The 40 most essential D.C. restaurant dishes of 2016

What was the single most memorable dish you ate in the past year?

That’s the question we put to a broad survey of the Washington area’s chefs, restaurateurs, mixologists, food writers and other culinary cognoscenti in compiling our fifth annual list of the most essential eats in and around the nation’s capital.

Because the food community is tightly knit, with once-and-former collaborators ever eager to reciprocate praise among industry friends, all submissions were to be presented anonymously.

The resulting nominations spanned our rapidly maturing dining scene, with time-tested deep cuts joining stunning newcomers and inviting curiosities — head-on horse mackerel isn’t the most common menu item — from across the menu, and the globe. The Washington Post independently reviewed each dish to affirm its presence on the list, which is presented in no particular order.

Dear Michelin inspectors (who have recently started combing Washington’s restaurants for the first time): You might want to start here.