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. Ben's Chili Bowl

    $ | U Street | American

    A U Street fixture for decades, Ben's serves chili—on hot dogs, on Polish-style sausages, on burgers, and on its own—to Washingtonians and visitors...Read More

  • 2. Colada Shop

    $ | U Street | Cuban

    Escape to Cuba via a cafesito at this spot, which has a two-floor patio and is situated just off lively 14th Street. If you'd like something...Read More

  • 3. Good Stuff Eatery

    $ | Capitol Hill | American

    Fans of Bravo's Top Chef will first visit this brightly colored burgers-and-shakes joint hoping to spy charismatic celebrity chef Spike Mendelsohn...Read More

  • 4. Le Chat Noir

    $$$ | Tenleytown | French

    This unpretentious but intimate and stylish bistro recalls a Parisian café, with dark woods, white table cloths, and cozy tables—not to mention...Read More

  • 5. 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

  • 6. Pete's New Haven Style Apizza

    $ | Friendship Heights | Pizza

    Pete's is a Friendship Heights landmark, serving "New Haven-style" (thin crust, coal-fired) pizzas and offering an extensive toppings list....Read More

  • 7. Taylor Gourmet

    $ | U Street | Café

    Sandwiches crafted with attention to detail and fine ingredients are the hallmark of this Philadelphia-inspired classic. Taylor's substitution...Read More

  • 8. 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

  • 9. Zaytinya

    $$ | Penn Quarter | Middle Eastern

    This sophisticated urban dining room with soaring ceilings is a local favorite for meeting friends or dining with a group (and popular enough...Read More

  • 10. Baked & Wired

    $ | Georgetown | Bakery

    Considered to be one of D.C.'s most essential coffee shops, Baked & Wired is the perfect place for a cup of tea or coffee and a generously...Read More

  • 11. Chercher Ethiopian Restaurant

    $ | Shaw | Ethiopian

    In Shaw, a neighborhood known for its traditional Ethiopian food, this celebrated spot offers both authentic flavor and great prices. Named...Read More

  • 12. CHIKO

    $ | Dupont Circle | Asian

    CHIKO (a hybrid of Chinese and Korean, as is the food) Dupont Circle is the second outpost of this revered restaurant, featured in many of the...Read More

  • 13. Colada Shop

    $ | D.C. Waterfront | Cuban

    There was great excitement in summer 2020, when the second Colada Shop opened, an extension of its very popular first branch in Northwest D...Read More

  • 14. El Tamarindo

    $ | Adams Morgan | Latin American

    With almost 40 years in operation, El Tamarindo, an El Salvadorean and Mexican restaurant, has weathered the neighborhood's many changes. Guests...Read More

  • 15. Full Kee

    $ | Chinatown | Chinese

    Many locals swear that amid the slew of mediocre Chinese joints in the area this one is a standout. The style-free interior—reminiscent of the...Read More

  • 16. Glen's Garden Market

    $ | Dupont Circle | American

    Tucked away on picturesque S Street NW, Glen's Garden Market is a hybrid grocery store and coffee shop–café. With a focus on locally sourced...Read More

  • 17. Haikan

    $ | Shaw | Japanese

    Located on a lively block, Haikan is a recent addition from the popular Daikaya Group, famous for its ramen restaurants throughout the city...Read More

  • 18. HipCityVeg

    $ | Dupont Circle | Vegetarian

    Vegans and carnivores alike will rejoice over HipCityVeg's creative, plant-based, fast-casual menu. The Philadelphia-born company serves a popular...Read More

  • 19. Jimmy T's Place

    $ | Capitol Hill | American

    Known for its boisterous owner and throngs of talkative regulars, this D.C. institution is tucked into the first floor of an old row house only...Read More

  • 20. Keren Cafe & Restaurant

    $ | Adams Morgan | African

    The Washington, D.C. metro area is home to one of the largest Eritrean populations in the United States, and many in the community get their...Read More

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