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. 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

  • 2. 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

  • 3. Belga Café

    $$$ | Capitol Hill | European

    You can go traditional with mussels and the crispiest of french fries or dabble in what the chef calls Euro-fusion at this sleek café done up...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. Bistrot Lepic

    $$$ | Glover Park | French

    Relaxed and upbeat, with bright yellow walls and colorful paintings, this small, crowded neighborhood bistro is French in every regard—starting...Read More

  • 6. Black Salt

    $$$ | Upper Northwest | Seafood

    Just beyond Georgetown in the residential neighborhood of Palisades, Black Salt is part fish market, part gossipy neighborhood hangout, part...Read More

  • 7. 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

  • 8. Doi Moi

    $$$ | U Street | Asian

    The rise of foodie culture can leave adventurous diners feeling like they've turned over every culinary stone, but this pilgrimage into the...Read More

  • 9. 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

  • 10. 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

  • 11. 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

  • 12. 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

  • 13. Proof

    $$$ | Chinatown | Wine Bar

    Chef Haidar Karoum grew up traveling throughout Europe, acquiring a Continental polyglot's sensibility that serves him perfectly wearing the...Read More

  • 14. 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

  • 15. 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

  • 16. 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

  • 17. 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

  • 18. Cashion's Eat Place

    $$$ | Adams Morgan | American

    Walls are hung with family photos, and tables are jammed with regulars feasting on home-style cooking that stays impressively modern in the...Read More

  • 19. Hook

    $$$ | Georgetown | Seafood

    Barton Seaver, the young chef who stunned Georgetown's old guard of gourmands with this ode to the "sustainable seafood" movement, is no longer...Read More

  • 20. Indebleu

    $$$ | Chinatown | Eclectic

    Visual drama and culinary fun are the twin concepts at this restaurant where French technique meets American foodstuffs and Indian spices. Quaff...Read More

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