Photo courtesy of Shilling Canning Company

The Hit ListWashington D.C.

The Resy Hit List: Where In D.C. You’ll Want to Eat in May 2024

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There’s no question we hear more often: Where should I go eat? And while we at Resy know it’s an honor to be the friend who everyone asks for restaurant advice, we also know it’s a complicated task. That’s where the Resy Hit List comes in. 

We’ve designed it to be your essential resource for dining in and around Washington, D.C.: a monthly-updated (and newly expanded!) guide to the restaurants in that you won’t want to miss — tonight or any night.

Four Things In D.C. Not to Miss This Month

  • Gin Joint Sipping: Mark your calendars, gin-lovers. Some of Baltimore and Washington, D.C.’s best bartenders are coming together for a one night takeover at Capitol Hill’s gin joint The Wells on May 29. The night will feature a collaboration with Charm City’s Dutch Courage, and feature Wild Irish Gin. Book here, and check out our other Resy Events here.
  • Get Crabby: As we end spring and enter into summer, soft-shell crabs are clawing their way onto menus. This seasonal Chesapeake favorite has recently been spotted on menus at Bas Rouge in Easton, Maryland, D.C.’s Ivy City Smokehouse, and Hank’s Oyster Bar, with locations in The District and Virginia.

New to the Hit List (May 2024)
La Bonne Vache, Schilling Canning Company, Duck and the Peach, Ellē.

1. Pascual Capitol Hill

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Photos by Deb Lindsey, courtesy of Pascual

Easily one of the year’s most anticipated restaurants. The wife-and-husband team Isabel Coss and Matt Conroy, of Lutèce fame, have opened an intimate Mexican restaurant in Capitol Hill in what was formerly a barbecue shop. The space is reminiscent of one of Mexico’s beach-chic eateries, and all that remains of the barbecue joint is the smell of wood-fired coals. Dishes that take on those smoky flavors include lamb-neck barbacoa, and tacos al pastor with each tortilla made in house. And crucially, don’t miss the parsnip tamal, with its spice-rich mole blanco. While seating is limited to indoors, there are bar seats for walk-in visits and plans for a patio, should a mezcal margarita be calling your name.

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Photos by Deb Lindsey, courtesy of Pascual

2. Medina 14th street

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This is the third restaurant and bar concept from restaurateur Rose Previte, after  Maydān and Compass Rose, and it has the power to transport you to Morrocco thanks to its stylings: colorful tapestries, muraled walls and glowing lanterns. Cocktails, wines, and shareable spreads designed to take you to the Mediterranean region. That includes Tunisian brik (a flaky filo pastry), traditional mezze platters, or your choice of chicken, lamb, or vegetable tagine. Not to miss? The signature drink from beverage director Drew Hairston: Rose-Tinted Glasses blends Bombay Bramble gin with txakolina and pickled raspberry-rose sorbet. 

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3. Shilling Canning Company Navy Yard

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Shilling Canning Company sources some of the Mid-Atlantic region’s best ingredients by partnering with local farms and picking garden-fresh produce  grown on their front patio. Under each menu item, including the 72-hour braised short ribs and dry-aged porterhouse pork chop, you’ll find the local farm where animals were raised. The seven-course tasting menu (priced at $150 per person) also includes dishes cooked within view of the wood-fired oven. Also, Ampersandwich is back by popular demand for lunch. This pandemic-era pop-up recently returned; chef Reid Shilling turns out selections like a Baltimore pit beef sandwich and the McReid — his take on a barbecue rib sandwich.

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4. La Bonne Vache Georgetown

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A college-esque sub shop (Booeymongers of Georgetown) has been dramatically transformed into an all-day French cafe to celebrate the good life. Executive chef Robert Aikens (Starr Restaurants) works in the kitchen with sous chef Ann Cashion (Cashion’s Eat Place and Johnny’s Half Shell) to create a D.C. dining destination that brings the Côte d’Azur a little bit closer to the nation’s capital.

La Bonne Vache, which translates to the good cow, will absolutely fill the sandwich-sized hole in your heart — try the roti de boeuf or chicken paillard — and save room for the burgers made with a blend of NY strip, hanger steak, brisket, and boneless short rib. Are you salivating yet?

Find more info here.

5. Bar Spero East End

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Photo courtesy of Bar Spero

Discerning diners will want to pull up a stool to the bar at Bar Spero. This Basque-influenced concept from Chef Johnny Spero features large-scale seafood format dishes like octopus fried and topped with a squid stock emulsion with citrus zest. Or a walloping turbot cooked over the wood flame and served with an herbed cod dashi emulsion — this is a shared dish best served for two.

