The process of choosing Eater Awards winners for 2019 continues today with the announcement of four finalists in three categories. After fielding ideas from readers during the course of a month-long nomination period, we’ve whittled down our top choices for Restaurant of the Year, Design of the Year, and Chef of the Year.
Here they are, presented by category in alphabetical order:
Restaurant of the Year
Queen’s English: This Columbia Heights newcomer gained a fast following for inventive, Hong Kong-style dishes from Henji Cheung, intriguing cocktails from Sarah Thompson, and warm service in a dining room lined with red-and-gold Chinoiserie wallpaper.
Rooster & Owl: After years of pop-ups, Yuan and Carey Tang finally opened a restaurant on 14th Street NW that seamlessly shifts through Asian, Italian, and American cuisines — sometimes in the same dish — on its four-course, multiple choice prix fixe.
Seven Reasons: Venezuelan-born chef Enrique Limardo brought a painter’s touch to modern, pan-Latin plates in a two-level, red brick venue on 14th Street NW that feels equal parts industrial and Amazonian.
Thamee: Partners Jocelyn Law-Yone, Simone Jacobson, and Eric Wang brought D.C. its only full-service Burmese restaurant, giving the Southeast Asian cuisine a bombastic debut on H Street NE with a flair for service and storytelling.
Design of the Year
Anju: In the former Mandu space in Dupont, designer Natalie Park honored the Korean restaurant’s roots while giving new personalities to each section of the reconfigured pub from Chiko owners Danny Lee and Scott Drewno.
The Eastern: Matt Weiss and Mike Schuster ditched the dark and mysterious motif they employed at McClellan’s Retreat and Truxton Inn at this hunter green wine bar with a mid-century modern vibe near Eastern Market.
Punjab Grill: With a private dining room covered in 150,000 hand-laid mirrors and a main room that features a 2,000-pound piece of solid sandstone, this palatial Indian restaurant in Penn Quarter is extremely extravagant.
Republic Cantina: Little touches, like candles made out Topo Chico bottles and string lights in the shape of red chiles, help Texans feel right at home at this destination for breakfast tacos and gochujang-marinated fajitas from Republic Kolache owner Chris Svetlik.
Chef of the Year
Lisa Chang, Mama Chang: The culinary force who invented the expanding scallion bubble pancake at Peter Chang’s restaurants gets her due as the source of many home-style Chinese dishes at her family’s latest restaurant, in Fairfax.
Robert Curtis, Hazel: After taking over Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s Asian-leaning comfort food restaurant in Shaw, the young Maryland native oversaw a menu overhaul swapping in his vision of vegetable-heavy cooking that mimics Turkish tavern food.
Cagla Onal-Urel, Green Almond Pantry: She runs an eight-seat lunch counter and market in Shaw, snagging attention from enraptured customers and national critics by serving homey Mediterranean dishes like an eggplant confit sandwich with goat feta on a demi baguette that she bakes herself.
Peter Prime, Cane: After working for heavyweight chefs schooled in classic European styles, he continued the Caribbean barbecue experiments he started at Spark at 12 and delved into his Trinidadian background by opening a tribute to the island nation’s rum shops on H Street NE.
All of these finalists have either opened or come into their own in a new way in the past year. All of them were key contributors to making 2019 a great year of eating in D.C. So please, take a moment to give them a round of applause. Winners will be crowned on December 10, 2019. For a look at last year’s winners, go here.