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. 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

  • 2. Bistrot du Coin

    $$ | Dupont Circle | French

    An instant hit in its Dupont Circle neighborhood, this moderately priced French bistro with a monumental zinc bar is noisy, crowded, and fun...Read More

  • 3. Bistrot Lepic

    $$$ | Glover Park | French

    Relaxed and upbeat, with bright yellow walls and colorful paintings, this small, crowded neighborhood bistro is French in every regard—starting...Read More

  • 4. Chez Billy Sud

    $$ | French

    Another cozy gem in Georgetown is this French restaurant, which serves lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. If it's a nice day, request a table...Read More

  • 5. Le Diplomate

    $$$$ | U Street | French

    Even award-winning chef-and-owner Stephen Starr was surprised by how revered his first D.C.-area concept became within days of its opening....Read More

  • 6. Mintwood Place

    $$$ | Adams Morgan | French

    Visitors to D.C. from more cosmopolitan confines tend to scoff at the city's high-minded cultural aspirations, but only in a smaller urban center...Read More

  • 7. 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

  • 8. Citronelle

    $$$$ | Georgetown | French

    See all the action in the glass-front kitchen at chef Michel Richard's flagship California-French restaurant. Appetizers might include foie...Read More

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