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 features a dizzying array of restaurants, from Michelin-starred establishments to fast-and-easy deliciousness and everything in between. With the city back on its feet, 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.
This reimagined American diner by KNEAD Hospitality & Design (in collaboration with Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery) takes you back to the glory days. Think breakfast any time of the day, milkshakes and tasty cheeseburgers. Located at the corner of Half and N directly in front of the centerfield gate at Nationals Park, Gatsby’s second-floor dining room overlooks the ballpark, making it an ideal destination pre- or post-game.
Traditional Japanese cuisine and environmental awareness make for a rich combination at Nara-Ya, which sources its produce locally and offers sustainable, farm-raised and wild-caught global marine products. Expect an unparalleled dining experience as you indulge in a menu enriched by the flavors of the islands of Japan and an extensive list of top-flight Japanese sakes and whiskeys.
Yardbird Southern Table Bar brings farm-fresh ingredients and classic Southern cooking, culture and hospitality to the nation’s capital. Head to the down-home spot for lunch, dinner or a soul-healing weekend brunch. Yardbird is devoted to its roots by taking pride in a scratch kitchen. The menu offers an array of Southern favorites, including chicken 'n' watermelon 'n' waffles, shrimp 'n' grits, a fried green tomato BLT and skillet cornbread topped with honey butter.
Crazy Aunt Helen’s
Barracks Row recently welcomed this all-day spot for comfort food. Experience Southern-leaning lunch dishes like deviled eggs, a fried green tomato sandwich, roasted chicken and Reuben sandwiches dressed with house-cured corned beef. Crazy Aunt Helen’s also offers a bounty of vegan items.
El Secreto de Rosita
Minority-owned and operated, El Secreto de Rosita brings Peruvian flavors and vibes to the U Street neighborhood. The bar serves pisco cocktails alongside ceviches, comforting Criollo food, and dishes featuring a delicious fusion of Peruvian and Japanese cuisines. Rosita’s Cafe attached to the bar is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily and offers specialty coffee drinks, Peruvian sandwiches and empanadas, and baked goods to go.
This Mexican cocina and mezcaleria comes from Chef Richard Sandoval. dLeña is derived from the Spanish word “leña,” which means “firewood.” As you may imagine, the restaurant features a wood-fired oven, which serves as a nod to the rustic, open-fire cooking techniques of Mexico’s past. The menu offers signature smoked entrées, several types of ceviche and unique sharing plates. If you’re planning on grabbing a drink, the bar features hand-crafted margaritas, Latin cocktails, mezcal, cervezas and vino.
Imported from across the pond right to Dupont Circle, Swingers includes a lounge, a club, a food hall and a mini-golf course. The two-floor, 20,000-square-foot space encompasses two nine-hole courses, decorated with model waterwheels and windmills, and an old-fashioned golf cart that serves as an obstacle. If you get hungry while playing, there are four food vendors that can satisfy your appetite, including Tu Taco and Lil’ Succotash.
Situated between Columbia Heights and Petworth, new kid on the block DC Corazon pays homage to owner (and longtime DC resident) Josefina Darui’s native Mexico with a menu sporting mom-and-pop foods that will make you feel right at home. Expect guacamole prepared tableside, enchiladas, tostadas, quesadillas and tacos. Keep your eye out for seasonal fruits and vegetables, which find their way into the cooking and the cocktails.
Chef Nicholas Joseph Martino takes DC diners on a new trip with Aboveground. British food often gets overlooked and/or presented in watered-down fashion. Chef Martino presents the cuisine from a new, mouthwatering perspective with innovative takes on fish and chips, shepherd’s pie and chicken tikka masala (served with delicious mango chutney). The restaurant is open Sunday–Thursday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday–Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Taqueria Las Gemelas is a fast-casual-but-fancy ode to masa, complete with tacos, quesadillas and tlayudas built upon fresh heirloom corn tortillas made by Yesenia Neri Diaz and her team. Cool off with a margarita (or two) on their sunny sidewalk café. You can also grab some of Las Gemelas’ pantry staples, like moles, salsas or tortillas to cook with at home. The location also features Las Gemelas Cocina Mexicana, which offers sophisticated coastal cuisine from chefs Robert Aikens and Ben Tenner along with Mexican wine and cocktails from James Simpson and Walter Portillo. Las Gemelas (“twin girls” in Spanish) is located within La Cosecha, a Latin American marketplace in the heart of the Union Market District.
