clock menu more-arrow no yes
Old Ebbitt Grill
Old Ebbitt Grill
R. Lopez

15 Tourist Trap Restaurants That Are Actually Great

Tourists tend to flock here, but so should you.

View as Map
Old Ebbitt Grill
| R. Lopez

Some parts of D.C. swell with tourists no matter the reason or the season. Streets surrounding the National Mall, U.S. Capitol, and the White House are especially thick with visitors. In all of these places, there are restaurants that cater to tourists — whether it’s students on an 8th grade field trip, lobbyists here for a Hill day “fly-in,” or a family of five visiting from Ohio.

Washingtonians tend to steer clear of tourist trap restaurants that cater to these crowds, but there are some reliable spots where the food and service is consistently good enough to draw in locals too.

Read More
Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Ben's Chili Bowl

Copy Link
1213 U St NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 667-0909
Visit Website

The half-smoke is one of Washington’s most essential dishes, and U Street is the place to go on a half-smoke crawl. Ben’s is indisputably the most iconic place that sells half-pork, half-beef sausage. Saddle up the counter and take a moment to savor the site, sounds, and smells of this near round-the-clock operation.

A classic half-smoke from Ben’s Chili Bowl.
A half-smoke from Ben’s Chili Bowl, one of D.C.’s classic restaurants
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

2. Duccini's Pizza

Copy Link
1778 U St NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 484-8484

Jumbo slice is a novelty dish packed with grease-stained nostalgia. When in Adams Morgan, and especially after a long night of drinking, Duccini’s serves maybe the best version of this oversized pizza.

3. Ted's Bulletin (Multiple locations)

Copy Link
1818 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 265-8337
Visit Website

Tourists know and love the place with the Insta-famous “Ted’s tart.” It’s a reliably solid option for diner food with slightly fancier flare and pricing.

Ted's Bulletin's iconic Ted's Tarts
Ted’s Bulletin’s iconic Ted’s Tarts
R. Lopez

4. Martin's Tavern

Copy Link
1264 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 333-7370
Visit Website

This Georgetown stalwart has he most requested booth in town — booth no. 3 — because it’s supposedly where Jackie O said “I do” to John F. Kennedy. With this lore, plus many other stories of political visitors, Martin’s continues to be a popular place to drink beers or cocktails in an intimate environment.

Martin's Tavern
Martin’s Tavern
Martin’s Tavern [official]

5. Clyde's of Georgetown

Copy Link
3236 M St NW
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 333-9180
Visit Website

The namesake of a storied D.C. restaurant group, Clyde’s is popular with throngs of M Street shoppers and thirsty Georgetown students craving a beer, a burger, or an oyster. It’s a reliable option for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

View this post on Instagram

An American Bar, since 1963 #HappyFourthofJuly from #Clydes

A post shared by Clyde's (@clydes_restaurant) on

6. Baked & Wired

Copy Link
1052 Thomas Jefferson St NW
Washington, DC 20007
(703) 663-8727
Visit Website

In-the-know locals and visitors =bypass the half-block line of tourists waiting for Georgetown Cupcakes. There are arguably better cupcakes, plus jars of cookies, slices of pie, cinnamon rolls, and quality coffee waiting at Baked & Wired.

Life in Washington D.C.
Cupcakes at Baked & Wired
Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images

7. Off the Record

Copy Link
800 16th St NW
Washington, DC 20006
(202) 638-6600
Visit Website

While you might think that a K Street crowd drinks here, but the clientele at the Hay Adams Hotel’s basement bar can be touristy. And it’s easy to see why. An atmosphere heavy on leather, velvet, and political caricatures is a nice place to enjoy classic cocktails and bar bites.

Off the Record
Off the Record
Off the Record [official]

8. Abe's Cafe

Copy Link
733 13th St NW
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 791-0307
Visit Website

Smack-dab in the middle of a tourist shop is where you’ll find one of the best bets downtown for a Vietnamese buffet, decently priced pho, and banh mi sandwiches.

