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 D.C.'s lack of true ethnic neighborhoods. But now you can also sample cooking from some of the country’s hottest new chefs and sip craft cocktails that could be mistaken for Manhattan’s. Just follow your nose.

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. Blue Duck Tavern

    $$$$ | Foggy Bottom | American

    Many chefs are fond of artisanal and local ingredients. Chef Ryan LaRoche is so committed to the cause that fixings are often strewn across...Read More

  • 2. Komi

    $$$$ | Dupont Circle | American

    Johnny Monis, the young, energetic chef-owner of this small, personal restaurant, offers one of the most adventurous dining experiences in the...Read More

  • 3. Nora

    $$$$ | Dupont Circle | American

    Chef and founder Nora Pouillon helped pioneer the sustainable-food revolution with the first certified organic restaurant in the country, and...Read More

  • 4. Rose's Luxury

    $$$ | American

    The neon sign above one of the two interior bars at what its chef calls the city's "most exclusively unexclusive" kitchen reads "awesome"—the...Read More

  • 5. 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

  • 6. Art and Soul

    $$$ | Capitol Hill | American

    Best known as Oprah's longtime personal chef, Art Smith is now serving the Washingtonian crowd at this funky Southern-fried spot, located in...Read More

  • 7. Bayou

    $$ | Georgetown | American

    New Orleans and Washington, D.C., might seem to have little in common, but both cities share a common love of carousing after hours and belt...Read More

  • 8. Ben's Chili Bowl

    $ | U Street | American

    Long before U Street became hip, Ben's was serving chili. Chili on hot dogs, chili on Polish-style sausages, chili on burgers, and just plain...Read More

  • 9. 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

  • 10. Founding Farmers

    $$ | White House area | American

    Enjoy American comfort and farm food at this always-busy restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus weekend and holiday-Monday...Read More

  • 11. Good Stuff Eatery

    $ | Capitol Hill | American

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

  • 12. Jimmy T's Place

    $ | Capitol Hill | American

    This D.C. institution is tucked in the first floor of an old row house only five blocks from the Capitol. Sassy waiters, talkative regulars...Read More

  • 13. Old Ebbitt Grill

    $$ | Downtown | American

    People flock here to drink at the several bars, which seem to go on for miles, and to enjoy well-prepared buffalo wings, hamburgers, and hearty...Read More

  • 14. Oohhs & Aahhs

    $$ | U Street | American

    No-frills soul food is what you can find at this friendly eat-in/take-out place where the price is right and the food is delicious. Ultrarich...Read More

  • 15. Poste Moderne Brasserie

    $$$ | Chinatown | American

    Inside trendy Hotel Monaco, Poste woos diners with a towering skylighted space that until 1901 was the General Post Office. Homing in on Modern...Read More

  • 16. Range

    $$$ | American

    Bryan Voltaggio has been a favorite son of Maryland foodies ever since finishing second to his brother Michael on Top Chef in 2009, and this...Read More

  • 17. Ripple

    $$ | American

    Eat, drink, gather" is the motto of this warm and inventive neighborhood favorite for date nights at any age. Known for its attentive service...Read More

  • 18. Roofers Union

    $$ | Adams Morgan | American

    The cavernous space that once hosted one of the capital's most notoriously crazy bars is now a symbol of the area's maturation, thanks to a...Read More

  • 19. Tabard Inn

    $$$ | Dupont Circle | American

    Fading portraits and overstuffed furniture make the lobby lounge look like an antiques store, but this hotel restaurant's culinary sensibilities...Read More

  • 20. Ted's Bulletin

    $ | Capitol Hill | American

    This cheeky homage to mid-20th-century diners is styled after a newspaper office, with menus printed in broadsheet format and specials mounted...Read More

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