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It’s end-of-the-year list season if you haven’t noticed. My only problem is, unless I’ve taken a picture of it, I can’t remember what I ate last week, let alone last January.
I’d prefer a list that looks forward like a New Years resolution, but one that skews toward hedonism rather than denial or self-improvement. You can spend your time outlining how you’ll lose 5 pounds in 2011. I’ll spend mine outlining five great restaurants or dishes I can’t wait to devour.
Toki Underground: Erik Bruner-Yang has tempted me with pho dogs for months, but that’s just a front until his dumpling-and-noodle spot gets off the ground on H Street NE. I’m a huge dumpling fan and excited to see how well his skills translate on a larger scale with a proper kitchen.
Estadio: I first tried D.C.’s newest Spanish restaurant a few weeks after it opened. The bar was so crowded I couldn’t get a seat and ate little fish and tendrils of octopus over someone’s shoulder. Hopefully a meal here this year will be more manageable as the newness of Mark Kuller’s latest restaurant wears off.
Bar Pilar: When I found a sugar packet at the bottom of my coffee mug during breakfast here, I was pushed over the edge. I’d had enough of Bar Pilar’s tiny portions, and inconsistent execution. Reading about a new crispy pig ear dish, and missing roasted sunchokes and some of the best fried chicken in the city has made me hungry to go back. I’m ready to give Bar Pilar a second chance.
Proof: The restaurant’s shaved Wagyu steak combined with provolone and jalapeño mayo has been tempting me for far too long. I started covering cheesesteaks with Trusty’s simple sandwich on Capitol Hill. I can’t wait to check this elevated number soon.
Bourbon Steak’s Burgers: David Varley may be the man to beat in D.C.’s best premium burger market. Palena has always served my favorite hand-crafted masterpiece but an offering of premium patties including beef, lamb, salmon, and falafel, lead me to believe this place takes burgers seriously. A tougher decision may be choosing between duck fat fries and onion rings.
Photo by Scott Reitz