Today we announce the winners of the 2022 Eater Awards, celebrating the new restaurants that made a major impact on all 24 Eater cities since last fall.
Despite real ripple effects from the pandemic, from staffing shortages to supply chain setbacks, restaurants continue to show resiliency by opening under imperfect conditions. Establishments that made ambitious debuts in the past year — and proving their place in the already-competitive D.C. dining landscape — have set the stage for what the future of the industry looks like and how it operates.
With that, congratulations to D.C.’s Restaurant of the Year, Design of the Year, Bar of the Year, Restaurateur of the Year, and Brunch of the Year.
Restaurant of the Year
L’Ardente, Capitol Crossing
200 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Chef David Deshaies (Unconventional Diner, Central) and business partner Eric Eden unveiled their flashy, “glam Italian” restaurant in the shiny new Capitol Crossing development last October. The soaring showstopper, framed with shimmering Missoni drapes and abstract art, has amassed a fast following for pizzas crisped to perfection in a gold-plated oven and a 40-layer lasagna that begs to be photographed. Michelle and Barack Obama’s date night spot as of late is also known for its fantastic finales, from next-level soft serve to theatrical dessert toppers that light up the room every night of the week. Its talented pastry chef Manabu Inoue honed his craft working at Michelin-rated restaurants in Geneva and alongside chef Joël Robuchon in his native Tokyo. Starting at 5 p.m., fight for a spot at its scene-y bar to order a spot-on Negroni and decadent espresso martini. Lunch joined the party in recent months, with brunch coming soon. L’Ardente’s arrival set the bar high in the growing complex that just welcomed chef Johnny Spero’s seafood-centric Bar Spero to early praise.
Design of the Year
1100 15th Street NW
Midtown Center’s modern Japanese izakaya is unlike anything D.C. has seen before. Shōtō is the newest member of London-based restaurateur Arjun Waney’s collective of brands that includes Zuma, a high-end sushi and izakaya concept around the globe. The man behind the zen masterpiece is Noriyoshi Muramatsu of Tokyo-based Studio Glit, a world-renowned restaurant designer who’s also in charge of Zuma’s luxe looks (its Sin City Cosmopolitan location was Eater Las Vegas’s 2017 Design of the Year). Shōtō marks the choosy designer’s first project in D.C. The hotly anticipated stunner, three years in the making, features a symmetrically pleasing sushi counter, rows of hand-blown glass bowls filled with infused spirits behind the bar, and a robata grill cooking an array of fish, meats, skewers, poultry, and produce over pressed Japanese white oak. The walls and ceiling themselves are a mathematical feat, comprised of square wood boxes that cast a grid-like look around the 155-seat dining room.
Bar of the Year
Eighteenth Street Lounge, Shaw
1230 Ninth Street NW
The legendary Dupont Circle nightclub that closed during the pandemic after 25 years in business reopened in a new Northwest neighborhood in September. Lovingly known as “ESL” by regulars, owner Farid Nouri’s two-level, 5,000-square-foot comeback in Shaw is about half the size of the dearly missed original. Similarities include an airy rooftop deck, full-service bars on each level, and the ability to host multiple live acts at once. Notable differences include a first-ever food program, with parmesan popcorn to panini, and earlier hours on weekends starting at 2 p.m. American electronic sensation Thievery Corporation was famously born inside ESL in the mid-’90s, and many of the same resident DJs, eclectic jazz, funk, and Latin acts — plus popular weekly attractions like reggae Wednesdays and house Sundays that helped catapult the club to stardom — are all back.
Restaurateur of the Year
Asad Sheikh (Bombay Street Food, London Curry House, Butter Chicken Company)
Bombay-born restaurateur Asad Sheikh made a big splash in Maryland this summer when he unveiled a color-soaked, two-story Bombay Street Food at National Harbor. The love letter to the Indian street foods he ate growing up builds upon the success of the four-year-old Columbia Heights original and its subsequent outpost on Capitol Hill. The ambitious expansion across state lines brings over fan favorites like fiery vindaloo and cumin cocktails, plus seafood dishes like lobster masala that speak to National Harbor’s recently resurged waterfront neighborhood. At the start of 2022, Sheikh revived London Curry House — the beloved brand he used to own in Alexandria, Virginia — with an eccentric U Street NW edition that pays homage to the bustling city streets of U.K.’s capital where fiery curries, ales, and fish and chips are king. Next up for the owner: taking his homegrown Butter Chicken Company brand nationwide, with franchise deals in the works to open dozens of fast-casual locations over the next few years.
Brunch of the Year
Mariscos 1133, Shaw
1133 11th Street NW
Logan Circle’s anticipated seafood showpiece from Mexico City-born chefs Alfredo and Jessica Solis (El Sol, Mezcalero, Anafre) swung open in February and tacked on a well-received brunch service in July. Murals of an animated octopus and darting tropical fish splashed around a 40-seat dining room set the tone for an underwater feast that captures flavors and coastal cooking techniques in Peru, Baja California, and the Caribbean. Highlights across its pan-Latin menu include crab-and-lobster eggs Benedict with a jalapeno hollandaise drizzle; a braised beef birria omelette with fried potatoes; and huevos rancheros topped with crab and octopus. Brunch cocktails, just $6 with any entree, include mimosas, bloody marys with a Tajin-salted rum, micheladas, and crowd-pleasing Coronaritas comprised of a Corona bottle draining into a frozen margarita.