The Capitol Riverfront is booming. Home to the Nationals Baseball Team and the D.C. Nationals Soccer Team, the 500-acre neighborhood is undergoing a revitalization. Plans for the area included over 5,000 new apartments for residents, 1.8 miles of waterfront along the Anacostia River, including a gorgeous Riverwalk, and 57 Best Navy Yard restaurants open or planned to open shortly.
It has seen a rebirth because it was a part of the city that was previously considered too dangerous to visit. The growth has attracted new residents and visitors. It’s only five blocks from the U.S. Capitol, and many staffers moved in for the convenient commute to work.
It has a Metro stop for fans to visit the baseball and soccer stadiums, upscale grocery chains, and a waterfront that offers spectacular views and recreational activities. It’s also steeped in American history.
The Capitol Riverfront was our country’s first Navy Yard, and the neighborhood is still referred to by that name. It was established in 1799 as one of the Navy’s largest shipbuilding and ship-fitting facilities. It was burned down during the war of 1812 by the United States Commodore Thomas Tingey because he didn’t want to surrender it to the British.
During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln visited his friend Commander John Dahlgren there. The ironclad Monitor was repaired after battling with Virginia. John Wilkes Booth’s body was examined and identified on the monitor Saugus moored at the Yard, and the assassination conspirators were brought there for questioning before being sent to jail.
The Navy Yard has centuries of history to explore. Visitors can learn more at The Navy Museum, which looks back at its role from the Revolutionary War to the present. The neighborhood has a culinary diversity worth digging into, and following are our thoughts on some of the best Navy Yard restaurants.
If you love reading about Italian food more than you love eating it (just kidding) check out my guide on the 10 Best Trento Restaurants.
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While in Washington DC, don’t miss out on activities that will help immerse yourself with the city (hurry while they’re hot!):
- Washington DC: Hop-On, Hop-Off Open-Top Bus Landmarks Tour
- Washington DC:Gourmet Brunch or Dinner Cruise on the Odyssey
- National Harbor: The Capital Wheel Flexible Date Ticket
- Washington DC: 2-Hour National Mall Tour by Electric Vehicle
- Washington DC: Museum of the Bible Exclusive Early Admission
The Seven Best Navy Yard Restaurants
301 Water St. SE, Suite 109, Washington, D.C. // + 1 (202) 484-0660
An “Osteria” is a place where one is hosted. And it’s hard not to feel like a guest at Osteria Morini. The inviting dining room is set with wooden tables and lit by warm candlelight. The floor-to-ceiling windows offer views of the Riverfront outside and the open kitchen inside.
We enjoyed touring the menu because the cuisine hails from Emilia-Romagna, known for artisan ingredients like prosciutto, mortadella, Parmigiano cheese, and balsamic vinegar.
The choices were all inviting, and luckily, we wanted to share. Communal eating is a favorite pastime for my family; we have to taste everything on the table.
We began with a Battilardo Di Affettati, cured meat and cheeses served with grilled bread. It is an Italian cheeseboard.
We chose three items, Bresaola, an air-dried beef sliced paper-thin, whipped ricotta topped with olive oil and black pepper, and Parm “Gelato” topped with aged balsamic.
The Parm Gelato was new to us and crafted much like the ice cream, but cooled and formed into a room-temperature spreadable cheese. It was absolutely delicious.
The entire board was terrific with the creamy cheeses and salty beef.
It was a perfect starter paired with a delightful glass of Super Tuscan Borgonero. We all craved plates of pasta, so we picked three to taste.
We ordered cappelletti, a truffled ricotta ravioli topped with melted butter and prosciutto.
Then a rigatoni with a wild mushroom ragu and Parmigiano topped with rosemary oil and a dish of spaghetti Pomodoro with basil and Parmigiano with the addition of two meatballs.
The cappelletti was so delicate with a buttery earthy flavor due to the truffles. The mushroom ragu was rich and almost meaty. The rosemary oil gave it an exciting herbal finish.
The spaghetti Pomodoro tasted so fresh with excellent basil kick, and the two meatballs were soft and flavorful. We were stuffed and enjoyed every morsel.
There is so much more to the menu, with mains of poultry, meat, fish, and desserts, but we will be back to try more. Osteria Morini also serves Sunday Brunch. Make sure to check Osteria Morini for a taste of authentic Italian food in Navy Yard. It’s one of the best Navy Yard restaurants.
301 Water Street SE, Washington, D.C. // + 1 (202) 484-0301
Agua 301 feels like a party.
The bright colors of the dining room and the extensive margarita list let you know you are in the right place for a modern take on Mexican cuisine in the Navy Yard area.
The beautiful patio and views of the water make it the place to meet with friends after work to grab “bocaditos,” little bites to have with drinks.
