D.C.’s resident dining association announced the winners of the 41st annual Rammy Awards on Sunday, July 9, providing a snapshot of the state of the restaurant industry in D.C. Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) unveiled the awardees during a lively black-tie soiree at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, with thousands of guests in attendance.
This year’s category changes included a move from Pastry Chef of the Year to a more-expansive Pastry Chef or Baker of the Year and a newly introduced Best Bar category. Similar to past years, publicly voted categories were open to any eligible restaurant or food service operation in the area, regardless of RAMW membership. For the first time, both the finalists and winners for the five publicly voted categories* were chosen by the public.
In one of the more surprising wins of the night, the anticipated Chef of the Year category went to Kevin Tien for his work at Moon Rabbit — his fine-dining Vietnamese restaurant that suddenly closed on the Wharf this spring. “This award says ‘Chef of the Year,’ but to really be up here, it’s not just me being a chef,” said Tien onstage. “It’s my team that’s been there supporting me. We’ve had a lot of highs and a lot of lows.” The co-founder of Chefs Stopping AAPI Hate recently rebooted his Petworth hit Himitsu as a summer pop-up series with Little Vietnam in Himitsu’s old space.
Chad Spangler and Glendon Hartley also won big as co-owners of Service Bar, named Cocktail Program of the Year, and Causa/Amazonia (New Restaurant of the Year).
Here’s the full list of 2023 winners that took home a coveted Washington Monument-shaped glass trophy:
Joan Hisaoka Allied Member of the Year: Saval Foodservice
New Restaurant of the Year: Causa/Amazonia
Cocktail Program of the Year: Service Bar
Beer Program of the Year: Shelter
Wine Program of the Year: Reveler’s Hour
Rising Culinary Star of the Year: Marcelle Afram, Shababi Palestinian Rotisserie Chicken
*Favorite Gathering Place*: Tiki on 18th/The Game Sports Pub
*Best Brunch*: Urban Roast
*Best Bar*: Exiles
*Favorite Fast Bites*: RASA
*Hottest Sandwich Spot*: Compliments Only
Employee of the Year: Nabil Moussa, Le Diplomate
Manager of the Year: Brittany Dye, Circa Foggy Bottom
Service Program of the Year: Lutèce
Casual Restaurant of the Year: Pennyroyal Station
Upscale Casual Restaurant of the Year: L’Ardente
Pastry Chef or Baker of the Year: Teresa Velazquez, Baked and Wired, A Baked Joint
Formal Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year: Xiquet by Danny Lledó
Chef of the Year: Kevin Tien, Moon Rabbit
Restaurateur of the Year: Rose Previte, No White Plates: Compass Rose, Maydan, Kirby Club
Nominees must be members of RAMW, and several categories have requirements regarding the length of time a restaurant has been operational; previous winners aren’t eligible to claim the same category for five years after a win. An anonymous panel of judges in food and media ultimately chooses nominees and honorees across most food and beverage categories.