The 40 best Washington, DC restaurants

From five-star dinners to famous diners, Time Out’s food critics in the capital pick the finest Washington, DC restaurants

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Adams Morgan bistro Mintwood Place

Adams Morgan bistro Mintwood Place


In case you hadn’t heard, DC is no longer a city of overcooked steaks and wilted salads. The capital’s formerly stodgy dining scene has evolved into a foodie paradise. Inventive new Washington, DC restaurants have taken root across the city, from posh Dupont Circle to industrial-chic Navy Yard. The wide range of eateries offers everything from luxurious tasting menus in some of DC’s best American restaurants to chic small plates and swimmingly fresh sushi. Eat your way through the bounty with our list of the best Washington, DC restaurants.

The biggest concentration of new spots is on hip 14th Street NW, near the U Street Corridor. One of the most exciting new arrivals to the area is Le Diplomate, a charming French bistro with a dazzling wine list. But don't forget 14th Street stand-bys Cork Wine Bar, Pearl Dive, Marvin, and Birch & Barley, as well as its wildly popular upstairs beer bar, Churchkey. Neighborhood institution Ben's Chili Bowl has been serving superb chili dogs since 1958.

If you’re looking to splurge, order the tasting menu at Rogue 24 or Komi. A less expensive choice for a great night out is Toki Underground, a sceney ramen house where the young and cool slurp superlative noodles.

There's no shortage of tasty ethnic cuisine in the nation’s capital. Among the city’s numerous Ethiopian restaurants, Ethiopic may be the best, and for upmarket Indian, Rasika is unbeatable. If you have a hankering for traditional sushi and a great sake selection, check out Sushi Taro. For family-style, inventive Northern Thai cuisine, try Little Serow.

Classic and contemporary American

Ben’s Chili Bowl

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 1/4

Looking like a museum piece on the yuppified, buppified stretch of U Street once known as Black Broadway, Ben’s Chili Bowl, opened in 1958, is in no danger of mouldering away, thankfully. In fact, its claim to be a 100% wind-powered business makes it very

  1. 1213 U Street, NW, Between 12th & 13th Streets
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Birch & Barley

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Look for the line on the sidewalk in front of the glass garage door and you’ve found Birch & Barley and its raucous upstairs beer bar Churchkey. (The line is for the latter, though you’ll need a reservation for the dining room many nights.) Inside, a massive copper

  1. 1337 14th Street, NW, Between N Street & Rhode Island Avenue
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Bourbon Steak

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 4/4

If you’re looking for a decadent splurge and a high probability of a celebrity sighting, head to this modern restaurant inside Georgetown’s Four Seasons hotel, where steaks are poached in butter and movie stars and power players rub shoulders. California-based chef

  1. Four Seasons, 2800 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, (28th Street)
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DC-3

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 1/4

The team behind Matchbox and Ted’s Bulletin have another crowd-pleaser in DC-3, their hot dog joint on Capitol Hill. Named for the Douglas DC-3 air plane from the 1930s—which explains the giant vintage propeller on one wall—the counter-service restaurant dishes

  1. 423 8th Street, Between D & E Streets
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Equinox

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

Chef Todd Gray is known for his emphasis on the seasonal and regional; Equinox’s three- to six-course tasting menu generally includes such delicacies as Chesapeake Bay crab, Carolina grouper and locally grown organic vegetables. The suited power brokers who frequent

  1. 818 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Between H & I Streets
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Good Stuff Eatery

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 1/4

DC claims several stars from the popular Top Chef tv cooking competition, and one of the most recognisable is Spike Mendelsohn. His fun, laid-back burger joint on Capitol Hill (right next to his We, The Pizza restaurant) is a favorite of Hill staffers and First Lady

  1. 303 Pennsylvania Avenue, Between 3rd & 4th Streets
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Komi

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Price band: 4/4
  • Critics choice

Johnny Monis is gathering quite a following for himself in his tiny Dupont Circle restaurant. Komi’s low-key dining room, a straight shot from front window to kitchen window, is home to some of the most adventurous eating in the city; the youthful chef is essaying

  1. 1509 17th Street, NW, Between P & Q Streets
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Range

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 3/4

In recent years, Washingtonians seeking culinary thrills have happily trekked 50 miles out to Frederick, Maryland, to dine at Bryan Voltaggio’s restaurant Volt. They don’t have to any more, now that Voltaggio has opened Range, his new restaurant inside an upmarket

  1. Chevy Chase Pavilion, 5335 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, Friendship Heights, (at Military Road)
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Ris

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

Ris Lacoste, who earned her stellar reputation as former executive chef of Georgetown’s classic 1789, struck out on her own with this comfortable West End restaurant. (Pronunciation hint: Ris is short for Doris.) Neighbors, power players and the chef’s devotees

  1. 2275 L Street, NW, (at 23rd Street)
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Ted's Bulletin

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

The only problem with Capitol Hill’s go-to comfort food spot is that you’ll have to get your hung-over arse outta bed early to beat the Barrack’s Row brunch crowd. But of course the place is crowded: At Ted’s you’ll find breakfast served all day and plates

  1. 508 8th Street, (at E Street)
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Vidalia

