Leisure

A Foodie’s Guide to D.C. Restaurants

September 11, 2023


Courtesy of Ted Eytan

D.C. isn’t just the U.S.’s capital city in a political sense—it’s also a vibrant cultural capital, something reflected especially in its culinary offerings. D.C.’s rich and lively food scene can get hidden by the constant hustle and bustle of city life, but it’s a landscape unlike any other in the country and as diverse as the city itself. As a cultural melting pot—a true microcosm of the United States as a whole—D.C. has everything a foodie could ever want! Iconic Italian eats, fabulous French food, and culinary creations from the farthest (and closest) corners of the globe, just to name a few. With such a vibrant, welcoming community of chefs, cooks, culinary experts, and enthusiasts to share incredible experiences with, it is only fitting that there exists a unique celebration (and unofficial holiday) to commemorate the gift of good food, Restaurant Week!

Running from Aug. 28 to Sept. 3, D.C. Restaurant Week is a celebration of the D.C. food scene at its finest! Originally meant as a way for upper-echelon restaurants to provide a taste of their menus for reasonable prices, this event has evolved to include establishments of all tastes, genres, and price points. Even though Restaurant Week is over, it showcased more than 150 participating restaurants, so let this list serve as your official guide to the greatest hits the week had to offer!

  • Note the prices below account for: food, drinks (if applicable), and tax (but not tip)
  • The restaurants listed are selected from the 150+ that partook in Restaurant Week D.C. for 2023
  • The list is divided by genre/country of origin

 

Key:

Circumstance:

  • (B) = Breakfast
  • (BR) = Brunch
  • (L) = Lunch
  • (D) = Dinner
  • (T) = Tasting

Price point:

  • ($) = Casual/Fast Food ($10-$15 per person)
  • ($$) = Moderate Spend ($20-$40 per person)
  • ($$$) = Expensive ($40-$90+ per person)
  • ($$$$) = Tasting Menu/Extremely Pricy ($100+ per person)

Reservations:

  • (R) = Reservations highly recommended
  • (W) = Walk-ins work perfectly
  • (R/W) = Reservations recommended, but not required 

Vincent’s Top Picks (Denoted with a star* on the list)

  • L’Ardente (Best Italian)
  • Zaytinya by José Andrés (Best Mediterranean)
  • Unconventional Diner (Best Diner/Brunch)
  • Wren (Best Contemporary Japanese)
  • 1789 Restaurant (Best American)
  • Oyamel by José Andrés (Best Mexican)

 

American:

Unconventional Diner* (BR/L) ($$) (W/R) 

1207 9th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20001

Unconventional Diner is a classic American diner elevated to the extreme. It’s a refined experience with the comfort of a quintessentially American menu. Deliciously decadent dishes are supplemented by a lively atmosphere and great service. DO get reservations ahead of time—this restaurant is popular for good reason!

Bresca (D) ($$$) (R)

1906 14th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20009

A creative twist on American elegance with golden-age flair, Bresca brings unbelievably delicious dishes with novel presentations, all in a fabulously fancy environment. The restaurant embodies true Michelin star gravitas—treat yourself to one of D.C.’s top 100!

BlackSalt (L) ($$) (R)

4883 MacArthur Blvd NW, Washington, D.C. 20007

For this Restaurant Week only, BlackSalt presented one of the best deals for exquisite, high quality seafood. A Michelin-rated three-course meal for just $25 is truly a deal to die for, even before considering the expert preparation of the finest seafood the city can offer. Even after Restaurant Week, look to BlackSalt for stellar seafood in an upscale venue (even with an attached fish market!) all year round.

1789 Restaurant* (D) ($$$) (R)

1226 36th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20007

If you’re looking for comfort food at its most elegant, refined, and delicious, look no further than 1789 Restaurant. Mingle with D.C.’s elite and run into a politician or two during a dinner that showcases the highlights of classic American fare. This place offers a phenomenal treat year-round for those in a formal mood. 

Opal (BR/L/D) ($$/$$$) (R)

5534 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20015

Reimagining American eats, Opal delivers on its promise of staple foods but elevated to a high level; culinarily impressive feats of chicken and waffles, fabulous fried green tomatoes, and even a creative fusion of croissant and doughnut—the cronut—fill the menu with simply delicious foods that fulfill the promise of comfort food. Its decadent dishes with an experimental flare—all for a reasonable price—make Opal a surefire option for any day!

Mexican/Latin American:

Oyamel* (L/D) ($$) (W/R) 

401 7th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20004

Serving truly next-level Mexican cuisine in a fun and festive way, José Andrés’s Oyamel is sure to please. One of my favorite chefs of all time, Andrés truly knows how to take staple dishes to an incredible level, yet still keep them accessible for most eaters. This restaurant packs quickly (so get reservations) but for a phenomenal reason; look no further than here for the pinnacle of Mexican cuisine in the D.C. area.

