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20+ Hot Restaurants to Try Now in Washington, DC
Wine and dine your way around these hot places to eat 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 city was anointed with its first Michelin Guide, named Bon Appétit magazine's restaurant city of the year and Zagat's hottest food city in 2016 and three restaurants, Pineapple & Pearls, Himitsu and Timber Pizza Company, landed on Bon Appétit's list of America's 50 best new restaurants for 2017. When you visit this year, you will see a Washington, DC that boasts a dining scene full of new concepts and reinvigorated favorites that generate buzz and bookings (read: reserve your table now!). Here are some of the best (and hottest) DC restaurants that you have to check out.
This newcomer has been a big part of the burgeoning dining scene in DC’s hippest, family-friendly neighborhood, Petworth. Himitsu, the no reservations, quaint 24-seat restaurant inhabiting the Upshur strip, delivers on what first-time restaurateurs Kevin Tien and Carlie Steiner call “New Japanese.” Try the fried chicken karaage or melt-in-your-mouth nigiri with a side of charred shishito peppers elote style, pair it with one of Steiner’s steal-the-show cocktail creations and voilà, you have yourself a meal at one of Bon Appétit’s 50 best new restaurants in America you won’t soon forget.
At The Salt Line, the Capitol Riverfront seafood concept from former Birch & Barley executive chef Kyle Bailey, a visit transports diners from the District to an idyllic New England setting straight from a postcard. Enjoy classics like a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth lobster roll or fried Ipswich clam bellies, or try an inspired Bailey concoction – uni carbonara, anyone? If the weather permits, belly up to the outdoor bar overlooking the Anacostia River and traverse the Eastern seaboard, sampling oysters from Virginia to Maine.
Former Top Chef contestant Mike Isabella transports diners to the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa with Arroz, located inside the Marriott Marquis Washington, DC. The Spanish word for rice, Arroz delights with bold flavors in bomba rice dishes topped with the likes of crab, spring veggies, aged duck or suckling pig. Once you’ve sufficiently eaten your way through Spain, Portugal and Morocco, check out where Mike Isabella loves to grab a bite along 14th Street – part of our video series starring local chefs eating their way through DC neighborhoods.
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 inside one of the District’s newest hotels, Robert Wiedmaier, the chef behind romantic Marcel’s and lively Brasserie Beck, has teamed up with chef Brian McBride to bring the stunning Siren to Logan Circle. At Wiedmaier’s upscale restaurant focusing on the fruits of the sea, choose from creative concoctions like Japanese sea urchin with blue crab custard or go for chi-chi classics ranging from seafood towers to caviar service. All of this is set amidst hues of blue and aquatic decor – you can practically smell the salty seabreeze.
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. 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.
This new breed of fast casual Chinese-Korean fusion on Capitol Hill’s Barracks Row is the brainchild of three seasoned vets of the District’s food scene: 2016 RAMMY Chef of the Year Scott Drewno, formerly of The Source; Danny Lee, chef and owner of Mandu; and Andrew Kim of Matchbox Food Group. This all-star team conceived CHIKO (short for Chinese Korean) as the spot where traditional eastern flavors meld with contemporary techniques at an accessible price point (you wont find anything on the menu over $18). Diners rave about the orange-ish chicken and chopped brisket sourced from local market Wagshal’s. Needless to say, this is no ordinary Chinese takeout.
Former White House chef Frank Ruta left the Grill Room late last year, teamed up with renowned pastry chef Aggie Chin and opened Mirabelle, a French-American brasserie in Downtown. The fine dining establishment just blocks from the White House has earned plenty of hype and early praise for mouthwatering dishes like the glazed boudin blanc – “basically a cloud whipped up from chicken, foie gras and cream,” as the Washington Post’s Tom Sietsema describes it – and the Belleburger, a dish completed by Madeira caramelized onions and melted gruyere with the option of being served “wet” or “dry.”
