Photo of Bad Saint by Darrow Montgomery

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D.C. is still navel-gazing over the fact that it will be the fourth city in the U.S. to get a Michelin guide this October, joining New York, San Francisco, and Chicago. Now there’s a new reason to fluff our feathers like proud peacocks: Bon Appétit selected three District restaurants as finalists for “America’s Best New Restaurants.” That’s just as many picks as San Francisco, and more than both Boston and Philadelphia.

The D.C. finalists are The Dabney, Jeremiah Langhorne’s Blagden Alley restaurant that celebrates mid-Atlantic cuisine; Tail Up Goat in Adams Morgan from Komi veterans; and Filipino gourmand cubbyhole Bad Saint in Columbia Heights. Bad Saint Chef Tom Cunanan woke up to the surprise. “I got a flurry of texts messages, like ‘dude did you see the news?’” The 24-seat restaurant will celebrate its first anniversary in September, and vows to continue to push for perfection. 

“I just want to keep making new dishes and keep working hard, and it’s never good enough,” Cunanan says. “I look at the menu and I’m not completely happy. I want to keep enhancing the dishes and keep changing them. It’s a never-ending battle for me.” He adds that there’s a lot of pressure being one of the first Filipino restaurants in D.C. and that it’s rewarding to see Filipino food recognized nationally.

Bon Appétit will announce its “Hot 10” Aug. 16, but in the meantime, Cunanan is also keeping his eye on the prize for October. “It’s a stepping stone to getting a Michelin star, I guess we’ll just keep working hard and see what happens next,” he says. One new dish he’s particularly proud of is his double fried burnt coconut chicken. 

Bad Saint, 3226 11th St. NW; badsaintdc.com