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. 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

  • 2. 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

  • 3. 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

  • 4. 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

  • 5. 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

  • 6. Rose's Luxury

    $$ | Eastern Market | Modern American

    A darling of both diners and the media, Rose's Luxury lives up to the hype as one of the city's most welcoming and groundbreaking dining destinations...Read More

  • 7. 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

  • 8. Shilling Canning Company

    $$$ | D.C. Waterfront | American

    Shilling Canning takes pride in the quality of its fresh, locally sourced ingredients, and it shows. The Shilling family hails from Baltimore...Read More

  • 9. The Fourth Estate

    $$ | Downtown | American

    A hidden gem atop the National Press Building offers classic American cuisine (strong on seafood), beautifully prepared and presented in an...Read More

  • 10. 1789 Restaurant

    $$$$ | Georgetown | American

    This dining room with early American paintings and a fireplace could easily be a room in the White House. But all the gentility of this 19th...Read More

  • 11. Annabelle

    $$$ | American

    The latest creation by famed D.C. restaurateur Ashok Bajaj is located where the legendary Restaurant Nora used to sit. This modern American...Read More

  • 12. Blue Duck Tavern

    $$$$ | Modern American

    With an open kitchen firmly committed to artistically crafted American cuisine, this high-end neighborhood tavern, located in the Park Hyatt...Read More

  • 13. Brothers and Sisters

    $ | Adams Morgan | American

    The lobby of the Line Hotel in D.C. is vibrant unlike any other, entirely on account of this restaurant, which celebrates the multicultural...Read More

  • 14. 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

  • 15. 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

  • 16. District Kitchen

    $$ | Woodley Park | American

    The exposed brick and warm woods may signal upscale saloon, but District Kitchen is much more, offering an eclectic, farm-to-table menu featuring...Read More

  • 17. Founding Farmers DC

    $$ | Foggy Bottom | Modern American

    Inside this ultramodern take on the old-school farmhouse, affordable eco-chic is the mantra—though the sheer number of offerings can be a tad...Read More

  • 18. Glen's Garden Market

    $ | Dupont Circle | American

    Tucked away on picturesque S Street NW, Glen's Garden Market is a hybrid grocery store and coffee shop–café. With a focus on locally sourced...Read More

  • 19. Jimmy T's Place

    $ | Capitol Hill | American

    Known for its boisterous owner and throngs of talkative regulars, this D.C. institution is tucked into the first floor of an old row house only...Read More

  • 20. Milk Bar Flagship @ Logan Circle

    $ | Logan Circle | American

    If you’re a fan of sprinkles, pie, ice cream, and birthday cake, then this is the place for you to eat in or grab something to go. But don’t...Read More

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