El Centro Georgetown (D) ($$) (W)

1218 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20007

El Centro offers experiential and essential Mexican cuisine (that also tastes reasonably delicious) with a vibrant, lively atmosphere. Bonus points for being one of the few Mexican spots located in the heart of Georgetown. This restaurant becomes a nightclub after hours … so come for the food and stay for the fun!

El Tamarindo (D) ($$) (W)

1785 Florida Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20009

At El Tamarindo, find familiar and cozy Mexican and Salvadorian dishes served at a great price. The restaurant’s comfortable atmosphere is complemented by friendly service and good, authentic Latin food. At night, this venue transforms into a lively, almost club-like atmosphere as well.

Japanese:

Daikaya (Izakaya Level) (L/D) ($$) (R/W)

705 6th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20001

Serving Japanese comfort food in a bar-style setting that can please almost any taste, no matter how adventurous or plain, Daikaya is a reliable spot for Japanese food enthusiasts. The restaurant is divided into two floors: floor one has a ramen bar with a more casual experience, and floor two is the Izakaya level, with a bar serving snacks. With creative yet delicious dishes, definitely give Daikaya a try!

Wren* (D) ($$$) (R)

1825 Capital One Dr, Tysons, VA 22102

A space that reflects the essence of the bustling nightlife of D.C. and Tokyo in one, Wren (meaning “love” in Japanese) delivers creative, made-to-share dishes with a contemporary Japanese flare. Located just outside of D.C. in Tysons Corner, Va.—a short Metro ride on the silver line away from the city center—Wren is a true love letter to Japanese cuisine.

Sushi Taro (D) ($$$$) (R)

1503 17th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20036

If you’re looking for the finest sushi in D.C., look no further than Sushi Taro! Honorable mention to their bento box lunch specials; served at a far more manageable price and still as delicious as their main offerings.

Chaplin’s (D) ($$) (W)

1501 9th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20001

Settled in the heart of the nation’s capital, Chaplin’s brings a contemporary flare to Japanese cuisine, supplemented by a lively, vintage atmosphere inspired by the heyday of the 1920s. Creative, bar-style dishes are supplemented by a rich ramen menu and extravagant drinks that aim to please even eaters with the most eclectic of tastes (especially for the 21+ crowd). 

Chinese:

Bar Chinois (BR/D) ($$) (R/W)

455 I St NW, Washington, D.C. 20001

With a modern, industrial-chic ambience reflecting the street-food-style cuisines served here, Bar Chinois is a unique yet fulfilling experience for modern Chinese eats and a lively bar atmosphere. Creative takes on familiar dishes are supplemented by bold, experimental flavors and drinks that are sure to delight, making this restaurant a surefire pick for adventurous foodies!

Asian Fusion:

CHIKO (L) ($) (W)

Various Locations around the D.C. Metro area

A place where modern, eclectic, vibrant cooking meets a combination of powerful Korean and Japanese flavors, CHIKO makes a great fast-casual meal (or a great takeout option) for a quick, delicious meal. 

French:

Brasserie Liberté (BR) ($$) (W/R)

 3251 Prospect St NW, Washington, D.C. 20007

Nestled in Georgetown, this restaurant serves up elegant French fare like nobody’s business! With killer eggs Benedict and french onion soup for brunch and steak frites for dinner, what more could one want?

Le Diplomate (BR/D) ($$$) (R)

1601 14th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20009

An iconic D.C. staple, Le Diplomate pays homage to the elegance of French cuisines while serving fare sure to please almost any American taste. It’s no wonder that many celebrities, politicians, influencers, and famous foodies have chosen “Le Dip” (as it is affectionately known) as their go-to spot for a fancy, utterly delicious meal. 

Italian:

L’Ardente* (L/D) ($$$) (W/R)

200 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20001

L’Ardente is the epitome of Italian elegance with a modern flair. Dishes are traditional yet innovative with showstopping presentation and served in a breathtaking venue that harkens back to the golden age of extravagance—where impossible high ceilings give way to crystal chandeliers, curated cutlery shining with gold, and works of art that draw even the heaviest of eyes to them. This is truly one of the greatest Italian restaurants in Washington, D.C., and possibly even in the world! Make sure to reach for their iconic 40-layer lasagna, mouthwatering short rib ragú, or incredible wood-fired pizzas; though in reality, there is no wrong answer at L’Ardente.

Sfoglina, D.C. (D) ($$) (R)

Various Locations around Washington, D.C. proper

Scattered across various locations in the city, chef Fabio Trabocchi’s concept of a true ‘pasta maker’s restaurant’ comes to life in Sfoglina. Enjoy handmade, artisan pastas with decedent accompaniments, classic Italian fare, and a home-cooked feel that is infinitely difficult to replicate at any restaurant. 

