Your guide to the best restaurants in DC’s hip foodie neighborhood
A short walk from Howard University from the north or Mount Vernon Square from the south, the hip neighborhood of Shaw has made a name for itself with its mix of eclectic retail, raved about restaurants and bragging rights to some very cool African American jazz history. No national chains here – instead, foodies will find a plethora of must-dine neighborhood restaurants that are rapidly making a name for themselves.
Shaw has seen a renaissance with a rush of innovative culinary concepts, local pop-ups purveying coffee and produce and creative boutiques. The dining scene has made it a must-visit for locals and visitors alike.
Restaurants like The Dabney, a salute to Mid-Atlantic food obsessively sourced by chef Jeremiah Langhorne, have caught the eye of discerning diners and Michelin inspectors alike. Chef Cedric Maupillier’s homage to American cuisine, Convivial, also attracts diners who want to linger over one of the city’s most famous dishes, the fried chicken coq au vin. The Tuscan region of Italy receives a heartfelt tribute from executive chef and owner Massimo Fabbri at San Lorenzo – highlights include pappardelle pasta with rabbit ragu, a delicious branzino dish and a grilled T-bone steak that serves two.
A pair of restaurants from chef Eric Ziebold (who previously cooked at the world-renowned The French Laundry) have also scored with restaurant critics. Ziebold’s Kinship, which lays out the menu with unique categories like “Ingredients” and “Indulgences” maintains a Michelin star. Downstairs, Ziebold’s upscale Métier features a seven-course tasting menu that includes “menu notes” on the backstory of each dish. Gentlemen, jackets are required.
Next door the 9:30 Club, Mita elevates vegetarian dining with a 14-course plant-based tasting menu. Co-owners Miguel Guerra and Tatiana Mora, hailing from DC's El Cielo, combine South American ingredients with contemporary methods to showcase the versatility of veggies.
Prepare yourself for a feast that cannot be replicated anywhere else in the District at Supra, purveyors of cuisine from the Republic of Georgia. This Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand honoree serves up delightfully buttery housemade khachapuri, a multitude of meats, kebabs, hand-crafted cocktails and Georgian wines that pair perfectly with what’s on your plate.
The fast-casual Cracked Eggery hawks bespoke breakfast sandwiches that will satisfy even the heartiest of cravings. Tuck into the Ferris Bueller-inspired sandwich, The Abe Froman, (sausage, egg and cheese with Cracked sauce) or feast on a worthy hangover cure known as Rancheros Cucamonga with black beans, eggs, tots, avocado and queso fresco. On the lighter side, Compass Coffee boasts two locations, including its 7th Street flagship spot, featuring smoothies, banana bread and all-day breakfasts like waffles, veggie omelettes and bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches.
If you haven’t tried Sapporo-style ramen, there’s no better time than now. Haikan is related to Daikaya, but traverses a terrain all its own. With wide windows aligned along the dining room, you can view V Street as you enjoy Chef Katsuya Fukushima’s dazzling takes on ramen, as well as tasty sides like the mapo tofu poutine and crab rangoon.
For a Tuscan-inspired neighborhood ristorante, look no further than San Lorenzo. The quaint, 70-seat eatery serves delightful Italian cuisine – think house-made pasta dishes like the pappardelle with herb-infused rabbit ragu – at reasonable prices.
The Unconventional Diner can be found just across the street from these hangouts. Far from your standard all-day diner, the modern space includes a cafe area for on-the-go breakfast pastries and sandwiches, while dinner features unique twists on your favorites: Meatloaf is dressed in a sriracha glaze and morel gravy, while cheeseburgers are made with wagyu beef and topped with tomato chutney and dijonnaise.
Saturday Night Social
Shaw’s musical roots run deep. The area straddles the line with U Street, home to what was once known as “Black Broadway” with greats like Cab Calloway and Pearl Bailey playing at The Howard Theatre. The historic venue got a multimillion renovation a while back and now plays host to modern-day musical acts. Stop before your next show at Right Proper Brewing Company, the arty brewpub next door that makes their suds on-site.
Underneath a glamorous wall mural of the sultry Elizabeth Taylor is Dacha Beer Garden, where German, Belgian and American suds served in boot mugs are the name of the game. Dig in to the full food menu peddling everything from monster pretzels and wurst five different ways or down a brew under twinkling Edison bulbs.
Hidden in Blagden Alley, follow the neon glow behind a stickered door to discover Never Looked Better. The speakeasy lounge delivers a modern twist on the '90's underground rave. Imbibe on specialty cocktails including a dirty martini made with homemade brine and an espresso martini with premium coffee liqueur and custom cold brew.
Also in Blagden Alley, Tiger Fork channels the vibe of a fast-paced Hong Kong night market with chef Irvin Van Oordt's own spin on Asian dishes. We're talking chili wontons with turkey and shrimp, grilled lamb with cumin and crispy fish, as well as cocktails muddled with Chinese medicinal plants and herbs. Next door, chef Carlos Delgado's Causa has made waves with its six-course journey through Peruvian cuisine, earning the #1 spot on Washingtonian's list of the 100 best restaurants in 2024.