Northern Virginia Magazine Top 50 Restaurants 2010

Highs: Clever wine flights
Lows: Route 7 during rush hour
Share: Homemade charcuterie
Savor: Coq au vin

Wine Kitchen co-founder Jason Miller confirms that opening chef Chris Carey parted company with their group earlier this summer in order to attend to some personal issues.

Lucky for us, Carey left the restaurant in the more-than-capable hands of his successor, newly minted executive chef Matt Hess—a seasoned pro who has quickly put his own stamp on the playful menu.

One quirky addendum is the new taco night, a hump day celebration featuring grilled, homemade corn tortillas stuffed with braised short ribs, heirloom tomatoes, crumbled cotija cheese, creamy avocado sauce and French-fried onions (ole!).

Modified pho trades the traditional noodles, meats and bean sprouts for robust seafood broth—anchored by pepper-rubbed tilefish and tiny crayfish—vegetables (fresh basil, minced jalapenos and diced scallions) and basmati rice.

Fudgy chocolate cake balls are enveloped in sea salt-studded dark chocolate and drizzled with warm caramel (outstanding).