The Point D.C.
Situated along the bustling Southwest Waterfront, The Point D.C. combines open-flame cooking with fresh seafood. Perfectly situated at the convergence of the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers, the soothing open-air patio and premium fire pits compliment picturesque views. The menu shows off inventive items, including a seafood board sourced from sister restaurant Ivy City Smokehouse and warm crab doughnuts filled with creamy crab dip.
At Le Sel, which translates to “the salt,” smoked salt goes into the onion soup, black salt seasons the scallop crudo, pink salt finds its way into various cocktails and fleur de sel serves as a finishing touch on numerous dishes. The restaurant recently opened at Kimpton Banneker Hotel near Scott Circle. Chef Laurent Hollaender has curated a menu that gathers local and seasonal produce into combinations like a tartine made with “eggplant caviar” (which the chef compares to a baba ghanoush) and topped with minty fava beans.
The newest restaurant concept from Long Shot Hospitality (the same group behind The Salt Line) is led by critically acclaimed Chef Kristen Essig. Dauphine’s evokes New Orleans in its Cajun-flavored and inspired dishes, served at a convenient location right near the McPherson Square Metro. Expect an elegant yet relaxed environment that will feel like Louisiana in the heart of DC.
The latest addition to Shaw’s restaurant scene comes from Ismael Mendez, who transformed a pop-up concept into a brick-and-mortar over the past year. Qui Qui offers masterfully prepared Puerto Rican cuisine, including staples such as mofongo de pollo, gandules guisado (stewed pigeon peas) and pastelón, a layered cheesy plantain dish that looks like lasagna. You can also sip on mojitos, daiquiris and pina coladas, or grab a drink beforehand at The Passenger downstairs.
Capitol Hill’s La Collina is inspired by classic Italian osterias, serving as an ideal destination for families and friends to gather over a generous bowl of pasta and wines on tap. You will find homespun favorites from the old country and one of the most welcoming atmospheres in the District.
Situated next door to 1789 Restaurant in the space that once featured art deco nightclub F. Scott’s, Fitzgerald’s is a two-level, bar-centric restaurant with a food menu curated by Chef Kyoo Eom and a drink menu crafted by Brian Zipin. The 1960s-style locale serves up elevated bistro dishes with Japanese and Korean influences including a Peking duck burger and soy-honey glazed Chilean sea bass, along with a rotating collection of 10 Japanese whiskeys.
Unlike Lupo Verde, its sister restaurant, this new pizzeria in Shaw doesn’t serve any pasta. Instead, Chef Juan Olivera’s menu consists of small plates, sandwiches and pizza baked in an imported Italian oven that burns at 700 degrees. Try the carbonara pizza topped with pecorino cream, pork cheek, an egg yolk and a liberal sprinkling of black pepper.
Some of the District’s best chefs and a collection of the DMV area’s finest food, beer, wine and spirits purveyors have come together to bring you The Roost. Unlock a portal of flavors with a visit to this Capitol Hill food hall, which offers coffee from local roasters, craft beer, outstanding burgers and refined cocktails across its inventory and full-service restaurant.
Located in the heart of Dupont Circle inside the Lyle Hotel, this comfortable neighborhood restaurant serves breakfast, brunch and dinner as well as familiar cocktails offered with a gentle twist. The menu is filled with creative creations such as a delicate fluke crudo, a white cheddar cheeseburger served with Thousand Island dressing, and Tahitian vanilla soft-serve ice cream.
Located in DC’s Bloomingdale neighborhood, établi (the French word for “established”) is the latest venture from seasoned restaurateurs Kathleen Davis and Thomas Boisvert. The eatery, which serves elegant Italian fare, encourages patrons to cultivate their palate with wines from around the globe. Davis and Boisvert are ardent believers in the adage, “De gustibus non est disputandum,” which translates to “In matters of taste, there can be no dispute.” There’s no disputing that établi makes for a perfect date night destination.
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