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Appetite for Perfection: Bib Gourmand Restaurants in Washington, DC
Dine at these affordable places to eat featured in Washington, DC’s Michelin Guide.
Although Michelin stars are highly coveted, the Bib Gourmand designation (“Bib” is short for “Bibendum,” known as “Michelin Man” in English) 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 $40 or less. In total, 44 DC restaurants have received the honor in the Washington, DC Michelin Guide. We’ve picked out some of our favorites that you should make a point to visit this year.
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.
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.
While Eaton Washington DC is technically a 200-plus room hotel, it defies the standard definition with a cinema, a progressive-minded coworking space and unique food and drink establishments. Acclaimed DC chef Tim Ma has crafted an all-day menu out of his experience as the son of Chinese immigrants growing up in Arkansas at American Son, Eaton’s flagship restaurant. The thoughtful seasonal menu includes highlights like the confit chicken banh mi and a very shareable spaghetti squash ssam.
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.
Tucked into the bustling and evolving Shaw neighborhood, Supra brings cuisine from the Republic of Georgia to the nation’s capital. Prepare yourself for a feast that cannot be replicated anywhere else in the District, a joyous celebration featuring khachapuri (housemade bread filled with cheese), knikali (soup dumplings), a multitude of meats, kebabs, hand-crafted cocktails and wine and beer selections that pair perfectly with what’s on your plate. Supra is open for brunch, lunch and dinner.
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.
Former Top Chef contestant and James Beard Award nominee Edward Lee has gone all in on DC, and it's paid off with Succotash. Situated in an historic bank from the early 1900s, the stunning, multilevel restaurant features an array of design accents that maintain a sophisticated look and feel. And we haven’t event talked about the food yet, which is Lee’s signature blend of Southern cooking and Asian flavors. Classics like fried catfish are enhanced with mint-jalapeño aioli, while the dirty fried chicken is topped off with a honey gochujang sauce nori flakes.
Ivy City, a small neighborhood located just north of Union Market near the U.S. National Arboretum, is gaining major buzz in the District. Tantalizing smells of savory smoked meats emanating from the Tavern at Ivy City Smokehouse make this second-story restaurant and bar a must-visit when in the area. Try the "salmon candy," the restaurant's signature hot smoked salmon with honey, or start off the day with the smokehouse fish board for two.
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.
If there’s anyone who knows the DC dining scene, it’s Haidar Karoum, chef-owner of the globally inspired Chloe and former toque at establishments across the District, including Estadio and Doi Moi, to name a couple. The former RAMMY’s Chef of the Year has made a splash with his first solo venture to the always-happening Capitol Riverfront neighborhood. Bring your friends, as the menu is an international tour de force designed for sharing. Looking for some ordering inspiration? Diners rave about the Mediterranean cauliflower with tahini and the crispy whole fish with tomatillo salsa verde.
Combine a unique concept, DC’s hippest alleyway and one of the city’s most buzzworthy neighborhoods and you get Tiger Fork, a Blagden Alley hot spot where you’ll often find chefs whipping up delectable dishes in the open kitchen. The dimly lit restaurant channels the vibe of a fast-paced Hong Kong night market and has its own spin on Asian dishes: chili wontons with turkey and shrimp, grilled lamb with cumin and crispy fish, as well as cocktails muddled with Chinese medicinal plants and herbs.
Since opening in 2016, Whaley’s on the Capitol Riverfront has remained one of the hottest seafood spots the District has to offer (peep its famous seafood tower on your Instagram to see why). Order from the lengthy selection of seasonal plates or slurp down bivalves at this waterfront oasis.
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!
Continue your culinary journey around the world with José Andrés at Zaytinya, another Penn Quarter treasure from the renowned chef. This time, you’ll visit the Mediterranean, as Zaytinya’s mezze menu winds through Greek, Lebanese and Turkish cuisine. These small plates are meant to be enjoyed among friends, so gather up your group and tack on some specialty cocktails or scour the extensive wine list for the perfect pairing. It’s officially party time.
At the Federalist Pig in Adams Morgan, pitmaster Rob Sonderman uses six kinds of wood to melt pork so delicious that he sells out daily. You read that right – come early before the day’s meat-and-side casualties are hung from butcher paper adjacent to the register. Choose from eight different types of meats smoked for hours on end or signature sandwiches like the Texas Ranger, featuring brisket, crispy onions and homemade pickles on thick, buttery Texas toast and lathered in barbecue sauce.
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.
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.
All day, all night. That’s the (unofficial) motto of The Royal, a Shaw neighborhood coffee shop/lunch spot/dinner and drinks destination with a Colombian twist. Seriously, you could have every meal of the day at this affordable Bib Gourmand honoree. Start as early as 8 a.m. with coffee and a breakfast arepa, a crispy-hulled corn-based sandwich oozing with a runny fried egg, avocado and cotija cheese. Stay as late as 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays while enjoying the glorious fried chicken sandwich with jalapeño aioli and a drink or two from the extensive – and moderately priced – cocktail list.
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.
DC’s Brookland neighborhood has a go-to French wine bar in Primrose, straight from the wine-and-design-oriented minds of restaurateur Sebastian Zutant and his wife Lauren Winter. The whimsical bistro greets diners with feathered chandeliers and a baby blue bar boasting 70-plus wines, many from France’s lesser-known regions. Combine the extensive drink list with a small-but-mighty menu of French classics and you have a recipe for the coziest Parisian-inspired evening.
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.