Dine at these affordable places to eat featured in Washington, DC’s Michelin Guide.
Although Michelin stars are highly coveted, the Bib Gourmand designation signifies a restaurant delivering a high quality dining experience at a reasonable price. To be precise, a Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand restaurant must offer two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for around $40. In total, 36 DC restaurants have received the honor in the Washington, DC guide.
What's in a Name? You know the adorable, sashed, puffy white Michelin Man mascot? Well, that's Bibendum, or "Bib" for short, and he lends his name to this dining honor.
We’ve picked out some of our Bib Gourmand selections that you should order from this year.
The Red Hen
It’s no surprise that this cozy neighborhood abode received Michelin Guide love. A woodfire-powered kitchen, bucolic decor and a menu filled with Italian favorites make it Bib Gourmand-worthy. Pasta lovers will have difficulty resisting dishes such as mezze rigatoni with fennel sausage ragu or squid ink linguini, while those hankering for seafood can savor caramelized scallops or grilled swordfish.
Karma Modern Indian
Time for tandoori at the upscale Karma Modern Indian, an ambitious, contemporary take on Indian classics. Lobster masala is adorned with a halo of beet poriyal and lamb roganjosh stars tender lamb bathed in a chili-ginger-tomato sauce. Fear not, Karma dishes out classics like chicken tikka and butter chicken for the Indian cuisine traditionalist.
You’ll find some of the best pizza in the nation’s capital just around the corner from Union Market at Stellina Pizzeria, where DC dining veterans Antonio Matarazzo and Matteo Venini have brought to life “neo-Neapolitan” pies in a fast-casual setting. Stellina’s menu also pays homage to coastal Italian street food (such as fried seafood served in paper cones, also known as a “cuoppo”), while every item on the menu is under $20. You’ll want to make sure Stellina – which is named after Matarazzo’s daughter and means “little star” in Italian – is the star of your next trip to bustling Union Market.
Columbia Heights is home to Chef/Co-Owner Seng Luangrath's Laotian adventure, Thip Khao. Michelin raves about the naem khao, a coconut rice salad, as well as the muu som, a delicious take on slow-cooked pork belly. There's also the Chilean sea bass, known as "knap paa," which comes dressed in curry paste and coconut cream. Expect snacks, salads, soups, curries and a variety of entrees sure to send you home happy.
Marvel at the retro décor and then dig in. Ellē offers up delicious baked goods at the start of the day, sandwiches and quiches for lunch and a full dinner carte in the evenings. Daily bread specials are featured and the eatery’s baguettes and sourdough are rich with flavor. Standout prepared items include the uni grilled cheese (raclette, caramelized onion, fermented chili powder, brioche) and the labneh roasted vegetable salad dressed with citrus savarin and almond liqueur. Visit Elle’s website for hours, ordering details and COVID-19 safety measures.
This casual neighborhood restaurant in the heart of Adams Morgan brings the vibrant flavors of Afghanistan to one of DC’s most diverse neighborhoods. The Popal family left their home country in the early 1980s, yet have operated primarily French-focused eateries before returning to their roots with this labor of love. Open for dinner and brunch on the weekends, treat your taste buds to veggie dishes – described on the menu as Afghanistan’s “best-kept secret” – as well as tantalizing lamb chop kebabs and traditional dumplings.
If DC had a culinary Mount Rushmore, José Andrés would certainly be on it, so it’s fitting that the acclaimed chef has four restaurants that achieved Bib Gourmand status (and you can tour all of them with the Tour de José). China Chilcano, situated in Penn Quarter, serves up a delightful rendition on Peruvian food, which also features flavors from China and Japan. Relish in the combination and Andrés’ mash-up skills, and you’ll leave without completely emptying your wallet.
Another Andrés attraction, Jaleo first opened in the same Penn Quarter neighborhood back in 1993, helping to enliven DC’s downtown along the way. The sleek and stylish eatery serves up some of the finest tapas in the District, as well as Spanish paellas. Drinks pair perfectly with the plates, as you can choose from Spanish wines, sherries, sangria and cocktails to make your (affordable) meal perfect.
The wife-and-husband duo of Sarah Thompson and Henji Cheung brought Queen’s English to life in Columbia Heights. Cantonese cuisine meets up with inventive cocktails and natural wines to create an unforgettable dining experience. Take a voyage through flavors with dishes like the Hong Kong Pin Noodle served with Chinese sausage, shrimp and sacha or the Charred Octopus featuring goji berry and coriander. Book your dining experience in advance, either indoors or on the patio, a pick-up from the wine shop or kitchen, delivery and more.
Residents Café & Bar
Situated in the Dupont Circle neighborhood, this newcomer has won the hearts of Washingtonians, while welcoming "travelers" at every turn. The name of the eatery recognizes the owners, who immigrated to the U.S. and are now proud residents of this country and city. Expect unmatched ambiance full of lush greenery and laid-back vibes, whether savoring a cocktail, or anything on the food menu, which bounces around Europe and the Mediterranean with dishes like sesame-crusted chicken schnitzel, miniature gyros and lobster risotto. Guests are encouraged to reserve a table in advance or order online.
Rob Sonderman (of Federalist Pig fame) has now brought his creativity to fried chicken. His new Petworth project, Honeymoon Chicken, looks like a diner, with its yellow booths and classic counter. Build your own bucket of chicken and sandwich (note that the latter can be made with WAFFLES...sorry, had to all-caps that). Start with hot honey cauliflower and make sure to order buttermilk smashed potatoes as a side. The rolls are topped with honey butter and sea salt and must be consumed to be believed. Don't leave without trying the "fancy fried chicken," which is brined for 24 hours.
