Washington, D.C. is a city that takes its two biggest pastimes very seriously: politics and dining out. If you’re an adventurous eater, there is plenty to occupy your attention, as our nation’s capital is bursting with dining choices. Blessed by the bounty of land and sea, the Chesapeake region offers a steady source of foodstuffs for our tables year round. Depending on the season, you can slurp sweet Rappahannock River oysters that were dreaming in silt-lined beds only hours before, enjoy the crunch of a Pink Lady apple grown within a few miles of the White House, or sip a glass of world-class Virginia wine.
The dining scene in D.C. is a melting pot in the truest sense of the word, thanks to the influence of expats, chefs, and restaurant owners from dozens of countries, and you can find restaurants offering Afghan, Ethiopian, Balkan, Indian, French, Austrian, and countless other cuisines. And now the city boasts a growing craft brewing and artisanal distilling industry; think DC Brau and Green Hat Gin.
Choosing the top 10 restaurants wasn’t easy, so we relied on a little help from our friends, people whose opinions we respect and who really know D.C. Our reviewers included local bloggers, food writers, and other foodies, and all of us chose the entries based on the quality of the service, the feel of the space, and the beauty, creativity, and flavor of the food. As our only epicurean president, we think Thomas Jefferson would find Washington’s culinary diversity deliciously rewarding, and we are sure you will too. Please enjoy our Best of D.C. list:
Ask most Washingtonians what words come to mind when they think of 1789 Restaurant and you hear things like, [slideshow: 1602860] “Grande Dame,” “Power Dining,” and “THE place for Easter and Mother’s Day.” From the beginning, 1789 was meant to be a place revered for its traditions, the opulence of its food, the discretion of its waiters, and the romance of its dining room. The complex flavors and hearty dishes offer a gourmand mouthwatering choices, but we have a different approach to the menu. Revel in just three courses from the Second Course menu and you will experience chef Samuel Kim’s true genius. One test of the greatness of a chef is his or her ability to cook an egg correctly. Begin with the “Coddled Egg” and you will see greatness unfold before you. The sweetness of the golden yolk is complimented by the umami of the duxelles prepared with chanterelle, maitake, and oyster mushrooms, but it’s the spicy meatiness of the pork ‘Nduja sausage that is the dish’s star. Infused with the creamy flavor of the ink, the squid ink Tagliarini is laced with the sweetness of squid, calamari, and Maryland blue crab with a hint of jalapeño. Tossed with Meyer lemon confit and breadcrumbs, this is not your Nonna’s pasta: the spice of the chili and the tang of the lemon confit counterbalance the silky richness of the dish. The last dish is an homage to the beauty of rustic ingredients elevated by butter. The potato gnocchi are light and pillowy and soak up the aromas and savory flavors of the fried Burgundy snails, baby leeks, and smoked quail eggs. The beurre noisette is like the nightcap to a perfect meal and each dish is a vignette of the chef’s latest work of art.
Belgium is not a country many Americans are familiar with, and they definitely don’t see many restaurants featuring the native cuisine, but at Belga Café they make the exploring the menu worth the effort. What stands out here is the personal service combined with a homey atmosphere and a fabulous beer and wine selection served by knowledgeable professionals. Newbies should start with an order of garnaal beignets. They are light, crispy batter-fried shrimp served with a tomato mayonnaise; what’s not to like? Then move on to one of the great carnivore dishes: quintessential steak frites Belge. The tenderloin lives up to its name and is properly seasoned and cooked with a great crust, but the frites are true to form and quite a revelation. They are first properly blanched and then refried so the outer part of the potato is brown and crisp while the interior is meltingly soft and piping hot. Be sure to try the beer béarnaise with your steak. It is totally Belgian and should be generously slathered on your meat, eaten with a spoon, or dipped with bread. You choose. For a return to reality, we suggest you finish with a slightly bitter endive salad, and then enjoy a large glass of Trappist ale. Then you really will feel you are doing it Belgian style.
Click here for all of The Daily Meal's Washington, D.C. coverage
Additional reporting by Kate Kolenda, Dan Meyers, Arthur Bovino, and Colman Andrews.
5 DC Restaurant Brunch Dishes We Really Miss—Here Are the Recipes
St. Anselm’s Buttermilk Biscuits
These ultra buttery biscuits from chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley aren’t just delicious for a morning meal—the dough freezes perfectly.
Spam fried rice at Coconut Club. Photograph by Scott Suchman
Coconut Club’s Spam Fried Rice
A runny egg makes chef Adam Greenberg‘s Hawaiian-inspired dish a brunch favorite. And good news: you may have the ingredients knocking around your pantry.
2 Amy’s Deviled Eggs with Green Sauce
These deviled eggs have been a staple on 2 Amy’s menu as much as any pizza. Round them out with toast or a few slices of smoked salmon or prosciutto for a full brunch plate. The recipe makes more green sauce than you’ll need but it’s delicious with fish, chicken—pretty much anything.
Le Diplomate’s crave-inducing burger. Photograph by Jeff Elkins
Le Diplomate’s Burger Américain
Le Dip’s melty patty is a great brunch burger. It’s a great anytime burger. It’s one of the restaurant dishes we miss most right now, but thankfully it’s not too hard to recreate.
Oatmeal souffle. Photograph by Scott Suchman
Pastry Chef Josh Short’s Oatmeal Soufflé
Talk about decadent: a soufflé for breakfast! And from the luxe Hay-Adams no less. But hey, no one’s going to judge you for a morning soufflé these days (or even wine).
Culinary Capital: Where to Eat in Washington, D.C.
Pay no attention to outsiders’ snickers about steakhouses and lobbyist lunches: Washington, D.C., is a dining destination. The city’s international scene, expansive growth and proximity to the Chesapeake and Mid-Atlantic farmlands and watersheds have made it an irresistible place for chefs to set up shop. Both homegrown talent and national names have contributed to D.C.’s restaurant boom, which shows no sign of slowing as new neighborhoods become food hot spots every year. We cut through the red tape and show you where to start.
Check out the full gallery for more top D.C. dishes.
