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A view of Georgetown
A view of Georgetown
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D.C. Dining 101: A Guide for Students and Visitors

Everything you need to know about feeding yourself while attending school in D.C., from classic cheap eats to essential splurges

Missy Frederick is the Cities Director for Eater.

Eater is a great resource for those getting a fresh start in D.C, whether it be tourists, those new to the city, temporary family visitors, or new students hitting up the city's many college campuses. This is a collection of some of the site's maps and features relevant to those just getting started in the city. Originally published in fall 2015, it has been updated for summer 2016.

The Essentials

Rasika [Photo: R. Lopez]

It's best to start with the basics. Here are the sites to bookmark for general dining knowledge in D.C., particularly Eater's staples, the Eater 38 and the Eater Heatmap.

Table Of Contents (all h2's added automatically)

The Heatmap: Look here for the hottest new restaurants in town; this gets updated monthly.

The Eater 38: The 38 offers a selection of neighborhood standouts, with a range of locations, cuisines and price points (super expensive places are omitted here). A place must have been open at least six months to make the cut; the list gets updated quarterly.

Eater Drinks Map: These are the newest spots for beer, cocktails and wine (updated at least quarterly, or more often if something big opens). Ideal for those students over 21, of course. And here are D.C.'s essential bars.

Eater Brunch Heatmap: And finally, the newest spots for brunch (updated quarterly, for the most part), usually a more affordable way to experience a hot new restaurant. Interested in more of a brunch classic? Head to Eater's Brunch Essentials guide.

Specific Dishes

Burgers from Red Apron [Photo: R. Lopez] Rey Lopez/Under a Bushel

Whether the craving is tacos, doughnuts or pizza, Eater has it covered.

We have the meats:

*Where to Find a Monday Burger Deal. And if it isn't Monday, consider these Happy Hour Burgers.

*Hottest New Barbecue Restaurants (D.C. hasn't always been a barbecue town, but that's slowly changing)

*A Peruvian Chicken Guide to D.C. (never had it before? It's a D.C. standout)

*D.C.'s Essential Burgers

Seafood and Vegetarian:

*Eater's Oyster Happy Hour Guide ($1 oysters can, in fact, be yours). And these are the best patios for oyster deals.

*The Hottest New Sushi Restaurants in Town

*Where to Eat Crabs Closer to Home (Baltimore may be the crab kingdom, but Washington is no slouch, either; learn even more about D.C. and crab here)

*Great Raw Bars (officially a trend right now)

*Vegetarian Essentials: Best restaurants for avoiding meat

*For vegetarian-friendly international cuisine, consider D.C.'s Essential Ethiopian Restaurants or these Standout Indian Buffets

Where to drink

*A Guide to Half-Priced Wine

*D.C.'s Best Karaoke Bars

*Essential Happy Hours

*Affordable Beers All Night Long

*Bars Actual Adults Should Avoid (but college students just might appreciate)

*D.C.'s Best Whiskey Bars

*Tour a brewery or a distillery

*Where to Cheer on Your Favorite Team, or if you're rooting for the home team, here are some new sports bars and great hockey bars.

*And for good measure, D.C.'s Epic Hangover Dishes

Caffeine fix:

*Find free-wifi and good food at these places

*Hot new bakeries in town

*Consider these D.C. coffee shops


*D.C.'s Coolest New Ice Cream Shops (and here are some of the classics)

*Essential Doughnut Shops

*Essential Pho restaurants: This Vietnamese soup is everywhere

*Try one of D.C.'s New Pizza PlacesEssential Pizza Shops, or just grab a slice here

*The City's Big-Deal Ramen Shops

*Wake up with one of the city's awesome breakfast sandwiches. Or just go for a bagel instead

*Tater tots and totchos. That is all.

Cheap Eats

Beefsteak in Foggy Bottom [Photo: R. Lopez]

We get it — D.C.'s a bit pricier than what students are used to at home. But you don't have to spend a fortune to find a decent meal here. Eater devoted a whole week to the topic earlier this year. Here are some highlights:

*You'll be hearing the term "fast-casual" a lot around town; it's those places that are fancier than fast-food, but not quite full service. D.C.'s stuffed with them.

*These are the city's essential cheap eats. And these are some newer standouts.

*Celebrate Taco Tuesday

*Fancy Lunch Deals

*These bars have free food. Repeat: free food.

*Out late? Head here.

*Only have $5? Not a problem.

Touristy Stuff

Jaleo [Photo: Official]

D.C. is a huge tourist town, and chances are, parents are going to come by at some point to visit their child — and take in some of the city's sights. Here are some guides to keep in mind when playing host.

*Where to Eat by the White House

*Eat Like Michelle Obama in D.C.

*25 Classic D.C. Bars and Restaurants Every Washingtonian Must Try

*Where to Eat by the National Mall During Tourist Season

*Restaurants Near the National Zoo (don't forget to see the pandas)

*Where to Dine by Verizon Center Without a Reservation

*Where to Eat Near Union Station

*D.C.'s Essential Warm-Weather Maps

*Also, D.C. has a cat cafe. Remain calm.

*Bringing kids along? Consider these restaurants.

*Still want more? Here's a whole stream of tourist-friendly Eater D.C. maps.


Bourbon Steak in Georgetown [Photo: R Lopez]

Interested in sticking closer to home? Eater D.C.'s coverage is organized by neighborhood. Here are a few to pay close attention to; check out the full directory as well.


*Georgetown news (Georgetown University neighborhood). Plus, a Georgetown dining guide.

*Foggy Bottom news (near George Washington)

*Tenleytown news (near American University)

*Brookland news (near Catholic University)

*Van Ness news (near University of D.C.)

*Fairfax news (near George Mason)

*NoMa news (near Galludet)

*Shaw news (near Howard). Plus, here's the Shaw/Mt. Vernon Triangle Heat Map.

Eater Neighborhood Guides: Here are some in-depth looks as such neighborhoods as rising Bloomingdale, Korean food mecca Annandale and more.

Keeping Up with the News

Eater D.C. is updated up to a dozen times every weekday with breaking news stories, maps, features, guides, trend pieces and more. Here's how to best use it:

*Keep an eye on the Eater DC homepage. New stories will always show up near the top and flow down toward the bottom of the page as they get older, while important recent stories will stay pinned to the top. Also, check out the National site,, for national and international food news.

*Subscribe to our newsletter, which goes out every weekday afternoon and includes links to the day's top stories.

*Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for updates on new stories and more throughout the day.

*Interested in upcoming restaurant openings? Here's our spring openings primer. And here are all the restaurants that opened in 2016 so far.


Have questions not answered here? Have a juicy tip to share? Want a super-specific restaurant recommendation? Here's how to reach us.

*Email to reach the editor.

*Send a tip through the tipline, which can be anonymous or otherwise.

*Post in the Eater forums (here's the D.C. one), which are a great place to get feedback from readers or specific recommendations (or to talk about your favorite/least favorite places). Interesting threads get promoted on social media and the site's homepage.

Lead photo image by Shutterstock. Mike Isabella and Jaleo photos courtesy restaurants. All other photos by R. Lopez.

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