The Michelin Guide this morning released its first updated group of restaurant recommendations in D.C. since before the COVID-19 pandemic, announcing a list of value-driven “Bib Gourmand” winners with six new additions. To be eligible for Bib Gourmand, a restaurant must offer a full menu of a starter, main course, and dessert. Winners must be able to offer two courses and either a glass of wine or dessert for around $40 before tax and tip.
The newcomers on the 2021 Bib Gourmand list for D.C. include Ellē, Eater D.C.’s 2018 Restaurant of the Year. At the all-day cafe and bakery in Mount Pleasant, chef Brad Deboy experiments with fermentation, charcuterie, and vegan alternatives full of Asian flavors to produce dishes like a signature kimchi and labneh toast, pastrami breakfast sandwiches, and tempeh burgers. Makan, chef James Wozniuk’s year-old Malaysian restaurant in Columbia Heights, earned a Bib Gourmand designation. So did Queen’s English, chef Henji Cheung and general manager Sarah Thompson’s neighborhood place for Hong Kong-style small plates and eclectic natural wines on the same block of 11th Street NW. Other newbies include scene-y cocktail place and Mediterranean spot Residents Cafe & Bar, in Dupont Circle; classic soul food standby Hitching Post in Petworth; and Karma Modern Indian, just north of Chinatown.
A representative for Michelin confirmed that Karma Modern Indian, initially left off a story on its website describing the latest Bib Gourmand winners, did garner a win and will be added to that post. Ellē’s inclusion may signify that restaurants do not have to be open for on-site dining to win recognition from Michelin. The cafe has operated out of a to-go window during the majority of the public health crisis, only recently adding patio service.
D.C. restaurants that lost Bib Gourmand status after winning the honor for 2020 include Balkan small plates place Ambar, Georgian restaurant Supra, Joselito’s Casa de Comidas, Baja-style Millie’s, Spanish restaurant Mola, all-day cafe and arepas joint Royal, and hip Chinese restaurant Tiger Fork. Japanese-style standing bar Spoken English, the hotel restaurant that pivoted to Cafe Spoken before seeing the departure of founder Erik Bruner-Yang, also fell off the list. Navy Yard seafood bar Whaley’s permanently closed, eliminating it from contention.
Three restaurants that were still temporarily closed at the time of Tuesday’s announcement were included on Michelin’s full list of Bib Gourmand winners. That includes Hazel, Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s Turkish-leaning tavern in Shaw. Chef Robert Curtis has left the restaurant for a job at Bourbon Steak. Hanumanh, the Lao-style bar from chefs Seng Luangrath and Boby Pradachith of Thip Khao fame, was also left on the list while it remains closed. Its website is teasing a spring 2021 reopening. China Chilcano, José Andrés’s multicultural Peruvian restaurant in Penn Quarter, retained its spot, and the famous chef has said he plans to reopen it soon. Despite vacating its building in Columbia Heights, Napoli Pasta Bar retained a Bib Gourmand selection, too. The restaurant is reportedly seeking a new location, and much of its menu is available from sibling spot Napoli Salumeria in Arlington.
“If a restaurant was temporarily closed in 2020, the MICHELIN Guide continued retention for the new selection,” a representative for the company tells Eater in an email.
Here’s the full list of D.C.’s 2021 Bib Gourmand selections:
*denotes a newcomer
Ivy City Smokehouse
*Karma Modern Indian
Laos in Town
Napoli Pasta Bar
Pearl Dive Oyster Palace
*Residents Cafe & Bar
The Red Hen
Timber Pizza Co
Updated 12:02 pm. Tuesday, April 20: This post has been updated to include Federalist Pig, which Michelin left off its initial release due to a “technical error”