It’s no secret the Borderstan area is home to some of the most popular restaurants in the city.
During last night’s RAMMY Awards, put on annually by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, six Borderstan-area restaurants took home awards:
- George Pagonis, Kapnos, Rising Culinary Star of the Year
- Bar Pilar, Favorite Gathering Place
- Le Diplomate, Upscale Casual Brunch
- Mintwood Place, Upscale Casual Restaurant
- DGS Delicatessen, Everyday Casual Restaurant
- Iron Gate, Wine Program of the Year
Four of the night’s awards — Favorite Gathering Place, Upscale Casual Brunch, Everyday Casual Brunch and Favorite Fast Bites — were decided by the voting public.
For Bar Pilar co-owner Jonathan Fain, winning an award voted on by the public made the evening feel a little sweeter.
“It’s a big honor,” he says. “It’s nice to feel loved by the entire neighborhood.”
“This one is especially important because two years ago, we went through some really hard times and bounced back from it,” adds Fain. “We’re really excited to still be open.”
The night’s other big winners included Del Campo‘s chef Victor Albisu, who won Chef of the Year, and José Andrés and Rob Wilder, who shared a Restaurateur of the Year award for their collaboration on ThinkFoodGroup.
Much like last year, Borderstan saw its fair share of winners at the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington’s annual awards gala, known as the RAMMYs. With the vibrant theme “Restaurants in Bloom,” many finalists, awardees, and gala-goers alike showed up in garlands, boutonnieres and floral prints. It was in this festive atmosphere that our neighborhood was honored multiple times over.
The burgeoning 14th Street Corridor and its rapid transformation into a revitalized restaurant destination was a running theme throughout some of the acceptance speeches, most notably from the team from Hottest Restaurant Bar Scene winner Bar Pilar, who commented “when we first were doing the build-out for Bar Pilar, we had pimps come into the restaurant and ask, ‘what are you doing?’ And we’d say ‘building a restaurant.’ And they’d ask, ‘For who?’ Now we know.”
Neighborhood RAMMY Winners
The following Borderstan restaurants were winners last night:
- Upscale Casual Restaurant – Estadio
- Casual Restaurant – C.F. Folks
- Neighborhood Gathering Place – Nellie’s Sports Bar
- Hottest Bar Scene – Bar Pilar
Borderstan also saw its fair share of nominees. Joining Estadio in the Upscale Casual category were fellow 14th Street neighbors Birch and Barley and Cork; and C.F. Folks had to squeeze past Bar Pilar for its Casual Restaurant award. Additional nominations also went to Dupont Circle newcomers Boqueria and DGS Delicatessen, and Estadio’s manager, Justin Guthrie.
Taking home the big prizes last night were Blue Duck Tavern for Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year, Mintwood Place for Best New Restaurant, and Fabio Trabocchi for Chef of the Year. Congrats to all the winners!
The Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington‘s annual RAMMY awards will take place on June 23. And on Tuesday night, the nominees for this year’s dining scene categories were announced at the Hamilton.
Old and new Borderstan restaurants, bars, chefs and managers received a handful of nominations — Blue Duck Tavern, Bar Pilar, Birch & Barley/Churchkey and Estadio were among some of the most popular in a variety of categories.
Borderstan’s RAMMY Nominees
- Blue Duck Tavern (1201 24th Street NW): Borderstan’s Kim Vu visited Blue Duck Tavern and raved about the wood oven roasted bone marrow, seared foie gras and glazed sweetbreads. This border-line “West End” restaurant is clearly favored by a lot of District diners. It was nominated for Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year, Rising Culinary Star of the Year, Pastry Chef of the Year and Manager of the Year.
- Birch and Barley/Churchkey (1337 14th Street NW): Another favorite among the categories is Birch and Barley/Churchkey. This Logan Circle restaurant and beer haven picked-up nominations for Upscale Casual Restaurant of the Year and Beverage/Mixology Program of the Year. In addition, its parent group, Neighborhood Restaurant Group, picked up a nomination for Restaurateur of the Year.
- Bar Pilar (1833 14th Street NW): Perhaps it’s Bar Pilar’s dim and intimate setting. Or maybe it’s the craft beers, small plates and delicious cocktails. Whatever it is, Bar Pilar is a District staple. It’s nominated for Casual Restaurant of the Year and Hottest Restaurant Bar Scene of the Year.
- Estadio (1520 14th Street NW): Estadio’s owner is brining a new restaurant to the neighborhood, but Estadio is still raking in the praise from DC’s diners. This 14th Street tapas favorite was nominated for Upscale Casual Restaurant of the Year, Chef of the Year and Manager of the Year.
- Cork Wine Bar (1720 14th Street NW): Nominated for Upscale Casual Restaurant of the Year.
- C. F. Folks (1225 19th Street NW): Nominated for Casual Restaurant of the Year.
- Nellie’s Sports Bar (900 U Street NW): Nominated for Neighborhood Gathering Place of the Year.
