When it comes to culinary experiences, nothing beats a restaurant with 3 Michelin stars. As the Guide states, they offer “exceptional cuisine that is worth a special journey”. There are currently 14 such restaurants in the US, one of them very close to Washington DC. But that’s not all the country’s capital has to offer when it comes to food.
When you think about Washington DC, food is probably the last thing that comes to mind. The truth is that the city offers a great culinary experience thanks to the variety of cuisines. No matter what your preferences are or your budget, there’s at least one restaurant in DC that is a great fit for you. You can pick from African, Latin, Asian, or European cuisine, as well as indulge your taste buds at 2 or even 3 Michelin star restaurants.
The Inn at Little Washington
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A 3-star restaurant offers, according to the Michelin system, “exceptional cuisine worth a special journey.” When that cooking is just 70 miles away, you can’t pass up such an opportunity.
It’s just a 90-minute drive to get to The Inn at Little Washington, a luxury inn located in Washington, Virginia. It houses the only 3-star restaurant in the area, which is operated by chef Patrick O’Connell. His food, which is mainly inspired by American cuisine, has been described by critics as “so good it makes you cry.”
The entire experience at The Inn at Little Washington is flawless. The food is spectacular and the service impeccable throughout the whole meal. The restaurant offers 2 sample menus, each priced at $265 per person. The wine pairings are optional and cost an additional $180 per person. For a truly unique experience, you’ll want to book one of the 2 kitchen tables. These cost an extra $595 per table. Still, you’ll be dining right in the restaurant’s kitchen, where you will be able to see chef Patrick O’Connell prepare his magical dishes. The kitchen itself is a true work of art. It was designed by Joyce Evans who’s inspiration for it was the dairy room at Windsor Castle.
When it comes to awards, the little trophy cabinet inside the restaurant is packed full. Besides the 3 stars offered by Michelin, the restaurant has been given 5 stars by the Forbes Travel Guide 31 years in a row. It is the longest-tenured Five Star restaurant in the world. La Liste, the French guide of the best restaurants in the world, ranks the inn ar #6. Chef Patrick O’Connell received, in 2019, the James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award, an award given to the industry’s elite. He also received the National Humanities Medal from President Trump.
All in all, The Inn at Little Washington offers an experience worth enjoying at least once. The food is like nothing you’ve ever tasted and the staff is friendly. If you do go there, be sure to also spend the night. You won’t regret it.
Minibar by José Andrés
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Moving down to restaurants with 2 Michelin stars, we have minibar by José Andrés. Located in the heart of Washington, DC, this modernist restaurant offers you a surreal experience, where art and science come together to create one of the most delicious tasting menus you’ve ever tasted.
As soon as you walk into the restaurant, you are greeted with champagne and are invited to a shared dining area where the food is prepared right in front of you. This way, you will learn how each of the courses is made and will be even more amazed about the explosion of flavors in your mouth. The tasting menu costs $275 per person and you can get drink pairings for a bit extra. However, we recommend that you just focus on the food experience and afterward go next door to barmini – also owned by José Andrés. Additionally, you can book the private table, José’s table, where you’ll get to experience the restaurant from an entirely different perspective.
Minibar is José Andrés’ first 2 Michelin star restaurant. The second one is Somni, in Los Angeles, which received its rating in 2019. In total, he owns 31 restaurants and food trucks throughout the US, all of them offering unique culinary experiences.
Throughout his career, Andrés won several awards, some of the most prestigious being the Vilcek Prize in Culinary Arts, Lifetime Achievement Award by the International Association of Culinary Professionals, and the James Beard Foundation Award for Humanitarian of the Year. The Spanish chef was also included in Time Magazine’s 2018 list of “f the world’s 100 most influential people”. In the same year, he was a Nobel Peace Prize nominee for his humanitarian work as the founder of World Central Kitchen, an NGO dedicated to providing meals in the wake of natural disasters.
Pineapple and Pearls
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If you are looking for the best fine dining experience in Washington DC, Pineapple and Pearls is the restaurant to try. Owned by renowned chef Aaron Silverman, Pineapple and Pearls received 2 Michelin stars shortly after opening.
The restaurant offers you a unique experience that lasts for approximately 3 hours, depending on how big your party is. The tasting menu comprises about nine courses with paired beverages, ranging from sake to cocktails and even tea. The food is delicious, although the portions are relatively small, and the pairing will seem strange at times.
The entire tasting menu costs $325, but you also have the option of dining at the bar. Here, the price is $150, drinks not included. You can also book a seat at the chef’s counter, but openings are hard to find.
Pineapple and Pearls is one of 3 restaurants that chef Aaron Silverman owns in DC. The first one was Rose’s Luxury, which opened in 2013, and the third is Little Pearl. Both of these were awarded a Michelin star. All 3 of Silverman’s restaurants are definitely worth a visit.
The city is full of great restaurants where you can enjoy a quality meal. If you’re looking for 3 Michelin star restaurants in Washington DC, The Inn at Little Washington is the only available option. The city also has several restaurants with one or 2 Michelin stars and even more luxurious locations where you can get great food at more affordable prices.