Explore Washington D.C.

Washington, D.C. for Foodies

Washington, D.C. has always been a town of “power dining” over steak and red wine. But the city’s culinary roots run deeper. In 1979, Nora Pouillion opened Restaurant Nora in Dupont Circle and pioneered the organic food movement. Meanwhile, across town, Jean-Louis Palladin staked a claim on French food at the Watergate Hotel, drawing the elite from both the political and gastronomic worlds to his eponymous restaurant.

Today, D.C. is a bona fide dining destination, offering a smorgasbord of cuisines from top toques. It’s no wonder D.C. earned the number nine spot in Food and Wine magazine’s 32 Places To Go (And Eat) in 2019.

Denizens with insatiable appetites for the next best thing and marquee chefs delivering with ever more creative plates are driving this food revolution. Head in any direction, and you’re likely to stumble into a dining room run by Fabio Trabocchi, Mike Isabella or Stephen Starr. And of course, there’s José Andrés, whose restaurant empire includes a wide range of gustatory experiences, from the very high-end (Minibar) to a veggie-focused fast-casual (Beefsteak).

With so many well-regarded chefs cooking up a storm here, there’s never been a better time to relish the culinary arts in the nation’s capital. So don a pair of elastic-waistband pants, and follow your nose to these must-visit stops on any foodie’s list. 

 

Inn at Little Washington

Prestigious Michelin-starred foodie destination featuring a romantic country inn with courtyard and regional cuisine by chef Patrick O’Connell. Prix-fixe ($218, plus $125 for wine pairings). Chef’s table for 2-12 ($595 surcharge). Mon.-Thurs. from 6 p.m., Fri. 5:30 p.m., Sat. 5:15 p.m., Sun.

Maketto

Communal marketplace mixing retail, dining and coffee in a sleek setting with outdoor seating. Menswear and accessories. James Beard Award-nominee Erik Bruner-Yang oversees a menu of Cambodian/Taiwanese street food (steamed pork bao, Taiwanese fried chicken). Frenchie's desserts, Vigilante coffee. Open daily.

American History Museum

With five million visitors annually, this museum is one of the Smithsonian’s most popular. As a repository for the country’s cultural, scientific and technological heritage, it holds a collection of more than three million fascinating artifacts, including Thomas Jefferson’s desk, Kermit the Frog, Julia Child's kitchen, a piec

Momofuku

Prize-winning chef David Chang's popular NYC spot for pork buns, ramen noodles, "bo ssam" whole roasted pork shoulder lettuce wraps ($$$$) with Korean twist. Limited number of reservations accepted through website. L (M-F), D (daily), Br (Sa-Su). 

DBGB Kitchen and Bar

Daniel Boulud returns (after 30 years acquiring fame) with a bustling bistro in City Center. Exec chef Nicholas putting American accents to house-cured meats, seafood, burgers, regional produce, even a suckling pig. Glass walls, casual seats in Bar Room, china plates signed by celeb chef pals.

Mitsitam

Award-winning cafeteria in the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian with a menu inspired by native foods: regional and Meso-American dishes like bison steak, seafood posole. Daily 11 am-3 pm; until 5 pm from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Ben's Chili Bowl

The original is located in a former pool hall and is known for its chili half-smokes, burgers and cakes since 1958. Additional locations on H Street NE, Arlington, Virginia, and inside Reagan National Airport. B (M-F); L, D (daily).

Union Market

This culinary marketplace has local artisan vendors including Salt & Sundry, Peregrine Espresso, Craft Kombucha and Rappahannock Oyster Co., plus John Mooney’s Bidwell restaurant. Find attractions like seasonal pop-ups, wines, fresh bread, empanadas and doughnuts. Hours vary by store.

Hill's Kitchen

A one-stop kitchen shop in a row house, steps away from Eastern Market Metro station. D.C.-themed items include etched glasses, tea towels and cookie cutters. Weekly cooking classes; see website for calendar and registration. Open Tu-Su.

Minibar by José Andrés

James Beard Award-winner José Andrés’ imaginative Michelin-starred “laboratory” for 30-40 tastes the Washington Post calls “culinary high-wire acts.” Twelve seats. $275 (pre-tax, pre-tip), beverages extra. Reservations required (book online. Two months available at a time, starting at 10 am the first Monday of each month).

Fiola

James Beard Award-winning Fabio Trabocchi in his own Michelin-starred “villa” with executive chef Ed Scarpone sending out lobster ravioli, rib-eye, seafood. Themed tastings (three courses $130, four $150). Across from National Gallery of Art. L (M-F), D (daily).

Marcel's

Flemish-French cuisine by prized chef-owner Robert Wiedmaier. Four- to seven-course tasting menus ($105-$155, wine extra) featuring luxe dishes like foie gras, squab en croute, Santa Barbara uni (also a la carte). Petrossian caviar service.  Bar. Live jazz F-Sa. D (daily), Br (Su). Valet parking ($15).

Rose's Luxury

In a Barracks Row “farmhouse,” Michelin-starred spot for small plates (pork and lychee salad, clams and white wine) or family-style meals (fried chicken). Upstairs bar (same food). Same-day reservations online; otherwise, walk-in. D (M-Sa).

Le Diplomate

Red banquettes, zinc-topped bar and a “garden room” for steak frites, foie gras “parfait,” lamb stew with fennel and oranges, sorbets. D (daily), Br (Sa-Su).

Bread Furst

James Beard Award-nominated baker’s popular Van Ness cafe for fresh-baked baguettes, rolls and loaves, plus packaged gourmet foods, cookbooks. M-F 7 am-7 pm, Sa 8 am-6 pm, Su 8 am-5 pm. 

Komi

2013 Mid-Atlantic James Beard Award-winner Johnny Monis with evening-long, multicourse dinners ($150 prix-fixe, $85 wine pairings) for parties of four or fewer. D (Tu-Sa), call Tu-Sa noon-4 pm. for reservation, up to one month from reservation date.

Milk Bar

D.C. outpost of Christina Tosi's whimsical NYC bakery, featuring "crack pies," "compost cookies," "cereal milk" and "b'day truffles." Special to this location: parfaits. Cookie mixes, tote bags, cookbooks. M-Th 10 am-11 pm, F-Sa 9 am-midnight, Su 9 am-10 pm.