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 3/4

Onions are much in evidence in the hushed, golden dining room of Vidalia, which itself is named after the Southern sweet variety. You’ll find them in a spread for the complimentary bread, in a rich hot soup and in the discreet artwork adorning the walls. But the

  1. 1990 M Street, NW, (between 19th & 20th Streets)
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Woodward Table

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Woodward Table, helmed by Jeffery Buben of Vidalia and Bistro Bis, serves up casual American cooking with French flair and a Southern accent. Nevermind the dining room. Not that the leather banquettes aren’t comfortable, or that the restaurant’s autumnal palette

  1. 1426 H Street, (between 14th and 15th Streets)
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French and Belgian cuisines

Central Michel Richard

  • Rated as: 4/5

You can see why Michel Richard’s effusive Pennsylvania Avenue brasserie wins raves. The playful menu fuses American and French classics with Richard’s signature whimsy. There’s "faux" gras (made from chicken liver not foie gras), a towering lobster burger, a spin

  1. 1001 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Between 10th & 11th Streets
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Le Diplomate

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

Fourteenth Street’s transformation is never more apparent than when you walk into Le Diplomate. From the globe lights overhead and the wood floors underfoot, to the woven bistro chairs and the curieux that adorn the walls—most everything you can touch or see or

  1. 1601 14th Street, NW, (at Q Street)
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Marcel’s

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 4/4
  • Critics choice

Marcel’s is the kind of restaurant that you’d expect to find on Pennsylvania Avenue: exquisite food, beautifully served in a sumptuous dining room by adept professionals. Chef Robert Wiedmaier’s Flemish-inflected French fare manages the classical balance of taste

  1. 2401 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, (between 24th & 25th Streets)
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Marvin

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

From the owners of the ever-hip Eighteenth Street Lounge, Marvin turned a former Subway fast-food shop into one of the 14th and U Street neighborhood’s coolest hangouts. The name is a nod to Marvin Gaye, one of owner (and half of DC’s music duo Thievery

  1. 2007 14th Street, NW, (between U & V Streets)
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Mintwood Place

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Everything about this bistro is inviting—the relaxed, almost rustic decor that evokes an upscale farmhouse, the welcoming service and, most of all, the satisfying French-American comfort food, often presented with an inventive twist. You could easily make a meal of

  1. 1813 Columbia Road, NW, (at Biltmore Street)
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Montmartre

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4

Its dining room bustling even when it’s not full, its patio seats constantly occupied, Montmartre is much beloved of Capitol Hill residents, who stop by for weekend brunch and people-watching (Eastern Market is just steps away) as well as reliable daily dinners. The

  1. 327 7th Street, (between C Street & Pennsylvania Avenue)
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Asian cuisines

Bombay Club

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 3/4

Bombay Club evokes not the multihued Mumbai of today but India in the time of the Raj, when English gentlemen could sit in restrained, masculine dining rooms and, presumably, cherry-pick the best of the subcontinent’s cuisine. Decorous waiters in penguin suits warn

  1. 815 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Between H & I Streets
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Izakaya Seki

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

A brisk walk from the main drag of restaurants and bars near U and 14th streets, NW, Izakaya Seki is tucked into an unassuming and narrow, two-floor row house. Choose to eat upstairs in the dining room or downstairs at the chef’s bar. Either choice is equally

  1. 1117 V Street, NW, (between 10th & 11th Streets)
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Little Serow

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

Johnny Monis was just 24 when he opened Komi, the Greek-inspired restaurant that vaulted him to culinary stardom. For his second place, Little Serow, he took inspiration from northern Thailand. As at Komi, there is no menu; $45 gets you a family-style meal of about

  1. 1511 17th Street, NW, (Church Street)
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Proof

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

Former tax attorney Mark Kuller turned his passion for great food and wine (his home cellar boasts some 7,000 bottles) into his first foray into the restaurant business: the wine-focused Proof. (He followed up with Estadio in 2010.) This hotspot is a tough table to

  1. 775 G Street, NW, (between 7th & 8th Streets)
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Rasika

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 4/4

Rasika brings the delicacy of upmarket Indian cooking to Washington. One of restaurateur Ashok Bajaj’s empire, which also includes the Oval Room, Bombay Club, 701, Ardeo+Bardeo and Bibiana, Rasika is under the creative eye of Vikram Sunderam, who ran the kitchen at

  1. 633 D Street, NW, (between 6th & 7th Streets)
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Sushi Taro

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 4/4

Sushi Taro underwent a major renovation in 2009 and has been reborn as an upmarket Kaiseki-style traditional Japanese restaurant, under owner Nobu Yamazaki. In a kaiseki-style meal, diners don’t order off a menu. Instead the chef presents a succession of

  1. 1503 17th Street, NW, (at P Street)
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The Source

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 3/4

Plenty of celebrity chefs have staked a claim in Washington in recent years, but few have done it as well as Wolfgang Puck. The Source, located adjacent to the Newseum, feels less like an absentee-chef outpost and more like a vibrant part of the city, thanks to

  1. 575 Pennsylvania Avenue, (between 6th Street & Constitution Avenue)
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Toki Underground

