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Where D.C. Food Writers Loved to Eat in 2019

Media experts share their picks for restaurant standbys

A pastrami breakfast sandwich from Ellē.
A pastrami breakfast sandwich from Ellē, a standby for several D.C. food writers.
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

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. First up, the dining experts share their “restaurant standbys” from 2019.

Tom Sietsema, Washington Post food critic: I couldn’t get enough of the aged kimchi at Anju, the delicious novelty at Rooster & Owl or just about everything at Piccolina.

Ann Limpert, Washingtonian food editor and critic: I don’t get a ton of off-the-clock meals, but when I do, you can find me at: Call Your Mother and Ellē for weekday breakfasts/lunches; Vace for an on-the-road slice; Le Diplomate and All-Purpose for brunch; and the Tavern at Ivy City Smokehouse, Urban Hot Pot, and Estadio. Oh, and the Woodmont Grill. Always.

Laura Hayes, Washington City Paper food editor: Tail Up Goat, Primrose, Sushi Taro, Rakuya, Izakaya Seki, Centrolina, Comedor y Pupuseria San Alejo, Tsehay, Stevensville Crab Shack, Girl & The Vine, CHIKO, Mari Vanna, ANXO, Lucky Buns, RASA, and Ellē.

Jessica Sidman, Washingtonian food editor: I had a baby this year, so the places I went back to the most were both baby and foodie friendly. Ellē was one of my go-tos for weekday lunch while I was on maternity leave as much for the salads and baked goods as the changing table in the restroom. When the weather was nice, the back patio at Sonny’s Pizza was one of my favorite places to park a stroller and enjoy a glass of wine. And I went out of my way for 2Amys on several occasions for the anchovy pizza and kid-accommodating staff.

Tim Carman, Washington Post food writer: I’m always looking for something new to eat and, except for quick lunches on deadline, I don’t visit the same places often enough to call them standbys. But if I did have regular haunts, these would be among them: CB Chinese Grill in College Park, Bistro Aracosia in the Palisades, Bantam King in Chinatown, Balaji Café in Herndon, Inferno Pizzeria Napoletana in Darnestown, Royal Nepal in Alexandria, El Sol on 11th Street NW, and many many more.

The restaurants above can easily become standbys for at least a couple of reasons: They’re terrific, for starters, but they’re also affordable. I’ve had some really good dishes at Modena, Sushi Nakazawa, and Seven Reasons, but under no circumstances could I afford them on a regular basis.

Lori McCue, DCist food and arts editor: I’m ashamed to tell you how often I dream about the perfectly crispy waffle fries at Kwame Onwuachi’s dearly departed Philly Wing Fry. Ditto the brisket and enormous bucket of crunchy tots at CHIKO. But because I contain multitudes, my list of favorite comfort dishes also includes the grilled avocado bowl at the Royal, served atop crispy quinoa.

Rebecca Cooper, Washington Business Journal digital editor: Majestic Lounge/Evening Star in Del Ray, Vola’s in Alexandria, Haikan off U Street, Hank’s various locations (RIP Pasta Bar), Ivy City Smokehouse, Wiseguy, Bar à Vin at Chez Billy Sud.

Lenore Adkins, food writer: If I bring loved ones to your spot, it means I’m really loving it! Those places this year were Stellina Pizzeria, Colada Shop, Menomale, San Lorenzo, Casta’s Rum Bar, Bar Elena, Gravitas, and Laos in Town.

Lori Gardner, Been There, Eaten That blogger: If I’m staying close to home in Montgomery County, my favorites are Kuya Ja’s Lechon Belly, Commonwealth Indian, Inferno Pizzeria, and Kenaki Sushi Counter. My New Year’s resolution is to become a regular at Lanzhou Hand Pull Noodles in Gaithersburg. If I’m dining in the District, I usually prefer to try new restaurants, but I still get excited about return visits to Tail Up Goat, Dabney, Ellē, Chiko, Bresca, and Little Pearl.

Rick Chessen, Rick Eats DC blogger: Buck’s Fishing & Camping, Chiko, St. Anselm, Primrose, Frankly…Pizza!

More in the Year in Eater 2019