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D.C. Food Writers Share the Best Meals They Had in 2018

Professional eaters pick favorites from D.C. to Richmond to Los Angeles

Honey-basted chicken cooking over the wood-fired hearth at A Rake’s Progress.
Honey-basted chicken from A Rake’s Progress, the site of one D.C. food writer’s favorite restaurant meal of 2018.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

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 experts share the best restaurant meals they had in 2018.

Tom Sietsema, Washington Post food critic: The Middle Eastern food at Bavel in Los Angeles was a revelation. I’ve never had finer hummus, and don’t get me started on thelamb neck “shawarma,” because I’ll Hoover it.

Jessica Sidman, Washingtonian food editor: Hard to pick one! Meals I’m still thinking about: the white Alba truffle pizza and roasted cauliflower “carbonara” with pecorino egg sauce at Inferno Pizzeria Napoletana; the indulgent sushi omakase at Sushi Nakazawa; the excellent kitfo and vegetarian platter at Beteseb in Silver Spring; everything—but particularly the pork ribs (best dish in DC)—at Little Serow.

Tim Carman, Washington Post food writer: I had terrific meals this year in many locations: Los Angeles, Boston, Paris, London, Charleston, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Omaha, Minneapolis and, of course, Washington. But the meals that I keep thinking about are the ones that I had at ZZQ in Richmond. The Texas-style smokehouse balances the precision of science with the art and intuition of barbecue. The meats that come out Chris Fultz’s custom-made smokers are both gorgeous and delicious.

Laura Hayes, Washington City Paper food editor: After profiling a Maryland rice farmer and spending time with him at his various farms, it was really special to try a dish that utilizes his product at A Rake’s Progress. The Adams Morgan restaurant focused on Mid-Atlantic ingredients served the rice as an entree with a crowd of hearth-kissed spring vegetables. The rice farmer, Nazirahk Amen, hulls the rice only when a restaurant places the order, so it tastes super fresh and nutty.

Nevin Martell, food writer and co-author of Red Truck Bakery Cookbook: Every meal at Maydan was a knockout. The vibe was right, and the cooking was tight. Spoken English was unlike anything else in D.C. I reveled in the community created at the standing tables and being in the thick of the kitchen’s action, while savoring every plate — especially the multi-course chicken, blood cake, and fermented durian curry. And I had a phenomenal lunch at Iron Gate, which reminded me why it’s one of the city’s strongest restaurants. Anthony Chittum’s dishes are packed with flavor and heart, while pastry chef Paola Velez puts out delicious desserts boasting some left-of-the-dial flavors and picture perfect presentations. And I still can’t stop thinking about the sticky toffee pudding at the Smith on U Street NW. Totally traditional; utterly delicious.

Lori Gardner, Been There, Eaten That blogger: Pineapple and Pearls. We sat at the bar. It’s all so elegant, but not too serious. Exceptional in every way.

More from the Year in Eater:

Iron Gate

1734 N St NW, Washington, D.C. 20036 (202) 737-1371 Visit Website

Sushi Nakazawa

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

Pineapple and Pearls

715 8th Street Southeast, , DC 20003 (202) 595-7375 Visit Website


1346 Florida Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009 Visit Website

The Smith - U Street

1314 U Street NW, Washington , DC 20009 202-250-3900 Visit Website

Inferno Pizzeria Napoletana

12207 Darnestown Road, , MD 20878 (301) 963-0115 Visit Website

Spoken English

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

Beteseb Restaurant

8201 Georgia Avenue, , MD 20910 (301) 448-1625 Visit Website

A Rake's Progress

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

Little Serow

1511 17th Street Northwest, , DC 20036 Visit Website