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. All-Purpose Pizzeria

    $$ | D.C. Waterfront | Italian

    Best pizza in DC” is a hotly contested title, but All-Purpose Pizzeria down on the Capitol Riverfront is a strong contender. Its whole wheat...Read More

  • 2. Modena

    $$$ | Italian

    Buzzy, trendy Modena has one of the area's more inventive menus, featuring very good modern Italian fare. Dinner starts with an antipasti trolley...Read More

  • 3. Napoli Pasta Bar

    $$ | Columbia Heights | Italian

    Located on a residential street, this restaurant offers an authentic Italian dining experience. Chef and owner Antonio Ferraro brings the flavors...Read More

  • 4. Osteria Morini

    $$$ | Southeast | Italian

    The stylish design and superlative pastas of this take on cuisine from northern Italy's Emilia-Romagna region might seem like an unexpected...Read More

  • 5. Siroc Restaurant

    $$ | Downtown | Italian

    This wonderfully intimate, Italian-Mediterranean restaurant sits in the heart of Downtown D.C. Family owned and run, a rarity in this neighborhood...Read More

  • 6. 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

  • 7. Cafe Milano

    $$$$ | Georgetown | Italian

    Expect authentic, sophisticated Italian cooking and a pricey wine list at this upscale Georgetown hot spot that has been around for over 25...Read More

  • 8. Centrolina

    $$$ | Chinatown | Italian

    This bright, airy Italian osteria has an adjoining market and a daily changing menu that is all about locally sourced meats and produce, as...Read More

  • 9. Fiola

    $$$$ | Penn Quarter | Italian

    Chef Fabio Trabocchi's flights of fancy—such as oysters with granita and caviar or Nova Scotia lobster ravioli—delight many area foodies but...Read More

  • 10. Fiola Mare

    $$$$ | Georgetown | Italian

    The harborside setting for Fabio Trabocchi's ode to Italian-style seafood is one of the most sought-after spots in town. Dine alfresco, and...Read More

  • 11. Obelisk

    $$$$ | Dupont Circle | Italian

    Despite its tiny dining room, this Italian stalwart, under the helm of veteran chef Esther Lee, has maintained a pull on special-occasion diners...Read More

  • 12. San Lorenzo Ristorante + Bar

    $$ | Shaw | Italian

    Chef and owner Massimo Fabbri, previously of Tosca and Posto, opened the first restaurant of his own to highlight the tastes of Tuscany and...Read More

  • 13. Bibiana Osteria and Enoteca

    $$ | Downtown | Italian

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

  • 14. Coppi's Organic Restaurant

    $$ | U Street | Italian

    An Italian bicycling motif permeates this restaurant, from the posters, photographs, and gear hanging on the walls to the monogrammed racing...Read More

  • 15. Graffiato

    $$ | Penn Quarter | Italian

    Manhattan-trained Mike Isabella brought a rock-star cool to his stints on Top Chef and Top Chef All-Stars, and his venture down I–95 gave...Read More

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