Call it a homecoming for chef Hamilton Johnson, who transformed the now-defunct Vidalia – the subterranean Dupont Circle locale where he spent five years as chef de cuisine under the tutelage of James Beard Award-winner Jeffrey Buben – into Honeysuckle, an eccentric culinary adventure-house serving up Southern-style cuisine with a Nordic flair. The South Carolina native was inspired by the cooking techniques on trips to Iceland and Finland and the south-meets-north influences are apparent from first bite. Poached oysters are paired with smoked bacon and chicken crackling while diners rave about duck confit coupled with quark – a curd cheese popular in Nordic countries – and cherry jam.
This Mediterranean-meets-Caribbean spot, owned by three alum of Little Serow and Komi, serves up whole-animal butchery, housemade bread and pasta and seasonal ingredients in an approachable Adams Morgan setting. It’s been racking up positive press since it opened in 2016, earning a coveted Michelin star and making Bon Appétit’s 50 best new restaurants 2016 list.
Regarded as one of the most stylish and exciting restaurants to open in recent years, Kinship – from a chef who previously helmed the Mandarin Oriental’s Cityzen and before that, San Francisco’s French Laundry – features dishes that focus on technique, history, ingredient, or communal preparations intended to be served family-style, like whole fish or 12-ounce ribeye cuts. It’s a special place, and perfect for a celebratory meal.
Housed in the same building as Kinship is Métier, an ambitious 36-seat restaurant with a $200 seven-course tasting menu. Take note: advanced reservations are recommended and jackets are required for gentlemen.
Affordable, succulent South American chicken in the front and 60-plus whiskeys in the back. That’s the name of the game at Chicken + Whiskey, the fast casual chicken joint-whiskey bar hybrid that opened in June 2017 on always-exciting 14th Street. An array of savory sides like fried plantains and chunky guasacaca (a Venezuelan guacamole-like sauce) are waiting to be paired with rotisserie chicken, slow-roasted to perfection over wood charcoal for 12 hours. Another all-star: the pollo frito sandwich, with cassava-crusted chicken breast that’s combined with Amarillo-mango mayonnaise, Greek yogurt mustard sauce, bacon and smoked Gouda on a jalapeño cheddar brioche bun. Après-dinner, walk through the rear refrigerator door (seriously!) and you’ll stumble upon a not-so-secret wood-paneled bar touting two-ounce pours and reasonably priced cocktails, not to mention an impressive vinyl collection which you can hear the owners spinning on select nights.
Just like it’s next door neighbor the 9:30 Club, the newest addition to Neighborhood Restaurant Group roster rocks. At Hazel diners will find globally inspired medium-sized plates ranging from the ever-popular Korean-style seafood pancake (just ask Washington Post critic Tom Sietsema) to barbecued carrots with fennel kraut. Step outside to the artfully decorated patio and try a “delicate” or “complex” cocktail.
If it’s traditional Mexican fare you seek, look no further than La Puerta Verde in Northeast DC’s Ivy City. Diners stepping through the restaurant’s namesake – “la puerta verde” means “green door” in Spanish – are transported into a space that melds a warehouse vibe with the vibrant colors of the States’ southern neighbors. Get started with chef Carlos Camacho’s grilled avocado guacamole and wash it down with cocktails refreshingly priced at $10 and under. Round out your experience with any of nine different types of tacos, from braised beef tongue to cactus salad, or one of the stellar spicy seafood dishes like the jumbo grilled shrimp, a.k.a. camarones a la diabla.
Renowned local chef Tim Ma made his District debut with Kyirisan in the sizzling new restaurant mecca that is the Shaw neighborhood, earning Michelin Bib Gourmand honors in the same year it opened. Serving up Chinese-French fusion in a simple, wood-lined dining room with blue pincushion booths, diners are invited to take a culinary journey through a savory menu organized by dishes based in the ground, on the ground or under the water. If weekend brunch is more your speed, Kyirisan’s midday menu features creative plates like the venison-blueberry sausage hash, which are best washed down with adult mimosas complete with triple sec and vodka. And be sure to follow Tim Ma as he drops by a few of his favorite spots on nearby U Street – part of our video series starring local chefs eating their way through DC neighborhoods.
Former Top Chef contestant and James Beard Award nominee Edward Lee has gone all in on DC, recently uprooting his operations from Kentucky to focus on his second Succotash location in Penn Quarter (the inaugural Succotash can be found at National Harbor). 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.
