Best New Restaurant

Tail Up Goat
1827 Adams Mill Road NW, (202) 986-9600
Photograph by Darrow Montgomery

When your resume includes top dining destinations like Komi and Little Serow, it can be hard to escape the shadow of your former employer. (That’s not to say these affiliations don’t have their perks.) But I have no doubt that the owners of Tail Up Goat—Bill Jensen, Jon Sybert, and Jill Tyler—won’t be referred to as simply “alums of” for long. In a few short months, their Mediterranean-inspired Adams Morgan restaurant has built an identity deserving a spotlight of its own.

Carbs tend to be chef Sybert’s strong suit. The kitchen makes its own breads and pastas—but none exactly like you’ve had them before. A seaweed sourdough infused with wakame is paired with ciccioli (like a pork belly rillette) and pickled fennel stem, while a charred chocolate rye comes with a salt-crusted sardine and a pickled persimmon. In both cases, the bread isn’t merely a vehicle for its toppings, but a crunchy, cakey treat in itself.

Among the fresh pastas, the smoked rutabaga ravioli, laid out like a flower in a bright-green basil-mint pesto, is a must-try. Each bite comes with a burst of creamy sweetness from the rutabaga, and then a counterpunch of bitterness and crunch from savory gingerbread crumbs sprinkled on top. Breadcrumbs, which Sybert uses on all his pastas, are a highly underrated dish component.

While most of the menu consists of small plates, a few platters are large enough to share between at least two people. The dish everyone seems to be talking about is the lamb ribs, which are served in a tangle of mint, dill, and other fresh herbs with beets, yogurt, raw onions, hazelnuts, and pickled mustard seeds. The meat is so tender it almost seems a gentle blow would be enough to tear it off the bone.

Every meal starts with a small tumbler of complimentary celery shrub. The vinegary palate awakener isn’t for everyone, but I’d drink a full glass of it. The rest of the drink menu is eclectic, but Jensen, who oversees the libations, is the kind of person who could likely talk about Spanish rosés and Italian amaros for hours—and somehow not bore you.

In some regards, you still might see flickers of the owners’ former lives at Komi and Little Serow. Like the staff at those restaurants, servers feel more like the hosts of a dinner party. And while, thankfully, you don’t need to wait in line or call exactly a month in advance for these tables, they will undoubtedly be in high-demand.