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 Salvado
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 o
Washington has long benefited from a constant infusion of different cultures, making it a stellar culinary host for visi

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. Cork

    $$ | U Street | Wine Bar

    This rustic, dimly lighted slip of a wine bar brings chic cuisine to the still-gentrifying streets of the city's hippest neighborhood. The wine...Read More

  • 2. 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

  • 3. 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

  • 4. 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

  • 5. 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

  • 6. 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

  • 7. 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

  • 8. 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

  • 9. Bombay Club

    $$ | Downtown | Indian

    One block from the White House, the beautiful Bombay Club tries to re-create the refined aura of British private clubs in colonial India. Potted...Read More

  • 10. Busboys and Poets

    $$ | American

    The name pays tribute to American poet Langston Hughes, who worked as a busboy at the Wardman Park Hotel during the 1920s. Today, this popular...Read More

  • 11. Cava Mezze

    $$ | Capitol Hill | Mediterranean

    This modern mecca for mezes (small plates for sharing) delivers delicious and chic Mediterranean without the whiz-bang conceits of its pricier...Read More

  • 12. 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

  • 13. China Chilcano

    $$ | Fusion

    The José Andrés formula is pleasantly familiar to D.C. diners who have thronged his ever-growing empire of endlessly kicky ethnic small plates...Read More

  • 14. Daikaya

    $$ | Chinatown | Japanese

    This quirky, gorgeously decorated split-level party for gourmands is "Lost in Translation" in restaurant form, a sexy-quirky tour of modern...Read More

  • 15. DGS Delicatessen

    $$ | Dupont Circle | Deli

    DGS pickles, cures, and smokes all its food in-house. ...Read More

  • 16. DGS Delicatessen

    $$ | Dupont Circle | Deli

    Your favorite Jewish grandma might be thrown for a loop by this precocious reboot of her staple dishes—what, regular Reubens were too boring...Read More

  • 17. Founding Farmers

    $$ | White House area | American

    Enjoy American comfort and farm food at this always-busy restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus weekend and holiday-Monday...Read More

  • 18. Graffiato

    $$ | Chinatown | Italian

    Manhattan-trained Mike Isabella brought a rock-star cool to his stint on Top Chef, and his venture down I–95 gave the same instant pizzazz...Read More

  • 19. Granville Moore's Brickyard

    $$ | Capitol Hill | Belgian

    This Belgian beer hall with a gourmet soul is worth a visit despite its location in D.C.'s Atlas District, an area that can be seedy after dark...Read More

  • 20. Hill Country

    $$ | Chinatown | Barbecue

    Barbecue partisans, put down your forks! Few who stop by this bustling hive of smoky brisket and gooey ribs can deny that it does Texas meat...Read More

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