Add to that an extensive vermouth list to sip and sample side-by-side. There are of course Basque producers including a white vermouth called Tximista, but also Italian, Australian, and D.C.’s very own Capitoline white vermouth.

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Photo courtesy of Bar Spero

6. Daru H Street Corridor

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Dante Datta and Suresh Sundas teamed up for a restaurant inspired by the history, culture, and tastes of India, but also influenced by flavors from around the world. On any given night they’re in the kitchen or jamming to playlists curated by the staff. And that leads to a teeming energy — matched to standout cocktails, delicious dishes, and a cozy (and heated) patio space. The menu is a mashup in the best possible way, with “Indian-ish” cuisine: dishes like chicken tikka tacos, wok-friend cabbage with Sichuan peppercorns, and za’atar olive naan. And then there’s the “Chai-Teani,” spiked chai tea that mixes old port rum with masala chai and cacao cream.

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7. Aventino Bethesda

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Aventino has brought sleek Roman cuisine to the Maryland suburbs. The menu from chef Mike Friedman (Red Hen) has nods to Roman-Jewish influences, including carciofi ‘alla Giudia’ — fried artichokes served with mint and salsa verde. His pizza rossa is a must order dish, too; this ode to the classic snack tastes like what you might find wandering the streets of Trastevere. And why sample just one pasta when you easily try multiples in one sitting? Friedman prepares smaller-scale versions of cacio e pepe, amatriciana, and tortellini.

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8. Rose’s Luxury Capitol Hill

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Chef Aaron Silverman has been running this Capitol Hill dining room for more than a decade now, and it consistently delivers on an extravagant, choose-your-own adventure menu. These bites are memorable from start-to-finish – from the rye-challah and creamy toasted caraway butter to the poached lobster, a dish that’s modeled off a recipe version created for heads of state at the Royal Palace of Versailles. Save room for dessert, too. You’ll want to double up and try both the baklava sundae and coconut tres leches cake.

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9. 2Fifty BBQ Riverdale Park, Maryland

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There is no better way to enjoy a barbecue feast in D.C. than with premium brisket, ribs, and pulled pork found at 2Fifty BBQ. Owner Debbie Portillo González is a Salvadoran restaurateur, who along with husband Fernando González smokes some of the finest Hill Country-style barbecue in our nation’s capital. That includes their take on signature Salvadoran dishes like brisket pupusas. The restaurant is open on a first come, first served basis at the flagship shop in Maryland’s Riverdale Park, as well as another restaurant coming soon to Mount Vernon Triangle.

Walk-ins welcome.

10. L’Avant-Garde Georgetown

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Photo courtesy of L’Avant-Garde

L’Avant-Garde honors the French tradition of dining with pleasure. Chef Sébastien Giannini has stepped in and revised the menu to include a new lunch offering, plus updated French Riviera-style cuisine for dinner. That includes salade Niçoise and sea bass seared in olive oil and a generous helping of eggplant caviar. Still, duck remains one of the most prominent features on the menu. You can try it in one of two ways: A foie gras cooked in terrine with cognac, cherries, and toasted brioche. Or a seared duck breast served with cherries, red cabbage, and a duck demi-glace with caramelized gala apples. Pro tip: Giannini also serves up one of the best burgers in town. 

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Photo courtesy of L’Avant-Garde

11. Amazonia Blagden Alley

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The ultimate in Peruvian cuisine can be found in Shaw’s Blagden Alley. Whether you’re looking for a fine-dining experience, or a tropical rooftop bar, Peruvian-born chef and co-owner Carlos Delgado takes you on an epicurean journey through his home country’s many regions, from the Andes mountains to the Amazon rainforest and Pacific coast. Upstairs at Amazonia find Delgado’s approachable à la carte menu and a leafy rooftop bar. It also has bragging rights to one of the largest pisco collections in the United States. (Downstairs at Causa is a more formal chef’s tasting menu offered at $175 per person.)

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12. Hiraya H Street Corridor

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Chef Paolo Dungca celebrates his Filipino roots with a spirit of “bayanihan” — a concept that centers on community and uplifting others. But what defines Hiraya is a sense of fun, one that permeates all day long, from ube and rainbow-colored lattes to happy hour cocktails, like a pandan daiquiri, as well as a brisket, egg and cheese served on a golden-brown laminated bun, with an optional McDonald’s-style hash brown. Dungca has also taken that spirit upstairs, literally: He recently debuted a tasting menu on the second floor, with options to try all of his best dishes in a seven-course ($145) offering.

