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. 2 Amys

    $$ | Upper Northwest | Pizza

    Call it the Brando of D.C. pizzerias, because this Neapolitan sensation has played godfather to a number of throne-stealing wood ovens elsewhere...Read More

  • 2. 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

  • 3. Cafe Riggs

    $$ | Penn Quarter | French

    This spacious restaurant is on the ground floor of the 130 year old Riggs Bank Building, which was recently converted to a luxury hotel. The...Read More

  • 4. 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

  • 5. 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

  • 6. 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

  • 7. 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

  • 8. 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

  • 9. 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

  • 10. Brasserie Beck

    $$$ | Downtown | Belgian

    Give in to sensory overload at this homage to the railway dining rooms that catered to the prewar European elite. The food is just as rich as...Read More

  • 11. Cafe of India

    $$ | Tenleytown | Indian

    The menu at this traditional Indian restaurant features a few surprises, including an inventive shrimp and coconut masala, a local favorite...Read More

  • 12. 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

  • 13. 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

  • 14. 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

  • 15. Ethiopic Restaurant

    $$ | Capitol Hill | Ethiopian

    The spongy rolls of sourdough injera bread (ubiquitous on Ethiopian plates) used in place of utensils can make traditional Ethiopian feel...Read More

  • 16. Hill Country Barbecue Market

    $$ | Penn Quarter | Barbecue

    Few who stop by this bustling hive of smoky brisket and gooey ribs can deny that it does Texas meat right. This is evident down to the pay-by...Read More

  • 17. Kramerbooks & Afterwords

    $$ | Dupont Circle | Café

    From early morning until after midnight (even later on weekends), you'll find chatty diners at this bookstore café. Breakfast fare is popular...Read More

  • 18. Millie's

    $$ | Northwest | American

    The menu at this classic neighborhood bar–restaurant concentrates on seafood, with both Cape Cod and Baja influences, bringing a coastal dining...Read More

  • 19. Moby Dick House of Kabob

    $ | Georgetown | Middle Eastern

    This casual spot with Persian fare and a focus on high-quality ingredients will steal your heart. Whether you're craving kebabs, falafel, baklava...Read More

  • 20. P.J. Clarke's DC

    $$ | Downtown | Burger

    The D.C. branch of the venerable New York institution focuses on classic American comfort food, including burgers, oysters, rotisserie chicken...Read More

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