9. Old Ebbitt Grill

Copy Link
675 15th St NW
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 347-4800
Visit Website

Old Ebbitt gets flooded with tourists because of its location, across the street from the White House, and its reputation as an institutional bar and restaurant. But the service and menu, which includes solid crab cakes and a happy hour with half-price oysters (3 to 6 p.m. weekdays) makes this a top pick for anyone in need of a seafood fix.

10. POV Rooftop Bar and Restaurant

Copy Link
515 15th St NW
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 661-2437
Visit Website

There’s no denying that the views, food, and drink options are incredible atop the W Hotel’s recently renovated rooftop bar. Just beware of the price points betting a place with lobster splashed all over the menu. Cocktails average to about $20 a glass.

POV

11. The Occidental

Copy Link
1475 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 783-1475
Visit Website

This place is lined with portraits of presidents, plus pictures of celebrities who have eaten here or stayed at the Willard Hotel next-door. While popular with the out-of-town crowd, the Occidental is also a reliable place for a burger, a seafood tower, and a view of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Oysters Rockefeller at The Occidental
Oysters Rockefeller at The Occidental
R. Lopez

12. Lincoln's Waffle Shop

Copy Link
504 10th St NW
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 638-4008
Visit Website

Across the street from Ford’s Theatre and DC’s Hard Rock Cafe, sits a greasy spoon diner, called Lincoln’s Waffle Shop. It’s one of the few legitimate diners in downtown D.C., and the helpings are extra large — one waffle takes up an entire plate.

View this post on Instagram

Getting bikini body ready.

A post shared by Sydney Kramer (@crepesofwrath) on

13. Capitol Lounge

Copy Link
229 Pennsylvania Ave SE
Washington, DC 20003
(202) 547-2098
Visit Website

Hill interns, politicos, and lobbyists love to come here for happy hour specials. On Tuesdays, wings are 25 cents from 4 p.m. to 8 pm.

14. Good Stuff Eatery

Copy Link
303 Pennsylvania Ave SE
Washington, DC 20003
(202) 543-8222
Visit Website

Whether it’s the draw of celebrity chef Spike Mendelsohn’s, the thick and creamy marshmallow shake, or the Obama-approved burger, tourists can’t seem to get enough of this fast-casual joint on Capitol Hill.

The famous marshmallow milkshake at Good Stuff Eatery
The famous marshmallow milkshake at Good Stuff Eatery
Marge Ely for The Washington Post via Getty Images

15. The Market Lunch

Copy Link
225 7th St SE
Washington, DC 20003
(202) 547-8444
Visit Website

Throngs of tourists plus some Capitol Hill locals will wait shoulder-to-shoulder in line for The Market Lunch’s blueberry buckwheat and buttermilk pancakes. Why? Because they might just be the best flapjacks in town.

1. Ben's Chili Bowl

1213 U St NW, Washington, DC 20009
A classic half-smoke from Ben’s Chili Bowl.
A half-smoke from Ben’s Chili Bowl, one of D.C.’s classic restaurants
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

The half-smoke is one of Washington’s most essential dishes, and U Street is the place to go on a half-smoke crawl. Ben’s is indisputably the most iconic place that sells half-pork, half-beef sausage. Saddle up the counter and take a moment to savor the site, sounds, and smells of this near round-the-clock operation.

1213 U St NW
Washington, DC 20009

2. Duccini's Pizza

1778 U St NW, Washington, DC 20009

Jumbo slice is a novelty dish packed with grease-stained nostalgia. When in Adams Morgan, and especially after a long night of drinking, Duccini’s serves maybe the best version of this oversized pizza.

1778 U St NW
Washington, DC 20009

3. Ted's Bulletin (Multiple locations)

1818 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
Ted's Bulletin's iconic Ted's Tarts
Ted’s Bulletin’s iconic Ted’s Tarts
R. Lopez

Tourists know and love the place with the Insta-famous “Ted’s tart.” It’s a reliably solid option for diner food with slightly fancier flare and pricing.

1818 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20009

4. Martin's Tavern

1264 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20007
Martin's Tavern
Martin’s Tavern
Martin’s Tavern [official]

This Georgetown stalwart has he most requested booth in town — booth no. 3 — because it’s supposedly where Jackie O said “I do” to John F. Kennedy. With this lore, plus many other stories of political visitors, Martin’s continues to be a popular place to drink beers or cocktails in an intimate environment.

