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20+ Hot Restaurants to Try Now in Washington, DC
Wine and dine your way around these hot places to eat and drink in the District.
In case you missed it, the nation's capital has officially become a top tier foodie destination with a stream of accolades. The District has a Michelin Guide, was named Bon Appétit's restaurant city of the year and Zagat's hottest food city in 2016 and popular deli Call Your Mother landed on Bon Appétit's list of America's 50 best new restaurants for 2019.
Whether you reserve in advance or skip the line same-day, expect a Washington, DC dining scene full of new concepts and reinvigorated favorites that generate buzz and bookings. Here are some of the best (and hottest) DC restaurants that you have to check out.
Bold Latin American flavors come to life on bustling 14th Street NW at Seven Reasons, chef Enrique Limardo’s three-story ode to the vibrant cuisines of Central and South America. The inventive cocktail menu leans heavily on rum and vodka as a vessel for imbibing these Southern flavors, while the often-changing menu has a dish for everyone. Diners rave about unique dishes like the ceviche served with a coconut leche de tigre and a vegetarian jelly tomato salad adorned with a cilantro mint pesto and smoked carrot puree.
For the Italophiles out there, you probably already know that Modena is in the heart of the Emilia-Romagna region, a foodie haven home to balsamic vinegar, parmesan cheese, Bolognese and much more. What you may not know is that prolific restaurateur Ashok Bajaj and chef John Melfi have transformed the former Osteria Bibiana space into Modena in bustling Downtown. Northern Italian ingredients are married with locally sourced produce for delicioso results. If that wasn’t enough to get you in the door, Bajaj and Melfi have imported a roving antipasti trolley from (you guessed it) Modena for a truly delightful way to kick off your meal.
If you’ve never experienced the vibrant flavors and colors of Burmese cooking, then you’re in for a treat at Thamee on H Street NE. From the minds behind Union Market’s popular Toli Moli bodega – known for its sweet dessert drink called falooda as well as Burmese snacks – comes an elevated take on classic dishes from the Southeast Asian nation that combines Chinese, Thai and Indian influences. Creative dishes bursting with flavor are plentiful, but diners rave about the pork belly and pickled mango curry and the lahpet poke, a traditional Burmese salad with pickled tea leaves.
Celebrity super-chef Wolfgang Puck has made his second foray into the District’s dining scene with the high-end CUT by Wolfgang Puck in the luxe Rosewood Washington, D.C. Chef Andrew Skala, a disciple of Puck’s restaurant empire, helms the kitchen at this Georgetown steakhouse that takes every aspect of the dining experience into consideration (even the seafood towers are presented on custom-made ceramics). From melty beef cheek with green harissa to oxtail bouillon with a marrow dumpling, the “nose-to-tail” section of the menu lives up to its name (and even includes wagyu beef heart). Fruits of the sea range from a raw bar with ceviche, sashimi and oysters to grilled whole turbot with saffron-charred fennel vinaigrette.
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.
Top Chef alumni Bryan and Michael Voltaggio have returned to the District with Estuary, a stunning space inside the luxurious Conrad Washington, DC that will make you rethink seafood. The CityCenterDC locale houses an open kitchen towards the middle of the dining room that beckons foodies to watch culinary masters at work. Creative and playful dishes are presented as works of art – the Maryland crab roll is served with crab-shaped chips and ceviche is plated on “goldfish” – making for a five-star dining experience in one of DC’s newest luxury hotels.
Andrew Dana and Daniela Moreira, the brain trust behind Timber Pizza Co., are delighting Petworth once again with even more creative ways to consume carbs. Call Your Mother, which bills itself as “a Jew-ish deli,” serves up the classics you know and love with a twist. Candied salmon cream cheese, za’atar bagels, whitefish croquettes and a matzah ball sopa embody Dana and Moreira’s unique take on Jewish cuisine. After ordering at the counter, pass the time until your number’s up with open views of the kitchen and countless pics of Canadian rapper Drake on the wall. Just make sure to get there early or during off-peak hours – the line has been known to wrap around the block and will only get longer now that it's been named to Bon Appétit's list of America's 50 best new restaurants for 2019.
