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 ultra hot 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.
No neighborhood in DC has opened more new restaurants over the last couple years than Shaw. It 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, is also attracting 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, a 2018 neighborhood newcomer. Highlights of Fabbri's simple but sophisticated menu include pappardelle pasta with rabbit ragu, a delicious branzino dish and a grilled T-bone steak that serves two. A carefully curated lineup of wines and cocktails means a perfect pairing is in your future.
A pair of restaurants from chef Eric Ziebold (who previously oversaw Mandarin Oriental’s CityZen and cooked at the world-renowned The French Laundry) has also scored with restaurant critics. Ziebold’s Kinship, which lays out the menu with unique categories like “Ingredients” and “Indulgences” was called “the most exciting DC restaurant opening of the new year” by Washingtonian – and it has since earned a Michelin star. Head downstairs Ziebold’s upscale Métier, which features a seven-course tasting menu that includes “menu notes” on the backstory of each dish. Gentlemen, jackets are required.
Just like it’s next door neighbor the 9:30 Club, Hazel rocks. Diners will find globally inspired medium-sized plates ranging from Grandma Hazel's zucchini bread with foie gras mousse to barbecued Wagyu shortrib. Step outside to the artfully decorated patio and sample the extensive beer list.
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.
Buttercream Bakeshop, a creative confectionery from 2018 RAMMYS Pastry Chef of the Year Tiffany MacIsaac, will wow you with its assortment of savory and sweet creations. Perfectly executed classics like scones, macarons and lemon meringue bars share the stage with edibles that seem like they could only be the stuff of dreamland. Case in point, the Breakfast Bombs, baked cheese-crested, milk-bread muffins filled with scrambled eggs, sausage and cheese. Or, go the sweet route with the Flakie, a hand-rolled croissant dusted with sugar and filled with an otherworldly passion fruit mousse. Wash it all down with Compass Coffee, served on-site (or at its flagship 7th Street location).
For a sophisticated take on Mexican, head to Espita Mezcaleria, which specializes in southern Mexican cuisine (including seven different kinds of mole). And 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.
Local mixologist and cocktail historian Derek Brown has made a name for himself by opening bar after bar in DC that features creative cocktails. True cocktail connoisseurs will want to experience Brown’s tour de force, Columbia Room in Blagden Alley. The venue features a popular punch garden, the spirits library and lounge area and its namesake, an on-site retreat featuring three- and five-course cocktail tasting menus paired with delightfully intriguing snacks. Just how good is the Columbia Room? It took home the prize of Best American Cocktail Bar at the 2017 Spirited Awards.
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.
Eat Where Chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley Eats
Spend the day with Top Chef finalist Marjorie Meek-Bradley as she shares what she loves about Shaw's happening dining scene. Stoke your appetite and tune in to this Chefs Dish DC foodie adventure as Meek-Bradley forages for farm-fresh produce and killer breakfast sandwiches at Glen's Garden Market, savors Tiffany MacIsaac's confectionery creations at Buttercream Bakeshop and hangs out at the mezcal mecca that is Espita Mezcaleria.