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. Blue Duck Tavern

    $$$$ | Foggy Bottom | American

    Many chefs are fond of artisanal and local ingredients. Chef Ryan LaRoche is so committed to the cause that fixings are often strewn across...Read More

  • 2. Fiola

    $$$$ | Penn Quarter | Italian

    Washington foodies wept when Fabio Trabocchi took his Italian talents to the beloved Fiamma in New York City, but he soon returned to the District...Read More

  • 3. Hank's Oyster Bar

    $$ | Dupont Circle | Seafood

    The watchword is simplicity at this chic take on the shellfish shacks of New England. A half-dozen oyster varieties are available daily on the...Read More

  • 4. Rasika

    $$ | Chinatown | Indian

    Adventurous wine lists, stellar service, inventive presentations that don't scrimp on the spice—this Indian kitchen would have been a local...Read More

  • 5. Sweetgreen

    $ | Dupont Circle | Eclectic

    When three Georgetown University graduates carved out a closet-size niche to sell freshly made salads and tart frozen yogurt almost a decade...Read More

  • 6. Taylor Gourmet

    $ | U Street | Café

    Sandwiches crafted with attention to detail and fine ingredients are the hallmark of this Philadelphia-inspired classic. Taylor's substitution...Read More

  • 7. Zaytinya

    $$ | Chinatown | Middle Eastern

    This sophisticated urban dining room with soaring ceilings is a local favorite for meeting friends or dining with a group. Zaytinya, which means...Read More

  • 8. 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

  • 9. Amsterdam Falafel

    $ | Adams Morgan | Middle Eastern

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

  • 10. Art and Soul

    $$$ | Capitol Hill | American

    Best known as Oprah's longtime personal chef, Art Smith is now serving the Washingtonian crowd at this funky Southern-fried spot, located in...Read More

  • 11. Bayou

    $$ | Georgetown | American

    New Orleans and Washington, D.C., might seem to have little in common, but both cities share a common love of carousing after hours and belt...Read More

  • 12. Beau Thai

    $ | Shaw | Thai

    This dream of a local haunt was founded by an experienced Thai chef and two American entrepreneurs inspired by her flair for spice. The drunken...Read More

  • 13. Belga Café

    $$$ | Capitol Hill | European

    You can go traditional with mussels and the crispiest of french fries or dabble in what the chef calls Euro-fusion at this sleek café done up...Read More

  • 14. Ben's Chili Bowl

    $ | U Street | American

    Long before U Street became hip, Ben's was serving chili. Chili on hot dogs, chili on Polish-style sausages, chili on burgers, and just plain...Read More

  • 15. Ben's Chili Bowl

    $ | U Street

    This U Street institution still serves cheap and filling chili any which way imaginable. ...Read More

  • 16. 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

  • 17. 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

  • 18. 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

  • 19. 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

  • 20. Black Salt

    $$$ | Upper Northwest | Seafood

    Just beyond Georgetown in the residential neighborhood of Palisades, Black Salt is part fish market, part gossipy neighborhood hangout, part...Read More

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