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. 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

  • 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. 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

  • 5. Pete's New Haven Style Apizza

    $ | Friendship Heights | Pizza

    Pete's is a Friendship Heights landmark, serving "New Haven-style" (thin crust, coal-fired) pizzas and offering an extensive toppings list....Read More

  • 6. 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

  • 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. Spoken English

    $ | Adams Morgan | Asian

    A restaurant unlike any other in D.C., Spoken English is tucked away within the kitchen of Brothers and Sisters. The tachinomiya- style (standing...Read More

  • 9. 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

  • 10. 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

  • 11. Amsterdam Falafel

    $ | Adams Morgan | Middle Eastern

    Here you can garnish your authentic falafel balls with a choice of 21 toppings. ...Read More

  • 12. Baked & Wired

    $ | Georgetown | Bakery

    Considered to be one of D.C.'s most essential coffee shops, Baked & Wired is the perfect place for a cup of tea or coffee and a generously...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. 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. CHIKO

    $ | Dupont Circle | Asian

    CHIKO (a hybrid of Chinese and Korean, as is the food) Dupont Circle is the second outpost of this revered restaurant, featured in many of the...Read More

  • 18. Colada Shop

    $ | D.C. Waterfront | Cuban

    There was great excitement in summer 2020, when the second Colada Shop opened, an extension of its very popular first branch in Northwest D...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. Duke's Counter

    $ | Northwest | British

    A shabby-chic bar–restaurant directly across the street from the National Zoo has been deemed by one local paper to have the best burger in...Read More

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