If you line up outside a restaurant at 4 p.m. and don’t end up eating dinner until after 8, it had better be worth it. Despite all the hype Rose’s Luxury has received since it opened in 2013, it still delivers, every time. There are only a few menu standbys at chef Aaron Silverman’s charmingly quirky Barracks Row spot, which means there’s always something new and exciting to sample, even for regulars. Rose’s cuisine is boundless: Silverman dabbles in Asian (an outstanding pork-and-lychee salad is one of those few menu fixtures), Italian (in a town spoiled for solid Italian restaurants, his cacio e pepe is the best around), Southern (soft-shell crawfish with Tabasco butter) and beyond. Not many chefs can make all that work together, but in his hands it’s a flavorful, eclectic and fun dinner party, and everyone wants an invite.
There are a lot of good restaurant burgers in the District, but Garden District’s may be the only one that masters the spirit of the backyard cookout. Open only in warmer seasons, the Logan Circle beer garden is perfectly suited to maximize summer burger appreciation, with sunbaked picnic tables, icy steins of American and German craft beers, and the occasional pie special for dessert. The burger starts with a well-seasoned, hand-formed patty, which Chef Tad Curtz tops with a thin cap of sharp cheddar, ripe tomato, Thousand Island-style sauce and dill pickles, which the kitchen cuts by hand to ensure uniform crunch. The whole lot goes into a buttered, griddled bun that manages to just barely hold itself together, much like the typical family cookout.
Fiola Mare Restaurant by Fabio Trabocchi
Photo by: Greg Powers ©Greg Powers Photography www.gregpowers.us
Greg Powers, Greg Powers Photography www.gregpowers.us
When there’s a $50 plate of (lobster) ravioli on the menu and not an empty seat in the house, you know you’re in a D.C. power spot. Though the Fiola Mare dinner is exceptional, we like Fabio and Maria Trabocchi’s seafood-focused Italian dining room best at lunch, preferably with a window seat overlooking the Georgetown waterfront and the Kennedy Center. If you’re dining sans expense account, zone in on the Presto! lunch menu at the bar, which offers your choice of an entree (think spaghetti with clams or grilled calamari with salsa verde) and a cocktail for $22. Or avoid that too-stuffed-to-go-back-to-work predicament with the lightened-up Maria lunch menu, just $28 for three courses. But if you’re on someone else’s dime, we’d spring for that decadent ravioli or the simply grilled whole branzino.
Though many would cite the half-smoke as the District’s most-iconic dish, no single sausage could inspire the passion of this inventive spinach starter. Included on countless best-of lists and ordered more frequently than any other dish at the hip, modern James Beard Foundation Award-winning Indian destination, the Palak Chaat is a tango of textures and flavors. The beloved small plate starts with crackle-crisp shards of fried spinach below a fluff of yogurt and tamarind with diced tomato, red onion and cilantro. Though it’s meant to be shared, insiders know that ordering one per person is the best way to keep everyone happy, even at a table packed with Cauliflower Bezule, anise-scented Black Cod and other enticements.
A true Italian restaurant is one where all the dishes are served family style – and Casa Luca believes just that. The menu is made of carefully selected dishes, like whole branzino or lobster gnocchi, that showcase Italian food best.
Get the true Italian experience at Masseria – choose between 4, 5, or 6 courses that will take you through antipasti, pasta, main course, and of course, dessert (docli, in Italian). Although it's a bit pricey, the flavors of each dish makes the experience worth it.
Eat Your Way through the Evergreen State: What to Eat in Washington
Washington state is known for its fresh coastal seafood, eastern vineyards and, of course, abundant coffee shops. But it’s also home to a diverse community of farmers and foragers that grow and harvest ingredients like lavender, asparagus, mushrooms and peated barley. Here are 26 especially iconic bites from the Evergreen State smorgasbord.
Photo By: Charity Burggraaf
Photo By: Jenn Repp / Hama Hama Company
Photo By: The Depot Restaurant
What to Try in Washington
We can&rsquot lay claim to championship sports teams or affordable rent, but we do often brag about our Dungeness crab, oysters on the half shell, and boutique coffee roasters. Ah, Washington! Where tech employees are only outnumbered by bowls of clam chowder, and rainstorms still spark short-term memory loss when it comes to driving. Here are just a few of the foods that make living in the Space Needle state totally worth it.
Illustration by Hello Neighbor Designs
Smoked Sockeye Salmon
Chef Blaine Wetzel at The Willows Inn on Lummi Island has cracked the code to the perfect smoked salmon recipe. Using Sockeye caught off the shores of Lummi Island during the early stages of their spawning season (which makes them nice and fatty), Wetzel brines and then dries them to create a super flavorful fish. The salmon is then smoked lightly over a long period of time to give it a sashimi-like texture. Finished off with a glaze of brown sugar, butter and verjus, the result is a bright and clean taste with firm texture that has made this dish a textbook example of the type of seafood Washington is capable of.
Shiro Kashiba began harvesting geoduck on the Washington coast and preparing them as nigiri when he immigrated to Seattle from Japan 50 years ago. Prior to that, it hadn’t been done — anywhere. He popularized geoduck as sushi, so you can bet any geoduck he touches at his eponymous Sushi Kashiba, in Pike Place Market, is pure gold. While the nigiri is seasonal, the sauteed geoduck with matsutake mushrooms is available year-round. Best part? There’s an excellent chance Shirosan will be behind the sushi bar during your visit. Now in his 70s, the man doesn’t know how to retire.
Oysters on the Half Shell
Washington's south sound is still mourning the loss of Xinh Dwelley's Shelton restaurant that shuttered in late 2016 after spoiling a long list of loyal patrons with incredible seafood for 20 years. Fortunately, her famous geoduck chowder and oyster stew can still be found at Taylor Shellfish oyster bars and markets. The oyster stew, made with baked oysters, is something to marvel at. After being cut in large chunks, the oysters are added to a base of butter, garlic, celery, onion and oregano and topped off with milk and cream. Long live Xinh's Clam & Oyster House.
Beecher' s Mac & Cheese
The popularity of this iconic mac comes down to two things: a generous amount of Beecher’s signature Flagship cheese and the fact that there’s no actual macaroni involved. Flagship, Beecher’s signature cheese, melts smooth and creamy, while retaining its nutty, robust flavor. And using penne as the pasta gives the dish a chewier texture and helps hold the sauce better than standard macaroni. The recipe is rounded out with a hint of garlic and chile powder which, according to Beecher’s, makes it the World’s Best.
