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. 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

  • 4. 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

  • 5. Brasserie Beck

    $$$ | Downtown | Belgian

    Give in to sensory overload at this homage to the railway dining rooms that catered to the prewar European elite. Every detail of Beck's interior...Read More

  • 6. 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

  • 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. Kafe Leopold

    $$ | Georgetown | Austrian

    Forget all the clichés about heavy Austrian fare served by waiters in lederhosen. Leopold is about as Euro trendy as it gets, with an all-day...Read More

  • 9. 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

  • 10. Minibar

    $$$$ | Chinatown | Contemporary

    Once a legendarily hard-to-reserve spinoff in the back of a bigger sibling, this critically beloved experimental laboratory of super-chef José...Read More

  • 11. Mintwood Place

    $$$ | Adams Morgan | French

    Visitors to D.C. from more cosmopolitan confines tend to scoff at the city's high-minded cultural aspirations, but only in a smaller urban center...Read More

  • 12. 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

  • 13. Pearl Dive Oyster Palace

    $$$ | U Street | Seafood

    Chef Jeff Black does serve three kinds of po'boys, but that's about as working-class as it gets at this dazzlingly decorated homage to the bivalve...Read More

  • 14. Poste Moderne Brasserie

    $$$ | Chinatown | American

    Inside trendy Hotel Monaco, Poste woos diners with a towering skylighted space that until 1901 was the General Post Office. Homing in on Modern...Read More

  • 15. Room 11

    $$ | Chinatown | Wine Bar

    You're invited to the coolest house party in the city, where deft hands in a tiny kitchen turn out urbane plates that go down like a designer...Read More

  • 16. Tabard Inn

    $$$ | Dupont Circle | American

    Fading portraits and overstuffed furniture make the lobby lounge look like an antiques store, but this hotel restaurant's culinary sensibilities...Read More

  • 17. 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

  • 18. Wolfgang Puck's The Source

    $$$$ | Downtown | Asian

    Iconic chef Puck's first foray into Washington, D.C., provides diners with two alternate experiences. The downstairs area is home to an intimate...Read More

  • 19. Citronelle

    $$$$ | Georgetown | French

    See all the action in the glass-front kitchen at chef Michel Richard's flagship California-French restaurant. Appetizers might include foie...Read More

  • 20. Café MoZU

    $$$$ | Downtown | Asian

    amp;lt;QUERY> Should this property remain omitted? Yes – it is still closed, not sure when the expected reopening will be final yet ...Read More

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