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. Anafre

    $$ | Columbia Heights | Mexican

    At this celebrated restaurant, whose name means "clay oven, chef Antonio Solis infuses his creative dishes with the regional flavors of his...Read More

  • 3. Cava Mezze

    $$ | Eastern Market | Greek

    This modern mecca for mezes (small plates for sharing) delivers delicious, chic Mediterranean cuisine without the whiz-bang conceits of its...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. Cork Wine Bar & Market

    $$ | U Street | Wine Bar

    This rustic, dimly lit wine bar brings chic cuisine to the city's hippest neighborhood. The wine list features rare varietals—with a dozen still...Read More

  • 6. 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

  • 7. Estadio

    $$$ | Logan Circle | Spanish

    The name of this polished palace means "stadium," and its gorgeously Baroque interior, which surrounds a high-wire open kitchen, makes a perfect...Read More

  • 8. 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

  • 9. Hank's Oyster Bar Dupont Circle

    $$ | Dupont Circle | Seafood

    The watchword is simplicity at this chic take on the shellfish shacks of New England. Daily offerings include a half-dozen varieties of oyster...Read More

  • 10. Le Diplomate

    $$$ | U Street | French

    In this faithful re-creation of a convivial Parisian bistro, the attention to detail makes a night here into more than just a meal. This excellent...Read More

  • 11. 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

  • 12. Pisco y Nazca Ceviche Gastrobar

    $$ | Dupont Circle | Peruvian

    Visit South America without leaving the Golden Triangle at Pisco y Nazca, a modern Peruvian restaurant known for its authentic food (indeed...Read More

  • 13. Rose's Luxury

    $$ | Eastern Market | Modern American

    A darling of both diners and the media, Rose's Luxury lives up to the hype as one of the city's most welcoming and groundbreaking dining destinations...Read More

  • 14. 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

  • 15. Zaytinya

    $$ | Penn Quarter | Middle Eastern

    This sophisticated urban dining room with soaring ceilings is a local favorite for meeting friends or dining with a group (and popular enough...Read More

  • 16. Ambar Capitol Hill

    $$ | Eastern Market | Eastern European

    Ambar, a handsome, noisy, two-story restaurant–bar at the heart of Barracks Row is your spot for Balkan comfort food. The Belgrade-inspired...Read More

  • 17. Amsterdam Falafel

    $ | Adams Morgan | Middle Eastern

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

  • 18. Anju

    $$ | Dupont Circle | Korean

    Anju, the reinvention of chef Danny Lee's Mandu, serves unique takes on Korean classics with mainstays such as succulent seared galbi (short...Read More

  • 19. Appioo

    $$ | Shaw | African

    Washington, D.C. is a hub for the African diaspora, with many different countries represented in the city's culinary scene. Appioo, a well...Read More

  • 20. 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

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