People know Washington, DC for many things: politics, architecture, Smithsonian museums, etc. One thing people don’t realize about DC is how incredible the food and restaurant scene is. I would even venture to say it is among the top five best cities for restaurants in the US. DC is home to plenty of entrepreneurial chefs and restaurant owners. While there are so many incredible places to choose from, I thought I’d compile my favorite restaurants in Washington, DC.
Though many of us are in quarantine due to the national health emergency caused by the coronavirus pandemic, I wanted to support some locally-owned restaurants in DC and highlight the work they’re doing during the health crisis. So many spots in the city are offering awesome take out and delivery deals during the stay at home orders, including many on this list!
All Purpose Pizza
I wrote about my love for All Purpose Pizza in my best bottomless brunches in DC post. But the lunch and dinner fare is just as good, if not better, than the brunch menu. All Purpose is a great choice for a laid back, up scale pizza joint. The pizza and appetizers are great and it’s a fun spot to eat at with friends. With multiple locations in the city it’s always a great option.
Bistrot du Coin
I’ve always been a big francophile and Bistrot du Coin is quite possibly my favorite authentic French spot in the city. Located in Dupont Circle, this restaurant has always been a neighborhood favorite of mine – it even has big floor to ceiling windows that open up during the summertime. My favorite menu item is the mussels – Bistrot has a bunch of variations from different regions in France. The French wine selection is also great – I’d recommend a merlot or cabernet franc from Bordeaux!
Blue Duck Tavern
Blue Duck Tavern is home to one of the best dinner experiences I’ve ever had. A formally one-star Michelin restaurant, Blue Duck is the perfect spot for a special occasion. The menu rotates seasonally and each and every thing we had was so well-made, really high-quality and all around delicious. The kitchen opens up to the dining area so you can watch the incredible chefs at work. It was so much fun watching the bustle of the chefs putting together meals.
If laidback, homestyle cooking with exceptional quality is your thing, then The Dabney is your place! I was so impressed with this restaurant. Since it is a one-star Michelin restaurant, The Dabney is really difficult to get into and reservations fill up almost immediately after they open. Needless to say, I was expecting a kind of fussy space. But The Dabney is the exact opposite: farm-to-table casual, comfort food. The restaurant serves really incredible ingredients and flavor combinations in a casual setting. If you can get a reservation, The Dabney is so worth your time.
Founding Farmers is one of the most popular restaurants in DC. Founding Farmers has really great American-style cuisine, including some of the best fried chicken and waffles I’ve ever had. This place is normally super busy, but I have orderd takeout from here a handful of times during the coronavirus and it has been safe, fast and delicious! Founding Farmers sources its ingredients from local farms in the DMV area and always has fresh cuisine.
Le Diplomate, affectionately referred to as “Le Dip” in DC, is one of the best, and most popular, spots in town. This French restaurant is located in my favorite part of the city – right on bustling 14th Street near the U Street corridor. Le Dip is always my preferred spot for brunches, birthdays and special occasions. Not only do they have really high-quality French food and wine, the service is always friendly and the ambiance is just like a little French restaurant in Paris. They also have really fun events throughout the year, like a drag show on Bastille Day!
Located near the White House, The Hamilton is a really great option if you’re doing any sightseeing downtown. It also has a really fun brunch as well as a downstairs area with live music and concerts. The Hamilton has really exceptional food and cocktails, including everything from burgers to sushi. The Hamilton is great for meals when family or friends are in town.
A local favorite in DC, Indigo serves incredible, authentic Indian food out of a rowhouse in the NOMA neighborhood of the city. A family owned and operated restaurant, the owners of Indigo moved to the US in 2003 and eventually opened up the authentic Indian restaurant in the bottom floor of their house. Indigo is a feel-good spot, bustling with Bollywood music and incredible food that will transport you to another country.
One of the oldest and most popular restaurants in DC, Martin’s Tavern, has been a pillar of the restaurant scene for decades. Martin’s Tavern has been around since the ’30s and in 1953, JFK proposed to Jackie O at the restaurant. It’s a really small, cozy and old school restaurant nestled in Georgetown and is on the top of my list for anyone visiting DC. It provides not only interesting history for anyone visiting DC, but really solid food and an all around great dining experience.
This neighborhood spot is home to the best pizza and Italian food I’ve ever had outside of Italy. Menomale makes truly delicious Neapolitan-style pizza with all of the fresh olive oil and authentic ingredients you can imagine. Since it’s located in the middle of the nighborhood of Brookland, it can be a little tricky to get to but it is more than well worth it. If you like authentic Italian food you must try it!
While living in DC I’ve become a really big ramen conniseur – and I must tell you – Sakuramen is the best ramen in DC. Located in the big going out area of Adams Morgan, Sakuramen is always packed on nights and weekends. Though it doesn’t take reservations, Sakuramen is well worth the wait. The ramen and dumplings are really, incredibly good and provides the perfect comfort food to warm the soul.
One of my most frequented spots in DC is The Smith – it has two really convinient locations in town – one in Gallery Place and another in the 14th Street and U Street corridor. The Smith has really great food and is a Bib Gourmand, a Michelin-recognized restaurant with exceptional dishes under $30. The Smith is an stylish but casual spot that is perfect for happy hour or dinner. The Smith has locations in DC, Chicago and New York and provides a great dining experience and ambience – the perfect place to start off a weekend after work!
Also a Bib Gourmand, Unconventional Diner is home to some of the best food I’ve ever had. The brunch is really homey and delicious and the perfect comfort food on a weekend morning. We have also ordered delivery from Unconventional Diner during the coronavirus quarantine and had the best experience. Right now, the restaurant is offering meal boxes – we ordered the fried chicken box and it was so good and enough for four meals in total.
Those familiar with Union Market know it isn’t really a restaurant. Instead, it’s a big open market with many vendors, representating the best flavors, cuisine and food in the DC region. Union Market has everything from sushi to arepas to a fish market and is a really fun spot to spend an afternoon. It’s also a great place to support up-and-coming chefs and local entreprenuers.
These are just a few of my favorite restaurants in Washington, DC and spots I will definitely miss when I move to Seattle in the coming weeks. Though there are so many talented chefs and incredible locally-owned restaurants, hopefully this list will give you a few places to check out while in town.
If you’re local or have visited DC, what are your favorite spots in the city?
Until next time.