Steamed Mussels & Clams
When longtime Pike Place Market fish thrower Dan Bugge bought popular dining spot Matt's in the Market, in an upstairs nook of an adjacent building, in 2006, he redirected his love of seafood into a full-fledged restaurant. It goes without saying that everything is intensely local at Matt’s and the shellfish is no exception, all sourced from coastal farms. And while the Washington seaboard is a main theme with this dish, the menu’s actually inspired by the flavors of Spain, starting with a broth made from Spanish Cava, garlic, shallot and pork stock. The shellfish is cooked with Matt’s housemade chorizo, corona beans and piquillo peppers — all topped with cilantro and olive oil croutons.
Razor Clam Chowder
As mega restaurateur Ethan Stowell continues to build his empire at an impressive speed, one of the classic dishes that helped put him on the map isn' t going anywhere. At Anchovies & Olives in Seattle, Stowell makes geoduck crudo by thinly slicing the saltwater clam's siphon and mixing it with radishes, fennel and chiles. It's a simple dish with a refined taste that magically makes you forget all about the hilarity of the geoduck's awkward appearance.
Morels on Toast
Saigon-Style Dungeness Crab
Monsoon's owner, Sophie Banh, has been working with the same suppliers for the past two decades, and that includes Wong Tung seafood market in Seattle's International District, where she sources her live crab. The Saigon-style Dungeness crab is made to order — each crab is oil-blanched and finished off in the wok with shallots, garlic, butter, and five spice. This dish sells out immediately when it's on the menu, which is only when Sophie gets a good deal on the crab. Even more rare is the fact that Sophie will not raise the price she wants everyone to be able to afford to eat in her restaurant.
Penn Cove Mussels: à la Marinière
When your restaurant is down the road from the country's oldest and largest commercial mussel farm, your shellfish better be good. And at charming Prima Bistro on Whidbey Island, a stone's throwfrom Penn Cove, they are. Served à la marinière, which means in the style of the sea, the mussels are added to a mixture of shallots, celery and garlic, with a lot of butter, and white wine. Once they're steamed open, more butter is added. The bivalves are served in cast iron pots with lids removed tableside to ensure the meal is piping hot and as aromatic as possible.
Mangalitsa Pig Charcuterie
A short ferry ride away from Seattle on Bainbridge Island sits Hitchcock, a destination restaurant known for its compulsion towards local harvesting. Fortunately for diners, that extends to the animals. Chef-Owner Brendan McGill raises rare Mangalitsa pigs, feeding them organic Skagit Valley barley and tons of locally grown pumpkin, spent grain from regional breweries and distilleries, and vegetable waste from the restaurant. In return, the heritage hogs produce some of the best charcuterie in the state, supplying Hitchcock, as well as McGill's two delis and pizzeria, with outstanding salumi and a reputation that is well deserved.
Dungeness Crab Roll
Bar Harbor exists because of the New England crab roll, so it's an obsession here. After finding a bakery that would make a traditional white bread roll, it was all smooth sailing from there. While a lot of great sandwiches are ruined by lousy bread, the rolls here are buttery and crispy and served in three different styles: Maine (with mayo), Connecticut (with butter) and New England (with mayo, celery and chive). This is probably the only place in the Seattle area where it's safe to root for the Patriots!
Molten Chocolate Cake
Theo Chocolate sets a new level of chocolate devotion in the Pacific Northwest. Autumn Martin left her dream job as Head Chocolatier of Theo to open Hot Cakes — a sort of sugar shack that offers everything from boozy shakes to cookies, smoked chocolate chips, caramel sauces and her signature dessert, molten chocolate cakes. What started out as a DIY dessert business springboarded by her incredible calling-card recipe (Take-n-Bake Molten Chocolate Cake), is now a full-fledged store with multiple locations and a thriving retail business.
Etta's "Rub with Love" Salmon
Westland Peated Barley Praline
Honey Lavender Ice Cream
Molly Moon's, Seattle's O.G. scoop shop, has a handful of flavors on tap year-round, including Honey Lavender. It's so popular, Purple Haze Lavender Farms in Sequim struggles to keep up with demand. Ground lavender, along with honey, is added straight into the mixer for refreshing ice cream with a relaxing kick of lavender.
Cold-Pressed Blueberry Juice
Charles Smith Wines
When razor clam season hits the Long Beach Peninsula, The Depot restaurant is where you want to be. Clams Bucatini, which has been on the menu for more than a decade, is flavored with a generous amount of the pungent shellfish, which is tossed in a sauce of garlic, white wine, lemon juice, chile flakes and a helping of the razor clam's more subtle, buttery counterpart, the Willapa Bay clam. The hollow build of the bucatini allows the juices to flow in and out. And by the time you run out of pasta, you'll be left with spoonfuls of razor clams left to eat.
Steamed Spot Prawns
Known for using a lot of spot prawns when they're in season, Chef Taichi Kitamura of Sushi Kappo Tamura in Seattle uses exclusively live prawns, which deliver a firm, lobster-like texture and intense sweetness. Kitamura steams the live shrimp (sourced from waters off the Hood Canal and San Juan Islands) in a bamboo steamer for about 10 minutes, lets them cool, and then splashes cold water on them to deshell. Delicately, he keeps the head and tomalley attached. The prawns are one of his most popular dishes, available late spring to early fall.
10 Healthy D.C. Restaurants You Have to Try
For Diet-to-Go customers meal-time can be as set as they want it to be. That&rsquos because customers can choose between a 5-day or 7-day meal plan &mdash and can choose whether they want to receive breakfast, lunch and dinner, or just lunch and dinner.
Yep, with Diet-to-Go, it&rsquos all in your hands.
But what about those days when you just want to get out of the house and try something new? Maybe it&rsquos a special occasion. Maybe you&rsquore going out with friends. Maybe it&rsquos date-night.
Whatever the reason, when you head to a restaurant, we want you to be as prepared as possible and know where to go to get the healthiest (and still delicious) meals in your metro.
Diet-to-Go is starting a mini feature series where we&rsquore sharing our 10 favorite healthy restaurants in the five metros where we offer fresh pickup.
The restaurants featured are sure to light up your taste buds while still keeping you in-line with your weight loss goals.
