Best Restaurant

Sushi Taro
1503 17th St. NW
Photograph by Darrow Montgomery

There’s no question that tortures a food writer more than “What’s the best restaurant?” The best for what, I always ask. The best Italian? The best date spot? The best place that’s walking distance from the National Mall? Before I agonize over my recommendation, I first need to compartmentalize. There are, of course, some obvious choices: Fine-dining spots like Komi and the Inn at Little Washington are consistently lauded as the best of the best. But why should the best restaurant be one you can only afford to eat at once a year? Whether you’re splurging on a tasting menu, meeting a friend for lunch, or going on a Wednesday-night date, the best restaurant in D.C. is Sushi Taro. There is, after all, no better restaurant than the one you crave in any situation. The expertly cut fish at Sushi Taro, flown from Japan each day, is the freshest in the city. If you can, snag a seat at the sushi bar in the back room to watch your meal prepared. Meanwhile, chef and owner Nobu Yamazaki’s non-sushi specialities—from the custard-like goma (sesame) tofu with uni to the buttery black cod—are deceptively simple and perfect in their simplicity. One of the best dishes I ate last year was the housemade kamatama teuchi udon noodles topped with a creamy half-cooked egg, nori, ginger, in an earthy-sweet broth. Sushi Taro’s omakase tasting, a parade of Japanese specialties, will set you back at least $80 per person, but the restaurant’s weekday lunch menu is one of the best values (and best-kept secrets) in the city. A bento box with sashimi, sushi, tempura, miso soup, rice, and pickled veggies costs about $13. If you’re like me, you’ll want to come back for dinner the same day.