Catch a Rising Star: The 10 Hottest DC Chefs Whose Food You Need to Eat Now

The nation’s capital has produced a number of nationally recognized culinary superstars – from frontrunners like Michel Richard and José Andrés to new school breakouts such as Mike Isabella and Aaron Silverman. But who is going to be the next big thing? Who will capture the hearts and bellies of District diners with their cooking? Inspired by the South, Southeast Asia, and many points in between, these talents are crafting cuisine that’s taking the dining scene to new heights. Here are the 10 hottest DC chefs whose food you need to eat right now. Yes, right now.

Harper McClure of Brabo
Keeping an eye on classic culinary technique – while never failing to add his own show-stealing touches – this artful chef de cuisine puts out plates that honor the past while looking to the future. Wow-worthy dishes of recent memory include bacon-style sturgeon with pickled red pearl onions and Concord grape puree and an espresso braised boneless short rib dusted with cocoa powder and crowned with crunchy cocoa nibs. McClure’s résumé reveals a rich culinary pedigree, including stints at Vidalia, Equinox, and Marcel’s, where he worked for executive chef Robert Wiedmaier, who ultimately placed him in charge of Brabo. Nominated for a RAMMY Award for Rising Culinary Star last year by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington, he is a talent to watch. Make a reservation at Brabo.

10 Hottest DC Chefs

Brittany Frick of Doi Moi
After earning her degree from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, and further pastry training at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, Frick began her career at Red Velvet Cupcakery at the height of the cupcake boom, helping bake 3,000 of the sweet treats a day. From there, she worked under executive chef Haidar Karoum at Estadio before moving to his Southeast Asian standout down the street, where she commands the chef de cuisine position. Whenever she composes a new dish for the restaurant – like fried whole porgy amped up with chili rich kapow sauce – she tries to include five elements: salty, sour, bitter, spicy, and sweet. “It’s simple, flavorful food,” she says. “There’s very little fuss behind the preparation. You just let those flavors shine.” Make a reservation at Doi Moi.

Hottest DC Chefs

Alex McCoy of Alfie’s 
You might recognize the fresh-faced talent from Food Network Star. But before he hit the small screen, he was making big waves in D.C. as the chef at the East London-styled Duke’s Grocery in Dupont Circle. Now he’s the chef-owner of Alfie’s, a Southeast Asian joint in Petworth inspired by McCoy’s numerous trips to the region and his longtime love of its food. Two dishes that epitomize the fare are khao soi – a Burmese coconut curry soup with homemade egg noodles and your choice of beef short ribs or chicken wings – and intensely spicy tom saap soup made with leftover offal and plenty of aromatic herbs. This is just the beginning for McCoy. He and his partners have another dozen restaurant concepts in mind and hope to open their next one in about a year and a half. With such an ambitious schedule, will he find time to return to reality television? “The TV thing is fun, but I’m a chef,” he says. “I belong in the kitchen.” Make a reservation at Alfie’s.

Hottest DC Chefs

Brad Deboy of Blue Duck Tavern
Chef de cuisine Brad Deboy has had it with modernist cooking. “We’re moving away from foams, sous vide, and stabilizers,” he says. “Now we’re doing a lot of curing, smoking, pickling, and preserving. I want to go back to the basics.” To that end, he and the team here are making kimchi, vinegars, and charcuterie. He’s clearly having fun. Fried Brussels sprouts are tossed in sriracha-style hot sauce vinaigrette and served on pimento cheese. “It’s inspired by chicken wings,” he says. “We call it ‘Redneck Delight.” Another example of his lightheartedness is the lobe of foie gras served s’mores style on a housemade graham cracker with toasted marshmallow, a square of half-melted dark chocolate, and jalapeno-infused candied grapefruit segments. Make a reservation at Blue Duck Tavern.

Hottest DC Chefs

Thomas Harvey of The Partisan
Following stints at Fabio Trabocchi’s Casa Luca and Palena under Frank Ruta, Harvey now presides over the Penn Quarter meatopia and butchery. He loves having access to the shop’s primest cuts. “It’s not often you get a phone call saying there’s a 180-day aged ribeye available. Would you like to work with it?” says Harvey. “It’s like a playground.” The menu is equally playful. Take his seared duck breast served with Old Fashioned cocktail gastrique. “Mixologists say they get most of their ideas from chefs, so I thought I’d turn that around and get some inspiration from them,” he says. Want to continue the dining experience after you leave? You can take home a breakfast basket, which includes half a pound of house-cured bacon, six farm eggs, four tigelle (Italian griddle-cooked breads not unlike English muffins), and honey hot sauce. Make a reservation at The Partisan.

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Daytrip Dining: 9 Top Restaurants Outside Washington, D.C. Worth the Drive #savortheroad

We didn’t tackle every delicious corner of the country in our 2015 Summer Road Trip Restaurant Guide, so we are pleased to highlight top restaurants outside Washington, D.C., that are perfect for daytrip dining — or worthy of a stop on your mid-Atlantic road trip. 