Chef Nicholas Stefanelli’s acclaimed Italian restaurant is located in NoMa near the vibrant Union Market and presents one of the finer dining experiences in the city. The simplistic menu lets you pick from between three and six courses, with each plate equipped with loads of Italian flavor and pristine culinary style. The old country vibes do not stop there – Masseria’s decor reminds one of Italian farmhouses and country sides, setting the ideal atmosphere for Stefanelli’s creativity.
All-Purpose Pizzeria is a deck oven pizzeria from the teams of two beloved DC dining institutions, The Red Hen and Boundary Stone. Pizza rules here, but you can also enjoy hot and cold antipasti, and an extensive charcuterie selection. Plans for a second location by Nationals Park are in the works.
A woodfire-powered kitchen, bucolic decor that emulates a countryside abode and an affordable, Italian-infused menu have turned The Red Hen into one of the city’s most popular neighborhood restaurants. Pasta lovers will have difficulty resisting dishes such mezze rigatoni with fennel sausage ragu or squid ink linguini, while those hankering for seafood can savor caramelized scallops or grilled swordfish. An exceptional wine list only adds to the tranquility of this gem.
Indian street food is the name of the game at Bindaas, the new outpost in Upper Northwest from James Beard Award winner Vikram Sunderam of Rasika and Rasika West End. Unlike its higher-end siblings, Bindaas focuses on an affordable menu broken down into savory snacks, wraps, buns and kebabs – nothing on the menu is priced higher than $15. Diners rave about the avocado golgappa, a fried pastry stuffed with a delectable combination of avocado, tamarind chutney and sweet yogurt.
If the tasting menu is the movement du jour in DC dining, then Pineapple & Pearls – the two-star Michelin restaurant from James Beard award-winner Aaron Silverman – is one of the scene’s shining stars. This Capitol Hill establishment located next to sibling Rose’s Luxury was was named to Bon Appétit’s 50 best new restaurants in America list for 2017 and offers an inventive 15-course, ever-changing tasting menu that is bound to delight. While this dining experience costs $250 per person (which includes beverage pairings, tax and tip), Pineapple & Pearls doubles as a café through lunch on Tuesday through Saturday offering up affordable pastries, a killer fried chicken sandwich and a full range of coffee drinks.
Named the Best New Restaurant in America in 2014 by Bon Appétit, this homespun abode wows with its service, atmosphere and most of all, its plates. Although the menu regularly changes, you can count on small and family style dishes to be exploding with Chef Aaron Silverman’s love of cooking. The cacio e pepe is an acclaimed creation that can often be ordered, but otherwise, savor in the adventure at Rose’s Luxury. Reservations are only taken for groups of 6 to 8, so even though you’ll have to wait, you’ll depart feeling like you’ve been treated like a welcome house guest.
Looking for a breakfast in Washington, DC worthy of a Michelin star? The only place you’ll find that is at the Blue Duck Tavern, which serves three meals a day inside the luxurious Park Hyatt Washington. Handcrafted wood decor and an open kitchen makes diners feel right at home. An ever-rotating seasonal menu focusing on farm-to-fork fare lets you know just how far that oven-roasted Cheshire pork chop has traveled to make it to your plate. The one dish you’ll want to end each meal on? The crowd favorite apple pie.
Maketto effortlessly combines a café, 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, quickly becoming one of the most talked-about meals in a city filled with buzzworthy dishes. A trip to Maketto can not only result in an outstanding dining experience, but also some cool new shoes and a great cup of coffee.
You’ll have to find your way to off-the-beaten-track Blagden Alley in Shaw to dine in this restaurant, which has garnered much acclaim since opening in 2016 (including a nod to Bon Appétit’s 50 best new restaurants list). A 10-foot wood-burning open hearth and a dedication to Mid-Atlantic cuisine are the main draw, with dishes that breathe new life into recipes inspired by historical 19th-century cookbooks.
These places may be hot, but DC has a huge number of established restaurants worth a try, too. Check out more dining options in the District.