The husband-wife team of Carey and Yuan Tang launched Rooster & Owl on 14th Street NW in February 2019 to much fanfare. Its title is derived from the nicknames for Carey, who works during the day (the “Rooster”) and Chef Yuan, who is the late-night “Owl.” Despite its name, the restaurant is not poultry-only. Veggies take center stage on most dishes in the tasting menu-focused restaurant, and you’d be remiss to pass on the charred barbecue carrots with cornbread ice cream (you read that correctly).
The latest creation from the Fried Rice Collective (the team that brought the District a new breed of fast casual Asian dining with CHIKO) is Anju, which rose from the literal ashes of Chef Danny Lee’s original Mandu restaurant in Dupont Circle after a ruinous fire. Peeling back the layers to expose the building’s original wood beams and exposed brick, Anju pays homage to its past life while taking Korean cooking – under the guidance of Chef Angel Barreto – to levels not previously seen in DC. Modern cooking melds with traditional Korean flavors, resulting in mouthwatering delights like the fried chicken complemented by jujube mole, white barbecue sauce and spicy gochujang sauces.
Italophiles the city over might just change the name of Palmer Alley in CityCenterDC to “Amy’s Alley” after the opening of Amy Brandwein’s Piccolina da Centrolina across from her highly regarded Centrolina. The James Beard Award nominee and former RAMMY Chef of the Year’s latest project, which means “little one” in Italian, offers an all-day menu flush with wood-fired fare that complements the regional cuisine served at the upscale companion across the street. Stop by in the morning for the wood-roasted grapefruit and locally roasted Vigilante coffee and make a return trip in the evening for porchetta on fresh baked bread paired with an Aperol spritz.
Former Top Chef finalist Marjorie Meek-Bradley has formed a dynamic team with restaurateur Stephen Starr (of Le Diplomate fame) to bring DC diners the finest grilled dishes at St. Anselm. This sleek, 7,000 square-foot hot spot can be found just across the street from bustling Union Market in the NoMa neighborhood. Start your meal off right with grilled oysters dressed in smoked herb butter or clams before choosing any number of grilled meats (think: ribeyes, flat irons, New York strips).
Before or after enjoying a meal at St. Anselm, check out where Executive Chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley loves to eat in Shaw. Stoke your appetite and tune in to this Chefs Dish DC foodie adventure as Meek-Bradley savors Tiffany MacIsaac's confectionery creations at Buttercream Bakeshop and hangs out at the mezcal mecca that is Espita Mezcaleria.
If a menu-less, 20-course dining experience suits your taste, look no further than Sushi Nakazawa, which recently received a Michelin star in DC's 2020 Michelin Guide. This New York import that turns eating into an adventure comes from star chef Daisuke Nakazawa. The restaurant serves fresh-caught fruits of the sea in the style of omakase, a Japanese phrase that roughly translates to “I'll leave it up to you.” The delight and intrigue of Sushi Nakazawa can be found inside the ornate Trump International Hotel.
The James Beard Foundation's 2019 Rising Star Chef of the Year Kwame Onwuachi reigns over the kitchen of the waterfront Afro-Caribbean concept Kith/Kin, a modest-yet-sophisticated 96-seat space located inside the InterContinental Washington D.C. - The Wharf. The exciting restaurant at DC’s newest dining, shopping and entertainment destination wows patrons with a menu that celebrates Onwuachi’s heritage from West Africa to the Caribbean and New Orleans to New York. Make sure you try the hot-and-cold seafood plateau, which layers fresh shellfish atop vermillion snapper and more, as well as the curried goat roti plated with chickpeas two ways: toasted and pureed with tamarind.
Officina – “workshop” in Italian – is Michelin-starred chef Nicholas Stefanelli’s three-story homage to all things Italian cuisine at The Wharf. The first floor is home to a gourmet market and an elevated no-reservations cafe starring housemade pastries and espresso by day and Italian classics paired with cocktails by night. Venture upstairs and you’ll find the casual Trattoria (think handmade pasta and prime meats from the downstairs market), a “library” devoted entirely to amaro and Terrazza, a year-round rooftop bar featuring riverfront views and cozy fire pits.