Our first stop? Washington D.C.
Can&rsquot pronounce the name? Don&rsquot sweat it. The delicious creative tacos served up at this retro little joint tucked in Friends of Georgetown Waterfront Park will soon take your mind off it. The menu is 100 percent vegetarian (great for vegans, too, though you may have to opt out of some of the soups), healthy and delicious. Pick out your taco trio and then walk over to the park to enjoy your meal lakeside, followed by a walk.
2) Protein Bar.
Protein Bar&rsquos mission? To change the way people eat, and do it in a way that still tastes good and satisfies. This fast-casual joint is great for lunch, or for a take-home dinner. They&rsquove got &ldquobar-ritos and bowls,&rdquo take your pick. Each bowl is made with locally-sourced ingredients ranging from avocados, to beans, to chicken, to pesto and more. Oh, and did we mention they&rsquore all under 650 calories?
3) Keren Restaurant.
Feeling creative? Maybe even a little adventurous? Then make your way to Keren Restaurant. Don&rsquot let the dive appearance fool you. It&rsquos small, but mighty. Seriously, there&rsquos a reason Keren is usually packed &mdash this place is a gem, especially if you want to satiate parts of your taste buds you never knew existed with Ethiopian food. It&rsquos an absolute must-try.
4) Cava Grill.
Speaking of being adventurous, how about a journey into the middle-land? Yep, we&rsquore talking about Mediterranean food (Mediterranean is Greek for &ldquomiddle-land&rdquo). Cava&rsquos menu is fully customizable based on whatever your taste buds desire (although most people say the &ldquocrazy feta&rdquo is to die for), and the interior has a trendy vibe to it, as colorful as the menu items themselves. There&rsquos soups, pita wraps, sauces, you name it. (And you&rsquoll love it).
5) DC Harvest.
Chef and owner Arthur Ringel has 15-plus years experience in the food business, and he knows his stuff &mdash one taste of his menu, and you&rsquoll find out why. This upscale kitchen spot truly encompasses everything we love about American food. Not the greasy, fried stuff you might get at a chain restaurant, but the kind of American that grandma cooks on a Sunday evening. The menu includes dinner and brunch items, like roasted chicken or brisket (both garnished with healthy sides like quinoa and couscous) for the evening, or things like cremini mushrooms or shrimp and grits for the morning. Mmmm, mmm.
6) Busboys and Poets.
Do you have a quirky, maybe even a bit eccentric, personality? Then you&rsquoll fit right in at Busboys and Poets. The restaurant&rsquos vibe is as interesting as its menu. It&rsquos got lounge chairs, sofas, high-tops, bars and even a bookstore in the back. It&rsquos the kind of place you go curl up with a good book, tap away at your laptop or play a game with friends. And all the while munch down on some healthy, tasty breakfast, lunch or dinner items.
7) Chop&rsquot Creative Salads.
Salad, right? It gets old quick. Unless you find yourself at Chop&rsquot, that is. The restaurant is all about getting super creative with its offerings (hence the name), and it won&rsquot disappoint. Choose from their Destination Salads menu (we&rsquore talking Crunchy Thai Market or Spicy Green Papaya), their Classic Salads (everything from Mexican Caesar to Texas Po&rsquoBoy), their Grain and Noodle Bowls (Mediterranean Falafel, for example) or Warm Kale & Quinoa Bowls. They even have a Create Your Own option. (We won&rsquot blame you if you&rsquore already headed to your car).
8) Restaurant Nora.
When you&rsquore ready to spend a few extra bucks and want to eat 100 percent organic, tasty dishes like pan seared scallops, salmon or veal, head to Restaurant Nora. Known as America&rsquos first certified organic restaurant, Nora&rsquos has been serving healthy, wholesome food for more than 37 years. Restaurant founder Nora Pouillon has received multiple culinary awards over the years and advised many big companies on how to incorporate organic food into their menus. The price tag for dinner will be on the higher-end, but it&rsquos just the thing for a classy date night.
Authentic Japanese cuisine all the way &mdash authentic and delicious, that is. Donburi (named after a rice bowl dish in Japan) is known for having some of the most delicious Katsudon in town. (Katsudon is a bowl of rice topped with pork cutlet, egg, vegetables and sauces.) The dish is a big deal in Japan, and for good reason. It&rsquos sure to lift your spirits, especially if you pick some up from this place.
10) Blue Duck Tavern.
Besides having great service, Blue Duck Tavern has a great ambiance and the menu to match. Dishes run the gamut &mdash everything from roasted quail or duck confit, to crab cakes or steak, to poached pear salads and more. It&rsquos the kind of place you want to carve out some time for (maybe a special occasion or date), because it&rsquos relaxing, laid-back and friendly.
Author: Caitlin H
Diet-to-Go Community Manager
Caitlin is the Diet-to-Go community manager and an avid runner. She is passionate about engaging with others online and maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle. She believes moderation is key, and people will have the most weight loss success if they engage in common-sense healthy eating and fitness.
40 Things To Eat in DC Before You Die
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These days people don’t just come to DC for its history, but they also travel to our nation’s capital to enjoy its rich food scene. The number of restaurants to try can be quite overwhelming — it could take you two weeks to try all the restaurants on 14th street — and
Spoon wants to help. Here is a list of the top 40 bites to try in DC before you die (in no particular order).
1. Kitfo at Ethiopic
Photo courtesy of Thrillist
Definitely not something you would find everywhere, Ethiopian cuisine has made its home in DC with a strong following from locals, and for good reason. From the different stews offered to the spongy injera bread that you will no doubt be scarfing down, Ethiopic highlights the best of what Ethiopia has to offer.
It is in essence the Ethiopian take on the French bistro classic with added spices. You have the option of having it prepared cooked or raw, but if you want to get the real experience of kitfo take the plunge and get it raw. If you enjoy beef tartare while dining at a classy bistro, you need to order the kitfo.
2. Taiwanese Fried Chicken at Maketto
Maketto is the hipster capital of DC. Recently opened by Toki Underground’s Erik Bruner-Yang, Maketto focusses on the southeast Asian cuisine specifically from the regions of Taiwan and Cambodia. A truly original concept, Maketto is a restaurant/coffee shop/retail store all rolled into one.
