Washington, D.C. Restaurants

Washington has long benefited from a constant infusion of different cultures, making it a stellar culinary host for visitors and transplants from around the world. But recent years have made the fifth or sixth banana of American haute cuisine into a foodie town in its own right. You can find almost any cuisine here, from Salvadoran to Ethiopian, despite the lack of true ethnic neighborhoods in the city. You can now also sample cooking from some of the country’s hottest new chefs, find already established celebrity chefs who have just made their D.C debuts, and sip craft cocktails on par with some of the world's best.

Although most neighborhoods lack a unified culinary flavor, make no mistake: D.C. is a city of distinctive areas, each with its own style. Chinatown, for example, is known for chic small plates of various origins. You'll find Japanese noodle shops next to Mexican taquerias and Indian bistros. These spots wax and wane on the popularity scale with each passing season; it's worth taking a stroll down the street to see what's new. Downtown, you'll find many of the city's blue-chip law firms and deluxe, expense-account restaurants, as well as stylish lounges, brewpubs, and upscale eateries that have sprung up to serve the crowds that attend games at the Verizon Center.

Wherever you venture forth in the city, there are a few trends worth noting: artisanal cocktails, charcuterie-and-cheese plates, and back-to-basics new American cuisine are in vogue. You'll find tapas-style portions pervasive, whether you're at a Greek, Asian, or American restaurant. High-end restaurants in town also have begun to add bar menus with smaller plates that are much less expensive than their entrées, but created with the same finesse.

Though Italian, French, and fusion spots continue to open at a ferocious pace, Washingtonians are always hungry to try something new, whether it's Chinese smoked lobster, fiery Indian curry, or crunchy and addictive Vietnamese spring rolls.

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  • 1. 2 Amys

    $$ | Upper Northwest | Pizza

    Call it the Brando of D.C. pizzerias, because this Neapolitan sensation has played godfather to a number of throne-stealing wood ovens elsewhere...Read More

  • 2. All-Purpose Pizzeria

    $$ | D.C. Waterfront | Italian

    Best pizza in DC” is a hotly contested title, but All-Purpose Pizzeria down on the Capitol Riverfront is a strong contender. Its whole wheat...Read More

  • 3. Anafre

    $$ | Columbia Heights | Mexican

    At this celebrated restaurant, whose name means "clay oven, chef Antonio Solis infuses his creative dishes with the regional flavors of his...Read More

  • 4. Ben's Chili Bowl

    $ | U Street | American

    A U Street fixture for decades, Ben's serves chili—on hot dogs, on Polish-style sausages, on burgers, and on its own—to Washingtonians and visitors...Read More

  • 5. Cafe Riggs

    $$ | Penn Quarter | French

    This spacious restaurant is on the ground floor of the 130 year old Riggs Bank Building, which was recently converted to a luxury hotel. The...Read More

  • 6. Cava Mezze

    $$ | Eastern Market | Greek

    This modern mecca for mezes (small plates for sharing) delivers delicious, chic Mediterranean cuisine without the whiz-bang conceits of its...Read More

  • 7. City Tap House

    $$ | Penn Quarter | American

    This upscale gastropub chain just a block from the convention center offers more than 40 beers on tap and loads of bottles. The high ceilings...Read More

  • 8. Colada Shop

    $ | U Street | Cuban

    Escape to Cuba via a cafesito at this spot, which has a two-floor patio and is situated just off lively 14th Street. If you'd like something...Read More

  • 9. Cork Wine Bar & Market

    $$ | U Street | Wine Bar

    This rustic, dimly lit wine bar brings chic cuisine to the city's hippest neighborhood. The wine list features rare varietals—with a dozen still...Read More

  • 10. Crimson Diner + Whiskey Bar

    $ | Chinatown | American

    An upscale, Southern-influenced diner with an open kitchen and lively bar, Crimson offers seating in booths to convey that diner feel. A huge...Read More

  • 11. Estadio

    $$$ | Logan Circle | Spanish

    The name of this polished palace means "stadium," and its gorgeously Baroque interior, which surrounds a high-wire open kitchen, makes a perfect...Read More

  • 12. Farmers Fishers Bakers

    $$ | Georgetown | American

    This restaurant near the Washington Harbour, on the banks of the Potomac River, is owned by a collective of farmers and emphasizes sustainable...Read More

  • 13. Good Stuff Eatery

    $ | Capitol Hill | American

    Fans of Bravo's Top Chef will first visit this brightly colored burgers-and-shakes joint hoping to spy charismatic celebrity chef Spike Mendelsohn...Read More

  • 14. Hank's Oyster Bar Dupont Circle

    $$ | Dupont Circle | Seafood

    The watchword is simplicity at this chic take on the shellfish shacks of New England. Daily offerings include a half-dozen varieties of oyster...Read More

  • 15. Komi

    $$$$ | Dupont Circle | Mediterranean

    Young, energetic chef-owner Johnny Monis offers one of the city's most adventurous dining experiences in this tiny space. The multicourse, prix...Read More

  • 16. Le Chat Noir

    $$$ | Tenleytown | French

    This unpretentious but intimate and stylish bistro recalls a Parisian café, with dark woods, white table cloths, and cozy tables—not to mention...Read More

  • 17. Le Diplomate

    $$$ | U Street | French

    In this faithful re-creation of a convivial Parisian bistro, the attention to detail makes a night here into more than just a meal. This excellent...Read More

  • 18. Little Serow

    $$$$ | Dupont Circle | Thai

    Guests start lining up as early as at 4:30 pm with the hope of getting a hard-to-score table at this cozy restaurant in the basement of a row...Read More

  • 19. Modena

    $$$ | Italian

    Buzzy, trendy Modena has one of the area's more inventive menus, featuring very good modern Italian fare. Dinner starts with an antipasti trolley...Read More

  • 20. Napoli Pasta Bar

    $$ | Columbia Heights | Italian

    Located on a residential street, this restaurant offers an authentic Italian dining experience. Chef and owner Antonio Ferraro brings the flavors...Read More

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