- Boqueria (1837 M Street NW): Nominated for New Restaurant of the Year.
- DGS Delicatessen (1317 Connecticut Avenue NW): Nominated for New Restaurant of the Year.
- Vidalia (1990 M Street NW): Nominated for Pastry Chef of the Year.
- Jack Rose Dining Saloon (2007 18th St NW): Nominated for Hottest Restaurant Bar Scene of the Year.
- Black Restaurant Group: Nominated for Manager of the Year.
- Matchbox Food Group: Nominated for Restaurateur of the Year.
For a full list of the RAMMY nominees, visit the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington’s website.
If the current boom state of 14th Street wasn’t enough to tell you that our fair neighborhood and city is on the cutting edge of the restaurant scene, then maybe some glitz, glamour, and glass obelisk statues will? Borderstan came up big last night at the RAMMYS, the yearly awards gala of the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW).
With many more area eateries in the neighborhood nominated, congrats are in order for:
- Cork Wine Bar: Wine Program of the Year
- Cafe Saint-Ex: Neighborhood Gathering Place of the Year
- Estadio: Beverage/Mixology Program of the Year
- Blackjack: Hottest Restaurant Bar Scene of the Year
- Black Restaurant Group: Restaurateur of the Year (Black Jack and Pearl Dive Oyster Palace are part of the group)
As Mike Benson of Cafe Saint-Ex emphatically stated about DC in his acceptance speech for Best Neighborhood Gathering Place, “our restaurant scene is kicking ass. We’re turning heads.”
Borderstan’s wins last night reflected the growing importance and attention that restaurants and restaurateurs are giving to things besides the food. Cork Wine Bar won for their outstanding wine program, and Estadio followed up its 2011 Best New Restaurant RAMMY with a win for its Beverage/Mixology program, edging out fellow Borderstan nominee Birch and Barley/Churchkey.
“Ultimately DC is a really small town doing really big things,” mused the ecstatic winners from Estadio upon accepting their award. “We’re in a city that is the most beautiful city in the world for beverages right now.”
But the big winners last night at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel were Jeff and Barbara Black and their Black Restaurant Group, taking home the award for Restaurateur of the Year. The owners of Best New Restaurant Nominee Pearl Dive Oyster Palace also claimed the hardware for Hottest Restaurant Bar Scene for Blackjack. In one of the moments of the night, Chef Black pushed through the wrap-it-up music to acknowledge that this award came from the people in the industry, “the ones doing the hard work, not the bloggers.” (The Young & Hungry at the Washington City Paper has more as does The Examiner where Black clarified his statement.)
The gala itself was full of other great moments: restaurants throwing their support behind embattled Hank’s Oyster Bar in their fight against “the gang of six,” which earned notable applause from the audience (Hank’s was a nominee for Best Casual Restaurant of the year); Estadio winning (at least in this writer’s humble opinion) the cocktail of the night with their gin-based Dia de Descanso; and some of the biggest hats and fascinators on a night that never disappoints for wild fashion. Always a great time, and our neighborhood is looking even stronger and stronger for the upcoming year. See you all at the 2013 RAMMYS!
From Alejandra Owens. You can find her at her food blog, One Bite At A Time. Alejandra also writes for City Eats DC, a Food Network site, where you can book dinner reservations. Email her at alejandra[AT]borderstan.com and follow her on Twitter at @frijolita.
Each year the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington names a group of outstanding restaurants, chefs, mixologists, sommeliers, pastry chefs and restaurant staff that have helped develop and advance the DC food scene. Not only are these folks outstanding at what they do, but they are also an integral part of our neighborhood. They help us make memories, create an ambience and environment where friends can gather, families can relax and so much more.
We are incredibly lucky to live in a neighborhood with not just so much wonderful food, but also with so many wonderful people who live and work to make it happen every day. Cheers to this year’s list of nominees for the awards — known as the RAMMYs — and good luck to all when the winners who will be announced this June. Last year four neighborhood restaurants took home RAMMYS in June (see Logan Circle Restaurants Take Home Some 2011 RAMMYs).
The following restaurants from Borderstan were nominated for a 2012 RAMMY:
Upscale Casual Restaurant of the Year
- Birch & Barley
Casual Restaurant of the Year
- Bar Pilar
- C.F. Folks
- Hank’s Oyster Bar and Lounge – DC
Neighborhood Gathering Place of the Year
- Bistrot Du Coin
- Café Saint-Ex
New Restaurant of the Year
- Pearl Dive Oyster Palace
Rising Culinary Star of the Year
- Justin Bittner – Bar Pilar
Wine Program of the Year
- Cork Wine Bar
Beverage/Mixology Program of the Year
- Neighborhood Restaurant Group
Hottest Restaurant Bar Scene of the Year
- Black Jack
Restaurateur of the Year
- Michael Babin – Neighborhood Restaurant Group