You can literally grab a bite here and browse around for a new pair of kicks while sipping on a latte. The Taiwanese Fried Chicken is a standout menu item that everyone orders. Crisp and juicy dressed in a sweet umami vinaigrette, the chicken is served family style and is a great dish to share amongst friends.
3. Create Your Own Pizza at &pizza
Photo courtesy of downtownerdc.com
On my pizza I would like roasted garlic purée, mushroom truffle, basil spinach pesto, quattro formaggi, caramelized onions, local mushrooms, 39 day aged pepperoni, roasted peppers, fig marsala… the list at &pizza can go on and on, with one topping sounding better than the next.The genius DC concept has taken the district by storm, serving up everyone’s favorite new drunchies/munchies.
For an unbeatable $10, you get one of the best oblong pies in the city with unlimited gourmet toppings served in a hip af atmosphere. With over ten locations across DC (including both airports! Who said airport food sucks?) you can get your fix anywhere you go.
4. Kimchi Ramen at Toki Underground
The name Toki Underground is a bit misleading considering that it’s actually located on the second floor of the building. The only way to locate this ramen bar is an inconspicuous logo on a door that leads to a couple of stairs.
Decorated from the floor to ceiling in Japanese caricatures, you’ll definitely want to snap a couple of pics for your Instagram account. The Kimchi Ramen is truly unique in that it combines traditional Japanese technique but reinvents the broth with a heavy dose of flavor from Korea. Guaranteed, this is definitely not your fifty-cent ramen.
5. Everything at Union Market
Photo Courtesy of TaKorean
Union Market is DC’s one-stop spot for all things foodie. From oozing grilled cheeses to warm pockets of bao and gooey bread pudding, it’s impossible to leave this local marketplace in a serious food coma. If you’re in DC, make sure to head over to Union Market for the famous Korean inspired tacos or Red Apron’s stand for anything chorizo.
6. Margherita Pizza at 2 Amy’s
Photo courtesy of Serious Eats
If you are looking for classic Neapolitan pizza, then the margherita pizza at 2 Amy’s should be your first stop. The restaurant serves thin-crust pizza with a light coat of homemade tomato sauce and fresh bufala mozzarella. 2 Amy’s also has D.O.C status, which means that the store legally only uses permitted ingredients and methods of preparation necessary to produce authentic Neapolitan pizza. You legally can’t be gibbed, so eat up.
7. Falafel Sandwich with all the Fixin’s at Amsterdam Falafelshop
Photo courtesy of Amsterdam Falafelshop
A genius concept stolen from Holland, Amsterdam Falafelshop makes the best falafel in DC, satisfying drunchies and munchies alike. With a 22 option salad bar featuring pickled vegetables, grilled eggplant, Israeli salad as well as homemade sauces like Garlic Mayo and Curried Ketchup, it’s the best meal you can get for under $8.
8. Cakecups at Baked and Wired
Washingtonians know that Baked and Wired is better than Georgetown Cupcakes, and for good reason. The cupcakes here are called cakecups, because they are individual cakes wrapped in parchment and topped off with a swirl of rich frosting. The Dirty Chai regularly sells out on the weekend, featuring vanilla cake blended with chai spices and topped with espresso buttercream frosting. The cupcakes are big enough to share, but who are you kidding?
9. Half-Smoke at Ben’s Chili Bowl
When you think DC you think history, and Ben’s Chili Bowl is every bit a part of the city’s history as the White House. An iconic eatery and pivotal during the 1968 riots after Dr. King’s assassination, it has become a historic landmark that both tourists and locals have grown to love.
There is only one thing you need to order here and that’s the half-smoke. A sausage made of both pork and beef, topped with the house chili and a touch of mustard, it is simple and delicious. If you come in during the off hours you might even be able to nab the booth that Obama sat in and feel super presidential.
10. Brat Burger at Birch and Barley
Photo courtesy of Birch and Barley
While one may check out Birch and Barely for its beer menu of 555 varieties, he or she may stay for one of DC’s best new burgers: the Brat burger. Chef Kyle Bailey has made a German-American style burger completely from bratwurst. The inch-thick brat pattie is layered in a beer-braised sauerkraut, which adds an extra punch of flavor to the dish.
11. Sticky Buns at Blue Duck Tavern
Blue Duck Tavern is where us locals go to feel bougie. Brunch books up quickly, so if you’re looking to set a date, make sure it’s in advance. When you’re seated and comfortably sipping on a cappuccino or bubbly mimosa, make sure you order sticky buns to start.
There’s nothing more satisfying than watching your sticky buns emerge from the restaurant’s open kitchen, steaming and melting with sugary pecan goodness as they make their way to your table. Once you recover from their tantalizing spell, ask your waiter for the famous short rib hash and iconic apple pie. You’ll be dreaming of your next bougie brunch before you even pay the bill.
12. Italian Hoagie at Bub and Pop’s
Photo courtesy of Bub and Pop’s
There are few places left in DC where the owner still stands behind the counter and remembers your order, but Bub and Pop’s is one of them. Creating gourmet sandwiches, potato chips and dipping spreads from scratch, this little joint has won countless awards for the best hoagies in DC.
Make sure to try the Bub’s Italian Hoagie which comes with Genoa Salami, Prosciutto, Capicola, Pepperoni, Aged Provolone, Arugula, Roma Tomatoes, house-made hoagie relish, Mayo, Bub’s Vinaigrette, and shavings of Pecorino Romano.
13. Tacos at Chaia
Photo courtesy of Popville.com
This little taco pop up shop has been gaining immense popularity with its photogenic clover sprouts and homemade corn tortillas. Thank goodness it’s opening a permanent location in the near future for all of DC has been chasing it, farmer’s market to farmer’s market, during busy lunch hour. Chaia’s tacos are entirely gluten-free and vegetarian, with vegan options, and all the ingredients are sourced locally.
14. Chocolate Onyx at Co Co. Sala
Photo courtesy of washingtonpost.com
Everyone enjoys music, late night socializing and chocolate, so when all three meet in perfect harmony at Co Co. Sala’s chocolate lounge in Metro Center, it becomes a destination every night of the week. Stop by for some flirting over house-crafted chocolate cocktails and don’t leave without scooping your spoon into rich chocolate mousse.