The bocaditos use the local ingredients in interesting ways. The jumbo-lump crab cakes with shishito-corn relish and piquillo puree or the crispy fried oysters with aji verde and pickled onions were two good choices. Still, there are traditional Mexican favorites to whet your appetite.
The menu has a mix of traditional and fusion items with a touch of Asian flavors that are a revelation.
We wanted to share everything, so we split a bocadito – the chicken huarache.
The handmade corn flatbread topped with refried black beans, grilled chicken mixed with bacon, caramelized onions, melted Chihuahua cheese, lettuce, pico de gallo, and queso fresco was scrumptious.
The juicy chicken paired beautifully with all the savory toppings layered on the sweet corn flatbread.
For our entrée we split the Lomo Saltado.
Lomo Saltado is a fusion of Peruvian and Chinese cultures, and I had to sample that. The dish consists of sliced beef tenderloin sauteed with onion, tomato, and jalapeño, served over rice and hand-cut fried potatoes. It was a hearty portion and off-the-charts with flavor.
The beef was tender, and I enjoyed the rice and potato combo soaking up all the sauce. It was reminiscent of a stir-fry with spices of Mexico.
The history and the mixtures of many cuisines on the menu make this a place you can return to over and over, not just for Mexican but the best Navy Yard restaurants Mexican cuisine with serious flair.
79 Potomac Avenue SE, Washington, D.C. // + 1 (202) 629-1894
All-Purpose Pizzeria is a gourmet pizza restaurant in Navy Yard along the Anacostia River and one of the best Navy Yard Restaurants.
It’s the perfect alfresco dining spot for a high-end pizza meal. The dough is made with quality whole wheat and 00 flour fermented for three days to create a crisp, chewy crust that is vegan.
An extra plus for dietarily restricted eaters, there is a gluten-free dough as well.
There are two locations, one in Shaw and one at the Capitol Riverfront right across the street from the baseball stadium, which makes it the perfect stop for a before or after-the-game meal.
They have a great selection of local beer, wine, and fun cocktails like the Mt. Etna Mule. The ingredients make these pies stand out from the crowded field.
They are high-end as well. The 12-inch individual size makes them sharable if you add pie or salad, which is highly recommended.
The Spuntini are small bites like fried mozzarella, which is excellent to start with. If you prefer a large appetizer, order a salad like an heirloom beet or an Antipasti such as the Calabrian chicken wings or fried Brussels sprouts.
We couldn’t stop eating this dish with cippolini onions, marinated red peppers, whipped goat cheese, and breadcrumbs. It was a killer combination that made the vegetables crispy and creamy at the same time.
There are eight All-Purpose pizzas, including a standard pie that you can decorate with add-ons. The pizzas have hilarious names like the Childish Bambino, but I chose the Buona.
It’s a pepperoni pie with mozzarella, pepperoni, Calabrian chili honey, and basil. It came out piping hot with a chewy crisp crust just like the description. The honey addition was outstanding, and I will definitely re-create it at home. Get a taste of Italy with this gourmet pizza in Navy Yard. It deserves its title as one of the best Navy Yard Restaurants.
1331 4th Street SE, Washington, D.C. // +1 (202) 313-7007
Chloe is one of the best Navy Yard restaurants for dinner or brunch. This Michelin Guide suggested restaurant by acclaimed Chef Haidar Karoum offers an eclectic menu with food he enjoys eating himself.
The menu for brunch is sized perfectly for options that come from all over the world.
There are sunny side eggs with chorizo and potato hash topped with romesco sauce, Mediterranean falafel, penne with pork Bolognese, Norwegian salmon, and comforts like warm banana bread with caramel sauce and Chantilly cream.
The cocktails are lovely.
There are plenty of champagne options and surprises like the La Lavande, lavender-infused vodka with lemon, and bubbles.
It was a sunny Sunday. Sitting outside was pleasant and outstanding for toasting the warmth of spring. We started with the La Lavande cocktails and ordered the fresh ricotta with grilled bread topped with raw honey and rosemary. It was so creamy mixed with the honey and herbaceous rosemary.
We munched happily on this heavenly appetizer.
Our entrees were egg dishes. I thoroughly enjoyed the poached eggs with warm scallion biscuits topped with a shitake mushroom mornay sauce. My daughter loved the sunny side egg with the chorizo and potato hash.
Our waiter was exceptional because the romesco sauce had nuts. He discovered the ingredient and had it removed from the dish due to her sensitivity. The entree was still outstanding without it and very flavorful. We enjoyed our meal, the service, the ambiance, and the intriguing menu, which was worldly and inventive.
I found the experience sublime from start to finish. For a great brunch in the Navy Yard, this is one of the best Navy Yard restaurants.
300 Tingey Street SE #170, Washington, D.C. // + (202)488-4800
Hatoba is the third ramen place from the Daikaya Group who owns and operates four other D.C. restaurants. Daikaya, Bantam King, and Haikan all belong to different neighborhoods and have their own vibe.
