When you visit Washington, DC, you’ll discover a dining scene as vibrant and diverse as the country itself.
The District is undeniably a culinary attraction, as evidenced by its annual inclusion in the Michelin Guide.
Additionally, the city is home to various innovative mixologists, making drinking at a bar an adventure just as much as eating.
There is one thing DC’s local flavor has in common: it’s all delicious, whether it’s celebrity chef dishes, tasty drinks, or chili-smothered half-smokes.
And while we’re very aware the DC restaurant scene is ever-changing and eleven of the restaurants in DC barely scratches the surface here are some of our favorites!
Take a look below at what your taste buds can expect while visiting Washington!
- The 11 Best Restaurants In Washington DC
- Final Thoughts On The 11 Best Restaurants In Washington DC
The 11 Best Restaurants In Washington DC
1520 14th St. NW, Washington, DC 20005, United States // +12023191404
Estadio is a great place for tapas-style food, a fresh ambient feeling, good service, and a superb wine list. It’s not one of the biggest restaurants in Washington, DC, but it has become very popular.
The food quality is delicious, and the atmosphere makes it a great place to spend an evening with friends or family.
The service was outstanding – our waiters kept bringing us water, which was really helpful. We were pleased by how attentive they were to us.
The first thing I did was have a glass of sangria, which was a perfect pairing with the various tapas we ordered.
Our first course was amazing mushroom croquettes. They were crisp on the outside and melt-in-your-mouth on the inside.
We also tasted Catalan cheese, patatas bravas, tortilla Espanola, and fried cauliflower.
For dessert, we had pumpkin bread pudding. Looking for the best Spanish restaurants in Washington DC? This is your spot!
Pepe, 1601 14th St. NW, Washington, DC 20009, United States // +12023323333
Le Diplomate is a fantastic French restaurant that I wholeheartedly recommend. Le Diplomate is a restaurant with traditional cuisine and friendly service.
With highly qualified personnel catering to your every need, it’s easy to see why this restaurant has remained at the top of the local media’s list of the best restaurants in Washington, DC.
The experience was simply spectacular. Our server was fantastic; he was attentive, present, and made excellent recommendations. Of course, it’s always good to be served by someone who understands their restaurant’s experience.
We began our magnificent lunch with the King Crab, which our server recommended, and he was right; it was exquisite.
My friend had the Steak Frites, while I had the Warm Shrimp Salad. I’m not kidding when I say the Steak Frites were the greatest we’ve ever had. I’ve had some of the best steaks from the best steakhouses, and this one is among the top three.
The Warm Shrimp Salad was delicious. On a platter, great flavor and balance. Oh, my gosh. They also offer you a great bread basket. Our meal was completed with the Millefeuille.
When looking for French restaurants in Washington DC, make sure to stop here. Going out of your way to sample this amazing food won’t be a regret.
1924 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20006, United States // +12028228783
Since it debuted three blocks from the White House in 2008, the award-winning Founding Farmers main restaurant has lured locals and visitors.
In this urban farmhouse, guests can congregate and partake in their meals in several specifically created places.
My friend got the NY strip with mac & cheese and sweet potatoes, while I had the chicken pot pie. I liked the huge vegetable chunks in the pot pie; both dishes were well-presented and tasty.
We decided to get the chocolate sampler box to go and make a pick of desserts to savor while we were still there because dessert offered an opportunity that was too good to pass up.
My friend got the seasonal pecan pie, and I had the chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream. They were both rich treats. Cake in restaurants usually runs dry and bland, so I am always hesitant to order one, but this one was moist and tasty.
Despite the bustling environment, we never felt hurried and could take our time and enjoy our meals. Therefore, I highly advise that you visit this local gem amongst the restaurants in Washington DC if you have the opportunity.
The District’s favorite place for upscale Indian cuisine, Punjab Grill, returned in 2019 with a fresh appearance, new name, and menu.
In a dining area with chic finishes like an Onyx bar and bone-inlay tables, Rania serves up inventive twists on Indian cuisine while retaining the superb ambiance of the prior restaurant.
Rania brings Indian cuisine innovation to DC, which has long needed it. I liked how the menu included cuisines from several regions of India.
I keep thinking about the lamb shank that was slow-cooked. Also, the presentation of the Shrikhand mousse was a delicious work of art.
Aside from that, there is a great selection of drinks as well. You won’t be disappointed. You’ll love this if you like flavor! This is one of the best Indian restaurants in Washington DC.
2321 18th St. NW, Washington, DC 20009, United States // +12024502151
A three-part concept from chef Darren Norris features this adaptable basement-level shop, a rooftop cocktail bar, and a calm middle floor for shabu-shabu.
