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. 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

  • 2. Osteria Morini

    $$$ | Southeast | Italian

    The stylish design and superlative pastas of this take on cuisine from northern Italy's Emilia-Romagna region might seem like an unexpected...Read More

  • 3. Parthenon Restaurant

    $$ | Upper Northwest | Greek

    You can never have enough Greek restaurants, and Parthenon is among the best in town. This is traditional Greek food, including great moussaka...Read More

  • 4. Room 11

    $ | U Street | 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

  • 5. Seven Reasons

    $$$ | U Street | Latin American

    At Seven Reasons, one of D.C.'s most talked-about restaurants in the past two years, chef Enrique Limardo honors his native Venezuela with creative...Read More

  • 6. Shilling Canning Company

    $$$ | D.C. Waterfront | American

    Shilling Canning takes pride in the quality of its fresh, locally sourced ingredients, and it shows. The Shilling family hails from Baltimore...Read More

  • 7. The Fourth Estate

    $$ | Downtown | American

    A hidden gem atop the National Press Building offers classic American cuisine (strong on seafood), beautifully prepared and presented in an...Read More

  • 8. Bistro Bis

    $$$ | Capitol Hill | French

    The zinc bar, cherrywood interior, and white tablecloths create great expectations at Bistro Bis, where the seasonal menu offers modern takes...Read More

  • 9. Blue Duck Tavern

    $$$$ | Modern American

    With an open kitchen firmly committed to artistically crafted American cuisine, this high-end neighborhood tavern, located in the Park Hyatt...Read More

  • 10. Brasserie Beck

    $$$ | Downtown | Belgian

    Give in to sensory overload at this homage to the railway dining rooms that catered to the prewar European elite. The food is just as rich as...Read More

  • 11. Cafe Milano

    $$$$ | Georgetown | Italian

    Expect authentic, sophisticated Italian cooking and a pricey wine list at this upscale Georgetown hot spot that has been around for over 25...Read More

  • 12. Cafe of India

    $$ | Tenleytown | Indian

    The menu at this traditional Indian restaurant features a few surprises, including an inventive shrimp and coconut masala, a local favorite...Read More

  • 13. Chaplin's

    $ | Shaw | Asian

    Inspired by the 1930s star Charlie Chaplin, this is the first ramen house–cocktail bar in Shaw. Burmese chef Myo Htun transports you with his...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. Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House

    $$$$ | Chinatown | Steakhouse

    Del Frisco's is yet another upscale steak house in a city bursting with them. Like many others, the cuts of meat are tasty, generous, and pricey...Read More

  • 16. Dirty Habit

    $$$ | Penn Quarter | Fusion

    Inside trendy Hotel Monaco, Dirty Habit woos diners with a towering skylit space that until 1901 was the general post office. Homing in on globally...Read More

  • 17. Fiola

    $$$$ | Penn Quarter | Italian

    Chef Fabio Trabocchi's flights of fancy—such as oysters with granita and caviar or Nova Scotia lobster ravioli—delight many area foodies but...Read More

  • 18. 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

  • 19. Kafe Leopold

    $$ | Georgetown | Austrian

    As Euro-trendy as it gets, Leopold has an all-day coffee and drinks bar, olive-and-onion tarts, crisp schnitzel paired with arugula, and a to...Read More

  • 20. 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

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