When you visit the nation’s capital, you’ll experience a dining scene as colorful and eclectic as America itself.
From crave-worthy dishes served by celebrity chefs to Michelin approved restaurants to chili-smothered half-smokes to rooftop abodes, DC’s local flavor has one thing in common: it’s all delicious. Get a taste of what’s to come with our itinerary below. For more on DC’s dining scene, visit us here
DC is filled with outstanding options for everyone’s favorite weekend meal. Boqueria uses market-fresh ingredients in its authentic Barcelonian take on brunch. For patio pleasures, Open City in Adams Morgan is a local favorite, while Sequoia (located in Georgetown’s Washington Harbour) adds Potomac River views to your experience. If you’re here during the week, check out Unconventional Diner’s Everyday Brunch menu or try a breakfast sandwich from Butter Me Up in Shaw.
Support Black-Owned Restaurants
Ben’s Chili Bowl is a DC institution that first opened its doors on U Street in 1958. No food-themed voyage across the city is complete without trying the restaurant’s signature take on a hot dog known as the half-smoke.
Founded by Jeanine Prime and featured as a Bib Gourmand in DC’s Michelin Guide, Cane brings the cuisine of Trinidad to the heart of the District. The city is sometimes referred to as “Little Ethiopia” thanks to authentic spots like Dukem Ethiopian, which offers specialties like kitfo (minced raw beef marinated in chili powder based spice blend and clarified butter).
There are numerous public markets to check out across DC, including the culinary haven that is Union Market. NoMa’s hippest feasting ground is a revived mid-century produce- and meat-selling bazaar that holds food stalls, informal restaurants and kitchenware boutiques. Just two blocks away, visit La Cosecha, a contemporary Latin American marketplace with fine dining, vegan food, pupusas, coffee and more. If visiting on a weekend, you’ll have to stop by Eastern Market for a variety of merchants and the legendary blueberry buck wheat pancakes from Market Lunch.
In total, 24 DC restaurants have earned at least one Michelin star, making the city a mecca for fine dining foodies. Chef Matt Baker has turned a former tomato cannery in Ivy City into Gravitas, a farm to-table restaurant highlighting the delicious bounty of the Chesapeake Bay. Masseria, located near Union Market, sees Chef Nicholas Stefanelli acknowledge his rustic Italian roots through coastal cuisine. At Chef Ryan Ratino’s Bresca, an inventive menu melds tantalizing flavors and the chef’s one-of-a kind vision: think pastrami beets served with whipped feta and dill on rye.
Whether in search of a savory meal or satisfaction for your sweet tooth, women owned businesses in the District have you covered. Amy Brandwein’s Centrolina is a dual-concept Italian osteria and mercato from the James Beard-nominated chef. Chef Dina Daniel is the mastermind behind the homespun Egyptian cuisine of Fava Pot, located in Dupont Circle. Buttercream Bakeshop reflects founder Tiffany MacIsaac’s limitless imagination, offering treats like cinnascones and sprinkle-studded Unicorn Bars. Victoria Lai brings the same adventurous attitude to frozen confections at Ice Cream Jubilee, which features flavors like banana bourbon caramel and Thai iced tea across multiple DC locations.
A Raucous Rooftop Time
Rooftop living is good in DC, especially when you head to the sophisticated Top of the Gate and take in 360-degree views of the nation’s capital while sipping specialty cocktails and noshing on artisanal pizzas. The city’s rivers do their best French Riviera impression at La Vie, a stunning and sleek restaurant at The Wharf featuring views of the Washington Channel from a rooftop terrace. Summit the Rooftop at Conrad gives superlative vistas of CityCenterDC and downtown with a food menu sourced from the Mid Atlantic region.
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