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Boom! Bad Saint, Tail Up Goat and The Dabney Make Bon Appetit’s 50 Best New Restaurants List

by Prince Of Petworth August 2, 2016 at 12:35 pm 37 Comments

The Dabney at 122 Blagden Alley NW (Shaw)

DC representing in Bon Appetit’s 50 Best New Restaurants List. Congrats to all three – and to Portland’s Pizza Jerk.

Tail Up Goat at 1827 Adams Mill Road, NW (Adams Morgan)

Bad Saint at 3226 11th Street, NW (Columbia Heights)

  • DM

    Loved Bad Saint. Haven’t made it to Tail Up Goat yet. The Dabney was incredibly overrated, but what a gorgeous space.

    • dcd

      Completely disagree. I love the Dabney.

      • I didn’t dislike my meal, but it wasn’t great either, and the service was abysmal. I would disagree along with you though with someone who says that it’s overrated. A rating is not (should not be) subjective on one person’s view or experience, but rather a collective representation, and if hundreds (or thousands, even if they don’t voice it via Yelp, OpenTable, TripAdvisor, etc) of people are in agreement then it’s likely appropriately rated.

        • JohnH

          There’s no great way to rate restaurants. For example, OpenTables reviews are almost always higher than Yelps. This probably has to do with OpenTable contacting people who made reservations and rating it – even without leaving a text review. Yelp really only gets people who proactively go to rate it. And as we all know, people are more likely to speak out their opinion on negative experiences vs a standard/positive one.
          The service is also something that is tough. Obviously it just takes 1 bad server and/or one bad situation (I.e. Being short staffed on one shift) for someone to have a bad experience. There are places where you consistently have bad service, but there’s also places where one out of five you do. But people also have varying ideas of what good service is.

        • dcd

          I dunno, Justin. Crowdsourcing is fine, as far as it goes, but many (most) people don’t know squat about food. I don’t put a lot of stock in their opinions, and that goes double for anything posted online, where enthusiasm far outweighs expertise.
          Put another way, around 40 million people are going to vote for Trump in the upcoming election. That doesn’t mean he’s an acceptable choice for President, it means that 40 million people don’t know what they’re talking about. The same can be said for those 8220 Yelpers who collectively gave Founding Farmers four out of five stars.

          • But should ratings of things be determined solely by experts in the field? How many times have you disagreed with a food columnist or Food Network personality? Does that make your “Rating” less relevant? If 8000 people collectively rated FF 4 stars, but 1 expert (as Sietsema recently did) gives it 0 stars, which one is more valuable to the average consumer in determining whether a place is over/underrated?

          • wdc

            When you’re hashing this out, just note that there are almost a thousand Olive Gardens. And many, many thousands of people spending their money there, repeatedly.

          • dcd

            When I disagree with an individual, I can make an assessment of their credentials and prior reviews and make my own decision. If Rachel Ray really loves a restaurant, I’m not necessarily gong to be there beating down its doors, but if Michael Ruhlman likes it, that means something to me. I don’t have that same ability with a collection of Yelp reviews. And I can’t speak for the average consumer, but for me, Sietsema’s review is more valuable, because I know what I think about his opinion. Come to think of it, I know what I think about the Yelp hive mind – Founding Farmer’s is terrible. I don’t know if it’s 0 stars, but it sure isn’t 4. If Yelp thinks it’s 4 stars, than I don’t trust them at all. And @WDC – yes, and TGI Fridays, and Applebees, and Ruby Tuesdays, and. . .

        • DM

          I meant overrated in the colloquial sense (not “all the Yelp reviews are wrong because they don’t agree with me!”) I thought the food was okay, but not great (especially at the price point), and the service was rocky from start to finish. When it gets shortlisted for Buon Appetito, yes, I personally think it’s undeserving of that honor based on my experience. Especially considering I had substantially better experiences at Rose’s Luxury, Thip Khao, and Bad Saint–former and current picks–than I did at the Dabney.

  • Anon

    First to “New York”!

  • Anyone been to Bad Saint recently? Have the lines regressed at all?

    • MtP

      I’ve gone twice in the past three months: once on a Wednesday and once on a Friday. Both times I got there around 7 and was quoted a 3-hour wait for two people. Both times we ended up eating between 9-9:30. Just went to a nearby bar to wait. It was highly worth it both times, probably best meals I have had in DC.

    • FridayGirl

      A friend tried to snag a table for 4 of us on a Wednesday (difficult since there’s only two booths, apparently) and lined up early but still couldn’t get a seating before 9pm. They did have seats for 2 people at the 7pm seating — but you still have to get there before they open.
      I’ve been wanting to go since it opened, but I’ve given up on trying to go with anyone because of logistics. I doubt it will get any better soon.

      • Interesting, I figured it would have died down substantially. Unlike Rose’s it’s not in my hood, so I doubt I’ll be waiting in line anytime soon. Might be time to install TaskRabbit.

