, which was listed by multiple experts as a top newcomer in 2018.
Ellē/Official site

Following an Eater tradition, we asked a group of restaurant critics, journalists, bloggers, and friends of the site to weigh in on the year in food. Their answers to the annual “Year in Eater” survey will be revealed in several posts this week. Next up, the dining experts share their top restaurant newcomers from 2018.

Laura Hayes, Washington City Paper food editor: Chloe, Pappe, Spoken English, St. Anselm, Poca Madre, and Ellē.

Tom Sietsema, Washington Post food critic: I’m editing myself here, because there were a *lot* of exciting additions to the dining scene. But if someone held a corkscrew to my head, and I could only choose five, they would be Chloe, Ellē, Fancy Radish, Kuya Ja’s and Three Blacksmiths. All added something novel to the mix.

Jessica Sidman, Washingtonian food editor: I know a lot of people who refuse to step foot in the Trump hotel, but they’re really missing out on Sushi Nakazawa. The sushi is superb. Other top newcomers: Ellē, Spoken English, and Kaliwa.

Tim Carman, Washington Post food writer: It was a good year for affordable eating in the D.C. area. Among my favorite newcomers were Momo Yakitori in Woodridge/Brookland, Little Sesame on L Street NW, Xi’an Gourmet in Rockville, and Philly Wing Fry at the South Capitol Hill Whole Foods and at Union Market.

Lori Gardner, Been There, Eaten That blogger: So many great new restaurants this year. St. Anselm, Poca Madre, Fancy Radish, Spoken English, Nama, Reverie, Gravitas, Ellē. I should probably stop, but I’m sure I’m forgetting some.

Nevin Martell, food writer and co-author of Red Truck Bakery Cookbook: Three Blacksmiths out in Sperryville, Virginia, is an unqualified smash, well worth the drive. Chef John MacPherson puts out a seasonally inspired, locally driven five-course tasting menu built on classic technique, while his wife, Diane, handles the front of the house with warm grace and a light touch. Here in D.C., Ellē stood out thanks to chef Brad Deboy’s unconventional, but winning, flavor combinations, like toast topped by grilled kimchi, yogurt, and XO sauce, and maple marinated feta crusted with dehydrated olives. Call Your Mother superseded the intense hype and totally delivers (once you get to the front of the line). And Nama wowed with stellar sashimi and nigiri, flavorful small plates (the Kobe sliders with umami flavors are a must-order), and desserts from Alex Levin.

More from the Year in Eater:


1331 4th Street Southeast, , DC 20003 (202) 313-7007 Visit Website


751 Wharf Street Southwest, , DC 20024 (202) 516-4739 Visit Website

Little Sesame

1828 L Street Northwest, , DC 20036 (202) 975-1971 Visit Website

Philly Wing Fry

101 H Street Southeast, , DC 20003 Visit Website

Kuya Ja's Lechon Belly

Nicholson Lane, , MD 20895 (240) 669-4383 Visit Website

Momo Yakitori

2214 Rhode Island Avenue Northeast, , DC 20018 Visit Website

Fancy Radish

600 H Street Northeast, , DC 20002 (202) 675-8341 Visit Website


140 Lithia Way, , OR 97520 Visit Website

St. Anselm

1250 5th Street Northeast, , DC 20002 (202) 864-2199 Visit Website

Sushi Nakazawa

1100 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, , DC 20004 (202) 289-3515 Visit Website


3221 Mt Pleasant Street NW, Washington, DC, 20010

Spoken English

1770 Euclid Street Northwest, , DC 20009 (202) 588-0525 Visit Website


1401 Okie Street NE, Washington, DC, Washington, DC 20002

Poca Madre

Techworld Plaza, , DC 20001 (202) 838-5300 Visit Website

Call Your Mother

3428 O Street Northwest, , DC 20007 Visit Website


1317 14th Street Northwest, , DC 20005 (202) 888-8220 Visit Website