15. Khachapuri at Compass Rose
Photo courtesy of Washington Post
Compass Rose is a quaint eatery that features an eclectic menu that takes its inspiration from every continent. You would think that such a wide range of menu items would not be cohesive in a single restaurant, but somehow it just works.
Take a second to sound out that dish. Alright, now that you got it onto the more important details on how delicious this dish is. A Georgian dish, khachapuri looks like a pizza boat of sorts filled with the decadent ingredients of cheese, butter and a runny egg. Need I say more? Simply listing ingredients would be enough to get anyone to try this dish.
16. Shio Ramen at Daikaya Ramen Shop
Daikaya is actually split into two sections, the upper level is an izakaya serving small bites of Japan while the ground floor is a ramen bar that looks like it came imported from Japan. With imported noodles from Sapporo, Japan the broth in the Shio Ramen is the simplest and will have you experience every nuance that took over 16 hours to prepare.
The noodles have an amazing mouthfeel that makes slurping all the more satisfying. Communal seating is the name of the game here, but if you can grab a seat at the bar it would definitely give you greater respect for ramen chefs and their willingness to uphold quality control. They literally taste test each and every bowl sent out.
17. The Breakfast Club at DGS Delicatessen
Photo courtesy of DGS Delicatessen’s Facebook Page
Elevating your grandma’s Jewish food to gourmet cuisine, DGS has one of the best brunch deals in the city. For $27, you get a choice of either an appetizer or desert (pro tip: split up your group so you share both) an entree, and an unlimited selection of bloody marys, mimosas, and screwdrivers. One of those entrees is the the Breakfast Club, a colossal burger with in house made corned beef, a fried Egg, potato latke, Swiss cheese and hollandaise sauce on a poppy bun.
18. Valrhona Chocolate Amargo at Dolcezza
Photo courtesy of Dolcezza Gelato’s Facebook Page
The rich, dark chocolate flavor really shines through in the Valrhona Chocolate Amargo. Everything about this flavor is amazing, but if you are looking for a less rich option then definitely choose the Strachiatella, which will transport you to the streets of Florence.
19. Chicken and Waffles at Founding Farmers
Photo courtesy of Founding Farmers
Having pioneered the farm to table concept before it was hip, Founding Farmers serves the best elevated comfort food in DC, making it impossible to go without a reservation. The chicken and waffles is considered authentic even by true Southerners, and will feed you for your next three meals onwards.
Served with Mac n Cheese, a side of your choice and plenty of Buttermilk Ranch sauce this meal will make you feel like you’re back home eating your Grandma’s food instantaneously.
20. The Luther at GBD
Photo courtesy of washingtonpost.com
This is the dish your doctor warned you about. You will crave salad for a week after eating this artery clogging monster that is a fried Brioche doughnut glazed in maple-chicken jus, with buttered pecans, a slab of Bacon and a fried boneless chicken thigh. GBD also serves some of the District’s best doughnuts, such as the nutella crunch w/ toasted hazelnuts. Open late, it’s a great place to go soak up all that alcohol in your stomach.
21. Jumbo Slice at Jumbo Slice Pizza
Photo courtesy of Flickr.com
A night out isn’t complete without gobbling down a slice, or two, or eight of greasy late-night pizza. Something about being a little tipsy and wobbly from dancing, or drinking, the night away turns pizza into a delicacy, but at Jumbo Slice, pizza is a delicacy. DC iconically massive pizza is made freshly until dawn and delivered to your eager hands warm, oozing with cheese, on two paper plates. This pizza means business.
The best part? Curl up in bed at the end of the night knowing you only inhaled one slice of pizza, forget that one slice is about half a medium pizza pie.
22. Mascarpone Stuffed Dates at Komi
This past year Komi was selected as the number one restaurant by Washingtonian Magazine. Having consistently been placed on their annual must-eats list, Komi has proven that it is a juggernaut in the DC food scene to be reckoned with. They serve Mediterranean food with a modern twist. The decor is simple, but the food is honestly the only reason you would want to come here anyway.
Although their tasting menu has been known to change, a mainstay that you will always get a taste of is the mascarpone stuffed dates. Roasted and stuffed, it is then finished with a beautiful sheen of olive oil. It’s a bit expensive so be ready to eat ramen for a couple weeks afterwards.
23. Burger Americain at Le Diplomate
When ordering the Burger Americain from Le Diplomate, the waitress described it as a Big Mac but better. She was right. The burger is topped with pickles, onions, American cheese and a sauce similar to Thousand Island dressing, and it rests in between two, house-made brioche buns. The dish also serves a hefty portion of authentic, parisian-style french fries. The best part is the price: the burger only costs $17, making it one of the more affordable dishes on the menu for college students.
24. Tasting Menu at miniBar
Photo courtesy of Eater DC
When you think molecular gastronomy, you think food of the future. Everything about dining at miniBar screams next generation. With only twelve seats offered each night, the dining experience is very intimate in that the chefs prepare the food right in front of you literally an arm’s-length away.
You never know what to expect here because the menu is ever-changing. Just expect a futuristic experience filled with a bunch of smoke and mirrors as well as a hefty price tag when dining at miniBar. You’ll definitely want to eat here once you are making mad skrill and are ready to splurge on a night of sumptuous eating. This experience will legitimately blow your mind and give you new meaning to what food can be and possibly might be.
25. Oysters at Old Ebbitt Grill
A historic landmark in the nation’s capital, Old Ebbitt Grill has been around since 1856. It’s impressive that a restaurant has been able to last that long, considering the high mortality rate in the restaurant biz. You have to come here and just take it all in.
From the turn of the century speakeasy decor to the simple American food, there’s no reason not to come here. Oysters are the thing to get. They always have a nice selection and you can bet it’s fresh. A spritz of lemon and some horseradish is all you really need to take that crisp saline oyster to the next level.
26. Bottarga at Pizzeria Paradiso
Photo courtesy of washingtoncitypaper.com
Serving up authentically Italian oven fired, thin crust pizza, Pizza Paradiso also boasts one of the district’s most impressive beer selection. The Bottarga is a standout on the menu, topped with in house tomato sauce, minced garlic, parsley, parmesan, egg, and Bottarga — a Mediterranean delicacy of salted, cured fish roe, giving the pie a kick of Umami flavor.
