Michelin has just announced its 2018 Bib Gourmand list for the Washington, D.C., metro area, focusing on excellent restaurants that are also relatively affordable. Three new D.C.-area restaurants were added to the list for the first time.Every year, Michelin releases its list of the best restaurants in the Washington, D.C., area. This list is usually split into two announcements a week or so apart in October. While most people know about the Michelin Stars that get awarded to the absolute best of the best restaurants, there is also another list that focuses a bit more on affordability. Don't get me wrong: eating at a restaurant that has earned a Michelin star will likely be the one of the best meals of your life, but it will also cost you. So Michelin also announces restaurants that have won its Bib Gourmand honors. These are restaurants that are affordable by regional economic standards, but offer excellent meals that far exceed their modest prices. A lot of people are surprised to learn that the Michelin responsible for these restaurant awards is the same company that manufactures automobile tires. While that might seem a bit of a strange combination, it makes a lot of sense. Back in 1900, the Michelin company released its list of the best French restaurants in order to get people out and driving their cars. If customers were driving their cars long distances to try new restaurants, then they would need to change their vehicle's tires more often. Yep, the Michelin restaurant rankings is nothing but a way to make people buy new tires more often. While that might not be the driving force of today's Michelin rankings, the same principle is still true. These are the best restaurants that are worth driving to.
On October 10, Michelin released its list of excellent affordable D.C.-area restaurants that are deserving of a road trip. Every restaurant that was featured on last year's list made it back again this year, but there are three new additions (which are in bold below). Michelin's 2018 Bib Gourmand list for Washington, D.C., includes Bad Saint, Bidwell, Boqueria, Chercher, China Chilcano, Das, Doc Moi, Hazel, Ivy City Smokehouse, Jaleo, Kyirisan, Lapis, Maketto, Ottoman Taverna, Oyamel, Pearl Dive Oyster Palace, The Red Hen, Royal, Sfoglina, Thip Khao, 2Amys, and Zaytinya. Since all of the restaurants that were featured last year are well-known at this point, we wanted to feature the three newest additions to Michelin's list of the best affordable restaurants in Washington, D.C.!
Hazel -- 808 V St. NWHazel: Restaurant & Bar, one of Shaw's newest restaurants, features a 38-seat dining area, a 16-seat bar, and a 38-seat patio all designed by Catherine Hailey Design. The menu is the creation of Chef Rob Rubba, who formerly headed up Tallula. The restaurant's summer menu featured mostly sharable dishes. Most are quite affordable, in the range of $12 to $16, which is why Hazel qualified for Michelin's 2018 Bib Gourmand list. There are some more expensive menu offerings. For example, the BBQ Wagyu Shortribs, complete with summer corn pudding and grilled squash, cost $40. The chilled seafood platter, which changes daily based on the catch of the day, costs a whopping $75 (though we hear it is delicious). But where Hazel really shines is its "Ducked Up!" lazy-Susan family-style meal. Feeding two to three people comfortably, $98 gets you roasted Rohan duck breast, crispy duck wings, savory kimchi fried rice, spiced sausage, pickles, and a salad of local greens topped with a duck fat sherry dressing. Even if you don't love duck, this is reportedly the menu offering that got Hazel noticed by the Michelin judges. And coming out to less than $33 a person, this is one of the most affordable gourmet dinners you can get in Washington, D.C.!
Sfoglina -- 4445 Connecticut Ave. NWMost people don't consider $20+ pasta to be affordable, but then again, most people haven't had homemade pasta this delicious! This Van Ness pasta restaurant featuring chef Fabio Trabocchi deserves its spot on the Michelin Bib Gourmand list. Sfoglina -- pronounced sfoal-yee-nah -- might look like your run-of-the-mill pasta restaurant, but its homemade pastas and sauces put it in a league of its own. There are three price levels for entrees. Their "classic" pastas -- Spinach Tonnarelli, Rigatoni All-Amatriciana, and Spaghetti Chitarra -- are each $22. Their seasonal pastas, featuring such favorites as Potato Gnocchi and Squid Ink Cannelloni, go for $25. And if pasta isn't your thing, their 72-hour Beef Short Ribs are to die for and only cost $28. Sfoglina made the 2018 Michelin Bib Gourmand list because they offer a truly gourmet experience at affordable prices. While it might not make sense to order $25 pasta dishes regularly, any pasta fan should at least try this new powerhouse restaurant at least once.
Ivy City Smokehouse -- 1356 Okie St. NEAnyone local or who has been around to witness the Ivy City neighborhood's growth knows that the Ivy City Smokehouse has been one of that community's culinary anchors. But looking at the menu, it isn't immediately clear why this local tavern would occupy a spot on the coveted Michelin Bib Gourmand list. A $13 burger? $14 fish 'n chips? $10 calamari? At these prices, you'd probably assume at first glance that this was just one of many local D.C. taverns. But according to the Michelin judges, this hidden gem is definitely worth wearing down the tread in your tires. Out of the entire 2018 Bib Gourmand list, this is definitely one of the most affordable and also probably one of the only Michelin-rated restaurants that routinely hosts watch parties for boxing matches. But that is ultimately what the Bib Gourmand list is all about. Featuring restaurants that are a head above the rest and don't force you to take out a second mortgage in order to close out your tab! The Ivy City Smokehouse opened up its upstairs bar back in February, and it did take a few months before food started coming out of the kitchen, but now that the restaurant is fully up and running, it definitely represents one of the best affordable meals in all of Washington, D.C.
All of the restaurants on the Bib Gourmand list have excellent food available at or below the $40 mark. You can read Michelin's full 2018 Bib Gourmand list press release here. Prefer a hard copy? You can purchase the 2018 Michelin guide for Washington, D.C., at local bookstores starting on October 20 for a suggested retail price of $12.95. What is your favorite affordable D.C. restaurant? Let us know in the comments below!