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Michelin representatives initially took the position that the first edition of the Washington, D.C., Michelin Guide would be limited to the District proper. The Post, Washingtonian, and yep, City Paper all reported it.

Imagine the confusion then when the Inn at Little Washington in Washington, Virginia, made its debut as a two-star Michelin restaurant this morning.

No one is arguing that the region’s darling of fine dining headed up by veteran Chef Patrick O’Connell is undeserving of Michelin stars, but does that mean that the anonymous Michelin inspectors also visited other suburban greats such as the Restaurant at Patowmack Farm whose chef Tarver King has received attention from the James Beard Foundation?

No, according to Michelin Guide international director Michael Ellis

“With our resources, we were only going to focus on D.C., but we did send a team down to the Inn at Little Washington to see what was there and found an extraordinary place,” Ellis says. “Patrick has been there for 38 years. It’s an iconic place, and it’s been a restaurant that has trained a generation of chefs.” 

He continues, “We’d be remiss if we didn’t include it. We talked to some chefs and they all agreed not having them in the first guide would be a travesty. We had to make an exception.” 

Inspectors did not make rounds to other restaurants outside of D.C. “It’s hard to argue that there is any place on the same level, the same iconic nature,” Ellis says. 

That will change next year. “All the heavy lifting has been done, which enables us to have more time to explore the suburbs, there are lots of interesting things there.” 

The Inn at Little Washington, 309 Middle St., Washington, VA; (540) 675-3800; theinnatlittlewashington.com