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. 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

  • 2. Rose's Luxury

    $$$ | American

    The neon sign above one of the two interior bars at what its chef calls the city's "most exclusively unexclusive" kitchen reads "awesome"—the...Read More

  • 3. 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

  • 4. 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

  • 5. 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

  • 6. 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

  • 7. El Camino

    $ | Mexican

    The up-and-coming Bloomingdale neighborhood is still long on pubs and short on reliable, quality food, but this California-style taco temple...Read More

  • 8. 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

  • 9. 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

  • 10. Little Serow

    $$$$ | Dupont Circle | Thai

    Remember the last time a quirky new musical group or movie seemed to take over the world, racking up fans despite being more than a little,...Read More

  • 11. Osteria Morini

    $$$$ | Italian

    This stylish design and superlative pastas of this take on regional Emilia-Romagna fare (think crostini, rich ragus, and wood-grilled meat)...Read More

  • 12. Range

    $$$ | American

    Bryan Voltaggio has been a favorite son of Maryland foodies ever since finishing second to his brother Michael on Top Chef in 2009, and this...Read More

  • 13. Roofers Union

    $$ | Adams Morgan | American

    The cavernous space that once hosted one of the capital's most notoriously crazy bars is now a symbol of the area's maturation, thanks to a...Read More

  • 14. Sakuramen

    $ | Adams Morgan | Japanese

    After the small plates, artisanal burgers, and cupcake fads, gourmet versions of Japanese ramen soup became the latest trend to storm the city...Read More

  • 15. The Partisan

    $$$ | American

    Did you know that charcuterie can be as diverse as wine? It's more than just salami at this wood-paneled homage to all parts of the pig, bathed...Read More

  • 16. Thip Khao

    $$ | Lao

    Chef Seng Luangrath's legendary Thai destination in suburban Virginia, Bangkok Golden, drew so many curious diners to its Laotian menu that...Read More

  • 17. Tico

    $$ | Latin American

    One of Boston's celebrity chefs, Michael Schlow, scored prime real estate for this fast-paced parade of small Latin and South American plates...Read More

  • 18. America Eats Tavern

    $$$ | Chinatown | American

    Hard economic times have sparked a boomlet in New Deal nostalgia around the capital, and nothing epitomizes financial-crisis chic like this...Read More

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