Best Restaurants in DC
Finding the best restaurants in DC is no easy task. Its international influence provides great food from all over the country and world. Because of the ever-changing food scene and sheer number of options, picking where to go among all the review sites can be a daunting task. We sacrificed our waistline, cholesterol levels, and liver for the sake of your pallet and ate our way through the entire city. We also talked to dozens of locals who really know their food to determine this list of our best restaurants in DC.
This is not a portentous elite restaurant list. It includes neighborhood joints, delicious dive bars, and experiments from top DC chefs. It focuses on experiences and is meant to be our favorite restaurants for the widest range of cuisines, neighborhoods, and budgets. We marked each one by cuisine type, neighborhood, and price range ($ for budget, $$ for mid-range, and $$$ for high-end).
Also, please note that this was not an online research and crowdsourcing project for us, someone from the TripScout team has eaten at every restaurant on this list (and usually more than once).
American: best restaurants in DC
- Founding Farmers (Foggy Bottom, $$): Classic American comfort food served with quality local ingredients and a great beer and cocktail menu. The DC-vibe makes it one of the quintessential best restaurants in DC.
- Provision No. 14 (14th Street, $$): Some of the city’s best and sharable American fare with specialty cocktails and an outdoor patio.
- Smoke & Barrel (Adam’s Morgan, $$): A comfortable restaurant and bar serving ome of the best barbeque in the city, with open windows overlooking the hustle and bustle of Adam’s Morgan.
- The Hamilton (Downtown, $$): This is a quintessential DC bar. Located downtown near the White House and numerous government buildings and lobbyist offices, this is a place where politically-driven happy hours rule the day. That aside, it has a fantastic bar and food menu and is the perfect visit for DC locals and travelers alike, making it one of the most classic of the best restaurants in DC list.
- Commissary (14th Street, $$): A friendly neighborhood restaurant and bar serving American cuisine with outdoor seating available when the weather is nice.
- Lincoln (Downtown, $$): Downtown restaurant serving American food with outdoor seating available when the weather is nice.
- City Tap House of DC (Penn Quarter, $$): A New American gastropub that serves good food and craft beers.
- Pig (14th Street, $$): This pork-inspired restaurant is a unique restaurant that’s a great choice for any pork lover. If you love pork, this may be top the best restaurants in DC list for you.
- Busboys & Poets (14th Street, $): This activist café serves a wide range of food with organic ingredients. This is our favorite café on the Best Restaurants in DC list.
- Ardeo Bardeo (Cleveland Park, $$: This is a sleek bistro-style restaurant serving New American fare and handcrafted cocktails with a delicious brunch menu.
Steak: best restaurants in DC
- BLT Steak (Downtown, $$$): arguably the best steak in DC with delicious sides too.
- Medium Rare (Eastern Market, $): a less expensive, but delicious, steak and french fries joint. Seconds are included with every order.
Seafood: best restaurants in DC
- Fiola Mare (Georgetown, $$$): One of the highest ranked for best restaurants in DC, this is a popular seafood restaurant at the heart of the Georgetown waterfront.
- Hank’s Oyster Bar (14th Street, $$): New England-style seafood restaurant serving fish, clams, lobster rolls, and a raw bar.
- Maine Avenue Fish Market (SW Waterfront, $): The Maine Avenue Fish Market is an open air seafood market that is a local landmark established in 1805, making it the oldest continuously operating fish market in the United States. The original building that housed the fish market was demolished in the 1960s as part of a waterfront urban renewal project, but vendors refused to leave and exercised a clause in their lease that allowed them to stay on the premises, so a pier was later built to support the market. Visitors can buy fresh fish daily or buy many cooked crabs, shimp, chowder, or gumbo to eat while walking around. Not far from the National Mall, this is a good DC experience.
Indian: best restaurants in DC
- Rasika (Foggy Bottom, $$$): If you love Indian food, this high-end Indian restaurant might just be the best you can eat outside of India. The service is incredible, food is top notch, and they even have a great list of wine and cocktails. They have two locations in the city in case one is full. This is one of our favorites on the Best Restaurants in DC list.
- Indigo (H Street, $$): This family-owned neighborhood joint has some of the best Indian cuisine in the city. It’s inexpensive, friendly, and in the summer months, has a fun front patio where you can hang out and let the beer wash down the Indian spice.
Mexican: best restaurants in DC
- El Centro (14th Street, $$): A slightly fancier version of most Mexican joints, El Centro serves some of the best Mexican food in the city in a cool atmosphere and with a wide range of margaritas and tequila options.
- Rosa Mexicana (Chinatown, $$): Modern Mexican cuisine known for its guacamole, special margaritas, and chic atmosphere.
French: best restaurants in DC
- Le Diplomate (14th Street, $$$): A typical French bistro with the best steak frites in the city. When the weather is warm, there’s a charming sidewalk patio. Reservations are recommended as it gets busy, but if the restaurant is full, you’re in the heart of the popular 14th St restaurant and bar scene, so walk around and find anything of interest. This is one of our favorites on the Best Restaurants in DC list.
