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. 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

  • 2. 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

  • 3. 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

  • 4. 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

  • 5. 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

  • 6. 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

  • 7. Room 11

    $ | U Street | Wine Bar

    You're invited to the coolest house party in the city, where deft hands in a tiny kitchen turn out urbane plates that go down like a designer...Read More

  • 8. Seven Reasons

    $$$ | U Street | Latin American

    At Seven Reasons, one of D.C.'s most talked-about restaurants in the past two years, chef Enrique Limardo honors his native Venezuela with creative...Read More

  • 9. Seylou Bakery and Mill

    $ | Shaw | American

    Skip the chains, and head to this beloved local coffee shop and whole-grain bakery offering fresh sourdough creations, whole wheat almond croissants...Read More

  • 10. Taylor Gourmet

    $ | U Street | Café

    Sandwiches crafted with attention to detail and fine ingredients are the hallmark of this Philadelphia-inspired classic. Taylor's substitution...Read More

  • 11. All Purpose Pizzeria

    $ | Shaw | Italian

    You can get nearly any pizza you might want, from a classic Margherita style with the standard mozzarella, tomato, and oregano toppings to more...Read More

  • 12. Appioo

    $$ | Shaw | African

    Washington, D.C. is a hub for the African diaspora, with many different countries represented in the city's culinary scene. Appioo, a well...Read More

  • 13. Busboys and Poets

    $$ | American

    The name pays tribute to American poet Langston Hughes, who worked as a busboy at the Wardman Park Hotel during the 1920s. Today, this popular...Read More

  • 14. Calabash Tea & Tonic

    $ | Shaw | Café

    This award-winning teahouse, named Yelp’s “Most Loved Business in D.C.” in 2019, features over 80 teas, tonics, and body products based on founder...Read More

  • 15. Chaplin's

    $ | Shaw | Asian

    Inspired by the 1930s star Charlie Chaplin, this is the first ramen house–cocktail bar in Shaw. Burmese chef Myo Htun transports you with his...Read More

  • 16. Chercher Ethiopian Restaurant

    $ | Shaw | Ethiopian

    In Shaw, a neighborhood known for its traditional Ethiopian food, this celebrated spot offers both authentic flavor and great prices. Named...Read More

  • 17. Compass Rose

    $$ | U Street | Fusion

    Take a trip around the world at Compass Rose, a restaurant celebrating global cuisine. Inspired by her travels, owner Rose Previte features...Read More

  • 18. Daikaya

    $$ | Chinatown | Japanese

    This quirky, gorgeously decorated split-level party for gourmands is "Lost in Translation" in restaurant form, a sexy-quirky tour of modern...Read More

  • 19. DCity Smokehouse

    $ | Bloomingdale | American

    DCity Smokehouse continues to be a beloved neighborhood barbecue spot. Located in residential Bloomingdale, the restaurant serves a variety...Read More

  • 20. Doi Moi

    $$ | U Street | Asian

    The rise of foodie culture can leave adventurous diners feeling like they've turned over every culinary stone, but this pilgrimage into the...Read More

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