DC Michelin Star Brunch and Lunch Guide 2022

A lunch better at Cranes one star. Photography by KnowPR

Michelin has released its DC 2022 restaurant guide, which includes four new starred restaurants. We’re big fans of a fancy afternoon meal – plus there’s often better booking availability, and sometimes a sweeter tab.

Starred restaurants

Bresca (one star)
1906 14th St., NW
Chef Ryan Ratino serves a luxurious European-style Sunday lunch in his bistro-gastro. The special menu ($84 to $96), available in the dining room or in the private greenhouses, includes three to four courses with extras like the caviar service. Forget the mimosas – a traveling champagne cart is filled with Pol Roger, Billecart-Salmon and Dom Pérignon.

Cranes (one star)
724 Ninth Street, NW
Chef Pepe Moncayo’s innovative Spanish-Japanese restaurant in the Penn Quarter is a rare option that’s open daily for lunch. The dining room and sake lounge open at noon, and you’ll find elaborate bento boxes (weekdays) or an a la carte menu of tapas and plates to share like oysters in ponzu, duck rillettes gyoza and an unagi paella. On weekdays, diners can also opt for an “executive omakase” tasting ($60) with optional drink pairing ($30) — more economical than the $118 dinner option.

El Cielo (one star)
1280 Fourth St., NE
On Saturdays, chef Juan Manuel Barrientos offers his modern Colombian tasting menus at noon or 4 p.m., before the dinner rush. Customers can choose between the 14-16 class “trip” ($198 per person) or the 22 class “experience” ($228 per person). There’s also a plant-filled bar and a small patio.

Sushi Nakazawa (one star)
1100 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Your best bet for a coveted spot at chef Masaaki Uchino’s omakase counter may be at lunch, offered daily from 11:45 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. There (relative to the dining room), you can watch the master chef at work over the 20-piece nigiri meal ($180), which includes the option to add deluxe bites of wagyu and caviar.

Restaurants adjacent to the stars

Patty O’s Cafe & Bakery by the Inn at Little Washington chef Patrick O’Connell. Photograph by Greg Powers

Only a few DC Michelin-starred restaurants offer afternoon meals, so it’s worth mentioning the lunch and brunch options offered by the chefs.

Chef Patrick O’Connell of the three-star Little Washington Inn recently opened Patty O’s, a charming full-service cafe that serves lunch and dinner and is a short walk from the Inn. On a recent afternoon visit, we enjoyed the snails, onion soup and chicken curry salad with super-crispy fries (opt for a seat by the wood-burning fireplace on days cold weather and the patio on hot days). There is an adjacent cafe and patisserie where you can buy wonderful breads and sweets.

Imperfecto: La Table du Chef just received a star, but Imperfecto, the à la carte restaurant, serves a brunch worthy of a special occasion in its spacious dining room and on the terrace. Diners can always splurge on plates like the royal ora salmon carpaccio with caviar sauce, or the “Spanish sandwich” with prized mangalitsa ham, foie gras torchon and truffle butter.

The new one-star Albi addition to Navy Yard adjoins Yellow, a wonderful breakfast and lunch destination. If you love Michael Rafidi’s homemade pitas, dips, and skewers, you’ll want the pita sandwiches and bright salads here (note: there’s seating on the terrace, but not much inside). Meanwhile, Gravitas chef Matt Baker operates Baker’s Daughter, a trio of cafes in DC, including a location near his one-star Ivy City tasting room. All serve delicious sandwiches for breakfast and lunch and offer plenty of take-out, dine-in, and pantry options. And if you’re just in the mood for a good espresso and a soft drink, head to Pineapple & Pearls on Capitol Hill — the two-star, soon-to-reopen restaurant serves “Nothing Fancy” for now.

food editor

Anna Spiegel covers the restaurant and bar scene in her native DC. Before joining Washingtonian in 2010, she completed the MFA program at the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in New York and St. John, in the US Virgin Islands.

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