27. Palak Chaat at Rasika
Photo courtesy of Washington Post
The Palak Chaat (fried spinach) at Rasika is simple yet addicting. The crispy spinach is served with sweet yogurt and a date chutney, which helps the dish to balance its sweet and savory flavors. This is a side dish one should be sure not to glaze over.
28. Kingston at SUNdeVICH
Photo courtesy of SUNdeVICH’s Facebook Page
Anything in between two pieces of bread is always a sign of a good time. At SUNdeVICH, they have made all sandwich lovers’ dreams come true. Each of their sandwiches are named after a city in the world and from that they are able to create one of a kind bites that transport you to another place.
The Kingston is one of the most popular ones and will transport you to the beaches of Jamaica. A sandwich stuffed with spicious jerk chicken, tropical pineapple salsa, a fresh slaw and garlicky aioli spells trouble for anyone yearning for their tastebuds to get a major kick of flavor. So go grab yourself a Kingston, man (imagine that in a Jamaican accent).
29. Pumpkin Curry at Thai X-ing
Photo courtesy of Thai X-ing
Thai food isn’t just pad thai and papaya green salad because if that’s all you know you’re missing out on so many other options. Hidden in the basement of a DC townhouse, Thai X-ing serves diners family style with the intent of sharing a meal together. You make a reservation for so-and-so number of people and depending on the size of your party the chef will make a number of dishes for you.
Although the menu is ultimately decided by what is fresh and seasonal, the pumpkin curry is their signature dish and is always served as a part of your meal. As expected of any curry, there is a nice burn from the chilis used in the red curry, but the sweetness from the pumpkin and coconut milk aid in creating a cooling effect that balances the entire dish. You never know what you’ll get here but be ready to bring a group of hungry friends and share an amazing meal together.
30. Ice Cream at Thomas Sweet
Photo courtesy of Flickr.com
There’s not much better than a slowly melting cone of creamy homemade ice cream on a hot humid DC summer day. President Obama agrees, which is why he found his favorite ice cream spot off Wisconsin Avenue at Thomas Sweet.
T-Sweet’s, a local nickname, offers freshly prepared fudge, chocolates, and of course a chalkboard filled with ice cream and frozen yogurt flavors. Sample away until you find your flavor and prepare yourself for a hefty serving of DC’s most iconic ice cream.
31. Crispy Brussels Afelia at Zaytinya
Arguably Jose Andres’s best restaurant, Zaytinya is a modern twist on Mediterranean tapas. Creating the dish that made everyone fall in love with Brussels Sprouts, the green balls here are roasted until crispy then topped with coriander seed, barberries, and garlic yogurt. The menu is extensive and innovative, a place where you want to bring all your friends so you can try everything. Crispy flatbread accompanies the meal, letting you soak up all those delectable sauces.
32. Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes at Eastern Market
Open since 1873, Eastern Market is a DC institution and weekend morning destination. Washingtonians line up for their famous blueberry buckwheat pancakes at the market lunch stand, and you should too. The market lunch stand also serves homey Southern food, such as cheesy grits, a BLT with a fried green tomato, and a selection of seafood like crab cakes and fried fish.
33. Burgers at Good Stuff Eatery
Photo courtesy of uwishunu,com
This food porn worthy burger shack serves up juicy high quality burgers oozing with toppings of your choice. Load up on mushrooms, cheese, bacon or play it slim with lettuce and tomato, maybe a drizzle of mayo for some fun. Don’t forget the shakes and fries. This joint is famous for their thick toasted marshmallow milkshake that brings you right back to summertime bonfires. Even in the dead of a DC winter.
34. Pork Sausage & Lychee Salad at Rose’s Luxury
Photo courtesy of Washington Post
If you don’t mind the inevitable wait, then Rose’s Luxury is the place to be. It won the best new restaurant title by Bon Apetit last year and has gained meteoric popularity. The dishes can’t really be classified into a specific cuisine and varies depending on the season. Dishes like spicy strawberry sauce spaghetti and pickle brined fried chicken are popular when available.
The dish that is always on the menu is the lychee salad. A combination of garlicky pork sausage, whipped coconut cream and sweet lychee, it doesn’t sound particularly great at first, but once you try it, you’ll forget any notion of doubt you had of this dish.
35. Pop Tarts at Ted’s Bulletin
Photo courtesy of Pintrest.com
Ted’s pop tarts bring all the staffers to the hill and they’re like, “it’s better than yours.” This café restaurant is famous throughout the district for their irresistible homemade pop tarts decorated with colorful sprinkles. Ted’s Bulletin also offers great brunches, coffee and other nibbles for hungry DC locals.
36. Steamed Maryland Crabs at Maine Ave Fish Market
Maine Ave Fish Market is the oldest open air fish market in the United States. That’s right NYC, it’s older than your beloved Fulton Fish Market DC’s one upped you there. You can literally go up to the vendors, pick the seafood you want and have it prepared on the spot. The selection ranges from Chesapeake Bay oysters to succulent Maryland Blue Crab.
Depending on what you choose to buy you can have your seafood raw, fried or steamed just know that it’s super fresh. You’ve got to grab a couple of crabs and have it steamed and seasoned with Old Bay. It is sweet and salty with that hint of brininess from the sea. Protip from the locals: order female crabs so you can get the added bonus of indescribable crab roe.
Outside of DC
37. Galbi at Kogiya
If you’ve enjoyed the recent fad of Korean tacos, you need to go and try the original concept in Korean BBQ. Do not think about American BBQ where smoke and time are the secret ingredients, it’s all about the marinade and a nice sear the Korean way.
Sure you can try the bulgogi that everyone will order, but you also need to order the beef galbi. They are beef short ribs that have been marinated in an assortment of secret ingredients that brings out the savoriness of the beef while adding a kick of sweet and umami to bring it full circle. All the meat is prepared in front of you on a hot grill, so you won’t have to worry about your food getting cold.
Bring an empty stomach when coming here because you will be nomming on all you can eat meat and banchan (aka Korean side dishes of pickled veggies and more).
38. Peking Duck at Peking Gourmet Inn
Photo courtesy of inthedoorway.com
Stereotypical Chinese takeout is greasy and you probably feel a little guilty having eaten it afterwards. It’s alright, we’ve all been there. Peking Gourmet Inn is Chinese food, but you will only be craving for more once you’ve tried their namesake dish, the Peking Duck.With walls lined with photographs of politicians and celebrities, you know it’s got to be good with the number of powerful people that have dined here throughout the years.
