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. 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

  • 2. 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

  • 3. Ben's Chili Bowl

    $ | U Street

    This U Street institution still serves cheap and filling chili any which way imaginable. ...Read More

  • 4. Bistro Bis

    $$$ | Capitol Hill | French

    A zinc bar, spacious brown-leather booths, and a glass-front display kitchen create great expectations at Bistro Bis, the second restaurant...Read More

  • 5. Busboys and Poets

    $ | U Street

    For a more intellectual snack, step into this bookstore–cum–restaurant–cum performance space that serves up sandwiches, pizzas, and poems. Named...Read More

  • 6. 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

  • 7. Kafe Leopold

    $$ | Georgetown | Austrian

    Forget all the clichés about heavy Austrian fare served by waiters in lederhosen. Leopold is about as Euro trendy as it gets, with an all-day...Read More

  • 8. Kramerbooks & Afterwords

    $$ | Dupont Circle | Café

    This popular bookstore-cum-café is a favorite neighborhood breakfast spot. It's also a late-night haunt on Friday and Saturday, when it's open...Read More

  • 9. Kramerbooks & Afterwords

    $$ | Dupont Circle

    Relax at this bookstore-café over a light meal or a drink after browsing. Wednesday through Saturday, live music ensues. ...Read More

  • 10. 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

  • 11. Paul

    $ | Downtown | French

    This chic, quick café is the Parisian equivalent of Starbucks, but that doesn't mean Americans of all walks of life won't be blown away by the...Read More

  • 12. 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

  • 13. Room 11

    $$ | Chinatown | 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

  • 14. 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

  • 15. Teaism

    $ | Downtown | Asian

    This informal teahouse stocks more than 50 imported teas (black, white, and green), but it also serves healthful and delicious Japanese, Indian...Read More

  • 16. Teaism

    $ | Dupont Circle

    This spot offers numerous varieties of tea, and a selection of seafood, chicken, beef, and vegetarian entrées in bento boxes. ...Read More

  • 17. The Market Lunch

    $ | Capitol Hill | American

    For a perfect Saturday morning or afternoon on the Hill, take a walk around the Capitol, a stroll through Eastern Market, and then dig in to...Read More

  • 18. Tryst Coffeehouse-Bar-Lounge

    $ | Adams Morgan

    Stop in for breakfast, lunch, or dessert, or sip something stronger after hours—as late as 3 am on weekends. There's live jazz Monday to Wednesday...Read More

  • 19. G Street Food

    $ | Downtown | Eclectic

    Like Washington, D.C.'s layout and architecture, this upscale cafeteria takes a cue from Europe. The cosmopolitan menu echoes the best of the...Read More

  • 20. Johnny's Half Shell

    $$$ | Capitol Hill | Seafood

    On the Senate side of the Capitol, this eatery's Southern-tinged mid-Atlantic fare—pristine Kumamoto oysters, flavorful seafood stews, fried...Read More

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