DC is a food town. It is one of the bigger food towns in the country. This surprises me to say, because I don't generally hear about this outside DC. Everyone knows about Napa and Berkeley, but you don't think food when you hear DC.
New York is not a food city. I mean, there certainly is a lot of good food in the city (Stumptown for instance), but only in the sense that there is a lot of good anything in the city. New York is big and has everything. But your typical New Yorker isn't sitting around thinking about ingredient quality or seasonality, and for any good restaurant that I have been to in in New York, I've wandered into another that was more about style than substance.
Every DC restaurant that we walked into was good. Even the random places. Right next to Peregrine was a gelato place called Pitango. It looked good, so we tried it out. It was a quality establishment.