Best Georgetown restaurants
This pearl of the Georgetown waterfront comes from Fabio Trabocchi, the same deft chef behind Fiola and Casa Luca. It’s hard to focus on your meal with welcome distractions like docking boats or glistening chandeliers in the opulent dining room (maritime kitsch need not apply). But dishes like olive oil-poached Maine halibut and a whole dole carved tableside hold your attention. For the full rigmarole, order a seafood tower that puts Pisa to shame. The stack is brimming with cooked and raw shellfish, bivalves and more served chilled atop crushed ice. This is definitely the place for a special occasion—with a price tag to match.
If Amélie is your ideal date movie, allez to this intimate Georgetown spot. As cute as a box of macarons, the mint-colored dining room delivers southern France on a plate. Nuzzle over warm olives, wine-poached duck eggs, fish soup topped with toasted Gruyère, roasted trout with fennel, and profiteroles filled with ice cream and bathed in warm chocolate sauce. When the weather is fine, relax in the private patio with a bottle of rosé for less than the price of a cab to Dulles. The restaurant is the baby sister of Petworth’s Chez Billy, which is also brimming with bon goût.
Georgetown’s 1789, site of countless graduation fêtes and anniversary dinners, is evocative of a Washington of old, when men wore ties and women smiled and nodded. These things still happen, of course, and the main dining room, with its antique-style china and gold-framed historical prints, is an appropriate setting for them. The menu stresses local provenance—rockfish from Kent Island, Maryland, say, with celery root purée, braised escarole with citrus and black trumpet mushrooms, or Shenandoah Valley lamb with arugula, potatoes and roast garlic. The food is exceptional; the service, as might be expected, impeccable.
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 Michael Mina opened a branch of his contemporary steakhouse as part of a very posh makeover of the Four Seasons. Steakhouse classics such as an aged porterhouse, creamed spinach and wagyu beef are joined by locally sourced fare such as Virginia swordfish, plus a shellfish and caviar selection. The complimentary fries that land on the table are crisped in duck fat and very addictive. The swank bar is a regular hangout for VIP guests and, true to its name, offers a nice selection of rare bourbons and Scotches.
What started as a humble farmers’ market stand in 2013 has since blossomed into a wildly popular taco empire. Founded by Suzanne Simon and Bettina Stern, the new vegetarian taco restaurant in Georgetown includes the same beloved tacos served on hand-pressed tortillas. (Fillings included mushrooms with feta cheese and creamy kale with potato.) New at the space: rotating sides like sweet potato gratin, as well as wine and beer on tap. Visit on the weekends, when you can add an egg to any taco for an additional charge.
Pro tip: Don’t overlook the daily specials here. They’re often just-in cuts of fish, like fatty yellowtail jaw sprinkled with fresh-squeezed lemon juice or uni so fresh you’d swear you were under water. A hotspot for nearby Georgetown University students, Kintaro can often draw a younger crowd. Regulars will tell you to try the ramen, and they’re right. Just make sure you don’t overlook the chirashi bowl and nigiri layed atop a mound of just-right rice.
Good quality, wood-oven pizza that keeps locals coming back for more. Expect to wait for a table, even at the larger Georgetown location. The salad of white beans and tuna, plus the antipasti plate of salami and Italian cheeses, are worth considering if pizza is not your thing. But do try the effervescent lemonade. All in all, a fun excursion.
Your best chance of catching a celebrity sighting in DC? Getting dinner at Filomena. The Georgetown stalwart has been around for over 30 years, and in that time countless stars—and multiple U.S. presidents—have gorged on the gigantic servings of Italian classics. Signs that this is the real deal include the pasta mamas who prepare fresh spaghetti, linguini and other noodles in a mock kitchen on street-level. Don’t forget about dessert, in particular the cannoli which is served in sandwich form for easier, crumb-free enjoyment.
The crowd here is as much of an attraction as the food; you might spot Michael Jordan or a visiting movie star in this multi-room complex. Even the non-famous clientele are for the most part young, rich and glamorous. The menu—and the atmosphere—ranges from casual to chic; you can choose from a selection of pizzas and pastas, or opt for duck breast in Marsala wine or spaghetti with fresh clams.
DC claims several stars from the popular Top Chef tv cooking competition, and one of the most recognizable is Spike Mendelsohn. Following the success of his fun, classic American burger joint on Capitol Hill, Mendelsohn opened a second DC locale in Georgetown. The Michelle Melt, a free-range turkey burger with Swiss cheese and a wholewheat bun, is named after the First Lady, a frequent fan. Grab your order at the counter and don’t miss the dipping bar where you can doctor up your handcut fries with flavored mayonnaises and sauces. The delicious toasted marshmallow milkshake is the stuff of legend.