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20 of the BEST Things We’ve Eaten in 2021: The DC Edition

We’ve had a busy year of eating, eating and then eating some more.  DC has a crazy amazing food scene so we’re spoiled beyond belief.  We’ve had some truly incredible meals this year, but we’ve somehow managed to highlight 20 of our favorite eats.

These are in NO particular order, and we honestly could’ve listed at least 100 more.  With that said, we hope you enjoy our yearly roundup post.  Who’s ready to drool over some noms?

1. Mélange’s The National

Easily one of the best sandwiches we’ve had all year.  This sammie’s made with spicy doro wat style fried chicken, kebe aioli, turmeric slaw, and a fried egg.  Literal perfection that will have you coming back for more time and time again.  Enjoy it with some sweet potato fries and a bougie milkshake for the ultimate midday meal.

2.  Maketto’s Pork Steamed Bao + Tofu & Spicy Basil Sauce

We listed two dishes because this is our go-to order here.  The bao, stuffed with braised pork and served on top of hoisin sauce, is fluffy and beautiful, and the tofu & spicy basil sauce always hits the spot.  We will never tire of this combo…although we hope we one day do so we can try more of their menu.

3.  I Egg You’s The Original Egg

The OG’s easily one of the best breakfast sandwiches you’ll ever have the pleasure of enjoying.  Made with Griddled O’Bakery milk bread, fontina cheese and a brown butter egg, this handheld’s so tasty, you’ll legit cry tears of joy.  Head to ChiKo Cap Hill on weekends to experience this buttery goodness.

4.  YELLOW Pastries

We couldn’t just pick one so pastries it is!   YELLOW is Albi’s daytime concept, and they have all sorts of unique goodies available – think ras el hanout morning buns to chocolate-moroccan mint croissants.  Whether you’re in the mood for something savory or sweet, they’ll make sure you leave full and satisfied.

5.  Fancy Radish’s Dan Dan Noodles

Insannnnnnely tasty vegan cuisine!  The dan dan noodles were a highlight for sure, but they hit it out of the park with the entire meal.  It was seriously banger after banger, and we can’t recommend them enough.  The noodz were chewy magic, cooked to al dente perfection, coated in this uber flavorful sauce that had just the right amount of heat.  Don’t just take our word for it though – head over to enjoy ASAP.

6.  ChiKo Shrimp & Toast

If you haven’t tried this dish yet, you are high key missing out.  Their shrimp & toast is insaaaaanely good, and it comes with griddled ciabatta that’s buttery as can be.  Everything they do with XO paste is magic, case in point, their juk.  It’s longer listed on their dim sum menu, but be sure to hop on that the second it’s back.

7.   Reveler’s Hour Bucatini

Head to Reveler’s Hour for some of the best pasta in the district.  Their menu changes often, but if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to enjoy their bucatini – made with clams, white wine, garlic and chili flakes – for dinner one evening.  Their garlic knots are a must as well!

8.  Lei Musubi’s OG

We love spam, especially when it’s served with crispy rice that’s stuffed with all kinds of magical goodness.  Because who wouldn’t want to treat themselves to gourmet Hawaiian-style rice balls!  Make sure to follow Lei Musubi on instagram to stay up to date on their pop ups, and make a note to bring your furry frand as well so they can enjoy a pupsubi while you enjoy yours.

9.  Shabibi’s Musakhan

Here’s to hoping chef Marcelle will open a brick and mortar stat because we need our fix.  Their rotisserie style chicken is brined for 24 hours before being coated with all kinds of crazy delicious spices – think cardamom, sumac, cumin, and more.  Expect to enjoy some of the juiciest, most tender chicken you’ll ever have.

10.  Nara-Ya’s Smoked Zuke Tuna

Located at the Wharf, Nara-Ya’s one of the newest additions to the area.  There’s a lot to love, but our personal favorite dish?  Their smoked zuke tuna, presented table side in a smoking cloche of cherry wood chips.  Just make sure you have your phones ready because you’re gonna want to video the sh*t out of this.