Sometimes you need to get out of the city for a little while to leave the noise and haste behind. What better reason to escape than a memorable meal? Luckily for DCists, the countryside surrounding the nation’s capital is home to a bounty of road-trip-worthy restaurants. Whether you’re in the mood for a white tablecloth treat or more casual fare, there are plenty of options. We’ve picked our nine favorite reasons to drive outside Washington, D.C., for dinner.

Smokehouse Live, Leesburg, Virginia
A 16,000 square-foot sprawl encompasses three concepts: a dining room/marketplace (Smoke), a bar (House), and a concert venue (Live). Pitmaster Jim Foss, a veteran of Hill Country Barbecue Market and Old Glory, both in D.C., oversees a pair of Ole Hickory smokers. You’d best arrive hungry. Choices include brisket, beef short ribs, pulled pork, buttermilk-brined turkey breast, chicken, Shiner Bock brats, and jalapeno-cheddar sausage, as well as sides such as succotash, deviled eggs, and mac ‘n’ cheese.

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The Ashby Inn, Paris, Virginia
You’ll find a slice of Norman Rockwell America nestled in Fauquier County. The Blue Ridge Mountains provide a stunning backdrop for this 19th-century house-turned-hotel. Expect big things from freshly appointed executive chef Patrick Robinson, an alum of the well-loved Table and Michel Richard’s now shuttered gastro palace Citronelle.

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Volt, Frederick, Maryland
One of the quintessential destination restaurants outside D.C., this bastion of modern-minded New American is the brainchild of Top Chef favorite Bryan Voltaggio. Under the watchful eye of chef de cuisine Scott Muns, who returned to the restaurant after a year at Rose’s Luxury, the restaurant continues to flourish. Dishes are equal parts innovation and tradition with plenty of flair, so expect to overpost on Instagram during dinner.

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Mokomandy, Sterling, Virginia
Cajun and Korean traditions live side-by-side, so starters might include gator croquettes and jambalaya alongside dumplings and kimchi pancakes. These contrasting culinary customs are well served by executive chef Daniel Wilcox Stevens, who has mastered both. Equal attention is given to handcrafted cocktails forged with housemade components and plenty of fresh fruits and herbs.

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Maple Ave., Vienna, Virginia
The charismatic Fairfax County outpost brings together a panoply of global influences to create singularly enticing results. Shrimp and grits get an assist from blueberry venison sausage, seared scallops come with basil ice cream and coconut risotto, and wings are doused in a mixture of crème fraîche, gochujang (Korean red pepper paste), and oyster sauce.

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2015 RAMMY Award Nominees: Join Us on June 7th in Washington, D.C.

The 2015 RAMMY Award nominees are out – and we’ll be in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, June 7 to cheer on this year’s honorees. The so-called Oscars of the D.C. dining scene, the 33rd Annual RAMMY Awards recognize hospitality excellence in multiple categories. We’ll be there when the winners are announced at the awards ceremony at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. Buy tickets today to root for your favorites and to sample amazing eats and craft cocktails.


Congratulations to all the finalists for the 2015 RAMMY Awards, including:

Favorite Gathering Place of the Year:
Bar Pilar
Cashion’s Eat Place
Evening Star Café

Upscale Casual Brunch:
Birch & Barley
Kapnos – DC
Le Diplomate
The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm
Seasons at The Four Seasons

Everyday Casual Brunch:
The Daily Dish
DGS Delicatessen
The Liberty Tavern

Favorite Fast Bites:
G by Mike Isabella

Cocktail Program of the Year:
barmini by José Andrés
Bourbon Steak
Iron Gate
Trummer’s on Main

Beer Program of the Year:
The Arsenal at Bluejacket
Brasserie Beck
Granville Moore’s
Mad Fox Brewing Company

Wine Program of the Year:
Charlie Palmer Steak
Iron Gate

Employee of the Year:
Aurelio Diaz – RIS
Adnane Kebaier – Marcel’s by Robert Wiedmaier
Evan Labb – Evening Star Café
LaGina Lewis – Farmers Fishers Bakers
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All Hail Washington DC Restaurant Week!

Chorizo con salsa de romero is also on the DC Restaurant Week menu at Jaleo.
Chorizo con salsa de romero is also on the DC Restaurant Week menu at Jaleo.

Wintertime in Washington, D.C. is even more fabulous than spring and cherry blossoms. You know why? Because of Winter RAMW Washington, D.C. Restaurant Week! From January 13-19, you can enjoy $20.14 lunches and $35.14 dinners at the Capital’s best restaurants. The menus will fill your belly (and then some), while also keeping the contents of your wallet relatively in tact.

For example, at Acadiana, sandwiched between your choice of a selection of appetizers (Turtle soup! Gumbo!) and desserts (Lemon bars! Pumpkin bread pudding!), diners can order any entree (with a modest $9 additional charge for the jumbo lump crabcakes and the ribeye steak entrees).

At Chef Geoff’s-Downtown, the entire menu is up for grabs. Create your own restaurant week three-course meal, which can include anything from Gouda-stuffed risotto balls to slow and low beef short ribs — plus dessert.

Jaleo DC is offering up a whopping five courses, including dessert, for their $35.14 dinners. Choices include bacon-wrapped dates, savory carrot soup, pork loin with roasted onion and ‘Valdeón’ blue cheese sauce, and pan con chocolate, among many others.

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