Timber Pizza Company
This former food truck turned brick-and-mortar in Petworth has been wowing lovers of all things pizza – so much so that Timber Pizza Company was named to Bon Appétit’s 50 best new restaurants in America list for 2017 and later receieved Bib Gourmand recognition. With 30 or so seats and an interior that screams industrial chic, this order-at-the-counter dining darling may be small but the flavors are anything but. Go for the Green Monster, a pesto and mozzarella-based pie combined with any in-season green vegetable, or The Norman, starring bacon, roasted pineapple and strawberry-jalapeño jam.
What is a sfoglina, you ask? In Italy, it’s a pasta-making matriarch who practices her delicious craft using only traditional techniques. In DC, Sfoglina is Fabio and Maria Trabocchi’s pasta-first outposts in Downtown and Upper Northwest. Just like at its sister locations, including Michelin-starred Fiola and Georgetown’s Fiola Mare, homey Italian vibes abound. Dig in to a rotating cast of seasonal takes or classic dishes that will transport you to Rome, including thick tangles of tonnarelli noodles served with sheep’s Pecorino, black pepper and walnuts. Pro tip: the ‘G’ is silent.
See Indian cuisine in a new light at this dynamic restaurant in the H Street Corridor. Masterminded by Dante Datta and Chef Suresh Sundas of Rasika, Daru offers innovative dishes like tandor-grilled chicken kebabs with blue cheese and Nariyal lamb shank with saffron, chili and coconut. Whether you sit inside or out, this headline-grabbing eatery provides positive vibes and incredible dishes.
You’ve never had a Mexican food experience like the one at Oyamel — and José Andrés wouldn’t have it any other way. The adventurous eater may want to try the innovatively tasty grasshopper tacos, but there’s much more to this Penn Quarter hot spot. Journey south with the locale’s unforgettable guacamole, several creative margarita concoctions and yes, there are plenty of other taco options to choose from. ¡Salud!
DC's ramen scene gets a new kid on the block with this pop-up-turned-brick-and-mortar in Petworth. Be dazzled by Menya Hosaki's open kitchen, which serves only ramen except for the karaage dished out with yuzu mayo. House-made noodles team up with nuanced broths to create bowls that will bowl you over. Michelin had particular raves for the signature bowl, which features tonkotsu, chicken chintan and dashi. There's also vegan ramen that will knock you off your feet.
Located near the vibrant Union Market, Bidwell is a Southern-inspired home run of a restaurant, dealing in comfort food with more dazzle than you’d come to expect. Standout dishes include a lobster taco with avocado tomatillo salsa, crispy deviled eggs and even suckling pig. Much of the restaurant’s produce is grown on the roof of Union Market, which is as locally sourced as you can get.
Pearl Dive Oyster Palace
A lot can be said with a name. Pearl Dive Oyster Palace is appropriately titled, as the Logan Circle locale serves up some of the best oysters in the District. The interior is decorated with relics from America’s past, suitable as you barrel through oyster spreads sourced from both the East and West Coasts. Chef Jeff Black’s seafood expertise does not stop there, though – entrees like shrimp gumbo and any of the “po’ boy” sandwich choices will leave you breathless.
Former RAMMY Chef of the Year Cathal Armstrong and his wife, Meshelle, have brought their talents to The Wharf with Kaliwa, which specializes in Filipino, Thai and Korean cuisines. The lively 185-seat restaurant pairs waterfront views with eclectic Asian cooking; the menu is segmented by cuisine, so make sure you experience the tantalizing flavors that each country offers.
Maketto effortlessly combines a cafe, a fashionable retail outlet and a restaurant into one of the most unique locales in the District. Chef Erik Bruner-Yang’s kitchen churns out Cambodian and Taiwanese-style dishes that linger in your memory, especially the fried chicken and bread, one of the most talked-about meals in a city filled with buzzworthy dishes. A trip to Maketto will result in not only an outstanding dining experience, but also some cool new shoes and a great cup of coffee.
Situated across three floors downtown, Chef Kristen Essig's Creole-serving Dauphine's will take you to New Orleans in the heart of DC. Bread and Poirier's cane butter starts you off perfectly. Make sure oysters Dauphine is on your agenda and the blacked soft-shell crab is also a must. Michelin was blown away by the dark chocolate crémeux and vanilla rice pudding for dessert.
Calling all vegetarians: Fancy Radish is your new home-away-from-home on H Street NE. Even if you’re not a vegetarian, this eatery is worth a visit. Unique dishes include a rutabaga fondue served with a soft pretzel, while the restaurant’s namesake “fancy radishes” are plated with shico, shichito, yuzu avocado, pickled tofu and smoked soy.
The wonders of Turkish cuisine are highlighted at Hakan Ilhan’s Ottoman Taverna, located in Mount Vernon Square. Ilhan pays homage to his native country at this I Street space that serves up enough deliciousness to warrant a visit from Michelle Obama and friends. The Taverna’s wood charcoal grill churns out incredible kebab, while the separately prepared flatbread makes for ideal accompaniment.
The flavors of India and China mix in Malaysian cuisine, a fact evident when you make your way to Makan in Columbia Heights. The restaurant offers brunch and dinner and even sports its own pantry filled with pickles, mustard greens, sweet chili sauce and numerous other spices. The dinner menu is an international adventure unto itself, featuring classics like curry noodle soup as well as innovative dishes like pineapple curry and a Malaysian take on fried chicken. Makan is currently taking limited reservations and offers both pickup and delivery.
Opened in 1967, this quaint locale across from President Lincoln’s Cottage is known for its spectacular fried chicken. The family-friendly hangout in Petworth provides a cozy atmosphere and loads up the menu with Southern flavor. In addition to the chicken, there’s blackened catfish, crabcake sandwiches, classic sides like mac and cheese and collard greens and much more. Check the website for details on ordering and safety measures.