It’s always good to have old favorites, but sometimes you need to make room for the new kids on the block. Of our 50 Best Restaurants of 2023, here are the 19 spots that are new to the list since last year.
By Olga Boikess, Dawn Klavon, Alyssa Langer, Alice Levitt, and Renee Sklarew
Editor’s note: Jiwa Singapura is now closed as of Monday, December 4.
Price Key: Entrées = $ 15 and under | $$ 16–25 | $$$ 26–40 | $$$$ 41 and over | * = prix fixe only
McLean | Afghan | $$
See This: Gorgeous multicolored glass lighting fixtures enhance the elegant dining room.
Eat This: Taste of Aracosia sampler platter
Service: Helpful and efficient
When to Dine Here: Your adventurous group is hungry to try many dishes.
Ellie Bird (No. 5)
Falls Church | Modern American | $$$
See This: The bird is the word here, where avian-shaped LEDs share space with tables contained in birdcage-style bars.
Eat This: Vietnamese French onion soup, cacio elote, Rachel’s Chocolate Cake
Service: The friendly staff is always ready to fulfill your needs. It’s no surprise that the owners’ first restaurant, Rooster & Owl, earned a Michelin star.
Ashburn | American | $$$
See This: Posters of produce conjure the theme, but the open kitchen brings it to life.
Eat This: Watermelon and feta salad, dry-aged rib-eye steak, chocolate pot de crème
Service: Helpful when present, but apt to slip away
When to Dine Here: Mom and Dad are able to get some time away from the house and let someone else cook for once.
Centreville | Korean | $$$$
See This: The cosmopolitan setting of cushy booths with embedded tabletop grills is well-suited to convivial get-togethers with friends or family.
Eat This: Brisket, kimchi pancakes, kimchi and soybean stews
Service: Servers here know what they are doing and do it well. It may take a few minutes for them to respond to special requests when the place fills up, but it all gets done.
When to Dine Here: You and meat-loving companions are looking for a little theater.
Vienna | Korean | $$$$
See This: Your own steak grills to perfection (and your preferred temperature) in front of your eyes, at your table.
Eat This: Japchae, wagyu strip loin, crab fried rice
Service: Friendly, polite, attentive to grills, and willing to guide customers with recommendations
When to Dine Here: You want an upscale, fuss-free, interactive dining experience and are willing to splurge on high-quality meat.
Editor’s note: Jiwa Singapura is now closed as of Monday, December 4.
McLean | Singaporean | $$$
See This: The restaurant showcases a sizable, impressively quiet open kitchen.
Eat This: Popiah, mushroom noodles, ice cream loti
Service: Waitstaff is willing to offer guidance and recommendations, and courses are paced well.
When to Dine Here: You have errands to run at the mall, but the food court is hardly your scene.
Fairfax | Lebanese | $$
See This: A wall of family photos makes you feel right at home.
Eat This: Muhammara, fried Brussels sprouts, lamb shish kebab
Service: Plentiful staff really go the extra mile.
When to Dine Here: You’re part of a group ready for a feast.
Alexandria | Modern Indian | $$$
See This: The stark white dining room is modern, indeed. Sit at the bar to see colorful dishes flow out of the busy kitchen.
Eat This: Tandoori cauliflower, chicken tikka masala, garlic naan
Service: Simply solid
When to Dine Here: You and your friends value well-applied spice and want to share a collection of plates.
Sterling | Modern American | $$
See This: Wallpaper portraying tins of sardines will catch your eye almost as much as the open kitchen.
Eat This: Chargrilled scallops, loaded labneh dip, Lo-Pro lamb burger
Service: Green but eager
When to Dine Here: The family requires its daily bread — and pasta.
Fairfax | Chinese | $$$
See This: The dining room hosts touches like white leather banquettes and oak tables with wall tiles from Hubei province.
Eat This: Lychee pepper chicken, green beans with pickled cabbage, eggplant in garlic sauce
Service: Fast, friendly, and attentive, but casual
When to Dine Here: Bring a group for dinner and enjoy the festive atmosphere.
NUE (No. 7)
Falls Church | Modern Vietnamese | $$$
See This: Impressionistic flowers decorate the walls of the airy main dining room, while blooms tumble from the ceilings, all a tribute to Vietnamese artist Le Pho.
Eat This: Pho pâté, short ribs pappardelle, coconut curry risotto
Service: The team earns the 20 percent service fee that’s included in the check.
When to Dine Here: The dining room is unabashedly romantic — bring your other half who’s as passionate about up-to-date flavors as you are.
Falls Church | Vietnamese | $
See This: Massive bowls of soup with fresh basil, bean sprouts, and lime
Eat This: Pho with well-done brisket or flank steak
Service: Pho-nomenally fast
When to Dine Here: You know that you want pho and you want it now.
Falls Church | Vietnamese | $$
See This: A streamlined bistro with an exposed brick wall and turquoise banquettes. Circular orbs dangle from the copper tiled ceiling and pattered metallic wallpaper complements the textured blue bar.
Eat This: Nem nuong, bo nuong la nho, pho
Service: Hectic, friendly, and fast. Ideally, avoid peak dining hours.
When to Dine Here: You’re seeking an authentic cultural dining experience.
Ashburn | Nepalese | $$
See This: Everything here is personalized to the elegant restaurant, from the embroidered leather chairs to the cutlery.
Eat This: Momos, chow mein, chilli chicken
Service: A 20 percent service fee tacked onto the bill ensures that the staff is poised to fulfill your every need.
When to Dine Here: Your group is seeking a calm refuge from the hustle with plates of spicy food.
Arlington | Tapas | $$
See This: Cheerful colors set the upbeat mood here, but it’s what’s on the plate that really impresses.
Eat This: Arepitas, Chuletón Vasco, la maceta de chocolate
Service: Matter-of-fact and efficient
When to Dine Here: You and your adventurous group want to share as many plates as you can stomach.
Manassas | American | $$$
See This: Glistening chandeliers light the high ceilings of this historic barn.
Eat This: Spanish garlic shrimp, jambalaya, Mongolian beef bowl
Service: Attentive but not over the top
When to Dine Here: Enjoy brunch, lunch, or dinner with family — get dressed up or wear jeans to this stunningly refurbished setting.
Middleburg | Modern American | $$$
See This: The spare white dining room serves as a blank canvas for a wine-soaked night.
Eat This: Persian cucumber salad, labneh, chorizo al infierno
Service: A mix of serious professionals and newbies
When to Dine Here: You want to keep things light for an evening of romance.
TRIO Grill (No. 10)
Falls Church | Modern American | $$$$
See This: Architectural elements in shades of orange and brown, with bold fixtures casting pools of light onto white tablecloths
Eat This: Housemade gnocchi, Oysters Rockefeller, New Frontier bison
Service: Servers are well-informed, gracious, and responsive.
When to Dine Here: This neighborhood restaurant cultivates conversation and celebration.
Alexandria | American | $$
See This: A whimsical, flower-covered ceiling delights diners.
Eat This: Cheese & charcuterie, New York strip for two, Frenchie burger
Service: Accommodating and kind
When to Dine Here: Grab a glass of wine and share some plates with a friend.
Feature image of NUE by Shannon Ayres