Norris’ team produces sushi rolls, sashimi, and nigiri using North Pacific bluefin tuna and yellowtail flown in from Tokyo’s Tsukiji Fish Market.
There are also juicy short rib skewers roasted over binchotan charcoal, bento boxes, and donburi bowls to make your own. Choices include hot or cold dashi noodles, chopstick-thick udon, or matcha tea-green soba.
Seasonal delights include a soft shell crab meal served alongside brothless ramen and a compressed summer melon with mint, garlic chive oil, and crispy ham.
I can’t say enough about this establishment’s delicious food, beverages, and atmosphere. The entire experience was fantastic.
The beverages and cuisine were both fantastic. We ordered various items to try a bit of everything on the menu. We began with the Temarizushi Box, which was possibly my favorite.
The round rice balls that sit beneath the thick bits of fish, shrimp, eel, clam, and tofu melt in your mouth.
The Binchotan Skewers were next, with beef short rib, Koji chicken breast, ground chicken, shiitake mushrooms, and roasted baby leeks. I highly recommend the short ribs.
The Wagyu Beef Donburi was our final course. This dish was delicious and filling—it was comfort food. I will definitely return the next time I am looking for sushi restaurants in Washington DC, and I recommend you do the same!
1924 9th St. NW, Washington, DC 20001, United States // +12025887366
To find this long-standing West African treasure in Shaw, descend several stairs. Prince Matey, the restaurant’s chef and proprietor, is inspired by his grandmother’s Ghanaian cuisine as he develops delicacies for local Washingtonians.
The slow-cooked seafood okra is a must-order, but Matey’s hearty egusi soup, jollof rice, and red, stewed black-eyed peas in palm oil are also must-orders.
His superb preparations of goat, oxtail, and fufu — Ghana’s doughy starch staple made of mashed plantain flour — complement most of the menu.
This restaurant is known for its off-menu garden egg stew, one of the city’s best vegan dishes.
Pepper soup with ox tail was my first course. The soup was tasty, and the bite-size pieces of ox tail were delicate and meaty, perfectly complementing the soup’s flavor. There is a reason it is called pepper soup!
Spinach fish with jollof rice was my entree. It was a full croaker covered in spinach, tomatoes, green peppers, and onions. The tastes were subtle but tasty, and the dish was very excellent.
Appioo’s is definitely on my list of places to visit while in Washington. This is a beautiful reason to push yourself beyond your comfort zone. This is one of the Ghanaian restaurants in Washington DC (if not the only one) to go if you’re looking for Ghanian food!
1906 14th St. NW, Washington, DC 20009, United States // +12025187926
Chef Ryan Ratino’s busy lower 14th Street NW café serves prix-fixe dinners such as tuna crudo with Calabrian pepper, wild fennel, and makrut lime and foie gras gateau with pistachio, strawberry, celery, and anise.
There’s also a historic French duck press provided by gourmet supplier D’Artagnan incorporated into a theatrical tableside offering by the ambitious chef, who is among the youngest ever to win a Michelin star.
They have a small but nice wine selection. The experience was meant to be one of sharing plates.
We choose sourdough with farmers’ cheese. It was an excellent start. After that, there was an asparagus salad, which I thoroughly enjoyed eating.
The halibut we got was equally delicious, with a good mix of vegetables and a sauce that was just right.
Next, we got a steak that was cooked to perfection and presented with a fresh salad. The sauce for the beef was fantastic. If I could, I’d buy it and use it every day.
After the meal, we had Ambrosia for dessert, which was also delicious. Overall, I highly recommend visiting this Calabrian gem amongst the restaurants in Washington DC. Excellent service that went above and above. I will undoubtedly return.
The restaurant L’Ardente is located in downtown’s new Capitol Crossing complex. It features chandeliers from Murano glass, Missoni draperies, leather booths made of Italian bull hide, and an oven crafted from Marra Forni.
This place is a see-and-be-seen spot, evidenced by the dressy diners eager to trade sweatpants for little black dresses and suits.
Bring friends who consider themselves fashion influencers—and have them advise you on your dress choice ahead of time.
The showpiece here is the 40-layer lasagna, which is constructed with 40 precise layers of short rib sugo and housemade pasta, mornay sauce, and sottocenere cheese, and then coated with a cloud of Parmesan.
An absolutely unforgettable experience that I wholeheartedly recommend!! If you’re looking for the best Italian restaurants in Washington DC, this is one of them.
122 Blagden Alley NW, Washington, DC 20001, United States // +12024501015
The Dabney, operated by Chef Jeremiah Langhorne, is among Blagden Alley’s most popular restaurants in Washington DC.
