DC Guide: Where to Eat

Illustration by Molly Jacques for Oh So Beautiful Paper

We really, really love to go out to eat, and over the past few years DC has become quite the foodie town!  There are a gazillion amazing restaurants and it seems like a new restaurant opens every other week.  There’s no way I could cover everything, but here is a quick list (in no particular order) of our favorite restaurants in DC:

Photo Credits: Birch & Barley (Left); Star Chefs (right)

Birch & Barley (14th Street/Logan Circle)  Truly fantastic German-inspired nouveau cuisine, and one of our long-time favorite restaurants in DC.  If it were just about the food, Birch & Barley would still be one of our favorite spots, but they also have a wonderful beer director who really knows his stuff and a huge beer list with amazing rotation on tap.  I took my husband here for his first nice dinner after returning from a 6-month deployment in Iraq, and for special occasions we love to order the tasting menu – which comes with beer pairings selected by the beer director that truly enhance each course.

Photo Credit: Standard via Leo Schmidt

Standard (14th Street)  With outdoor-only dining, Standard is a perfect way to spend a warm summer evening with a group of friends.  Somewhere between a BBQ joint and a beer garden, Standard has fantastic sandwiches, hot dogs and bratwurst (my husband had a fabulous mustard currywurst), and a plethora of battered and fried sides, along with a long list of American and German craft beers.  A quick head’s up: they run out of the brisket really early, particularly on busy nights – so plan ahead!

Photo Credits: Eater DC

Fiola (Penn Quarter)  Fiola has quickly become one of our favorite places to both eat and drink in DC.  Everything is amazing, from the antipasti (we love the charcuterie and cheese plate) to the secondi.  We’re huge fans of the gnocchi and pappardelle, and definitely don’t forget to save room for dessert!

Photo Credits: Toki Underground (left) and Thrillist (right)

Toki Underground (H Street) They serve the most amazing Taiwanese-style ramen noodle bowls – and it’s the best ramen you’ll ever have.  Seriously.  The restaurant is very small, so expect a wait even on weekday evenings, but you won’t be disappointed.

Photo Credit: Smith Commons

Smith Commons (H Street) A fun bistro-style restaurant, we’re big fans of both the food and cocktails at Smith Commons – and the dessert menu is simply amazing.  They offer outdoor dining in nice weather and a cozy indoor dining room that is perfect for date nights or larger functions – we brought our in-laws here with us during their last visit and they loved it!

Photo Credits: Washington Post

Seventh Hill (Eastern Market)  For a casual Friday night out, we love the terrific Neapolitan-style pizza made with super-fresh ingredients.  I also love that the pizzas are named for Capitol Hill locales, like the Navy Yard, Potomac Ave, and Lincoln Park.

Photo Credit: Washingtonian

DC-3 (Barracks Row)  I’m probably the only person who would count an aviation-inspired casual restaurant dedicated to gourmet hot dogs as one of my favorite spots, but it really just is that good.  From traditional Coney Island hot dogs with mustard and chili to a California-inspired falafel dog with avocado and tzatziki sauce, you really just can’t go wrong here.  Also, BEST FRIED PICKLES in all of DC.  Sooo good…

Read below for more a few more restaurant recommendations!

In addition to some fantastic casual and formal dining restaurants, the DC area is home to a few restaurants that are almost experiences unto themselves.  They’re definitely pricey, but worth it for special occasions or if you want a true culinary adventure.  Most require reservations at least a month in advance, so plan ahead, but here’s our list of favorites:

  • Minibar
  • Komi
  • Volt (technically located in Frederick, Maryland about half an hour outside of DC – but it’s so good we couldn’t resist!)
  • Rogue 24

As an international city, DC is lucky to have some really amazing ethnic restaurants – from Ethiopian to Afghan.  This definitely isn’t an exhaustive list, but here are a few that we’d recommend visiting during a trip to DC:

Finally, a few other noteworthy restaurants: Rice (14th Street), Little Serow (Dupont Circle), Graffiato (Penn Quarter), Kushi (Mount Vernon Square), Ted’s Bulletin (Barracks Row), Granville Moore’s (H Street)

p.s. DC is lucky to have two amazing food critics, so if you’re planning a visit to DC you’ll definitely also want to check out both the Washingtonian and Washington Post restaurant sections and even some of the DC foodie blogs like Metrocurean and Eater DC for the latest openings and reviews.

  1. great picks – know and love many of these but glad to see some new places on the list since we’ve moved back. this has given us a few more places to check out – am particularly curious to check out seventh hill to see if the neopolitan pizza really is like the taste of naples – something about those tomatoes.

    Masa 14 on 14th street has also been in our regular rotation for those that are looking for more of an asian fusion bent.

  2. Such a great list! I recently tried Birch & Barley out during Restaurant Week, and I was just about as impressed as I’ve ever been by a DC restaurant. I also passed by DC-3 just last week and got a little giddy (the hot dogs are my favorite part of any Ikea trip after all). So I know you must have some great things on this list!

Comments are closed.