11.  Anju’s Ori Jajang Myeon

Pan roasted duck breast on top of one of our favorite korean dishes of all time?  A million times yes.  Jajang Myeon is a staple in Chinese-Korean cuisine – we’re thrilled there’s such a delicious option in DC proper.  Grab a fellow noodle lover and head over to enjoy.  And remember to get the chikin, yukhoe, and honey butter goguma as well.  Yeah, go hungry.

12.  The Dabney’s Corn Crab Chowder

To be honest, we don’t remember what this dish was called or what all the ingredients were.  All we know, is that it was one of the best soups we’ve ever had.  We low key think about it on the regular and hope to see it back on the menu one day.  The Dabney does everything well though so we promise you’ll love whatever you get.

13.  Tigerfork’s Eggplant Mapo Tofu

Apparently, we like tofu A LOT!  Tigerfork was one of our go-tos during the pandemic, and their eggplant mapo was always a must, no ifs, ands or buts.  Just make sure you’re cool with garlicky noms because this dish is a little different from your usual mapo tofu.

14.  Reverie’s Crab Rice

This dish was the epitome of comfort in a bowl.  Made with red crab, Carolina gold rice and egg, this took us wayyyyy back.  It tasted a lot like juk (Korean rice porridge) so it reminded us of our childhood…except bougier.  Other standouts from their prix fixe were as follows:  hake with koji and bee pollen, juniper and smoked butter, potato with tuna and horseradish, and sunchoke & caviar with miso ice cream, sunchoke caramel and osetra caviar.

15.  Saya Salteña

Forever obsessed with this Bolivian staple.  They offer four different flavors here, but we recommend their spicy beef and/or spicy chicken.  These sweet and savory pastries are stuffed with potatoes, English peas, and a special Andean seasoning.  Each salteña is handcrafted with the utmost care, and you can taste the love in each bite.

16.  Panda Gourmet’s Mapo Tofu

Yes, we listed mapo tofu yet again because apparently we’re big tofu people now.  Located next/connected to a Days Inn Hotel, Panda Gourmet’s a hidden treasure we will forever love.  Make sure you get their dan dan noodles, too.  They bring the fire though so consider yourself warned.  Maybe have a glass of milk nearby?

17.  Little Pearl’s Black Rock Orchard Seckel Pear

Little Pearl can do no wrong, but these pears were next level.  Soaked in nasturtium honey (for 3 years!!!!) and stuffed with gorgonzola, these were absolutely delightful.  Their menu changes frequently so there’s always something new to try, and they’re easily one of our favorite fine dining spots in the DMV so definitely make sure to book a table stat.

18.  Makan’s Biscuits & Kaya

This may seem basic, but this brunch dish had us shook to the core.  Think perfectly executed biscuits – flaky, buttery magic that’s further elevated with coconut pandan custard.  We could eat this all day, every day for the rest of our lives and be happy.  Kick brunch off with this as an app, and then chow down on some char kway teow aka Penang street noodles.  And remember to save room for dessert because their sago is the word.

19.  Gravitas’ Treasure Box

There’s a reason why this dish has been on the menu since day 1 at this Michelin star establishment in DC.  You have foie gras spread, topped with tuna tartare and a generous amount of osetra caviar, and you enjoy it with freshly baked truffle brioche and traditional accoutrement.  Insanely delicious.

20.  Bresca’s Madeleines

Yet another fine dining favorite in DC proper.  We’ve had nothing but fantastic experiences here, but for this roundup, we’re highlighting their madeleines because they’re just so damn tasty.  Served with clotted cream and fruit preserves, we challenge you to limit yourself to one. Yeah, self control’s pretty much impossible when it comes to these pillowy morsels of goodness.

Alright Nomsters, we hope you enjoyed this year’s final roundup!  Let us know what you thought of our list by leaving a comment below.  What were some of your favorite eats this year?  And what are you looking forward to enjoying in 2022?  For more on DC food, click here and stay tuned for more content coming your way soon.

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