Langhorne, who spent five years working under Sean Brock at McCrady’s in Charleston, S.C., gathers ingredients from the Chesapeake Bay and the Mid-Atlantic region and cooks them over a live fire on the hearth.
The menu changes frequently, and items such as green garlic hush puppies with country ham and citrus mayo or summer squash tart with ricotta, sunflower seeds, cherry, and basil are available. No matter what time of the season, the skillet cornbread is impossible to resist.
I wholeheartedly suggest The Dabney to anyone looking for a high-quality eating experience in a casual setting.
974 Palmer Alley NW, Washington, DC 20268, United States // +12028982426
Chef and owner Amy Brandwein alters her menu periodically at Centrolina in CityCenterDC, The District’s poshest new mixed-use building, but her terra cotta-clad wood oven is always in use.
Her specialty dish is pasta, which ranges from classics like ravioli and bolognese to delicate twists like squid ink spaghetti wrapped around soft shell crab, although entrees like wood-grilled fish or lamb chops are also delicious.
We began with charred octopus over 1/2 baked potato and a delicious pepper sauce. Next, we had the squid ink pasta with soft shell crab and the triangle ravioli with mushrooms and corn, both of which were delicious.
The portions were small, but they were filling. We finished with a chocolate torta topped with gelato. Our outside dining experience was relaxing and unhurried. Definitely enjoyable!
If you’re still in the area the next day, stop into Piccolina, Brandwein’s café and coffee shop across the street, for espresso, pastries, and a sandwich/pizza mash-up called a panuzzo.
717 8th St. SE, Washington, DC 20003, United States // +12027423570
Rose’s Luxury can be seen from across the street thanks to its neon-green sign and inevitable line—though the perennially popular establishment now accepts reservations.
Since the restaurant’s opening in Barracks Row in 2013, Chef Aaron Silverman has significantly affected the D.C. culinary scene; his lychee salad with pork sausage, habanero, and peanuts is officially one of the city’s cult classics.
For dessert, the popcorn brûlée and sun gold tomato bucatini make creative food without being too stuffy.
From beginning to end, the dinner experience was excellent. The service was friendly and pleasant, and the atmosphere was nice and informal.
We ordered various items, such as flowering cauliflower, sweet pea pasta, cacio e Pepe souffle, soft shell crab and fried green tomatoes, and a Vietnamese coffee caramel coconut crumble mochi brown butter cake with buckwheat ice cream, with the coffee caramel served separately.
Every item was incredibly tasty and had been thoughtfully prepared and presented. Put this location on your bucket list of the best restaurants in Washington DC without a doubt!
What food is DC best known for?
The District’s official tourism website, Destination DC, states that half-smokes are Washington’s “signature cuisine.” Half-smokes, popular among locals and visitors, blend ground pig, beef, and spices in a natural casing.
How much does it cost to eat in Washington, DC?
Dining out in the D.C. area is very pricey, especially at night. A meal at a full-service restaurant costs about $40, not including a drink or tip. Lunch is less pricey, costing roughly $15.
What’s the best month to visit Washington, DC?
The ideal months to visit Washington, D.C., are September through November and March through May. The hot summer has passed in the autumn, taking with it most busy season travelers.
All that remains are cool breezes and changing leaves, which, by the way, look fantastic against all those marble monuments.
Final Thoughts On The 11 Best Restaurants In Washington DC
The restaurant scene in Washington, DC, is not just vibrant but also diversified. While there are many luxury restaurants and celebrity chef-driven bistros here, you can still have a fast snack at a neighborhood burger shop or soul food restaurant.
If this list piques your attention, you will quickly realize that many more possibilities are available. I strongly urge you to visit D.C. and sample its world-class food scene for yourself!
Visiting other destinations in Virginia? Check out our other guides:
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- Best Pizza In Fredericksburg VA
- 14 Best Restaurants In Richmond, VA
- 10 Fun Things To Do In Williamsburg VA
- 7 Best Must Try Stafford Restaurants
- 10 Awesome Things To Do In Fredericksburg VA
- 7 Must-Try Richmond Breweries
- 20 Fun Things To Do In Richmond VA
- 7 Must-Try Chesapeake Restaurants
Igor Jovanovski is an aspiring digital nomad, travel blogger and graphic designer who really loves food. He also has a creative side, and he works as a freelance graphic designer in his spare time. He has traveled across Europe quite a few times since he was young and recently started his mission to visit every country in the world! Igor’s favorite thing about traveling is the way he gets to know new people, food, places and cultures.
This exciting experience helps him create his own stories and make memories that will last forever