Exploring the James Beard semifinalists of NoVa

What is it about Northern Virginia that boasts so many of the country’s best restaurants? The James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards, among the most prestigious culinary honors in the nation, released its 2024 list of semifinalists, which includes several of NoVa’s favorite fine dining establishments and culinary innovators. 

Chef-Owner Chris Morgan and Executive Chef Najmieh Batmanglij at Joon in Vienna were recognized in the Best Chef of the Mid-Atlantic category. Morgan’s Michelin star experience and Batmanglij’s internationally renowned Iranian-inspired cookbooks ensure that the restaurant’s reputation precedes itself—fortunately, the food lives up to and even exceeds the lofty expectations. 

The chef duo leads the culinary direction of Joon with artistry and flair, crafting aromatic Persian dishes that embrace the traditions of the cuisine while adding plenty of creativity. A menu featuring Baba Ganoush, Lamb Kabob, Sour Cherry Rice, and Saffron and Rose Water Ice Cream takes diners on a journey through varying Middle Eastern regions and tastes. Expert plating and presentation entice, while decadent bites fulfill cravings. The food is both comforting and indulgent, while also being sophisticated, showcasing the elegance of Persian cuisine. And the restaurant’s emphasis on guest satisfaction is emblematic of the region’s hospitality culture.

As for restaurant categories, 2941 in Falls Church was recognized on the Outstanding Restaurant presented by Acqua Panna Natural Spring Water list. This establishment is known for its rich meat and seafood meals, combination of French and American tones, and stunning lake and forest views outside its extravagant floor-to-ceiling windows. Chef Bertrand Chemel offers a tasting menu with delights like Parmesan Potato Gnocchi and Berkshire Pork Belly, tailored with options to suit vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. The á la carte and prix fixe menus are full of tempting dishes as well, including Crispy Burrata and Crescent Duck Breast, ensuring satisfying meals across the board, each complemented by the restaurant’s colorful yet classic array of cocktails. EatJoon.com; 2941.com


This article originally appeared in the Best of Virginia 2024 issue.

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