Italian: best restaurants in DC
- The Red Hen (Bloomingdale, $$$): A trendy and highly rated Italian inspired restaurant and bar in a rustic-industrial space and an open kitchen.
- Filomena (Georgetown, $$$): One of the top Italian restaurants in DC,
- Pizzeria Paradiso (Dupont Circle, $$): A good pizza joint with a very robust beer list.
- Graffiato (14th Street, $$): fun Italian restaurant and bar with a chic atmosphere and open air atmosphere opening up to the popular 14th
Japanese & Sushi: best restaurants in DC
- Say (Chinatown, $$$): Fancy, yet fun, sushi restaurant that gets creative with their sushi rolls and cocktails.
- Momiji (Chinatown, $$$): Located in the heart of Chinatown, this is one of the best spots in the city if you’re craving a fun time with fairly priced sushi. There are certainly fancier places, so you can’t call it “the best in the city,” but the sushi is fresh and they have a variety of creatively inspired rolls. The staff is friendly and there is a rooftop patio when the weather is good.
Mediterranean: best restaurants in DC
- Zataynia (Chinatown, $$$): The Mediterranean restaurant for the city’s top chef and restauranteur, José Andréas. The trendy and modern design is a great setting for the delicious small plates. They have a great wine and cocktail menu as well.
- Cava Mezza (Eastern Market, $$): a neighborhood Mediterranean hangout, dedicated to delicious shared plates, with a great list of signature cocktails and wine.
Middle Eastern: best restaurants in DC
- Mama Ayesha’s (Woodley Park, $$): An old Middle Eastern restaurant that’s been serving grilled meats with its exotic décor since the 1960s.
- Micho’sLebanese Grill (H Street, $):Counter-serve Lebanese spot serving pita wraps, traditional platters & sides in a modern space.
Spanish: best restaurants in DC
- Barcelona (14th Street, $$$): This popular and trendy wine bar is in the heart of 14th It has a happening indoor and outdoor atmosphere, delicious Spanish food, and an amazing wine list. Only drawback is how crowded it can get.
- Boqueria (Dupont, $$): Serves delicious Spanish tapas, with many wines and cocktails for pairing. They boast a chic wood-paneled interior and a popular outdoor patio. They have our favorite brunch on the Best Restaurants in DC list.
Ethiopian: best restaurants in DC
- Ethiopic (H Street, $$): There is a large Ethiopian diaspora located in DC and Ethiopic is best restaurant in the city for Ethiopian food. Located in the heart of H Street, this small restaurant has a great atmosphere, delicious food served on injera, and a full bar. This is also one of our favorites on the Best Restaurants in DC list.
Chinese: best restaurants in DC
- Ming’s Restaurant (Chinatown, $$): Classic Chinese cuisine in a contemporary space.
- Ching Ching Cha (Georgetown, $$): This tea house and restaurant is a hidden gem of Georgetown. Located near one of the most popular intersections, this tranquil, friendly, and delicious spot is almost always empty. They have a wide assortment with some of the best tea options in the city. Sit on the floor while you sip tea outside the hustle and bustle of Georgetown, or have a bite from their limited but delicious menu.
Thai: best restaurants in DC
- Little Serow (Dupont Circle, $$): Intimate & dark, this cavelike spot serves an innovative set menu of Northern-Thailand specialties.
- DC Noodles (U Street, $): Traditional and modern Thai dishes.
Vietnamese: best restaurants in DC
- Pho 14 (Cleveland Park, $): The DC area has a large Vietnamese population, but most are located in nearby Falls Church. This is one of the best Pho options in the city.
- Pho Viet (Petworth, $): Same description as Pho 14 applies. It just depends on which is closer.
Fusion: best restaurants in DC
- Farmer Fishers Bakers (Georgetown, $$): This restaurant cooperative serves farm-inspired American fare, plus sushi and delicious cocktails. At the center of the Georgetown waterfront, this sleek and modern restaurant has river and fountain views. This is our favorite Georgetown food and drink experiences on the Best in DC list.
- Ocopa (H Street, $$): This trendy restaurant serves Peruvian cuisine, like ceviche and seafood, in a modern setting. It’s the best place in DC to get a Peruvian cocktail, such as a pisco sour.
Best restaurants in DC to eat to find something for everyone
- Union Market (Noma, $$): Union Market is a popular local hangout. Far outside the tourist path, this is the perfect place to sample a variety of great food, drink craft coffee or beer, hangout outside, and play cornhole. Food vendors range from Korean barbeque, Mediterranean, specialty cheese and wine, the chocolate inspired, and many, many more.
If you get annoyed with all the DC politics, find solace at the bottom of a delicious plate or glass of craft beer. It is a great food town, so eat, drink, and be merry. We hope that our Best Restaurants in DC list gives you a great place to start!
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