Restaurant awards — usually a celebration of excess — are suddenly a salute to survival.
- This year's RAMMY Awards, from the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington, were grounded in adversity and disruption, rather than luxury or decadence.
The new COVID-inspired categories highlight how the pandemic's existential threat forever changed the industry.
- "Chef of the year" was ditched for more inclusive categories.
Some of the winners from our brave new world:
- Finer Dining in a Box: Cranes in Penn Quarter.
- Prime Pandemic Patio Scene: Le Diplomate (more on them below).
- Outstanding COVID-safe Redesign: Clarity in Vienna.
- Most Innovative To-Go Packaging Game: Oyster Oyster on 8th Street NW.
- Most Impressive Pivot to Provisions or Market: Neighborhood Restaurant Group/Neighborhood Provisions, based in Alexandria.
- And there were a slew of "to-go" awards ... Coolest Cocktails and Beverages (Cactus Cantina) ... Standout Family Meal Packages (Ristorante i Ricchi) ... and, of course, wine (which highlighted 10 area institutions in its special "honorable mention" category).
The bigger picture: After a year where social justice advocacy upended society, other new categories honored restaurants that supported marginalized communities.
- Employees of Immigrant Food, a restaurant that also supports immigration-related advocacy and education work, took home the Good Neighbor and Employee of the Year awards.
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