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18 Best Local Places To Eat For Foodies Visiting Washington D.C.

places to eat in washington dc
Hannah
Hannah
Updated

Washington D.C. is unlike any other city in the United States. It is here that politics, business, diversity and American history all intersect, to give D.C. its dynamic and inimitable culture. The spirit of Washington D.C. is alive in its food culture, where anyone from students to secretaries to diplomats can be found enjoying a meal at one of Washington’s many restaurants. To get an idea of where to eat while staying in the “District”, here are 18 delicious eateries that feature something unique, within the capitol city.

1. Baked and Wired

Chocolate cupcakes with cream icing and red sprinkles
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user David Trawin used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

While most tourists will find themselves in “Georgetown Cupcake” for their sweet tooth fix, D.C. natives know the best place to go for some coffee and a pastry is Baked and Wired, a family owned coffee shop and bakery, near the waterfront. All of their baked goods are made in small batches, with fresh and quality ingredients and they offer gluten free and vegan-friendly items, too!

Baked & Wired

Address: 1052 Thomas Jefferson St NW, Washington, DC 20007, USA

Website: Baked & Wired

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2. CAVA

Strawberry and mint juice
Source: Piqsels

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

The concept of CAVA is essentially a “build-your-own-bowl” Mediterranean restaurant, which in theory sounds like every other trendy, quasi-fast-food take on Mediterranean food, but CAVA, with its variety of fresh ingredients, delicious sauces and healthy portions, is actually a D.C. area gem. Not only do they have delicious food, they have unique drinks, like lavender lemonade or strawberry and mint juice.

CAVA

Address: 4 locations in Washington DC, please refer to website for more information.

Website: CAVA

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3. Zaytinya

Zaytinya - December 2018 - Stierch 01
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Missvain used under CC BY 4.0

Following the small-plate trend is an Eastern Mediterranean restaurant in Gallery Place called Zaytinya. Dining at Zaytinya will feel like stepping into the Mediterranean, with its fresh and authentic food cooked with traditional techniques. Award-winning chef Jose Andres and his staff create original, unique dishes that impeccably bring Greek, Lebanese and Turkish cuisine, straight to Washington D.C. – though the rave reviews for Zaytinya don’t end there. Zaytinya also has an exceptional bar, with cocktails that are as creative as they are delicious.

Zaytinya

Address: 701 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001, USA

Website: Zaytinya

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4. Le Diplomate

Le Diplomate
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user AgnosticPreachersKid used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Washington D.C. is not only one of the best cities to go to for a feel of American history and culture, it is also a spectacular place to get away from the feeling of being in the United States, without actually needing a stamp in your passport. When you walk into Le Diplomate, it as if you’ve walked into the doors of a Parisian café. The restaurant takes after French café culture and is the perfect place to enjoy a cappuccino and a conversation. Le Diplomate has a lengthy menu of French cuisine, and their cheeses, bread and wine will make you feel like you’ve arrived in France.

Le Diplomate

Address: 1601 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009, USA

Website: Le Diplomate

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5. Lincoln

Pancakes
Source: Pexels

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

This Washington D.C., small plates restaurant takes dining in the District to a whole other level. For those looking for a restaurant that is uniquely American, Lincoln pays homage to President Abraham Lincoln, and its modern take on southern dishes, combined with its presidential ambiance is what puts this restaurant on the radar for those looking to dine in D.C. The most Instagrammable part of Lincoln? The floor is covered in nearly one million pennies, featuring Honest Abe.

Lincoln

Address: 1110 Vermont Ave NW, Washington, DC 20005, USA

Website: Lincoln

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6. Founding Farmers

Yankee pot roast
Source: Photo by user Founding Farmers used under CC BY 2.0

Yes, there is always a line, and yes on a beautiful day, the most lucrative place in the entire world is undoubtedly an outside table at Founding Farmers, but the food is well worth the wait. Founding Farmers takes the credit of being the original “farm to table” restaurant in D.C., and it is frequently noted as a place where wealthy businessmen and powerful politicians spend their Saturday and Sunday afternoons, away from their offices.

