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13 Can’t-Miss Presidential Dining Experiences in Washington, DC
Catch First Family vibes at these acclaimed locales in the culinary capital
White House invites are tough to come by, so why not get presidential at some of DC’s finest dining establishments? Even First Families have been known to get out on the town and enjoy meals at these acclaimed restaurants.
Dishes at Restaurant Nora in Dupont Circle were conceived by Nora Poullion, a recently retired culinary mastermind whose eatery was the first certified as organic in the nation. Now, an elegant menu of seasonal fare is dished out in cozy, historic surroundings (the main dining room was once a horse stable) fit for a First Family. In fact, the Obamas once celebrated a friend’s birthday at this DC institution.
This historic restaurant, which features antiques that date back to the 16th century, consists of two connected townhouses and six intimate dining rooms which have been known to host some of DC’s most powerful figures, including President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Its new tasting menu is a must-try, but you can always rely on a classic ribeye at this farm-to-fork favorite. Jackets are suggested attire for men, which is positively presidential.
Wolfgang Puck’s Asian-inspired menu has been a favorite among White House staffers and inspires buzz that brought in the Obamas three times in Barack’s first tenure. Executive Chef Scott Drewno was named Chef of the Year at the 2016 RAMMYs, and for good reason. The Source’s takes on dim sum and wonton soup (which we’ve fawned over) are enough to satisfy any Commander-in-Chief.
It’s fitting that presidents dating back to George H.W. Bush have dined at Todd Gray’s Mid-Atlantic inspired restaurant, since it’s located just a few blocks from the White House. Seasonal fare informs all of the eatery’s menus, from lunch to dinner to its Sunday vegan brunch. Get in your epic meal via the chef’s tasting menu or go a la carte all the way.
The oldest bar in the District was once located in Chinatown, where reportedly numerous Commanders-in-Chief kicked back for a drink, including Theodore Roosevelt, Grover Cleveland and Ulysses S. Grant. Now a Downtown mainstay, expect classic decor and a menu full of American specialties when you settle in for your own presidential experience.
Though the name is a nod to the extensive wine collection, Proof offers an array of craft beers and helms an ambitious cocktail program. The eatery is also a popular lunch spot, as First Lady Michelle Obama learned in 2011 when she ordered the shrimp burger, a fan favorite. Dinner also dazzles with grilled New York strip steak and Ora King salmon.
First Lady Michelle Obama had a ladies’ lunch at this Louisiana-inspired restaurant in the summer of 2009. Pork boudin balls, deviled eggs and fried green tomatoes reign as delicious first courses, while crowd pleasers such as jumbo lump crab cakes, corn flour crusted catfish and the New Orleans-style barbeque shrimp serve as awesome main options.
This award-winning restaurant in DC’s Foggy Bottom neighborhood hosted a birthday celebration for Barack and an anniversary celebration for the Clintons. Chef Vikram Sunderam is a DC culinary superstar, crafting a menu that takes Indian cuisine to the next level. Rasika West End’s sister restaurant, Rasika, is also highly recommended.
Ristorante Tosca isn’t just for lobbyists; the Obamas visited the Italian mainstay for a date night in spring 2011. Seasonal produce, handmade pastas and generous cuts of meat are among the offerings at this Downtown ristorante. Tosca’s northern Italian menu is a crowd pleaser, from the pickiest eater to the most discerning gourmand.
One of the city’s most revered restaurants recently received its first Michelin star, and was also where Barack and Michelle Obama celebrated their 17th wedding anniversary. A menu of delicious seasonal fare gives way to an unforgettable apple die dessert at this cozy abode located inside the Park Hyatt Washington.
This new Chinatown eatery welcomed Michelle Obama and friends for dinner this past September, and for good reason. Owned by celebrity couple Bill and Giuliana Rancic, the hot spot sports a menu outfitted with pastas, seafood classics and slow-roasted meats, to go along with plentiful wine and cocktail offerings. Insider tip: Michelle dined on the lobster caprese.
What, did you really think that a José Andrés restaurant would not show up on this list? The Obamas dined here for holidays and birthdays, so the Mexican food haven and Bib Gourmand honoree is well-equipped to provide a wondrous night out in DC. Try the guacamole, one of its many creative margaritas and, if you’re feeling adventurous, the grasshopper tacos.
This Michael Mina steakhouse calls the chic Four Seasons Hotel its home, making it a very logical destination for Barack and Michelle Obama’s 20th anniversary dinner in 2012. Local farms and the Chesapeake Bay inform the menu at Bourbon Steak, where you can always savor a 22-ounce T-bone steak and wash it down with a pristine glass of wine or handcrafted cocktail.
Looking for more DC dining suggestions? Check out these hot restaurants to try now and continue your delicious adventure.