Filomena (L/D) ($$) (W/R)

1063 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20007

With a commitment to family style and a community-based approach to food at its core, Filomena is a keystone stop on any D.C. foodie’s list. Filomena has a truly killer brunch option, but is also great for an intimate dinner or a fun time with friends.

Il Canale (L/D) ($$) (W/R)

1065 31st St NW, Washington, D.C. 20007

Simply put, Il Canale is among the greatest Italian restaurants in Washington, D.C. Its humble yet rich dishes highlight vibrant Italian flavors in a comfortable setting. The family-style Italian experience will certainly fulfill any Italian craving, providing you with a meal that tastes like it was brought straight from the ovens of a Tuscan villa.

Chef Geoff’s (BR/L) ($$) (W/R)

2201 M St NW, Washington, D.C. 20037

Chef Geoff’s features upscale Italian/American fusion with great brunch or lunch options. With multiple locations, the menu changes depending on whichever one you visit. (The best one is West End, D.C., but the New Mexico Ave. location isn’t bad either.) Service could use some work, but the food surely delivers.

Mediterranean:

Zaytinya by José Andrés* (L/D) ($$) (R)

 701 9th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20001

For awesome Mediterranean eats at a great price (for Restaurant Week, at least …), look no further than Zaytinya for the greatest hits of Greek, Lebanese, and Turkish foods. The restaurant turns out elegant and elevated dishes complemented by a sleek modern atmosphere. 

Sababa (L/D) ($$) (W/R)

3311 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20008

Light, refreshing, and vibrant Middle Eastern dishes from Sababa emphasize the diverse yet delicious tastes of Israel. With dishes perfect to share and incredible appetizers to die for— particularly their fried cauliflower and tahini spreads—this restaurant is a perfect place to dine with friends!

Ottoman Taverna (L/D) ($$$) (W/R)

 425 I St NW, Washington, D.C. 20001

Turkish food served in style! The menu highlights dishes that are great for sharing, with small plates as the primary focus. The dishes are fulfilling, yet also light and refreshing—what more could one want? The food certainly caters to those with more adventurous tastes, but the experience and novelty of Turkish cuisine makes it worth a shot for any foodie!

Indian:

The Bombay Club (D) ($$$) (R)

 815 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20006

A showcase restaurant in all regards, acting as a haven for political insiders, diplomats, and foodies alike, the Bombay Club brings India’s greatest eats to Capitol Hill. The foremost in elegant Indian cuisine, this polished establishment won’t disappoint for a flashy night out or a great, lively meal. 

Rasika (D) ($$$) (R)

1190 New Hampshire Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20037

Elegant Indian at its greatest, Rasika brings the best of Indian cuisines to the D.C. area. Whether you reach for their tasting menu or order à la carte, this restaurant will certainly have something for all. Wait times can be long, though, so be sure to reserve ahead of time.

Spanish:

SER Restaurant (L) ($$) (W/R)

1110 N Glebe Rd, Arlington, VA 22201

A combination of great Spanish lunch staples, tapas-style dishes, and decadent desserts, SER Restaurant makes it hard to be disappointed. Elegant yet approachable dishes frame this menu and make it a great pick for classic Spanish eats.

Jaleo, D.C. (L) ($$) (W/R)

480 7th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20004

Another great entry from the famed José Andrés, Jaleo is a representation of all that is right with the concept of Spanish tapas-style cuisine. An approachable price point makes lunch here a safe bet for anyone looking for a refreshing meal or a new, fun eating experience.

Barbecue:

Ivy City Smokehouse (L/D) ($$) (W)

1356 Okie St NE, Washington, D.C. 20002

At Ivy City Smokehouse, enjoy classic American BBQ with a twist. The menu focuses on barbecued seafood with an elevated flare and has great general BBQ for lunch. Don’t forget to go to their attached market to get your year’s-worth of barbeque in one day.

Contemporary/Comfort:

Sonoma (L/D) ($$) (W/R)

 223 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, Washington, D.C. 20003

Californian comfort food paired with staple dishes of the vineyard, Sonoma takes you straight to Napa valley with its great charcuterie, intense yet purposeful wine pairings, and relaxed nature. It’s no wonder the highly acclaimed Michelin Guide referred to their dishes as “the definition of comfort and indulgence.”

Supra (BR/L/D) ($$/$$$) (R)

1205 11th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20001

Georgian cuisine brought to the D.C. area, what a pleasant surprise! A rustic ambiance with simple, farm-to-table recipes, Supra creates incredible comfort food from a part of the world that is often underrepresented in the District’s food scene. Creative, unique, and wholesome dishes highlight the menu for brunch (which I highly recommend!), lunch, and dinner.

Correction: This article has been updated to accurately reflect the cuisine of Chaplin’s.



More: , , , ,


Read More


Subscribe
Notify of
guest

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments