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. Komi

    $$$$ | Dupont Circle | Mediterranean

    Young, energetic chef-owner Johnny Monis offers one of the city's most adventurous dining experiences in this tiny space. The multicourse, prix...Read More

  • 2. Little Serow

    $$$$ | Dupont Circle | Thai

    Guests start lining up as early as at 4:30 pm with the hope of getting a hard-to-score table at this cozy restaurant in the basement of a row...Read More

  • 3. 1789 Restaurant

    $$$$ | Georgetown | American

    This dining room with early American paintings and a fireplace could easily be a room in the White House. But all the gentility of this 19th...Read More

  • 4. 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

  • 5. Marcel's by Robert Wiedmaier

    $$$$ | French

    Served in a warmly lit, elegant setting, the award-winning, Flemish-inspired French menu at Marcel's—the flagship restaurant of acclaimed chef...Read More

  • 6. 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

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