Founding Farmers

Address: 1924 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20006, USA

Website: Founding Farmers

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7. District Taco

1309 F Street NW
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user AgnosticPreachersKid used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Washington D.C. is by no means a hub for Mexican food, but District Taco goes beyond what one would expect for a taqueria in a posh Washington neighborhood. Originally just a food truck, this taco stand turned brick and mortar restaurant is one of the best places in the District for an easy, affordable, yet surprisingly delicious Mexican lunch option. Made with fresh ingredients and now featuring an expansive menu that includes burritos, huevos rancheros and more, this is a great place to hang out and eat to your heart’s content, while in D.C.

District Taco

Address: 4 locations in Washington DC, please refer to website for more information.

Website: District Taco

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8. El Centro D.F.

IMG_8341
Source: Photo by Flickr user John M used under CC BY-SA 2.0

For delicious Mexican comfort food, hearty Latin brunches and fine tequilas in Washington D.C., look no further than to El Centro D.F. While the restaurant, colloquially known as “El Centro” is famous for its after-hours nightclub scene, its menu features an array of mouthwatering Mexican dishes. Another great perk of El Centro D.F? On the weekends, the kitchen is open past 1 a.m.!

El Centro D.F.

Address: 1819 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009, USA

Website: El Centro D.F.

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9. Sushi Taro

Sushi Taro
Source: Photo by Flickr user Daniel Lobo used under CC BY 2.0

When it comes to fine Japanese dining in the District, skip the chain Japanese steakhouse and head to Sushi Taro. At this delectable Washington D.C. sushi spot, the fish is freshly caught and chefs prepare your food in front of you, while you wait. For those with an open mind and a welcoming palate, Sushi Taro offers a variety of authentically Japanese dishes that may be outside of your culinary comfort zone, including fried oyster and soft shell turtle, all which can be experienced with the restaurant’s “kaiseki” tasting course. Finish your meal here with some green tea ice cream, and don’t forget to tip your waiter for the phenomenal service Sushi Taro always brings.

Sushi Taro

Address: 1503 17th St NW, Washington, DC 20036, USA

Website: Sushi Taro

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10. Taylor Gourmet

Washington and People Then and Now 8334
Source: Photo by Flickr user Ted Eytan used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Taylor Gourmet is a D.C. lunchtime favorite. Their innovative hoagies and delicious sides and salads make it popular with businessmen, politicians and tourists alike. Their bread is always fresh, their risotto balls with marinara are decadent, and their attentive service is some of the best in the entire District.

Taylor Gourmet

Address: 6 locations in Washington DC, please refer to website for more information.

Website: Taylor Gourmet

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11. Ravi Kabob

Biryani
Source: Pexels

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Come with an empty stomach, and leave with a full belly, or at least some delicious leftovers – that’s the ideology behind Ravi Kabob’s family-style Pakistani eatery. With enormous portions of Pakistani favorites like chicken karahi, biryani, and of course their variety of kabobs, Ravi is undoubtedly where to go to satisfy your Indo-Pakistani cravings, while in D.C.

Ravi Kabob

Address: 305 N Glebe Rd, Arlington, VA 22203, USA

Website: Ravi Kabob

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12. Old Ebbitt Grill

Old Ebbitt Grill bar
Source: Photo by user susansimon used under CC BY 2.0

This famous restaurant has served the who’s who in Washington for years. It’s an iconic D.C. tavern with plenty of history to go with the name. Not only is it the oldest active bar and restaurant in D.C., it’s been included in movies, and novels and its bar has served former presidents, like Ulysses S. Grant, Andrew Johnson, Grover Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt and Warren Harding.

Old Ebbitt Grill

Address: 675 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20005, USA

Website: Old Ebbitt Grill

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13. Ben's Chili Bowl

Chili Cheese Fries at Ben's Chili Bowl
Source: Photo by user m01229 used under CC BY 2.0

Ben’s Chili Bowl is just as delicious as it is a significant part of Washington D.C. history. During the 1968 Washington riots, the restaurant was frequented by both police and protestors and has always kept its doors open in times of turmoil, in the city. Their menu features a variety of chili-filled dishes, including chili hot dogs, chili cheeseburgers and chili con carne. It has been frequented by many politicians and celebrities, including George Bush and then-President-elect Barack Obama, who visited in 2009, as a part of his welcome to the city.