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13. Karma Modern Indian Penn Quarter

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Delve into the diverse tapestry of Indian cuisine with executive chef Ajay Kumar’s menu, which features several regions across India. Venison Lal Maas is a homage to Rajasthan, the renowned hunting capital of India. Grilled octopus offers a bridge between Indian and French influences, transporting diners to the shores of South India, and a white asparagus kadhi from Gujarat provides a delicate and sophisticated touch. Each of these dishes is available to try on a tasting menu that comes in either a 6- or 9-courses, with the option to add wine pairings.

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14. Pastis – DC Union Market District

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The latest D.C. rendition from Stephen Starr has the look-and-feel of its New York City sibling but with a je-ne-sais-quoi factor that has quickly made it the “it” power dining destination in Washington. And of course there are  several original dishes to this menu including beef tongue, Wiener schnitzel, and roast chicken for two.  By far, the bar is the centerpiece. Order-up Starr’s favorite cocktail, the Monsieur Marmalade. (Guess the secret ingredient.) Or, it being Pastis, there’s also Parisian-inspired cocktail classics and easy-drinking spritzes. 

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15. La Tejana Mount Pleasant

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The go-to spot for breakfast tacos in Washington, with the line to prove it on most weekends. What first started as a pop-up is now a brick-and-mortar in Mount Pleasant, offering a handful of tacos like the Tio Willie. Said taco combines scrambled eggs, bacon, fried potatoes, and a drizzle of queso — no surprise it’s one of the more popular picks on the menu. Or go for the Super Migas, a vegetarian option, loaded with fixings to see you through the day. This shop also partnered up with 2Fifty BBQ to offer an Austin-themed taco known as the 512. It’s a taco stuffed chock full of Texas-style brisket, cheesy scrambled eggs, queso, and pico de gallo.

Find more info here.

16. Sushi Nakazawa DC East End

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Waltz into the Waldorf Astoria in Washington D.C. and snag one of the coveted counter seats at Sushi Nakazawa for what might be this town’s all-out omakase experience. Chef Katsuyoshi Okuna serves sushi conceived by the restaurant’s executive chef, Daisuke Nakazawa, namely an exclusive nigiri menu consisting of approximately 20 pieces of fish, priced at $180 per head at the counter. Ingredients are flown in daily, including rare shellfish from Japan.

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17. Residents Cafe & Bar DuPont Circle

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Tropical vibes and bright cocktails are always on the menu at Residents, and it’s the prefect gathering spot for happy hour — especially as D.C. enters patio season. This bar offers up a hyper-seasonal menu with local ingredients and bold cocktails ready for their Instagram debut. Get your cameras ready for The Bee. It’s made with beeswax, bee pollen, and packs a sweet punch thanks to raw honey, and a mixture of Nordic mead and gin. And while Residents is foremost a bar, it also offers dishes to keep you lingering. We’re partial to two new risottos, including one with artichoke and crab freshly sourced from the Chesapeake Bay, topped with smoky paprika oil. 

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18. Petite Cerise Mount Vernon Square

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This French bistro from the The Dabney team has star dishes that stay on the menu all day, including foie gras beignets served with raspberry and black pepper jam and a decadent French onion soup. It is also mandatory to order the crispy beef fat fries served with a vinegary aioli, perfect for dipping. None of this is to overlook bar director Daniel Todd’s exceptional cocktails, or a tightly curated wine list by Dabney veteran Jessica Liberto, featuring regions from Beaujolais to Burgundy and Bordeaux offered by the bottle or the glass.

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19. The Duck & The Peach Capitol Hill

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After wooing diners with roast chicken at dinner, and exceeding expectations at brunch with a spicy chorizo benedict, Duck & The Peach now has its sights set on a new lunch menu coming later this month. It adds to the easy-come, easy-go vibe at the restaurant with a menu that reads farm-fresh, and dishes you can walk in and order on a whim or get dressed up and savor during an extravagant date night for two. The restaurant is led by Hollis Silverman, a James Beard finalist for best restaurateur, who brings a California cool to the light and airy dining room under the direction of chefs Kat Petonito and Rochelle Cooper.

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20. Ellē Mount Pleasant

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This Mount Pleasant gathering spot seamlessly merges from all-day cafe to moody date night spot with a well-curated Mediterranean wine list that pairs to a prix-fixe menu by candlelight. Menu items center on vegetable-centric dishes like roasted purple carrots with baba ganoush, Szechuan zhug, duqqa, and honey labneh. Dining here also means fresh-baked bread, so go crazy on the sourdough basket. Beyond wine, the beverage program also highlights coffee from small-batch roasters, and craft cocktails, like an Oolong Island inspired by a Long Island Iced Tea — except this one includes fresh oolong tea mixed with shochu, yuzu liqueur, Japanese whisky and gin, shiso bitters, and a splash of soda.

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