For many, the annual issue of Washingtonian Magazine’s 100 Very Best Restaurants is eagerly anticipated and oft discussed. While reading this year’s list of restaurants, I found myself wondering… does the quality of the beer being served at these restaurants match the quality of the food being prepared? As you will see, in some cases we think yes, and in a number of others, we think no.
This year Washingtonian Magazine chose to rank only the top 40 restaurants; numbers 41-100 were all ranked equally. With this in mind, DCBeer.com will examine the Top 100 list in a series of three articles:
With DC Restaurant Week approaching (August 15 – 21) as well as DC Beer Week (August 14-21), you might want to narrow down your selections by examining who has a solid beer game and who has fizzy beer shame. We are here to help break it down like a fermentable sugar.
Beer Menus for all restaurants all in one place?
DOWNLOAD this PDF of all 100 restaurants, their beer menu as of August 2011, a link to their online beer menu if available, and the DCBeer.com star rating.
Foie Gras & Fizzy Yellow Water?
This is the hard part; the part where we bite our bottom lips and look away. No need to worry about getting a tear in your beer while you’re dining out at the restaurants in this section. Unfortunately, the beer in your glass in the restaurants in this section won’t live up to the quality of the food that will be on your plate. With limited selections in terms of breweries and/or styles, and mostly macrobrews on the beer lists, we didn’t find much to rave about in terms of what’s in the bottle or behind the tap handle.
One note about these restaurants is that some of them are small ethnic restaurants. We’re divided here at DCBeer.com about how to handle these restaurants. On the one hand, if they were to open a restaurant in their home country and serve craft beer they would not survive; to some degree, small ethnic restaurants are as much about authenticity as they are about taste, and authenticity often means Sapporo, Singha, and Kingfisher. On the other hand, these restaurants are owned and operated in a great craft beer city. It’s not hard to find beers in DC that accentuate the flavors of any style of food; having the traditional beers is great for authenticity, but branching out and exploring new beer and food pairings can be as valuable as adding a new food special to the menu. Without further ado, here are our one-star rankings.
Bibiana – 1100 New York Ave., NW
Cava – 527 Eighth St., SE
Eola – 2020 P St., NW
Indique Heights – 2 Wisconsin Cir., Chevy Chase, MD
Makoto – 4822 MacArthur Blvd., NW
Spice Xing – 100-B Gibbs St., Rockville, MD
Sushi Sono – 10215 Wincopin Cir., Columbia, MD
Tosca – 1112 F St., NW
Villa Mozart – 4009 Chain Bridge Rd., Fairfax, VA
A Few Words on Komi
You may have noticed that Komi, Washingtonian Magazine’s #1 ranked restaurant, is missing from our ranking. This Dupont Circle mainstay has consistently topped numerous local restaurant rankings for years. I will assume it is for a good reason, but at an average pricetag of $300/person… I’m unable to test those waters.
Like all of the other restaurants on the Top 100 list we first checked the restaurant’s website looking for beer menus. If nothing was available online we emailed enquiries, and finally tried to get answers by phone. In the case of Komi we finally got an answer, but it was not what we were expecting:
“We love to retain the element of surprise with our wine and beer pairings, so I’m afraid we will have to decline to be included in this particular feature.”
“Element of surprise?” I get it, but with beer, unlike wine, you cannot assume that an excellent restaurant will have an excellent beer list to match. Is the surprise that they have Westvleteren 12 or Bud Light Lime? You will just have to go there to find out.