Photo of Iron Gate by Laura Hayes
Photo of Iron Gate by Laura Hayes

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Restaurants notoriously see a bump when Post food critic Tom Sietsema pens a review. Even a negative review. Then there’s the billowing of the Bad Saint line ever since Bon Appétit bestowed the petit restaurant with not-so-petit honors.

Imagine, then, the crush restaurants will experience in the aftermath of the release of D.C.’s first-ever Michelin Guide. While the city collectively waits for interest in Michelin-starred restaurants to return from an aggressive boil to a feisty simmer, here are some alternatives.

One-star restaurants:

Tail Up Goat –> Iron Gate

Like Tail Up Goat, Iron Gate is a great date spot whether dining outside on the vine-entwined patio or inside the fire-lit dining room. The wine list is overflowing with Greek wine and other cool finds, much like the wine program run by Bill Jensen at Tail Up Goat. Mediterranean flavors play a role on both menus.  

Kinship –> Convivial

French technique underscores all of the dishes at Kinship, much like Convivial in the same neighborhood. Chef Cedric Maupillier’s answer to Kinship’s celebrated, family-style roast chicken is his fried chicken “coq au vin.” Both make an ordinary bird outstanding.

Fiola –> Casa Luca

Named after Fabio and Maria Trabocchi’s son, Casa Luca is inherently more casual than the couple’s original restaurant, Fiola. Like its more mature sibling, Casa Luca has strong cocktails, house-made pasta, luxuries like truffles, and healthy options. (Only, it’s wallet friendly.)

Rose’s Luxury –> Hazel

Chef Rob Rubba whips up a menu that’s just as whimsical and pulls from many corners of the globe. Recent hits include duck sausage with roasted squash, shaved pear, mizuna, and spicy cashews; summer corn donburi with cilantro, togarashi, lime aioli, and cotija cheese; and English muffins with ‘nduja, Greek yogurt, olive oil, jam, and lemon verbena.

Blue Duck Tavern –> 1789 Restaurant

Like Blue Duck Tavern, 1789 is obsessed with its purveyors and showcasing quality products from the region. Fresh off a revamp, which included the launch of a brand new tasting menu from Chef Samuel Kim, 1789 is similar to Blue Duck Tavern in terms of helping define “new American” cuisine. There’s everything from a hamachi crudo and duck confit bucatini to venison loin served with escargot.

The Dabney –> Garrison

From herbaceous, thoughtful cocktails to letting vegetables shine, The Dabney and Garrison have a lot in common and both are at their best in the fall. Garrison doesn’t have the benefit of cooking over an enormous open hearth, but dishes like pastrami braised bison short rib with celery and pickled shallots shine. 

Plume –>  Bourbon Steak

For those seeking decadence, Bourbon Steak hits all the same high notes as Plume. Despite being a steakhouse, Bourbon Steak Chef Joe Palma has a command of fish like his crispy skinned black bass with braised baby leeks, roasted potatoes, ‘nduja, and aji-lime emulsion. The cocktail and wine programs stand up to the fine food. 

Sushi Taro –> Sushi Ogawa

Like Sushi Taro, Sushi Ogawa is helmed by a veteran sushi chef from Japan. Both restaurants offer a la carte and omakase experiences. Sushi Ogawa is smaller and more serene creating a calming atmosphere to take down raw fish. Also like Sushi Taro, dishes come with artistry. 

Masseria –> Osteria Morini

If eating Italian in a sexy setting is the goal, Osteria Morini comes with quite the river view. Granted Masseria is inspired by the Puglia region and Osteria Morini is all about Emilia-Romagna, but both offer prime pasta dishes. One of Osteria Morini’s specialities is bucatini with sea urchin, crab, tomato, and basil.

Two-star restaurants: 

Pineapple & Pearls –> Komi

Where Pineapple & Pearls and Komi overlap principally is in terms of service. Both dining experiences feel more like a choreographed ballet than a long stretch of making small talk with a server. It’s effortless. Komi also serves a tasting menu, but its $150 price tag doesn’t include drinks, tax, and tip. 

Inn at Little Washington –> L’Auberge Chez Francois

L’Auberge Chez Francois in Great Falls, Virginia is iconic, grounded in French culinary tradition, romantic, and worth a drive for a special occasion, much like the Inn at Little Washington. A six-course, prix-fixe dinner menu ranges from $75-$85 in price, or diners can choose to eat in the more casual bistro. 

Minibar –> ! 

Minibar is culinary wizardry, there’s nothing like it in these parts. But if it’s José Andrés food you’re after, try Zaytinya, Jaleo, or China Chilcano

Catch up on Michelin coverage:

These are D.C.’s Michelin Starred Restaurants

Who Was Wrong About Michelin?

Inn at Little Washington Deemed Worthy of Exception

D.C. Will Become The Fourth U.S. City With Michelin-Starred Restaurants

The Bibs Don’t Fib

Can Data Science Predict Who Will Get Michelin Stars?

Michelin’s Arrival Could Help Solve A Serious Problem

Will D.C. Restaurants Still Sing Kumbaya After Michelin Drops?

These Restaurants Got Michelin Nods, And You Can Afford Them

The Michelin Guide is Overhyped