With locations across much of the Western United States, this healthy fast-casual chain debuted in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood with much fanfare. The brainchild of James Beard Award nominee Sam Fox, Flower Child was created to provide affordable, made-from-scratch dishes that cater to every diet. So yes, you can bring your vegetarian, vegan and paleo friends here for everything from creative salads and small plates to organic grain bowls and wraps.
Major renovations at neighborhood institution The Dupont Circle Hotel resulted in the transformation of Café Dupont into this globally-inspired, 120-seat restaurant. The farm-to-table fare procures flavors from across the world – think Moroccan lamb tagine or Asian style snapper – set in a delightfully bright space that is both a see-and-be-seen hot spot and a cozy, all-day restaurant. Whether you’re seeking brunch, after-dinner drinks or somewhere in between, The Pembroke is a welcome addition to Dupont Circle.
Head to The LINE Hotel, housed inside a 110-year old church in Adams Morgan, to experience the culinary prowess of acclaimed James Beard Award-winning Chef Spike Gjerde at A Rake’s Progress, his first DC venture. The airy, mezzanine-level restaurant is devoted to sourcing Mid-Atlantic ingredients, which are cooked to perfection in the large wood-fired hearth. Diners rave about the “trout on a log” (smoked trout with potato dumplings), but it’s hard to go wrong with any dish crafted by Gjerde.
Old school vibes abound at Sonny’s, the Park View neighborhood’s home for large, rectangular pizza pies baked on a fluffy-yet-crisp focaccia-like base. Grab a seat at one of the retro tables (which were school desks in a previous life) and order a delicious whole pie – enough ‘za for you and three of your closest friends – and an equally large salad. Close out the night at No Kisses, the next door/sister bar where the mood immediately changes as you’re ensconced in purple neon lights. There’s even an outdoor pizza garden serving Sonny’s, should you still crave a slice.
A 15-foot custom-built, wood-fired grill – the largest of its kind in the DC area – is the centerpiece at Cherry, the new hot spot (literally) inside the W Hotel Washington, DC. Diners will find that elements of just about every single dish at Cherry have kissed the open fire, from the grilled avocado with homemade hot sauce and grilled lime to the roasted chicken dressed in a toasted sesame scallion butter to the ember-roasted carrots prepared in a firebox just above the flames. The 60-seat Cherry is part of a major redesign of the W Hotel, which includes a revamped lobby and a reimagined POV Rooftop Bar.
Tucked into the bustling 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 starring delightfully buttery housemade khachapuri, a multitude of meats, kebabs, hand-crafted cocktails and Georgian wines that pair perfectly with what’s on your plate. Supra is open for brunch, lunch and dinner.
If you’ve never had plant-based tacos – or think you already have an idea of how they would taste – then check your misconceptions at the door of Chaia. This Georgetown favorite just opened a second location in Chinatown, exuding the same light-and-airy positive vibes found in the original spot near the C&O Canal. Chaia’s sustainable, “farm-to-taco” focus pays homage to local producers with delightful combinations like roasted butternut squash with goat cheese, chipotle yogurt and mint pressed between a corn tortilla. The tacos pair nicely with an array of fresh sides, including the fan-favorite green rice with feta, herb pesto and pepitas.
Chef Ryan Ratino was named Rising Culinary Star of the Year at the 2017 RAMMYS, DC’s local culinary awards ceremony, and it’s clear to see why at Bresca, his Michelin-starred venture on hip and happening 14th Street. The restaurant’s namesake is Catalan for honeycomb and the inspiration for the bright-yet-earthy decor. An inventive menu melds tantalizing flavors and Ratino’s one-of-a-kind vision: pastrami beets are served with whipped feta and dill on rye, foie gras is made into a “PB&J” and sea urchin linguini with truffles and chili delivers a deliciously rich umami bomb. To top it off, many of the herbs and floral garnishes for dishes are grown on the restaurant’s rooftop garden.