Chef Katsuya Fukushima loves the modern feel of the Capitol Riverfront.
He’s excited to have this unique, Sapporo-style ramen shop in the up-and-coming area. Ramen is the focus, but each of the ramen restaurants in D.C. has a different style similar to the famous Sapporo city with a thousand ramen shops.
At Hatoba, there are some new variations on old traditions. The ramen and yakisoba noodles are customs made in Sapporo, Japan, but the stock is made at the restaurant. It’s simmered for eight hours to create the clear, complex broth for the base of steaming goodness.
The signature tomato curry ramen uses vegetable stock and is vegan, which is totally modern.
The red miso clam, and spicy red miso, are not common for ramen but are typical Japanese flavors. A twist but still authentic. There are six types of ramen and three types of yakisoba on the menu which you can tailor with extra toppings such as an onsen egg (soft-cooked egg).
The space is so close to the ballpark that the restaurant pays homage by adding a Yakisoba Dog and Okonomiyaki Dog as options along with edamame and gyoza. I opted for the gyoza, which are pan-fried dumplings with cabbage, pork, and shrimp.
The shrimp were whole and gently pan-fried. They were slightly crisp but not greasy, and the flavors were delicate, and none overpowered the other; the best I’ve tasted.
I ordered the veggie yakisoba with Nishiyama noodles, roasted portobello mushrooms, corn, cabbage, scallions, onions, bean sprouts, and the addition of an onsen egg. It was so incredibly delicate and fresh, I found it irresistible and addictive. This is a fantastic stop and one of the best Navy Yard restaurants; don’t miss out.
79 Potomac Avenue SE, Washington, D.C. // +1 (202) 506-2368
If you enjoy oysters and ale, then you should visit the Salt Line.
This waterfront restaurant has a fantastic patio on the Anacostia River and a raw bar that greets you as soon as you enter the restaurant.
The Salt Line theme is that oysters thrive where fresh and saltwater come together.
They want the bounty of the Chesapeake to show through in their classic New England cuisine. As an added bonus, it’s just steps from the ballpark, and they open early before afternoon home games so fans can dine before they cheer on the home team.
Who doesn’t love a lobster roll?
They have one on the menu, but they also have a burger and a roast beef sandwich if you don’t. If you enjoy fish, you are in luck. The dock to dish philosophy and a purveyors list dedicated to bringing all the seafood to you asap is their mission. There are crudos, fried fish platters, and chowders that will remind you of New England.
But the raw bar is where I started. I ordered a shrimp cocktail that was perfect with a squirt of lemon and spicy cocktail sauce.
Then the olive oil poached halibut with beluga lentils, fennel, red Fresno chili, rosemary-cauliflower puree, marsala jus, and dill arrived.
It was divine. The combination and the preparation were perfect; I enjoyed it and found that the ingredients all shone through.
It was so light that I saved room for the dark chocolate tart with preserved lemon, pistachio, sea salt, and maple crema. It was decadent and totally rounded out one of the freshest and inventive seafood meals around.
If you are looking for a seafood restaurant in Navy Yard, Salt Line is a game-changer deserves to be in our best Navy Yard restaurants list.
TaKorean is a food truck concept from founder and CEO Mike Lenard that began in Washington, D.C., in 2010 out of a converted 1985 Ford step van.
It was so popular it turned brick-and-mortar in the Union Market and later in the Capitol Riverfront in 2014.
The idea is simple, healthy, and delicious. You pick a style: taco or bowl (corn tortillas or rice bowl). Then add protein: Dak Galbi -chicken with sweet chili, soybean paste, ginger, soy, Bulgogi steak, Bo sam pork shoulder with ssamjang sauce, tofu with hoisin sauce, or roasted veggie. Then choose add-ons and toppings.
Everything is made from scratch with fresh ingredients at a reasonable price.
Every year Lenard donates a percentage of sales to groups that positively impact the community and environment.
I ordered three bowls with different combinations and toppings. I was blown away by the quality and quantity of each version.
I would go back to visit this elevated take-out business over and over again. The food, the mission, and variations on a simple theme make it a win-win for the customer and the community. It deserves the spot in our Best Navy Yard Restaurants list.
The Capitol Riverfront has exciting dining options that beg to be tried. Stay tuned for additions to this delicious list of the best Navy Yard restaurants.
Jeanine Consoli is a freelance travel writer, photographer, and foodie based in Washington Crossing, PA. A retired elementary school teacher used her summers to feed her passion for travel and kept journals of all the destinations she explored. Today, Jeanine is working as a writer full-time. She loves uncovering the history and understanding the culture of each location, including the local flavors of each place. She has traveled extensively in the United States and Europe and is excited to keep adding to the list, finding special places that are off the beaten path both at home and abroad.