Prepared tableside, the crispy golden duck skin glistens as the experienced waiter skillfully slices the meat. Once ready, diners prepare a roll using the house-made pancake, duck and garnishes. It is the dish that every table will undoubtedly order and for good reason.
39. Bún Bò Huế at Phung Hoang in Eden Center
You can be vanilla by playing it safe and buy a couple of bánh mì sandwiches and eat a bowl of phở, but if you want to get a real feel for Eden Center, go and try the bún bò Huế. Although it’s not located in the heart of the DC, it’s definitely worth it to explore the road less traveled. Eden Center is basically little Vietnam and bún bò Huế will hit your tastebuds on every level.
Think of it as the wild younger brother of phở, it combines rice noodles and a spicy lemongrass broth topped with slices of beef and even pig’s feet. This is a steaming bowl of noodles fit for any foodie.
40. Pollo a la Brasa at El Pollo Rico
Photo courtesy of Serious Eats
While El Pollo Rico sits on the other side of the Potomac, the Pollo a la Brasa (aka Peruvian Chicken) makes the trip worth it. The rotisserie chicken holds a whole aroma of spices in its skin and is cooked to perfection so that the chicken tenderly falls of the bone. Each chicken is served with a chimichurri sauce and a mustard, allowing for an extra bit of flavor.
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The pandemic might have shuttered more than 110,000 restaurants across the country, but Michelin is looking on the bright side.
On April 22, the French-based restaurant rating company announced its star ratings for Washington,.C.-area dining spots. It’s the first U.S. city to receive them since October 2019.
The top of the list looks similar to years past: The Inn at Little Washington, in Washington, Va., which uses dressed-up mannequins to fill seats with their current dining capacity of 50%, retained its three-star status.
Two two-star places also held their rank: Minibar, the modern counter spot from José Andrés, and Aaron Silverman’s Pineapple and Pearls, a modern American spot. Both are currently closed. “If the restaurant was temporarily closed for the pandemic, we did retain them,” said the chief inspector of Michelin’s North America team, who spoke on condition of anonymity, in a phone interview.
Traditionally the U.S. rankings have come out in the fall. “The entire calendar year of 2020 was devoted to the new selection, while respecting local and state dining guidelines,” said Michelin Guide international director Gwendal Poullennec in an e-mail. He maintains that during the pandemic, inspectors were “sensitive to each market in the U.S. and are in close contact with restaurants to stay informed on openings/closures, new menu changes, etc.” Inspectors began visiting “when it seemed appropriate based on the individual establishment and their circumstances,” added Poullennec.
“I’ve always trusted Michelin’s process and their support of our industry for almost a century,” said Inn at Little Washington chef-owner Patrick O𠆜onnell, when asked about the viability of evaluating restaurants in the midst of a pandemic.
New to the list is the two-star Jônt, the ambitious tasting menu place from Ryan Ratino, whose menu is dotted with luxury dishes such as caviar with white asparagus and buttermilk, and Dungeness crab with truffle.
Michelin inspectors also added four new one-star restaurants, including Elcielo, which highlights the food of Colombia, and Rooster & Owl, with a globally influenced menu from chef-owner Yuan Tang, a former Uber driver. “New openings were successful and impressive despite the challenges of the past year,” Poullennec said. Among the one-stars that stayed on the list are Sushi Nakazawa in the Trump International Hotel.
Inspectors did not change their criteria, he added, evaluating quality of products and technique, flavor combinations and consistency. But their dining experiences evolved, according to the chief inspector. “We did take advantage of outdoor dining and we bundled up when it was cold outside,” says the chief inspector. “We had service with masks, andꂐ minute meals.”
One thing the inspectors are not paying attention to is race and gender. There are no female chefs or Black chefs running any of the starred restaurant kitchens.
This year’s list has 23 starred spots, up from 18 in the 2020 guide.
This increase occurred even thoughਊround 124 restaurants had closed in Washington as of March 19, with a loss of 28,900 jobs. The city was affected by the events of 2020 more than most others around the country: In addition to the hit of the pandemic, Black Lives Matter protests shut down large swaths of Washington, as did the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. Indoor dining in the city is currently capped at 25% capacity.
For the first time, the Michelin Guide has dispensed with its signature red volumes and moved to a digital-only app format. It also introduced a new category, a green star for restaurants with sustainable sourcing practices and environmentally-conscious operations. The inaugural one went to the Inn at Little Washington in recognition of its garden and other local produce providers.
On April 20, Michelin announced its value-dining destinations. Bib Gourmands areined as “quality restaurants that have menu items that offer two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less,” a criterion that most people who eat out will find increasingly hard to meet. There are 40 spots this year, down from 44.
Here is the full list of Washington’s Michelin-starred restaurantsਊnd Bib Gourmands. An asterisk (*) denotes a new entry.
25 Outstanding Burgers to Try in D.C.
A naturally portable food item that’s affordable by design, the humble hamburger has been a big seller for D.C. restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic. D.C. has long had a high-low love affair with ground beef patties from high-end hotels and steakhouses — Bourbon Steak’s lounge burger checks both boxes — to powerhouse chains with Mid-Atlantic roots (Shake Shack, Five Guys), pop-ups and food trucks done good (Mélange, Swizzler), and, more recently, cheffed-up ghost kitchens like Ghost Burger, Gee Burger, and ABC Guys Burger & Fries. Most restaurants on this updated map are hyper-focused on the quality of beef they use and which cuts they blend into patties. Gourmet condiments and interesting accents abound. This list is all about animal protein, but veggie burger fans can turn here.
Restaurants on this map may temporarily close due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, so check with a business before showing up. D.C. allows indoor dining at 25 percent capacity. Many restaurants offer outdoor seating, but this should not be taken as endorsement for dining out, as there are still safety concerns. The Washington Post is tracking coronavirus cases and deaths in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. More information can be found at coronavirus.dc.gov. Studies indicate that there is a lower exposure risk when outdoors, but the level of risk involved with patio dining is contingent on restaurants following strict social distancing and other safety guidelines.