Washington, D.C. James Beard Nominees 2018

Get a meal in now before the finalists are announced

The semifinalists for this year's James Beard Awards have been announced, and with nominees in almost every category, D.C. is at the front of the pack in terms of the country's best food city. But with only a few weeks until the final short list is revealed, the clock is ticking for you to get yourself to these five restaurants nominated for an Oscar of the food world—before everyone else does.

Aggie Chin: Outstanding Pastry Chef

It's rare when a restaurant devotes almost the same amount of menu real estate to its desserts as it does its savory items, but that's exactly the case at Mirabelle. Save the other half of your appetite for Chin's stunning sweets, like the black pepper pavlova with green apple mousse or La Lune with passion fruit ganache, malted milk chocolate ice cream and passion fruit crémeux.

Esther Lee: Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic

A five-course meal at Obelisk in Dupont Circle is surprisingly affordable, especially when the courses range from squab agnolotti with chanterelle mushrooms to suckling pig with rapini and pepperonata.

Daniela Moreira: Rising Star Chef

This Eleven Madison Park alum's gamble to trade haute tasting menus for "Neapolitan-ish" pizzas has paid off. At Timber, she's using the wood-fired oven not only for pies but for empanadas (a tribute to her Argentine heritage) and waffle cones for gelato sundaes.

Del Mar: Best New Restaurant

Fabio Trabocchi's latest addition to his D.C. restaurant empire draws on his wife Maria's Spanish heritage, with a menu highlighting raw fish preparations and Mediterranean favorites, including croquetas de jamon and various paellas. 

Vikram Sunderam: Outstanding Chef

If butter chicken is the only Indian dish you can name off the top of your head, you owe it to yourself to grab a seat at Rasika. The menu is a showcase of classic Indian cooking methods, whether it's the banana leaf-wrapped bass that comes off the tawa griddle or the garam masala-spiced lamb charred over the sigri grill.