Ben's Chili Bowl

Address: 1213 U St NW, Washington, DC 20009, USA

Website: Ben’s Chili Bowl

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14. 1789 Restaurant

1226 36th Street, N.W.
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user AgnosticPreachersKid used under CC BY-SA 3.0

1789 Restaurant exemplifies the elegance of Washington D.C.’s Georgetown and combines it with a fine-dining twist on American comfort food. The restaurant has been around for over 50 years and has created quite a name in Washington, winning numerous accolades, including recognition from Gourmet Magazine as one of America’s Top Tables. The restaurant is located inside a renovated Federal-style house and is decorated in American antiques, giving it a relaxed, country-inn style.

1789 Restaurant

Address: 1226 36th St NW, Washington, DC 20007, USA

Website: 1789 Restaurant

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15. The Federalist Pig

#Pork #rib tips from Bludsoe's on LaBrea. Look at the smoke ring! Way more #tender and moist than I expected. You gotta try these! Very #tasty. #BBQ #barbecue #foodporn #lunch
Source: Photo by Flickr user L.A. Foodie used under CC BY 2.0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Good old-fashioned American barbeque meets Washington D.C. and the rest is history. This D.C. smokehouse has a reputation for its flavorful meats and delectable sides, as well as its reasonable prices and friendly neighborhood spirit. The Federalist Pig is definitely an Adams Morgan “hole-in-the-wall”, but with its rising popularity, there is no doubt it will continue to grow.

The Federalist Pig

Address: 1654 Columbia Rd NW, Washington, DC 20009, USA

Website: The Federalist Pig

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16. Maté Lounge

Sushi platter
Source: Pxfuel

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Happy hour lovers in the District rejoice at the thought of a night at Maté. Its delicious sushi, an array of reasonably priced cocktails and sophisticated atmosphere puts it on the map for those visiting the District. Best of all, it has a prime Georgetown Waterfront location and unbeatable happy hour deals.

Maté Lounge

Address: 3101 K St NW, Washington, DC 20007, USA

Website: Maté Lounge

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Washington, District of Columbia, US and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals in Washington, District of Columbia, US

17. &Pizza

03a.AndPizza.1250U.NW.WDC.12January2015
Source: Photo by Flickr user Elvert Barnes used under CC BY-SA 2.0

No, Washington D.C. is not Italy and it’s not New York City, but it definitely does not lack in the pizza department. Visitors to the District who are looking for a trendy, unique pizza experience should definitely find themselves at &Pizza. This “make-your-own” pizza bar comes with a plethora of toppings for guests to custom make their pizzas. Best of all, every pizza comes with an unlimited amount of toppings.

&Pizza

Address: 11 locations in Washington DC, please refer to website for more information.

Website: &Pizza

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Washington, District of Columbia, US and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals in Washington, District of Columbia, US

18. Busboys and Poets

Busboys and Poets – 5th & K – DC (14306710751)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Tony Webster used under CC BY 2.0

Busboys and Poets has been a favorite eatery for D.C. natives, since its opening in 2005. The food at Busboys and Poets is delicious, with plenty of fresh ingredients and made-to-order dishes, but the food is not the main attraction of this Washington D.C. gem. Busboys and Poets is notorious for transforming into a community space for D.C.’s intellectuals. Writers, artists and activists, all gather here to collaborate and spark meaningful conversations over delicious food. The restaurant is filled with books for reading while you eat or purchasing and events such as live mic nights and book clubs are frequently held here.

Busboys and Poets

Address: 4 locations in Washington DC, please refer to website for more information.

Website: Busboys and Poets

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Worth coming to D.C.

Washington D.C. is an extremely diverse place, and it’s no wonder that also influences their food culture. With so many brilliant eateries to choose from, there’s definitely no chance you’ll go hungry in this amazing city.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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A story teller, jet setter, and self-proclaimed media maven -- Hannah is always planning her next adventure, as well as her next professional endeavor. Her affinity for wandering the world and...Read more

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