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. Cork

    $$ | U Street | Wine Bar

    This rustic, dimly lighted slip of a wine bar brings chic cuisine to the still-gentrifying streets of the city's hippest neighborhood. The wine...Read More

  • 2. Bibiana Osteria and Enoteca

    $$ | Downtown | Italian

    You might call this the Italian version of the überpopular Indian spot Rasika, and you'd be correctly noting the modernist fingerprints of local...Read More

  • 3. 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

  • 4. Oyamel

    $$ | Chinatown | Mexican

    The specialty at this Mexican stunner is antojitos, literally translated as "little dishes from the streets." But the high ceilings, gracious...Read More

  • 5. Pearl Dive Oyster Palace

    $$$ | U Street | Seafood

    Chef Jeff Black does serve three kinds of po'boys, but that's about as working-class as it gets at this dazzlingly decorated homage to the bivalve...Read More

  • 6. 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

  • 7. 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

  • 8. America Eats Tavern

    $$$ | Chinatown | American

    Hard economic times have sparked a boomlet in New Deal nostalgia around the capital, and nothing epitomizes financial-crisis chic like this...Read More

  • 9. Ceiba

    $$ | Downtown | Latin American

    At this popular pan-Latin restaurant you'll probably want to start with a mojito or a pisco sour cocktail, then taste the tuna tartare taquitos...Read More

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