Washington, D.C., finally has a three-Michelin starred restaurant. Since 2017, the nation’s capital has been the only U.S. city without a destination offering what the guides consider to be three-star worthy: “exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.” But in the 2019 edition launched today, chef Patrick O’Connell’s the Inn at Little Washington breaks that streak, becoming the first three-star restaurant in Michelin’s guide to Washington, D.C.
Michelin launched its first list of D.C.’s restaurants in 2016 with just 12 restaurants total. Three of these earned two stars: the Inn at Little Washington, Minibar, and Pineapple & Pearls. Back then, Eater NY critic Ryan Sutton characterized the Inn at Little Washington’s inclusion in the two-star ranks as “unexpected” due to the fact that the classic American restaurant isn’t actually located in Washington, D.C., proper but the Virginia countryside. With the new three-star designation, the exception seems especially warranted.
But aside from the location, the Inn at Little Washington checks all of Michelin’s usual boxes: the destination restaurant serves a $200-plus tasting menu of high-end American cuisine. In fact O’Connell told Eater DC that prior to the restaurant opening in 1978, he traveled to Michelin-starred properties in France for inspiration. Forty years later, his restaurant is at the top of Michelin’s rankings.
In other news, both Bresca and Siren by RW received one star for the first time; Aaron Silverman’s Pineapple and Pearls and José Andrés’s Minibar retained their two-star status. So although there are still technically no three-star restaurants in Washington, D.C., listed in the capital’s third Michelin guide, there’s at least one nearby.