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Hip twentysomethings squeeze into this tiny spot to slurp big bowls of ramen in rich, house-made broth. The dumplings are great, too—we especially like the grilled pork ones—and there are more than 20 kinds of saké available. The space is decorated with graffiti,

  1. 1234 H Street, NE, (between 12th & 13th Streets)
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Pizza and Italian

Comet Ping Pong

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 1/4

A little off the beaten path for downtown visitors, Comet’s blistery thin-crust pizzas and warehouse chic vibe are worth the trip to upper Connecticut Avenue. A rousing game of table tennis is also a draw—the restaurant’s back room is home to several tables for

  1. 5037 Connecticut Avenue, NW, (Nebraska Avenue)
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Etto

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

If you have kids, stick to a table at 2Amy’s in upper Northwest. If you’re hip and young (or have a babysitter), head to the sun-filled, high-ceilinged Etto, Amy Morgan and Peter Pastan’s new darling on 14th Street. Last year Morgan and Pastan teamed up with

  1. 1541 14th Street, NW, (at Q Street)
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Fiola

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Price band: 4/4
  • Critics choice

When chef Fabio Trabocchi opened Fiola in 2011, he quickly established his new trattoria as the place to go in Washington for exquisite, sumptuous Italian. Pastas, naturally, are the stars of the menu, especially the tender pappardelle with bolognese ragu. But seafood

  1. 601 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Between 6th & 7th streets, Penn Quarter
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Obelisk

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 3/4

The menu changes constantly at Peter Pastan’s prix-fixe-only, reservations-required townhouse, depending on what’s fresh and what catches the chef’s fancy. But you can always count on an array of antipasti; pasta, meat, cheese and dessert courses; and exemplary

  1. 2029 P Street, NW, (between 20th & 21st Streets)
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Fish and seafood

Hank’s Oyster Bar

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Offering a daily rotation of oysters on the half shell, Hank’s has become a serious contender among Washington raw bar destinations. For this reason alone, a visit is worthwhile. But there are lots of other reasons to hit this popular neighborhood spot with a café

  1. 1624 Q Street, NW, Between 16th & 17th Streets
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Black Jack

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice

If Pearl Dive Oyster Palace is the Delta darling of 14th Street, then its upstairs lounge and bar, Black Jack, is where Carnival really comes to life. Murals of mischievous circus monkeys, vintage marquee lights, exposed brick, red velvet curtains, and bartenders

  1. 1612 14th Street, NW, (between Corcoran and Q Streets)
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Pearl Dive

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Quickly after Pearl Dive Oyster Palace opened in 2011, restaurateurs Jeff and Barbara Black’s fifth restaurant became the Delta prize of Logan Circle. And it’s not hard to see why: Weathered wood floors, busy fans hung from whitewashed ceilings, too many mermaids

  1. 1612 14th Street, NW, (between Corcoran and Q Streets)
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European cuisines

Cork Wine Bar

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice

One of the best of the new wave of convivial neighborhood wine bars that have popped up in the city, Cork offers about 160 wines by the bottle, 50 wines by the glass and thoughtful wine tasting flights. The bar area of the historic 14th Street building is regularly

  1. 1720 14th Street, NW, Between R & S Streets
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Estadio

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

This 14th Street tapas joint is regularly packed to the brim and for good reason. The menu reads like a grazer’s dream with a host of traditional Spanish snacks perfect for sharing—cheeses and meats, toothpicks called pintxos stacked with anchovies, olives and

  1. 1520 14th Street, NW, (Church Street)
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Jaleo

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

Created by Jose Andres (Zaytinya), Jaleo focuses on tapas: garlic shrimp, chorizo with garlic mash, salads of apple and manchego cheese and marinated mushrooms—to name just a few. Don’t miss the date and bacon fritters or the patatas bravas, a steaming hot bowl of

  1. 480 7th Street, NW, (E Street)
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International and fusion cuisines

Ethiopic

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 1/4

Slightly off the main drag at the Union Station end of H Street, between 4th and 5th Streets, Ethiopic is thought by many to be DC’s best Ethiopian restaurant.

  1. 401 H Street, Between 4th & 5th Streets
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Rogue 24

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 4/4
  • Critics choice

This is dinner as performance art: an open kitchen in the center of the dining room; 16-course "progression" or 24-course "journey" tasting menus that unfold over three or more hours. Courses might consist of a single, artfully constructed bite—a sliver of iberico

  1. 922 N Street, NW, (between 9th & 10th Streets)
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Rose's Luxury

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

You don’t need to read our review to know Rose’s Luxury is the District’s hottest restaurant; a little source named the James Beard Foundation already told you. What we can tell you is that, yes, local chef Aaron Silverman’s two-story Barrack’s Row joint is

  1. 717 8th St, SE, on Capitol Hill
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Users say

1 comments
Mike FSCO
Mike FSCO

Having tried 3 of the restaurants above(Komi,Woodward Table,and Comet Ping Pong(really good). I can honestly say the research the author Stephanie compiled for this article is awesome. It gives the average "foodie" an opportunity to see what choices within the local D.C. and surrounding areas would provide as a dining option.

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