1264 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington, DC 20007

5. Clyde's of Georgetown

3236 M St NW, Washington, DC 20007

The namesake of a storied D.C. restaurant group, Clyde’s is popular with throngs of M Street shoppers and thirsty Georgetown students craving a beer, a burger, or an oyster. It’s a reliable option for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

3236 M St NW
Washington, DC 20007

6. Baked & Wired

1052 Thomas Jefferson St NW, Washington, DC 20007
Life in Washington D.C.
Cupcakes at Baked & Wired
Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images

In-the-know locals and visitors =bypass the half-block line of tourists waiting for Georgetown Cupcakes. There are arguably better cupcakes, plus jars of cookies, slices of pie, cinnamon rolls, and quality coffee waiting at Baked & Wired.

1052 Thomas Jefferson St NW
Washington, DC 20007

7. Off the Record

800 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20006
Off the Record
Off the Record
Off the Record [official]

While you might think that a K Street crowd drinks here, but the clientele at the Hay Adams Hotel’s basement bar can be touristy. And it’s easy to see why. An atmosphere heavy on leather, velvet, and political caricatures is a nice place to enjoy classic cocktails and bar bites.

800 16th St NW
Washington, DC 20006

8. Abe's Cafe

733 13th St NW, Washington, DC 20005

Smack-dab in the middle of a tourist shop is where you’ll find one of the best bets downtown for a Vietnamese buffet, decently priced pho, and banh mi sandwiches.

733 13th St NW
Washington, DC 20005

9. Old Ebbitt Grill

675 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20005

Old Ebbitt gets flooded with tourists because of its location, across the street from the White House, and its reputation as an institutional bar and restaurant. But the service and menu, which includes solid crab cakes and a happy hour with half-price oysters (3 to 6 p.m. weekdays) makes this a top pick for anyone in need of a seafood fix.

675 15th St NW
Washington, DC 20005

10. POV Rooftop Bar and Restaurant

515 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20004
POV

There’s no denying that the views, food, and drink options are incredible atop the W Hotel’s recently renovated rooftop bar. Just beware of the price points betting a place with lobster splashed all over the menu. Cocktails average to about $20 a glass.

515 15th St NW
Washington, DC 20004

11. The Occidental

1475 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20004
Oysters Rockefeller at The Occidental
Oysters Rockefeller at The Occidental
R. Lopez

This place is lined with portraits of presidents, plus pictures of celebrities who have eaten here or stayed at the Willard Hotel next-door. While popular with the out-of-town crowd, the Occidental is also a reliable place for a burger, a seafood tower, and a view of Pennsylvania Avenue.

1475 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20004

12. Lincoln's Waffle Shop

504 10th St NW, Washington, DC 20004

Across the street from Ford’s Theatre and DC’s Hard Rock Cafe, sits a greasy spoon diner, called Lincoln’s Waffle Shop. It’s one of the few legitimate diners in downtown D.C., and the helpings are extra large — one waffle takes up an entire plate.

504 10th St NW
Washington, DC 20004

13. Capitol Lounge

229 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC 20003

Hill interns, politicos, and lobbyists love to come here for happy hour specials. On Tuesdays, wings are 25 cents from 4 p.m. to 8 pm.

229 Pennsylvania Ave SE
Washington, DC 20003

14. Good Stuff Eatery

303 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC 20003
The famous marshmallow milkshake at Good Stuff Eatery
The famous marshmallow milkshake at Good Stuff Eatery
Marge Ely for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Whether it’s the draw of celebrity chef Spike Mendelsohn’s, the thick and creamy marshmallow shake, or the Obama-approved burger, tourists can’t seem to get enough of this fast-casual joint on Capitol Hill.

303 Pennsylvania Ave SE
Washington, DC 20003

15. The Market Lunch

225 7th St SE, Washington, DC 20003

Throngs of tourists plus some Capitol Hill locals will wait shoulder-to-shoulder in line for The Market Lunch’s blueberry buckwheat and buttermilk pancakes. Why? Because they might just be the best flapjacks in town.

225 7th St SE
Washington, DC 20003

Related Maps