        • FridayGirl

          Ha! That’s actually not a bad idea….

        • FridayGirl

          P.S. If it helps in the future, it appears from Yelp reviews that their seatings are right at 5:30, 7:15, and 9-ish (also explains MtP’s experience).

          • Anon

            we live right across the street and every day starting at 5 there is a very long ling. if you aren’t in the first 25 or so you end up in the second seating and then the third etc.

          • FridayGirl

            thanks, anon. I think aforementioned friend got there around 5. If I go at some point, I’m planning to be in line by 4:30. Hopefully that works fine. Frankly I’d rather do the hour-long wait then and eat an earlyish dinner than take my chances later. Yeesh!

  • P. Lecheval

    Sweet! I had no idea that DC now has its very own Dabney Coleman-themed restaurant! First a Charlie Chaplin-themed place, and now this? Whoa, movin’ up in the world!

    • palisades

      I think it was actually named for the dabbing phenomenon

  • NT

    +100 on The Dabney. Well deserved. I had a great experience all around, in addition to great food.

  • oh2dc

    Publishing in August and declaring this a 2016 list seems premature, no? I wonder what the cut-off dates are for this.

    Congrats to these restaurants. Happy for them and the city to get some recognition. Having said that, I had high hopes for Tail up Goat because I love Komi, but I thought it was mostly fine and I doubt I’d go back. The Dabney was better than that, but not amazing. I’ll likely go again, though. I have not tried Bad Saint, yet. There are some other new spots missing from this list I really enjoyed, such as Pineapple & Pearls and Hazel.

    • CP

      I totally second Hazel! It is really stellar. We are eating at P&P this week so I might soon be seconding your vote there too :).

      • oh2dc

        I hope you enjoy it. My lovely wife just took me to P&P last Friday for my birthday. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I put in on the level of experience at EMP in NY. Cheers.

    • anon

      I am a Tail Up Goat devotee, but as they expanded their kitchen, they did go through a bit of a rough patch. (This rough patch unfortunately corresponded with when Tom Sietsema grossly, in my view, underrated them.) I would suggest you return.

      • swifty


  • Speaking of outstanding restaurants, went to Kyirisan last night and it’s easily the best meal I’ve had in the city this year, with some of the best service I’ve ever had here. Loved the zen-like feeling of the place too.

    • FridayGirl

      I’ve been wanting to try this place! Maybe I will try to go in the next week or two. I’m glad to hear it was good!

      • The sous vide duck (if it’s still on the menu then) is an absolute must, if you’re not a vegetarian.

        • FridayGirl

          I’m not, so I’ll make a mental note of that. Thanks Justin!

    • oh2dc

      I haven’t been, but I also thought Kyirisan was a candidate for likely missing from this list. It is high on my want-to-try list. Thanks for the duck rec.

  • SweetBabyRae

    Tail Up Goat is amazing. Great food, great bartender, and beautiful space. This is well deserved!

  • CP

    Interesting…We really liked the Dabney, but would NEVER go back to Tail Up Goat. Everything at TUpGoat was overly pickled, fermented or vinegary…We actually both left with upset stomachs from all the acid.

  • mmm

    subtract the cool factor / hype and I think Bad Saint is really just ok. Went once and maybe I ordered wrong but I really don’t get why it is so coveted.

    Dabney and Tail Up Goat are top-notch imo. Well-deserved.

  • Common Sense

    Tail Up Goat is my new favorite restaurant in DC hands down. The food was amazing the first time I ate there and some how, the same dishes I got the second visit were better. Not to mention that the owner/Beverage director knows his $hit.

    Bartenders and Servers are awesome. Overall it’s like 5 star food in a really chill, laid back environment where the staff doesn’t take everything so serious. I highly recommend you go if you already haven’t.

    Haven’t been to the other two yet but I heard Bad Saint is pretty solid.

  • Matt

    This is great, all three are excellent. I’ve been to both Tail Up Goat and The Dabney at least 10 times since they’ve opened, and the food at both is innovative, constantly changing, and well-executed (in fact, I’d say that the food at The Dabney is better than Husk, one of its obvious inspirations). The wine list at Tail Up Goat is great and reflects their wine director Bill’s deep interest in wine, which, when coupled with their unpretentious enthusiasm, makes for a great experience for both wine geeks and people who just want a nice glass of something. On top of that, their service is insanely thoughtful and attentive— it’s seriously one of the best executions of food service I’ve seen in DC, let alone at a restaurant with a more casual, neighborhood-oriented, concept. Meanwhile at The Dabney, Tyler’s cocktails are some of the best in the city— her brilliance is almost certainly underappreciated. I’ve only been to Bad Saint once (the wait), but it has to be one of the best values in the city; the food is great and at a price point that is hard to match.

  • ECfromDC

    I’ve been dying to go to The Dabney and The Bad Saint….one day…one day.


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