Courtesy of José Andrés

José Andrés

ThinkFoodGroup

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When you think culinary giant, you think José Andrés. His personality fills a room just like his cooking fills a restaurant. Though he could arguably be crowned chef of the year in any given year, 2016 proved unique for him because of his political influence, his Michelin recognition, and his “monumental” debut at MGM National Harbor.

Courtesy of Marjorie Meek-Bradley

Marjorie Meek-Bradley

Smoked & Stacked

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Top Chef finalist Marjorie Meek-Bradley made some big changes in 2016. After several years overseeing the kitchens at Ripple and Roofers Union, and bringing in awards for both, she decided to leave her posts to focus on her passion project. Smoked & Stacked opened in September to provide a much-needed infusion of pastrami to the city. The sandwich shop quickly became a favorite in the fast casual scene, and now Meek-Bradley plans to focus solely on the Shaw hotspot and develop new items for the menu. Judging by the meat coming out of her kitchen so far, expect big things in the future.

Restaurant Nora

Nora Pouillon

Restaurant Nora

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Organic pioneer Nora Pouillon announced her retirement this year. While it’s a huge loss for the DC restaurant community, her legacy will endure long after she serves her final meal. Since opening Restaurant Nora in 1979, Pouillon has been a champion for local farmers and sustainable growing. In 1999, she secured organic certification for her restaurant -- the first in the nation to do so. She was also the driving force behind the creation of DC’s first producer-only farmers’ market, FreshFARM Markets, and sits on the board of several environmental advocacy organizations.

Courtesy of Aaron Silverman

Aaron Silverman

Rose’s Luxury

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The accolades just keep coming for Aaron Silverman. This year alone, he added five feathers to his chef’s hat. Food & Wine named him one of 2016’s best new chefs, he won a James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Mid-Atlantic, and he earned three Michelin stars. The buzz surrounding his Capitol Hill hit, Rose’s Luxury, still hasn’t worn off, and now people can’t stop talking about his newly-opened Pineapple and Pearls, either. If all the love wasn’t so deserved, it would really be kind of annoying.

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1. Smoked & Stacked 1239 9th St NW, Washington, 20001 (Shaw)

Smoked & Stacked is bringing Shaw some much-needed pastrami sandwiches. The breakfast and lunch spot is inspired by both Chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley's California upbringing and her adoptive New York taste. Breakfast options include the clean-eating Cali Girl made with cured salmon, a fried egg, avocado, and sprouts, and the New Yorker, featuring thick & smoky pastrami, a fried egg, comte cheese, and hot pepper jelly. Build your own sandwich at lunch or keep it simple (but heavy) with the pastrami and Dijon mustard Stacked.

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2. Restaurant Nora 2132 Florida Ave NW, Washington, 20008 (Dupont Circle)

Even beyond its stately interior with exposed brick, white tablecloths, and a handsome wooden bar, Nora deserves bragging rights for its title as America's first certified-organic restaurant, serving elegant meat and seafood plates without any pesky antibiotics, hormones, or GMOs. The menu at this corner spot in Dupont Circle offers dishes such as pan-roasted halibut, sautéed Amish veal scallopine, and pepper-crusted ribeye steak. You can also drop in just for a drink -- take a seat at the small bar and choose something from the impressive menu of small-batch American whiskeys to extend the already-rustic feel of the space.

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3. Rose's Luxury 717 8th St SE, Washington, DC 20003 (Capitol Hill)

Situated in a converted townhouse on Capitol Hill, Rose's Luxury is a twinkle-lit, farmhouse-chic restaurant that draws crowds for its bold small plates. Unfortunately for those crowds, it doesn't accept reservations. Get here early for dinner and you can nab a front-row seat at the chef's counter overlooking the open kitchen, where shareable dishes like Thai-marinated pork blade steak and boudin-stuffed jalapeño are prepared with precision.

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