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I get the sense that a lot of great places--most of them very familiar--don't get very much play on the boards these days, perhaps because there's not a lot new to say about them (which is, generally speaking, a good thing).  There have also been a slew of new and intriguing openings in the past 12-24 months, many of which haven't been reviewed very extensively here.  I was hoping, therefore--and Don encouraged me to post this here--that I might entice many of the regulars to give us a sense of your "favorites."  What I'm looking for is not your "10 Best" lists--this isn't intended to be a recapitulation of, or correction to, e.g., Sietsema.  What I have in mind, instead, is something like a list of the places we most enjoy going to regularly.  Which places stand the test of time?  And which newer spots keep you coming back (at least for now)?  

The criteria for these lists are, roughly speaking, three:  (i) great food, of course; (ii) consistency; and (iii) relative value, or bang for the buck.  That wouldn't rule out, e.g., Komi and P&P, because they might be worth the steep price; but what I'm really looking for is inspiration for what ought to be in my regular rotation.  For me, anyway, there's a fourth criterion in play, too:  Most of the places on my list are, not coincidently, restaurants where there's obviously a real investment in the enterprise by both the kitchen and the front on the house, and at which I (and many other patrons) always feel welcome.  Perhaps it all adds up to something like this:  What are those places you don't feel any trepidation about choosing--no fears of a bad meal, a (relative) waste of $$, or an impersonal "scene"?  Or, the converse:  the restaurants that you are invariably happy to revisit.

Ten is a fairly arbitrary number -- feel free to include fewer, or more.  When enough of us have weighed in, perhaps there'll be some mechanism by which our consensus views (if any) can be shared more widely on the site.  My list, for starters, looks something like this, in no particular order except that those at the top are the places I go to most frequently and/or that I love most unconditionally:

1. 2 Amys

2. Little Serow

3. Thip Khao

4. Tail Up Goat [full disclosure: my kid works there]

5. Seki

6. Daikaya Ramen

7.  Indigo

8. Sichuan Jin River

9. Amoo's

10. Maketto

I'm fairly certain that Hazel, Himitsu and Timber could soon be on the list, too, after further visits.  Perhaps Kyirisan, too.  And of course Bad Saint, although I expect I'll rarely be able to get a table there.  (I haven't yet tried Ruta del Vino, among other places.)

Other favorites include:  A&J, Arlington Kabob, Baked & Wired, cf folks, District Fishwife (for lunch and, well, fish); Dairy Godmother (although I haven't been since Liz Davis left), Donburi, Drift, Hong Kong Palace, House of Mandi, Kabob 'n' Karahi (which might make the Top 10 if it weren't so far from me), Mi Cuba Café, Mi La Cay, Nido (and perhaps Mola, soon), Northwest Chinese Food, Pho 75 (Rockville), Pimento Grill, Ray’s the Steaks, Rose’s Luxury, Sushi Taro (esp. for chirashi or ramen at lunch), Taco Bamba, Takumi, Teaism, Thai Taste by Kob, Thanh Son Tofu, Vit Goel.

Little Viet Garden might make the list if it turns out to be as good as Banh Ta Deli was—but I’ve only been once, and it was good then, not great.

I’ve eaten at Full Kee and Jaleo (downtown) more often than anywhere else save 2 Amys, and they can both be great, but they aren’t quite as consistent as they once were.  Bar Pilar is another old favorite that seems less consistent nowadays.

R.I.P.  Palena, Eat the Rich w/Julien Shapiro, Proof/Estadio as they once were


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Good idea!

I imagine these lists will also be driven by location - e.g., my most visited places are going to be in central MoCo because I live in Potomac.

  1. Grapeseed - sigh
  2. A&J/Bob's Shanghai/China Bistro/Peter Chang's/East Pearl/New Fortune/Iron Age/Riverside Hot Pot/Niwano Hana - ok, cheating, but I don't want Asian to be most of my top 10.
  3. Pizza CS/CSNY - disclaimer, my kid is working there for the summer, but we were regulars from the start anyway.
  4. Spice Xing/Bombay Bistro - Sudhir Seth's modern Indian, or KN Vinod's classic Indian?
  5. Kinship/Metier - our go-to for birthdays and other special occasions
  6. Corduroy - the other go-to (with the occasional drop-in at Baby Wale)
  7. The Classics - food is great, of course, but sitting at the bar with Elliott or Nick is a great way to spend an evening.
  8. Fishnet/Drift - the go-to when visiting the kid in College Park, or our choice when in Shaw
  9. Dino's - the other choice when in Shaw.
  10. Taqueria La Placita - on the way to DC United games at RFK. Though I suppose this will fall off the list next year when they have the new stadium.
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I live in McLean....

1.  Hill Country, TX Jack

2.  Bangkok Golden III

3.  HKP, Asian Origin, A&J

4.  Rice Paper (and other places in Eden)

5.  Crust (Tysons Corner)

6.  Del Campo

7.  Clarity

I guess there aren't that many places that I frequent (willingly anyway and endorse).

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My current four favorites are:

2 Amy's (sitting at the bar!)


Sushi Bar at Sushi Ogawa

Little Serow

When I don't feel like wandering far from South Arlington, I like:

Thai Square

Boru Ramen


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